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Streaming M4A Support RRS feed

  • Question

  • WHS v1.0 eventually added support for M4A files, but streaming support in WHS 2011 seems sporadic. For example, I have two songs from the same album that were ripped at the same time to .m4a files. One can be streamed in the Media Library through Remote Web Access, but the other doesn't even show up. I would think it would be all or nothing. Are there certain characteristics about the files that are in play here? The only thing differentiating them appears to be file size - one is greater than 4MB, the other less. Help is appreciated...
    Monday, June 20, 2011 6:15 PM

All replies

  • There are some very strange inconsistencies in media streaming, yes. M4A/ALAC isn't supported, for example (which takes care of most of my audio library). WMA Lossless doesn't always work right either. And that's a Microsoft consumer codec (i.e. anyone with WMP on Vista or Win7 can produce files using that codec)!

    As far as I can tell, it's not a file size issue.


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Monday, June 20, 2011 8:27 PM
  • Yeah, most of my library is M4A/ALAC as well. It's not the end of the world, I can always use an add-in of something like Subsonic for streaming. It was just more of a curiosity question. They say that M4A isn't supported, but I'm definitely streaming some M4A files purchased through iTunes. But other songs I've purchased through iTunes won't show up for streaming. Now I just really want to know what's going on...
    Monday, June 20, 2011 8:34 PM
  • Yeah, most of my library is M4A/ALAC as well. It's not the end of the world, I can always use an add-in of something like Subsonic for streaming. It was just more of a curiosity question. They say that M4A isn't supported, but I'm definitely streaming some M4A files purchased through iTunes. But other songs I've purchased through iTunes won't show up for streaming. Now I just really want to know what's going on...

    Here's what's going on with your iTunes audio:

    iTunes uses two container extensions for audio, one for protected tracks (m4p) and one for unprotected tracks (m4a). Itunes also uses two different codecs for audio: AAC (lossy compression) and ALAC (lossless compression). Either codec can exist in either container. The iTunes store distributes most tracks as AAC in an m4p container, so it's lossy protected audio. Some is distributed as AAC in an m4a container: lossy unprotected audio. And a little is distributed as ALAC in an m4a container: lossless unprotected audio.

    On your server, the only thing that it can stream is AAC audio in an unprotected container, because it can't deal with Apple DRM, and ALAC is a proprietary codec. The reason you thought it might be a file size issue is because ALAC results in files that have been compressed ~30-50% over WAV files, so they're pretty big (25+ MB for a few minutes of audio). Files compressed using AAC are usually tiny by comparison (3-5 MB for the same audio, given default settings in iTunes when the audio is ripped).

    Does that help you understand why things are so inconsistent?


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Monday, June 20, 2011 9:16 PM
  • Ken -

    Thanks for the detailed explanation, but that (sadly) still doesn't explain what I'm seeing. I purchased four (4) songs off the same album in iTunes at the same time. They are all AAC in .m4a containers. They show up in iTunes as Kind = Purchased AAC audio file. When I look at the Details tab under Properties for each file on my WHS 2011 server they all say Protected = No. So that's the setup.

    Here's the reveal - only one (1) of these four seemingly identical files is able to be streamed through WHS 2011 Remote Web Access. I can't find anything that differentiates these files aside from the obvious file size and duration. Since I bought them all off the same album at the same time even their metadata is identical.

    I can live with WHS not streaming certain file types (ALAC, unfortunately), but I just don't understand this apparently arbitrary streaming support. At this point I'm fine with its supported file types and I'm really just wearing my detective hat to try to figure out what's going on here. Thanks...
    Friday, June 24, 2011 2:13 PM