Apple Music is upgrading: On Tuesday night, Apple began activating the first tracks with Dolby Atmos support for subscribers — as well as a new Lossless option, both available at no additional charge. Streaming and lossless audio compression downloads must be activated manually in the settings; This requires at least the current iOS 14.6.
According to Apple, 20 million songs can be streamed lossless initially, and the entire catalog of about 75 million titles should be adjusted accordingly by the end of the year.
Apple: Lossless ‘virtually indistinguishable’
Lossless playback is based on Apple’s internal ALAC code (Apple Lossless Audio Codec). It’s “virtually indistinguishable” from previous lossy compression using AAC (Advanced Audio Coding), Apple notes. ALAC music files are also noticeably larger, taking up more storage and bandwidth. If you take 100 people, “99 or 98” won’t hear the difference, says Apple chief of services Eddy Cue in one Interview with the magazine painting. The not lost option is still offered to a small group of customers who have “very high-quality equipment” and who demand it.
Lossless compression with Apple Music starts with 16-bit at 44.1kHz in CD Quality and goes up to 48kHz, which can be played directly on Apple devices. In addition, Apple Music offers “Hi-Resolution Lossless” at up to 192 kHz, which requires additional hardware in the form of a USB digital to analog converter (DAC). Apple AirPods with expensive AirPods Max can’t play music completely without loss. For HomePods, Apple wants to offer the option to lose data via update.
The Dolby Atmos catalog is still in its infancy
The number of Dolby Atmos titles is only in the four-digit range at first, and the service highlights corresponding albums. On AirPods and Beats headphones equipped with an Apple H1 or W1 chip, Dolby Atmos is automatically activated; On other headphones, the function can be activated in the settings. Adapting the current catalog of “3D audio” is complex and will take time, according to Cue. Apple chief expects new titles to be delivered immediately in Dolby Atmos in the future.
Starting in the fall — perhaps with iOS 15 — Apple also wants to introduce a 3D audio add-on on AirPods Pro and AirPods Max: In the future, motion sensors will be built into the headphones to detect head movements and adjust the sound accordingly. Many video streaming apps for iOS already support this functionality.