Apple Music reportedly preparing Hi Res Audio streaming for 2016

Posted:
in iPhone edited December 2015
Apple is said to be developing a new Hi-Res Audio format featuring an expanded 96kHz, 24bit sampling rate for its Apple Music subscribers, leveraging the higher fidelity audio output capabilities of Lightning ports.


Apple's WWDC 2014 session on Lightning accessories


Apple Music is planning to launch new its Hi-Res music streaming--with higher audio quality than can be delivered through standard earphone jacks--over the next year, according to a report by Japanese site Macotakara.

The site referenced "several insiders familiar with Apple" who were exhibiting products at the Portable Audio Festival.

Last year Apple announced its new Lightning connector audio specification, which was adopted in the emergence of Lightning-equipped headphones from Philips, JBL and others.


Philips Fidelio M2L headphones with Lightning connector


There are also rumors that Apple's next iPhone may drop its mini-jack audio plug to instead use the thinner Lightning port as an audio output. Doing so would not only remove the need for a deep, physical plug that takes up space and makes devices harder to protect against water damage, but would also differentiate iPhones with high quality audio playback.

The physical, analog headphone jack is limited to delivering roughly CD-quality sound. Using digital signals over Lightning, headphone makers can use higher quality 24-bit DAC (digital analog conversion), paired with high end, low noise amplification to deliver an experience closer to the full quality of studio recording.

A series of "better than CD" audio formats have attempted to deliver studio quality sound, including the optical disc formats Digital Audio Disc, SACD and DVD-Audio from the late 90s. After years of being overshadowed by basic MP3s and then standard CD-quality digital downloads, new attempts to leverage Blu-ray Disc or digital distribution to deliver high resolution audio have more recently failed to gain much traction.

With the visibility of its Apple Music service--which has already gained millions of subscribers in its first few months--paired with its Beats hardware and its control over the Lightning Connector specification, Apple is positioned with the potential to popularize Hi-Res Audio across larger audiences than ever before, and use that as a way to sell iPhones, accessories and subscription access to music labels' content mastered in studio-quality sound.

Apple has focused its support on Lightning, making it the connector for charging its Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2, Magic TrackPad 2, iPad Pro Pencil and Apple TV Siri Remote, in addition to being the primary port for iPhones and iPad.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 77
    One connector to rule them all. One Connector to find them,
    One Connector to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
    In the land of Cupertino where the Shadows lie.
    napoleon_phoneapartbadmonkargonaut
  • Reply 2 of 77
    So Samsung is Gollum, I take it?
    latifbp
  • Reply 3 of 77
    If they change the connector again, I am going to roll up into a ball and cry.
  • Reply 4 of 77
    Macotakara has one of the worst track records in the Apple rumor market. I don't think they have ever been right.
    Apple Insider should be more wary.
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 5 of 77
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,686member
    sacha said:
    If they change the connector again, I am going to roll up into a ball and cry.

    Yeah, forget about progress and improvement, better technology, better audio and video. Keep the old so I don’t have to do anything. Why did they go and get rid of that perfectly acceptable RS-232 serial port anyway. And they should have kept that Toslink port on the new ATV4 even though it doesn’t support more efficient encoding  like 7.1. I hate change!
    applepieguydbbc
  • Reply 6 of 77
    sphericspheric Posts: 1,714member
    higher audio quality than can be delivered through standard earphone jacks

    […]

    The physical, analog headphone jack is limited to delivering roughly CD-quality sound. Using digital signals over Lightning, headphone makers can use higher quality 24-bit DAC (digital analog conversion) 

    This is rubbish. The 3.5 mm analogue output of the MacBooks is perfectly capable of delivering 24-bit 96 kHz audio, and has been for at least half a decade. 

    There is nothing inherent to the 3.5 mm analogue jack itself that limits audio quality. 

    Apple may not support higher sample rates than 44.1 kHz at the moment, but the chips they've used since the iPhone 6 at least very likely do. Apple just choose not to support higher sample rates (not sure about whether they do 24 bits, but that really only affects the noise floor, so it's not really relevant except in controlled environments, where the iPhone isn't going to be used).

    Really, the only thing Apple needs to do is to add Apple Lossless files to the iTunes Store — in 24-bit resolution if they wish. But going higher-resolution than lossless 24-bit/44.1kHz is complete nonsense. 
    edited December 2015 kitucnocbuiargonautmr. hzimmie
  • Reply 7 of 77
    jonljonl Posts: 210member
    Desperately seeking ways to get people to buy more music and re-buy music they already own. If they are really sneaky, they will release a few "hi-res" titles based on superior masters and count on the average sucker failing to realize that it's invalid to compare different masterings, or more generally, differently sourced material, when evaluating format differences. Also, the average person isn't going to perform ABX tests between the "hi-res" originals and (say) 256 Kbps AAC conversions and thereby discover he can't tell the difference.

    mr. h
  • Reply 8 of 77

    Apple has focused its support on Lightning, making it the connector for charging its Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2, Magic TrackPad 2, iPad Pro Pencil and Apple TV Siri Remote, in addition to being the primary port for iPhones and iPad.
    What is an iPad Pro Pencil???    /s
    (apple.com/apple-pencil/)
  • Reply 9 of 77
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,686member
    spheric said:
    higher audio quality than can be delivered through standard earphone jacks

    […]

    The physical, analog headphone jack is limited to delivering roughly CD-quality sound. Using digital signals over Lightning, headphone makers can use higher quality 24-bit DAC (digital analog conversion) 

    This is rubbish. The 3.5 mm analogue output of the MacBooks is perfectly capable of delivering 24-bit 96 kHz audio, and has been for at least half a decade. 

