Tech

Apple Music to Introduce Lossless Audio to Entire Catalog in June 2021

By Bill Toulas / May 18, 2021

Apple has eventually delivered what most people assumed from the teasers that came out in the previous days, announcing lossless audio to the entire Apple Music catalog (75 million songs). The new sound level will be made available to all subscribers of the music streaming service in June 2021, at no additional cost. Moreover, Apple is also bringing in Spatial Audio with support for Dolby Atmos, making the music listening experience more immersive than ever.

Lossless audio is the equivalent of CD-level sound quality, offering high fidelity for those with the ear and reproduction equipment to enjoy it. Apple says the new codec that is used for this purpose is its very-own ‘ALAC.’ In numbers, the files are going to start from 16-bit at 44.1 kHz and go up to 24-bit at 48 kHz.

For the never-satisfied audiophiles, Apple Music will also offer 24-bit at 192 kHz, but this tier will be an opt-in thing due to the large file size and bandwidth needed for the streaming. Also, this will require the support of external equipment such as a USB digital-to-analog converter (DAC).

Source: Apple

The Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos will be made available for a couple of thousand tracks initially, but more will be added along the way. As we explained last summer when Spatial Audio was presented through the new AirPods, it is a 3D sound system that tracks the device’s position and calibrates the sound profile to create a realistic acoustic sense for the user. It adds more immersion and makes it feel like the sound is really coming from the playback source, be it the iPhone or the iPad.

One question that comes to mind is why Apple decided to make lossless audio free for everyone. This is something that is sold as extra on competing platforms, and Apple isn’t known for giving away stuff like that. The answer to this is multi-dimensional, really, but it can be summed up in the effort to lure more users onto a platform that is not bound to the “Apple ecosystem” anyway. This is a big move that is poised to shake competitors in the field.

Ironically, AirPods users won’t get that lossless audio because of their wireless transmission nature. The same goes for anything connected to iPhone, as there’s no headphone jack on the device. Even the $549 AirPods Max, which supports wired connectivity, won’t get lossless audio due to Lightning-to-3.5 mm dongle limitations that introduce digital to analog and then analog back to digital conversions. The result is not the same as the source, so that’s sure to disappoint those who spent a respectable amount of money on Apple’s pinnacle headphones.



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