Can I Stream in High-Res Through My A/V Receiver?

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Q I’ve always been interested in streaming high-resolution audio through my Denon AVR-4300H receiver, but don’t know if that’s possible. Although I mainly listen to music on Spotify and Pandora, I tried Tidal and Amazon Music HD but couldn’t figure out how to stream the tracks in high resolution. What options do I have, if any? —Mark Levesque, via email

A First up, let’s clarify what high-resolution audio is. For audio, the term “high-res” is generally taken to mean digital music files with a higher than 16-bit audio bit depth and a greater than 44.1 kHz audio sample rate — typically 24-bit/96kHz or 24-bit/192kHz. Streaming services that offer music in high-res format include Tidal, Amazon Music HD, and Qobuz. Spotify and Pandora — your go-to music sources — both stream audio using lossy compressed formats, and do not offer a high-res option. In this, they are joined by Apple Music, Google Play Music, and YouTube music.

Your Denon AVR-X4300H is capable of directly streaming Tidal and Amazon Music HD via the Denon HEOS app. In the case of Tidal, you won’t be able to listen to tracks in high-res since it requires a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) compatible with MQA — a proprietary technology used by Tidal that “packs” high-resolution audio files into a standard PCM container for streaming and then “unpacks” them during decoding — and that’s a feature Denon's receiver doesn’t provide. But as long as the AVR-X4300H’s firmware has been updated — something that should occur automatically when your Denon receiver is connected to the internet — the good news is that you will be able to stream high-res audio from Amazon Music HD.

To get started, you’ll first need to sign up for an Amazon Music Individual Plan HD ($15/month). Once that’s done, to access Amazon high-res selections in the HEOS app, you select “Amazon Music” and then enter “Ultra HD” in the search field. Amazon claims to have millions of lossless songs at up to 24/192 Ultra HD resolution in its library, along with over 50 million “High-Definition” (CD-quality) lossless audio tracks, and you can sample it all for free for 90 days to check and see if high-res audio does indeed float your boat.

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