Why does music sound better on mac than windows?

Hi all. I’m hoping someone has an answer or at least some ideas on why I’m noticing this difference.
Here’s the setup at a high level:
source: amazon music hd
medium: digital usb
target: dac + amp + headphone

So in both, i make sure the audio is capable of playing at 24bit / 192khz. Both setups i use after market usb cables except on windows i have a usb-a (monolith) cable and on mac, i have a usb-c (off-brand) cable. Everything else is the same but when i sample music, the mac is noticeably fuller and provides more impact.

only thing i can think of that could be altering the music would be apo equalizer with peace however i’m only setting a bass shelf there… no other tweaks. did i misconfigure Equalizer APO?? something else?


Could be drivers or one of the many fuckeries “enhancements” windows has built in.


Are you setting the Amazon HD software to “Exclusive mode”? It’s an option on the status bar. See the bookshelf speaker icon “Available Devices.”

Do you know what sound card the win machine has?

Could any difference be due to usb noise?
I only have experience with mac audio myself.

guys thanks for all the replies. I’m ashamed to say that I should have done more thorough checks… just happened to see today that Windows reset my speakers properties back to the default 32bit, 44khz. I had set it to 32bit, 192khz before but apparently windows likes to reset properties. I’ll give it a bit more listen to ensure this fixes the problem.

I confirmed in amazon music that it sees my device’s (DAC) capability correctly now as 24 bit/192 kHz.

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I can’t run exclusive mode without cutting off Equalizer APO :frowning: . Worth a try to compare .

funny you said that. my first reaction when seeing a check mark in windows for “Enable audio enhancements” was to disable it. found out quickly that that needs to be checked.

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I know it has a sound chip integrated in to the motherboard but i think I should be bypassing it since it’s USB out to my dac?

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I’m using these cables on my windows machine: https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=33463 vs some off-brand cables I found on amazon for my Mac. I assumed monolith was more reputable and would perform better.

Oh yes, external DAC is good. Are you using the same DAC on both?

In my experience, taking every bit of controll over sound devices away from windows and software and handing it soley to the driver works best.


I you are getting any sound at all, I’d not focus on USB cables for the time being. They are likely perfectly fine. As @MazeFrame said, take control over the devices if possible (to include avoiding EQ and using Exclusive Mode).

This typically happen when you switch between different USB ports. At least on Windows.

I learned this the hard way. :smile:

I was reading the amazon press announcement and saw this paragraph:

Amazon Music HD offers customers more than 50 million lossless HD songs, with a bit depth of 16 bits and a sample rate of 44.1kHz (CD quality). In addition, customers can stream millions more songs in Ultra HD (better than CD quality), with a bit depth of 24 bits and a sample rate up to 192 kHz.

So unless you’re only playing 192kHz files, your OS will be constantly resampling on demand. It’s easy to notice: just watch your CPU levels between a 192kHz file vs a regular 44.1kHz, for instance. But how one knows which file is 44.1 or 192? That’s a different question. :wink:

Since I’m not an Amazon consumer I don’t know if the ‘Exclusive Mode’ will play any role on sampling rate though.

Amazon customers should claim an Alexa Player with a Toslink output. Alexa HD straight to the DAC. Then problem solved. This is what I do with my (now discontinued) Chromecast audio so I don’t have to deal with resampling at OS. Let the DAC handle it.


Amazon HD has a track-by-track indictor column for legacy (compressed), “HD,” or “Ultra HD” quality.

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if you click on the “Ultra HD” label itself, it’ll tell you the track quality, device capability and quality you downloaded for that track in bits / khz. unfortunately, i’m not sure i’ve ever seen a song recorded at 192khz… hmm.

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you’re right. i do see 1-3% processing hit on my GPU when playing songs through Amazon Music. unfortunately, i’m having trouble finding anything recorded higher than 24 bit/ 96 khz.

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yes, been swapping usb cables but always going to my denafrips.

Check to confirm your USB driver is class 2. More info: https://www.cambridgeaudio.com/usa/en/blog/our-guide-usb-audio-why-should-i-use-it

Probably it is. Class 1 does not go above 96kHz. From earlier:

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