A few weeks back Apple announced that users would soon have the option to enjoy lossless audio and Dolby Atmos spatial audio on their Apple Music tracks. The company announced in the keynote at its Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC 2021) that the audio offerings are now available.
The Apple Music upgrade is hear
Lossless audio will be an opt-in feature rather than the standard package, and that’s fair for two reasons: 1) depending on the level of (for lack of a better term) lossless-ness, your listening hardware may not support it, so you might not get the full benefits of the feature, and 2) the better the audio quality the more data it will need to play.
For a rough guide, Apple offers lossless in three flavours in ascending order of quality. 16bit at 44.1kHz works on pretty much all devices, 24bit at 48kHz works with Apple hardware and most other devices, and 24bit at 192kHz will require a DAC (Digital Audio Converter).
Here’s the Sparknotes explanation as to what lossless audio really is and why someone might want to make use of it. Music production in the modern-day involves quite a bit of compression. The musician(s) record their work into a DAW in a particular format. This is kind of like the master recording, the one that all subsequent versions are reflective of. From there, the master recording is converted into CD quality (that’s identical to Apple’s 16bit at 44.1kHz offering) and from there it’s converted down further into digital formats. Sometimes CD format is skipped entirely if artists just want to put their music straight onto the web.
The point is, each time the audio is reformatted it undergoes a level of compression which “loses” something from the original recording. Apple’s lossless audio offerings are here to undo that loss. Apple Music is set to have over 75 million songs with lossless options by the end of the year.
Spatial audio (courtesy of Dolby Atmos) does what it says on the tin: it’s like having the audio around you, to give you a more immersive experience. For example, if you’re playing a first-person shooter and another player is shooting from behind and slightly to the left of you, it will sound like they’re actually there. It’s pretty cool. That said, you’ll only be able to hear it on a track if it was mixed to be spatial, and Apple hasn’t provided a definitive list of which songs on its streaming service have been formatted that way. Since the feature doesn’t need to be opted in to, it’s enabled for when you do run into a spatially mixed track by chance.
To opt into lossless audio, head over to “Settings”, scroll to “Music”, and select “Quality”. From there you can tailor your audio experience to your wants and the capabilities of your hardware.
Source: Android Authority