Originally Posted by JasonT35
I have an Apple TV 3 and for music purchased thru Itunes, I have the option of streaming from my Ipad to apple TV via airplay or just using the Apple TV to play the purchased music from the cloud.
I have a couple of questions in regards to this.
I have purchased music "mastered for itunes" which is 44.1, 16 bit and seems to be higher quality than the "regular" itunes music. Most noticeably on all of the led zeppelin albums which are now mastered for itunes.. I understand the apple tv will upsample to 48. Not sure if I can really hear a difference, but if I wanted to maintain the 44.1, would the airport xpress be my only option?
In regards to playing music from the cloud, say on the apple tv or via the ipad and airplay... is the quality of the music streaming from the cloud the same as the quality of the downloaded file? Probably a stupid question, but I just want to make sure the mastered for itunes music I purchased is the same quality whether its played from the cloud or downloaded to a computer and played locally.
The reason why I ask is because itunes has several versions of songs and I'm not sure what version would be playing from the cloud
Are you using iTunes Match or iCloud? If you are, then those are 256kbps "copies" stored in the cloud of the existing files to the best of my knowledge (which is identical to what you get when you buy music via iTunes). If you ripped a CD to, for example, WAV, which has a data rate of about 1.411Mbps, then played the corresponding "match" from iCloud or iTunes Match, that could be a 256kbps "lower quality" version of the file.
The Mastered for iTunes files may be the same data rate (are they 256kbps when you play them?), but the mastering is different. There's an interesting document about how Mastering for iTunes works here
. Mastered for iTunes, while it may/may not be the same bit depth/sample rate/data rate, is more about not compressing and otherwise mangling the audio files, a common side effect of the "loudness wars." So the difference you're hearing may be due to the mastering practices and not necessarily a file that's different in terms of bits/sample rate/data rate.
My guess is, if your Mastered for iTunes files are 256kbps data rate, then they will be the same quality level if played from iCloud/iTunes Match or from your PC/other device. Any files played from iCloud, if they are NOT 256kbps files, will be changed to that 256kbps rate (this overview page
seems to imply that).
Any files played at home from a PC, tablet, etc (from a local hard drive i.e. not from a cloud or internet source) should maintain the same data rate/bit rate. They will be resampled via Apple TV to 48kHz, but other than that I don't think there will be other "alterations" to the file when played back.
Edit to add:
I personally did not witness an appreciable increase/decrease in audio quality playing the same file back via AirPlay to AppleTV versus playing via UPNP to my Oppo BDP-83 (which preserves the sample rate as 44.1kHz). The convenience of AirPlay usually wins out in this case. I don't think getting an AE is an absolute must for you- I've also seen scattered reports of the optical port on the AEs being finicky with some outboard devices.