AirPods, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max will not be able to play lossless audio from Apple Music. The hours are passing and little by little we are discovering the details about how we will be able to enjoy the highest possible quality in Apple Music now that it will have high-fidelity sound. And here’s one of the drawbacks of this quality requirement: neither AirPods, AirPods Pro nor AirPods Max will be able to play lossless audio.
Since AirPods are set up to work with the AAC compressed audio codec over a Bluetooth connection, they are not able to play the uncompressed ALAC format that will be used by the hi-fi in Apple Music. It is a format that requires a bandwidth that Bluetooth is not capable of withstanding. Even AirPods Max will not be able to play that audio by connecting with a cable to Apple devices.
What the AirPods will be able to reproduce is spatial audio with Dolby Atmos, for which the W1 and H1 chips of the AirPods are prepared. But audiophiles who want to squeeze the most out of high fidelity will have to buy special adapters and cables, with the possibility of looking for headphones or speakers that are capable of receiving that quality. Accessories that will undoubtedly need some cable: lossless comes at the price of leaving behind the comforts of wireless headphones.