In a surprising, but not especially unexpected move, Apple announced that it’s adding two new features to its premium music streaming subscription service. Apple Music will feature lossless HiFi-quality audio playback, as well as spatial audio thanks to Dolby Atmos integration.
Unlike Spotify’s (also recently announced) HiFi subscription, Apple Music will make the option to stream music in higher, lossless quality available to all of its subscribers. This includes everyone from individual plans to those on family plans. There’s one small catch though: none of the tech giant’s own hardware supports HiFi quality audio playback, and it’s a damn shame.
According to The Verge, Apple will have 75 million lossless audio songs in its library by end of the year — but access to them will only be available to Apple Music subscribers. Lossless songs won’t be available for purchase through the platform, so you’ll have to shell out a monthly amount to gain that extra level of audio quality this time around.
While full support for lossless and spatial audio will only officially roll out in June 2021, you’ll have to actually turn it on yourself. Simply head to Settings > Music > Audio Quality following the software/app update at that point. Here, you’ll be able to allocate specific audio resolutions for certain network connections (mobile data or WiFI). Of course, higher-res audio will chow more data, so be mindful when allocating connections.
What is lossless, and why should you care? Well, if you’re not a bonafide audiophile, you wouldn’t mind the standard audio setting in Apple Music. If you’re interested, however, lossless options will start at CD quality (16 bit at 44.1kHz), and it goes up to 24 bit at 48 kHz on Apple hardware (iPhones, AirPods and HomePods). On other external audio devices, you’ll be able to push it up to 24 bit at 192kHz or ‘High-Resolution Lossless’ for which you’ll need additional audio equipment like a DAC.
Then there’s Dolby Atmos and its spatial audio feature — this will play considerably better with Apple audio tech, like the AirPods and even the Beats headphones that use the H1 or W1 chip. It’ll allow for ‘more immersive’ sound that mimics that of a surround-sound system using fancy software and tech.
It’ll be automatically turned on for most Apple devices, including iPhones, AirPods, Apple TV 4K and most of the brand’s devices launched in the last few years.