Good news for Apple Music subscribers – Lossless Audio and Spatial Audio is coming to the platform at long last.
Starting next month, more than 75 million tracks will be available in lossless format, which means you can finally make full use of your fancy high-resolution headphones as an Apple Music subscriber. Apple is using the familiar ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) for this. The codec covers the most popular bitrates ranging from 16bit, 44.1kHz right up to 24 bit, 192 kHz. However, do note that Apple devices only support tracks with bitrates up to 24-bit, 48kHz, but that alone should be more than sufficient, sound quality-wise, for most people.
Unlike the lossless library, only thousands of Spatial Audio tracks will be available at launch. While Apple can simply churn out lossless versions of their library on their end, Dolby Atmos-enhanced music needs to be implemented during the actual mix or during a remaster. What’s interesting is that Apple seems to be actively involved. According to Apple, Apple Music is working with artists and labels to create music specifically for the Spatial Audio experience. Their partnership with Dolby has doubled the number of Dolby-enabled studios in major markets and they have also introduced educational initiatives to drive adoption, even amongst independent artists.
Apple Music will add new Dolby Atmos tracks regularly and to help listeners find them, Dolby Atmos-specific playlists will be introduced while albums that support Dolby Atmos will be marked with a badge for easy discovery.
Users with more recent Apple devices will be able to enjoy the benefits of Dolby Atmos on their devices from the get-go. Apple Music will automatically present tracks in Dolby Atmos on all AirPods and Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip as well as the speakers in the latest iPhones, iPads and iMacs.