Apple Music on macOS alternative

If you’re using the god awful Apple Music app on macOS, take a look at this open source client Calle Cider, that seems to be faster, more efficient and gaining popularity. I haven’t tried it yet, will do in the near future.

My best.

Looks pretty, but from the FAQ:

Cider does not currently support lossless audio. This is because the core software Apple has forced us to use does not yet support it.

Not sure how Apple is forcing them to use a particular solution, or if the same limitation applies on other platforms (e.g. Windows). Seems to me like a fairly big negative for music application.

Is Apple not lossless? Apologies if covered elsewhere, I was under the impression lossless was available, it was down to the user to select such

Only via their own app on macs and iOS with an external DAC or Android which has its own complications and not at all via AirPlay 2.

So wireless from my iPhone to Mu So 2 through Apple Music isn’t? Apologies again, It’s all new to me! Any good primers out there on streaming in written for the layman?

Thank you for your detailed reply, it’s really helpful and I think I understand!

I don’t have any recorded music, just LPs, so might just need to go through the streaming services to see what floats my boat. I just want to listen to decent quality music, I like what I hear on Radio Paradise, need to find how I can play the same quality though a streaming service, maybe starting with Qobuz.

Thanks again

Yes it is. Airplay transfers CD-standard lossless files. And can sound pretty good.

Then you have the Apple Music service which some say do CD-standard lossless with Airplay1 and but lossy AAC with Airplay2.

Apple has a very large installed based and a large spread of devices from Apple Watch to the Studio Ultra so it will probably take some time before all pipes are cleared.

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Hi Aston

This will probably confuse you more, but here goes.

Airplay (Airplay 1) evolved from AirTunes. Early Apple wi-fi extenders (Airport Express) used slow but technically adequate wi-fi speeds to allow you to send audio from early iPhones/iPads and iTunes on computers to the Airport Express devices using AirTunes. It was ok when it worked but audio often ‘broke up’ for me in practice due to the older wi-fi technology used being affected by interference. The Airport Express devices were quite neat though with a 3.5mm audio output which could either work in analogue or digital modes (via mini-optical cable).

As AppleTV evolved Airplay replaced AirTunes to allow both audio and video streaming in the home. So audio to AirportExpress devices and audio or audio/video to AppleTVs.

Both AirTunes and Airplay allow wireless streaming of CD quality audio, ignore more complex audio requirements for stereo or surround Airplay audio for Apple Movies/TV Shows for example.

Airplay 2 (the current flavour) technically on paper can support better than CD quality lossless from Apple Music or other sources. In practice however you will not get better than CD quality using Airplay 2 with Apple Music and tests to date indicate that with Apple Music even if you select highest quality lossless on iPhones etc that what actually goes to 3rd party devices such as Naim kit is 256 kbps lossy audio.

There is no clear way to get lossless better than CD quality audio played back to anything using Airplay 2 - it’s Apple’s problem to solve despite the marketing blurb.

Any modern Macs which support Apple Music in lossless hi-res do not have an optical out anymore, so to use these features into your hi-fi or smart speaker you’d have to use a direct connection generally via a USB DAC with analogue or analogue/digital out. It’s all a bit crazy. Amazon Music is pretty similar.

They both market hi-res lossless audio but actually getting that to a playback device is quite tricky (unsure about current Amazon Fire devices etc).

The reality however in my view is that Airplay, even if sending 256 kbps audio is pretty good.

I think Apple will raise their game in coming years but they ultimately sell hardware and have for a long time focussed on what 99.99% of users will want/need/be happy with not those who expect a bit more from a premium brand in terms of audio quality.


Thanks for this, I’ve read this a couple of times over the last few days, as it’s difficult to get my head around everything!

I think that a solution might be to physically connect my iPhone or Macbook to the MuSo and try that way. I’ve read that an Apple Lightening to USB 3 camera adapter might do the trick, the down side being that it will be attached so not wireless like a remote, unless a long lead.

That with Apple Music or try Qobuz/Tidal.

The sound quality through Radio Paradise is pretty amazing, so I know what’s possible, it’s difficult to settle for good enough!


I have a free 6 month trial of Apple Music from my mobile phone provider. As Alley Cat suggested Apple only really cater for their own customers and certainly not for audiophiles as yet. I will probably choose Qobuz over Tidal due to price and I believe that their catalogue is more suited to my tastes in music. I am able to stream Radio Paradise in mqa and would agree that the sound is amazing.


This would do the trick for a “normal” USB DAC (I’ve tested it from both iPhone and iPad to an RME DAC, for example)… but unfortunately the USB input on your MuSo2 is not the asynchronous type that you need: it can only read / play files from a memory stick or external hard drive. With this equipment, at this time, and until Apple update the Airplay 2 capability for Apple Music, you can’t stream full CD or higher definition content. Collective sigh…

As others have said, what is on offer sounds pretty good, and will have to tide you (us!) over until the software team unlocks the next level.

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As alan33 suggests you would not simply be able to connect the Apple adapter to the USB input with a USB cable.

I got an inexpensive Topping DAC to use with iPhone/iPad but iPhone/iPad required the powered adapter - they initially worked with the basic one that does not charge but then threw an error regarding power demand of the DAC being too high. I had a long USB cable anyway, but it was all a bit of afaff and I’m not sure, at least the way I set it up, that it was worthwhile or worth the effort. Perhaps it was the Topping DAC I tried, but I found audio output was variable and controlled by iPhone volume suggesting you weren’t simply getting the lossless file via the DAC, rather one which had been pre-processed on the iPhone to adjust volume.

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I disagree, my QB2 is responds surprisingly well to a Qobuz 24 bit stream, and shows quite clearly the improvement using a lossless FLAC stream for Radio Paradise in preference to a lossy stream. Sure, these differences are more evident on a much more expensive separates system, but they are not lost on a Muso.


Thanks for the replies and information on the USB-C adaptor, I’ll give that a miss then.

I’m quite familiar with the upgrade rabbit hole, and don’t want to disappear! I’ve come from a reasonable analogue system and first bitten by the audiophile bug 40+ years ago.

I’m really pleased with the MuSo as it stands, but it is a bit frustrating when I know for sure that it can sound amazing, it just needs a quality input to shine.

Thanks again all

Not sure that will work does the Muso have the the old ipod/iphone dock capability via USB? The newer models don’t as they use AirPlay USB is for drives and sticks only. Even if it does it will be limited to 44.1 as that’s all iPods supported so won’t go higher Naim don’t support USB audio which is what is required. Others are using the camera adaptor and another device to convert usb audio to spdif to use coax or optical to the Naim system.

That’s good to hear.

The Topping D10s works great for me. Here’s what you need; Atom and Apple Music - #3 by airedog

Can you get a fixed volume feed from the iPhone/iPad to the Topping or is it based on the iPhone volume?

I may revisit, but don’t find it incredibly practical in my setup currently - YMMV of course and if it works well fantastic.

A fixed volume? Not sure what you are getting at. I control volume with the Naim remote. I mean, the Topping shows the bit rate. I’m not sure that’s a concern.

Ordinarily I’d expect an external DAC like the Topping to be sent the ‘bitstream’ for the now playing file over USB and send a fixed volume output to its analogue or digital outputs i.e. the Topping does all the data processing.

What I found with my iPhone and iPad was that the volume sent to the Naim kit was variable depending on the volume set on the iPhone/iPad which implied that the iPhone/iPad was applying volume correction before the Topping by altering the data sent to the Topping to reflect the Apple device’s volume.

Someone said that this did not happen with their Chord DAC.