Monday, May 17, 2021

Apple Music Spatial Audio and Lossless Audio

Apple (Hacker News, MacRumors, The Verge):

Spatial Audio gives artists the opportunity to create immersive audio experiences for their fans with true multidimensional sound and clarity. 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. These new features will be available for Apple Music subscribers starting next month at no additional cost.


By default, Apple Music will automatically play Dolby Atmos tracks on all AirPods and Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip, as well as the built-in speakers in the latest versions of iPhone, iPad, and Mac.


Apple uses ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) to preserve every single bit of the original audio file. This means Apple Music subscribers will be able to hear the exact same thing that the artists created in the studio.

To start listening to Lossless Audio, subscribers using the latest version of Apple Music can turn it on in Settings > Music > Audio Quality. Here, they can choose different resolutions for different connections such as cellular, Wi-Fi, or for download.

Nilay Patel:

Very cool of Apple for offering three tiers - including a higher quality tier than its devices can even support - instead of pretending the CD was the pinnacle of audio quality

Dan Moren:

Both Lossless and Hi-Ress Lossless format requires opting in, given large file sizes, and you’ll need an external digital-to-analog converter (DAC) for Hi-Res. Apple also confirmed to T3 that AirPods Pro and AirPods Max (and presumably vanilla AirPods) don’t support Lossless audio, since they can only use the Bluetooth AAC codec.

Micah Singleton:

AirPods Max also won’t support lossless over the lightning cable, the company tells me.

Chris Welch:

Apple just confirmed to me that lossless audio is exclusive to Apple Music. Subscription required.

There won’t be an option to purchase tracks or albums in that quality, nor will it be offered with iTunes Match.

Andrew O’Hara:

ANY AirPods will work with Spatial Audio when listening to music but ONLY AirPods Pro and AirPods Max support Spatial Audio on videos.

Nick Heer:

If you’ve been paying attention to the rumour mill, you might have expected that Apple would add lossless and spatial audio. The surprise is that it will be included with subscriptions at no extra cost, and that is a bold move. Spotify has not announced pricing yet for its lossless tier, but it costs $5 more per month to add lossless audio to a Deezer subscription, and it is a $10 per month add-on with Tidal, which is oddly now owned by Square. Tidal’s high-end subscription also offers Dolby Atmos tracks and spatial audio through Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format.

Sami Fathi:

Moments before Apple announced that it will begin offering Spatial Audio and Lossless audio streaming for Apple Music subscribers at no additional cost, Amazon Music announced that it will also offer its subscribers HiFi quality streaming for free, Billboard reports.

Tom Harrington:

Can’t use my own data without Apple trying to upsell me. Saying “no” isn’t an option, only “not now”.


Update (2021-05-24): Joe Rossignol:

Latest info on Apple Music lossless support…

Matt Birchler:

Is spatial audio for music the next great innovation in music production, or is it a whole bunch of nothing?

1 Comment RSS · Twitter

The CD is in fact the pinnacle of audio quality - at least until we evolve ears that can hear more than 20Hz-20MHz. There has never been a legitimate double-blind hearing test demonstrating that even audio engineers can distinguish CD audio from the various “high res” snake-oil formats.

As long as Apple doesn’t charge extra for it, I guess it’s up to them if they want to pay to transmit all that superfluous data.

Leave a Comment