"Apple Music as we know it is about to change forever."
Apple is set to add support for both lossless audio as well as spatial audio through Dolby Atmos to Apple Music globally starting next month. Moreover, both features will be accessible free of cost to all subscribers including those on its family and student plans. Apple confirmed the news via a press release after teasing the update inside the Apple Music app earlier in the day, saying, “Apple Music as we know it is about to change forever.”
High-quality lossless audio is a huge deal considering how more and more streaming services are either already onboard (such as Amazon with Amazon Music HD) or are set to join the bandwagon sooner rather than later (such as Spotify). Then there is Tidal (with Tidal Masters) that Apple is clearly looking to take on with this announcement. The biggest differentiator, or rather key selling point of Apple Music is, it will be available for free — at least at launch. This means, we can totally expect rivals changing their strategy with Amazon having already dropped the ball by offering lossless audio to all Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers at no extra charge.
Apple plans to eventually make its entire catalogue of more than 75 million songs available in lossless audio starting at CD quality, which is 16 bit @44.1 kHz and going up to 24 bit @48 kHz — both playable “natively” on Apple devices. Support for Hi-Resolution Lossless up to 24 bit @192 kHz will be also provided for those who can shell out on additional hardware like a DAC. When available, the feature will have to be manually enabled from the audio quality menu of the app’s settings. Apple will allow subscribers to choose different resolutions for different connections such as cellular, Wi-Fi, and download.
In addition, Apple Music will offer thousands of tracks in spatial audio with Dolby Atmos — again, starting from June — and Apple says, it will add more titles regularly.
The next dimension of sound is coming.
— Apple Music (@AppleMusic) May 17, 2021
“Together, Apple Music and Dolby are making it easy for musicians, producers, and mix engineers to create songs in Dolby Atmos” through a range of initiatives including “doubling the number of Dolby-enabled studios in major markets, offering educational programs, and providing resources to independent artists,” Apple adds.
Dolby Atmos music will be accessible on certified content by default through all AirPods and Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip, and through the built-in speakers in the newer iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers. Apple will also make this content easily discoverable through Dolby Atmos playlists and more.