Apple is bringing two major updates to Apple Music, including support for high-quality, lossless audio and for spatial audio through Dolby Atmos. Moreover, the features will be free of cost for all subscribers, including those on family and student plans. Apple is starting off with 20 million lossless audio songs in its catalogue, which it plans to extend to 75 million by te end of this year.
Lossless audio will be a subscription-only feature, according to Apple. The company also added that music purchases will not be offered in lossless quality, nor will there be a way to upgrade owned tracks to lossless with the paid iTunes Match service.
The latest version of Apple Music is required to run lossless audio. The option can be found in Settings, under Audio Quality. Users will be shown different resolutions for different connections, like cellular, Wi-Fi, or for download, that they can choose from.
Lossless audio starts at CD quality, which is 16 bit at 44.1 kHz, and goes up to 24 bit at 48 kHz natively on Apple devices. However, in order to enjoy the highest-quality “High-Resolution Lossless” experience, subscribers will have to rely on an external equipment like a DAC.
The Spatial audio and Dolby Atmos audio, on the other hand, are expected to provide more immersive mixes for users listening through the latest AirPods or Beats headphones that come with the H1 or W1 chip.
Spatial audio can also be played via the built-in speakers on the latest versions of the iPhone, iPad, and Mac by default. The option can be manually enabled for other headphones by visiting Settings and selecting “Always On” for Audio and set Dolby Atmos.
Devices that can support the Spatial Audio feature include all of those launched by Apple within the last few years.