What is Apple Music Lossless and Which Devices Work?
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(Pocket-lint) – Apple’s audio streaming service, Apple Music, offers Lossless Audio versions of millions of tracks on the platform – giving you improved quality and a better listening experience.
So here we tell you everything you need to know about Apple Music Lossless and Hi-Res Lossless.
You can also check out our Spatial Audio topic to learn more about other improvements for Apple Music members.
What is Apple Music Lossless Audio?
Apple Music Lossless Audio is the label given to music tracks on the service that are in a higher resolution format than normal. This means that you can listen to music that has not been compressed and therefore retains all the details and nuances of the original recordings.
When a track is compressed to reduce file size, such as an MP3 or Apple’s AAC format, some of the audio information may be lost. A compressed file can be up to 90% smaller than a lossless file, but is usually rendered at a lower bitrate and frequency. Most streaming services use these default formats to save streaming bandwidth or device storage space.
Lossless audio files are rendered at much higher bitrates and frequencies, and therefore take up more space or bandwidth. However, the audio quality is improved. Compare the same song playing from a CD to a song playing on a standard streaming service and you should be able to make out the differences in clarity, and even hear background sounds you might have missed before. .
Apple Music’s Lossless Audio service therefore offers users the ability to listen to music tracks at a higher bitrate, with some “lossless” options. It uses the ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) file type and offers different types:
- Lossless Audio (up to 24-bit at 48kHz)
- Hi-Res Lossless Audio (up to 24-bit at 192kHz).
You will need specialized audio equipment to play Hi-Res Lossless music.
Apple offers almost all of its music catalog – more than 75 million titles – in Lossless Audio format.
How do I get the Lossless Audio format and how much does it cost?
Apple provides Lossless Audio at no additional cost as part of an Apple Music subscription.
An Apple Music subscription costs £9.99/$9.99 per month (£4.99/$4.99 for students). A family plan is available for £14.99/$14.95 per month.
You can also get Apple Music as part of the Apple One bundle, which also includes Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and iCloud storage, for €14.95/$14.95 per month (€19.95/$19. $95 per month for family access). News+ and Fitness+ can also be added, along with increased iCloud storage (up to 2TB) for £29.95/$29.95 per month.
Apple Music and Apple One offers come with a free trial period for newcomers.
Lossless Audio is available on Apple Music on devices running at least iOS 14.6, iPadOS 14.6, tvOS 14.6, or macOS 11.4.
How to Enable Lossless Audio in Apple Music?
Lossless Audio is not enabled by default. This is to prevent you from accidentally consuming your mobile data, for example, as lossless tracks can be bandwidth hungry.
You must therefore activate it by going to the Settings from your iPhone or iPad, by scrolling down to Musicthen selecting Audio quality. You can then choose between the different resolutions.
To enable the Lossless feature on your Apple TV 4K, follow the same steps, although the Apple TV does not support the Hi-Res Lossless option.
You can find out more detailed steps on how to access Lossless Audio on your device here: How to Enable Apple Music’s Lossless Audio Option and Make It Work.
What devices support the Lossless Audio option?
Lossless Audio tracks can currently only be played through wired headphones connected to an iPhone, iPad, or Mac; they cannot be streamed to wireless headphones, including AirPods. Even if you select Lossless Audio in Apple Music, when listening via Bluetooth you’ll listen to a compressed version instead.
Apple AirPods Max also does not support Lossless Audio even when using the cable.
However, there is support for lossless audio up to 24-bit 48kHz via a Lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter, but you’ll still need to connect a good pair of wired headphones. It is worth remembering that this is not the highest quality offered by Apple, but it could be a solution for some users.
Lossless is supported on HomePod and HomePod mini in the future with the latest software update.
If you want to listen to lossless audio through the Apple TV 4K, you will need to send the audio to an AV receiver via HDMI and the receiver will need to be able to decode the stream. It will then play through the connected speakers of the receiver, but this method only supports up to 48 kHz.
AirPlay 2 also supports the Apple lossless format up to 48 kHz. Devices like the Naim Mu-so 2 can be bit Lossless Audio, for example, to enjoy higher quality music.
To listen to tracks in Hi-Res Lossless Audio, you will also need external equipment, such as a USB DAC (digital-to-analog converter) that sits between the device and the headphones.
Devices such as the Chord Mojo allow you to take Apple’s Hi-Res Lossless Audio and connect your wired headphones, with the Mojo taking care of decoding the audio for your headphones. In that case, you can connect it to your Mac via USB, or use a Lightning to USB adapter for an iPhone or iPad.
Is Apple Music the only service that offers lossless audio?
Apple Music is actually a little behind the party when it comes to lossless, high-resolution music playback.
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Other streaming services, including Tidal, Qoboz, and Amazon Music, have offered music streaming and download packages in Master or HD quality for some time.
Written by Rik Henderson.