As promised by Apple, the lossless music mode for Apple Music is now expanding to all users, including those in some countries. The launch that is taking place right now will allow us to listen to audio in CD quality, in addition to testing the capacity of spatial audio in Apple Music.
How to listen to lossless music on Apple Music?
Up to 75 million songs from Apple’s music service receive this new model, which will take advantage of the new ALAC Apple Lossless Audio Codec. This new option will allow users to listen to their songs at 16 bits at 44.1 kHz (kilohertz) and can go up to 48 kHz fully natively in its base version. The highest mode supports 24 bit / 192 kHz.
However, there is one small detail to be clarified: not just any sound system will do to play this music at such high quality. You’ll need an audio device that not only supports high-definition audio modes, but you won’t be able to use wireless headphones. And no, AirPods won’t work, neither the Pro nor the Max.
If you have the latest iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and macOS updates, you will be able to access this new subscription version which also has no additional cost on your subscription. We say all those systems since both spatial audio and lossless audio will be available on Apple TV 4K, iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
Apple has arranged for all users to complete playlists to test both lossless audio and spatial audio with Dolby Atmos. So much so, that Apple has created audios and tutorials for us to check out the difference for ourselves. Here is an example in which Apple simply asks us to use headphones (better if they are AirPods compatible with spatial audio).
However, it should be clarified that not all headphones are suitable to take advantage of these new lossless audio modes. Even if we are the lucky owners of some AirPods Max, we will not be able to listen to such music at its full quality in high-resolution lossless mode.
We talked about this recently; Apple’s wireless headphones use the AAC codec, which is limited to 256 Kbps and is far from the aforementioned 16-bit CD quality. Apple’s headphones using this Bluetooth wireless standard do not have enough bandwidth to transmit the entire audio, which, let’s remember, is uncompressed; as it comes out of the studio, as it is played back.
Other brands such as Sony have their codecs, in this case, LDAC. But even with those, we fall short at the wireless level. Apple’s basic lossless audio mode, 16-bit CD, transmits audio at 1,411 kbps; Sony’s LDAC can reach 990 kbps.
In short, we are forced to use a wired device if we want to listen to this lossless music. And yet, these headphones have to be ready for high definition; we need headphones with a good DAC, i.e. a digital-to-analog converter. A good example would be the Sony WH-1000XM4 via USB-C.
And before you grab the Lightning cable for your AirPods Max, we’re sorry to tell you that Apple’s port is also limited. The AirPods Max cable supports a 24-bit 48 kHz maximum DAC, but the signal comes out analog and is converted to digital in the process, which would cause losses in a service that promises, let’s make it redundant, lossless music.
To take advantage of the higher audio mode, an external device or DAC that we can connect, for example, via USB-C is essential. The only alternative we have if we want to stay in the Apple ecosystem, this launch a new high-resolution wireless codec and update their AirPods (or launch new compatible AirPods).
Having said all this, activating lossless music has no mystery; we will simply have to go to the settings of our iPhone, go to Apple Music, go to “Audio Quality” and activate lossless audio. Remember that downloaded music occupies much more in this mode, especially in high-resolution mode, so you must control the storage.