Apple Music will offer Lossless Audio at no additional cost, but it won’t work with AirPods

The rumours were true, and Apple has now confirmed that Lossless Audio will be coming to its streaming service in June 2021. Along with that, Apple Music will also support Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos—all of which will be offered to subscribers at no additional cost.

This, as I previously mentioned, might just be the boost that the Cupertino-based company’s music service needs, offering an edge over main rivals Spotify (who have yet to offer the lossless audio format).

“Apple Music subscribers will also be able to listen to more than 75 million songs in Lossless Audio — the way the artists created them in the studio.”

However, all of it comes with a rather big caveat. As widely-reported, Apple’s range of wireless headphones, the AirPods, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max, won’t support the high bitrate audio format. Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos, on the other hand, will be supported.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what you need to know.

Lossless Audio—what is it?

Lossless Audio is essentially the audio equivalent of high resolution video. Apple will use its own ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) to ensure that subscribers will hear “the exact same thing” that sound engineers create in the studio. Within the lossless audio term, as well, are a couple of quality tiers, or bitrates. This starts with 16 bit at 44.1kHz (CD quality), all the way up to Hi-Resolution Lossless quality with 24 bit at 192kHz.

Once the feature is available, you’ll need to turn it on within the Apple Music app in Setings > Music > Audio Quality. You can also set if you want to stream tracks over data, WiFi, or to download the tracks. A quick note: the higher the bitrate, the larger the file will be. You’d be best advised to stream over WiFi, or to simply pre-download your tracks in anticipation of some HiFi listening on the move.

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Meanwhile, as 9to5Mac reports, Lossless Audio will not work over Bluetooth—which disqualifies all AirPods and HomePod models. Even the AirPods Max, which comes with a wired option, won’t work, with Apple explainig that the 3.5mm wired mode does not support digital audio formats. Instead, you’ll need to use a non-Apple wired headphone option—and if you’re using a newer-generation iPhone, you’ll need a Lightning adapter to go along with it. Bummer.

Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos

On the other hand, Apple says that Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos support will be coming to Apple Music—and yes, AirPods models are compatible here. For the uninitiated, Dolby Atmos is basically the audio standard that is supposed to offer an immersive experience that emulates a soundstage from all around (even above) the listener.

In addition to AirPods, Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip will also work with this feature, along with the integrated speakers on the latest generations of the iPhone, iPad, and Mac computers. Spatial Audio, of course, was initially only announced awhile back for the Pro and Max models—but Apple Music will offer support for all AirPods models. This feature tracks the movements of your head, mapping a soundstage that will offer an almost 3D-like experience.

All in all, Apple promises that “thousands” of tracks will be available in Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos at launch, with more to arrive over time. Meanwhile, the 75 million track-strong catalogue on Apple Music will be available in in Lossless Audio. All of the above will be officially available in June of 2021, with no additional cost to subscribers.

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