Apple Music is going lossless — at no extra cost to subscribers. Apple revealed the free upgrade Monday, a day ahead of its rumored launch. The company said Apple Music will bring lossless audio to more than 75 million tracks starting in June so listeners can hear songs “the way the artists created them in the studio.”
In addition, Apple Music will add Spatial Audio support for songs mixed in Dolby Atmos. That means customers who own AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max and Beats headphones featuring an H1 or W1 chip — or using the built-in speakers in the newest iPhone, iPad and Mac — will be able to hear certain songs in the immersive format.
“Apple Music is making its biggest advancement ever in sound quality,” said Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats, in a statement. “Listening to a song in Dolby Atmos is like magic. The music comes from all around you and sounds incredible. Now we are bringing this truly innovative and immersive experience to our listeners with music from their favorite artists like J Balvin, Gustavo Dudamel, Ariana Grande, Maroon 5, Kacey Musgraves, The Weeknd, and so many more. Subscribers will also be able to listen to their music in the highest audio quality with Lossless Audio. Apple Music as we know it is about to change forever.”
To promote this feature, Apple will launch a set of playlists to showcase songs in the Dolby Atmos format as they become available. At launch, Apple says “thousands” of songs will deliver this new surround sound experience.
Lossless audio coming soon to Apple Music
The new Apple Music options will become available in June. Subscribers can turn on Lossless Audio by going to Settings > Music > Audio Quality. Apple Music’s lossless tier starts at CD quality — 16 bit/44.1 kHz — and goes up to 24 bit/48 kHz. Users can choose “different resolutions for different connections such as cellular, Wi-Fi, or for download” so they don’t burn through their data plans.
“For the true audiophile, Apple Music also offers Hi-Resolution Lossless all the way up to 24 bit at 192 kHz,” Apple said. However, the company said Hi-Resolution Lossless playback will require “external equipment, such as a USB digital-to-analog converter.” AirPods do not support the Apple Music lossless option.
Apple isn’t the first company to offers lossless audio. Most notably, Apple Music competitor Spotify announced in February that it will launch Spotify HiFi later this year. Spotify has yet to reveal exactly when this will arrive or how much it will cost. In other words, despite announcing the upgrade before Apple, Cupertino might have pipped Spotify to the post in terms of launch. And, possibly, in terms of price.