Apple Music Is Adding Lossless And Spatial Audio At No Additional Cost Starting Next Month

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After weeks of rumors and leaks, Apple today announced that some significant updates are coming to its popular Apple Music subscription service. Apple is adding multiple lossless audio options for starters, using the proprietary Apple Lossless Audio Code (ALAC).

The lossless audio option is available for the entire Apple Music catalog, which is currently in excess of 75 million songs. Users will be able to enable this feature by navigating to Settings --> Music --> Audio Quality. From there, you’ll be able to opt for CD-quality (16-bit at 44.1 kHz or 24-bit at 48 kHz) natively on Apple devices. However, Apple Music also offers a 24-bit at 192 kHz Hi-Resolution Lossless option for true audiophiles. There is a catch with this latter option; Apple says you need “external equipment” such as a USB DAC.

In addition, you must also consider a significant increase in data usage when using the lossless audio options. While this is probably not as much concern if you’re on an unmetered Wi-Fi connection, those using Apple Music over a cellular connection will want to pay close attention to their data usage. Using the existing high efficiency and high-quality settings, a 3-minute song consumes 1.5MB and 6MB of data, respectively. That figure jumps to 36MB with lossless 24-bit/48 kHz and 145MB with the Hi-Res 24-bit/192 kHz lossless option.

The other big news for Apple Music is the inclusion of support for Spatial Audio. Apple enabled Spatial Audio support on the AirPods Pro last year in select video streaming apps. Now, the same immersive listening experience is coming to Apple Music with support for Dolby Atmos. According to Apple, AirPods and Beats devices that contain the H1 or W1 SoC (and built-in speakers on iPhones, iPads, and Macs) will default to playing [supported] Dolby Atmos tracks. As for Spatial Audio, the company only says that there are “thousands” of songs across multiple genres that support the feature. We’d assume that figure will grow significantly in the coming months.

“Apple Music is making its biggest advancement ever in sound quality,” said Oliver Schusser, Apple VP of Apple Music and Beats. “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.”

The best news of all is that these features are coming at no additional cost to new and existing Apple Music subscribers with the public release of iOS 14.6, iPadOS 14.6, macOS 11.4, and tvOS 14.6 in June. Apple Music is priced at $9.99/month for individual plans or $14.99/month with a family plan. Students, however, can access Apple Music for as low as $4.99/month.