Lossless-quality streaming is now available on Apple Music, shortly after it flipped the switch on Dolby Atmos spatial audio. As of now, you’ll be able to stream supported tracks in both standard CD-quality lossless or high-res lossless on the latest versions of iOS, iPadOS and macOS. Some heavy caveats do apply, however, especially when it comes to Apple’s own audio products.
While Dolby Atmos spatial audio will be limited to certain albums, Apple said yesterday at WWDC that lossless streaming will eventually come to its entire catalog of 75 million tracks. Over 20 million songs should already be available on the service as of today, compared to just “thousands” of spatial audio tracks. Both features require a subscription to Apple Music.
The service is available on the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV 4K, with support coming to the HomePod and HomePod Mini with a future update. Once you have the latest OS, you’ll need to switch your preferences from AAC to lossless in the Music app section of the iOS/iPad OS settings. Apple then warns you that lossless tracks will consume “significantly” more data. They’ll also take up more space on your device if you download them.
Lossless audio requires a wired connection and thus won’t work on any of Apple’s AirPod wireless audio devices. That includes AirPods Max headphones, because they support a digital, not analog wired connection via a Lightning cable. For more on that, check our explainer here.
You can listen to regular lossless (CD-quality) audio by simply connecting any wired analog headphones to an iPhone 7 or later (with iOS 14.6), Mac (with macOS 11.4), iPad (iPadOS 14.6) or Apple TV 4K (tvOS 14.6). A Lightning to 3.5mm adapter may be required, of course. To listen to lossless hi-res, however, you’ll need an external digital-to-analog (DAC) converter like this one. To appreciate the extra dynamic range, you’ll want the best wired headphones you can afford.
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