    There is nothing inherent to the 3.5 mm analogue jack itself that limits audio quality. 

    Apple may not support higher sample rates than 44.1 kHz at the moment, but the chips they've used since the iPhone 6 at least very likely do. Apple just choose not to support higher sample rates (not sure about whether they do 24 bits, but that really only affects the noise floor, so it's not really relevant except in controlled environments, where the iPhone isn't going to be used).

    Really, the only thing Apple needs to do is to add Apple Lossless files to the iTunes Store — in 24-bit resolution if they wish. But going higher-resolution than lossless 24-bit/44.1kHz is complete nonsense. 
    It’s so refreshing to know that here on AI we have anonymous, genius level engineers that are so far superior to Apple’s own engineers that they can inform us how stupid everything Apple does is.
    jax44equality72521thepixeldocalexkhan2000
  • Reply 10 of 77

    Apple Music is planning to launch new its Hi-Res music streaming--with higher audio quality than can be delivered through standard earphone jacks--over the next year, according to a report by Japanese site Macotakara.
    Is anyone else getting a 404 error for the Macotakara link?


    With the visibility of its Apple Music service--which has already gained millions of subscribers in its first few months--paired with its Beats hardware and its control over the Lightning Connector specification, Apple is positioned with the potential to popularize Hi-Res Audio across larger audiences than ever before, and use that as a way to sell iPhones, accessories and subscription access to music labels' content mastered in studio-quality sound.
    Here's to hoping Apple is able to make Beats hardware actually sound good enough in order to take advantage of Hi-Res audio. 


    EDIT: Never mind, I got the link figured out from http://www.macrumors.com/2015/12/20/apple-high-resolution-audio/ 

    AI please add the www to the Macotakara link, that should fix it.
    edited December 2015 1983
  • Reply 11 of 77
    prokipprokip Posts: 139member
    lkrupp said:
    spheric said:

    This is rubbish. The 3.5 mm analogue output of the MacBooks is perfectly capable of delivering 24-bit 96 kHz audio, and has been for at least half a decade. 

    There is nothing inherent to the 3.5 mm analogue jack itself that limits audio quality. 

    Apple may not support higher sample rates than 44.1 kHz at the moment, but the chips they've used since the iPhone 6 at least very likely do. Apple just choose not to support higher sample rates (not sure about whether they do 24 bits, but that really only affects the noise floor, so it's not really relevant except in controlled environments, where the iPhone isn't going to be used).

    Really, the only thing Apple needs to do is to add Apple Lossless files to the iTunes Store — in 24-bit resolution if they wish. But going higher-resolution than lossless 24-bit/44.1kHz is complete nonsense. 
    It’s so refreshing to know that here on AI we have anonymous, genius level engineers that are so far superior to Apple’s own engineers that they can inform us how stupid everything Apple does is.
    OK, this debate has been going on for so many years, it really is getting boring.  One of the best analysis of the issues is set out in this piece by a very experienced engineer and supported by substantial other material.  Check it out -   http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html#toc_intro
  • Reply 12 of 77
    I'm unclear what benefits the Lightning connector has over USB-C. As for a digital format, I suggest MQA. MQA goes all the way back to the mastering stage, so it's a bit more than just taking a CD and resampling it to a different format. If Apple went to a hi-res format, I'd be very likely to subscribe. I have a pretty decent home sound system, and I would invest in some true high quality headphones or earbuds for in the office. The free streaming services meet my needs for background-noise level of listening, but I know I'm not getting good fidelity. 
    edited December 2015 1983
  • Reply 13 of 77
    I'm currently a Tidal subscriber that is really enjoying the heck out of their service.  Hopefully, Apple will get involved in offering something better than what they already have.
    1983
  • Reply 14 of 77
    lkrupp said:
    spheric said:

    This is rubbish. The 3.5 mm analogue output of the MacBooks is perfectly capable of delivering 24-bit 96 kHz audio, and has been for at least half a decade. 

    There is nothing inherent to the 3.5 mm analogue jack itself that limits audio quality. 

    Apple may not support higher sample rates than 44.1 kHz at the moment, but the chips they've used since the iPhone 6 at least very likely do. Apple just choose not to support higher sample rates (not sure about whether they do 24 bits, but that really only affects the noise floor, so it's not really relevant except in controlled environments, where the iPhone isn't going to be used).

    Really, the only thing Apple needs to do is to add Apple Lossless files to the iTunes Store — in 24-bit resolution if they wish. But going higher-resolution than lossless 24-bit/44.1kHz is complete nonsense. 
    It’s so refreshing to know that here on AI we have anonymous, genius level engineers that are so far superior to Apple’s own engineers that they can inform us how stupid everything Apple does is.

    1983
  • Reply 15 of 77
    He happens to be right. 
  • Reply 16 of 77
    lkrupp said:
    sacha said:
    If they change the connector again, I am going to roll up into a ball and cry.

    Yeah, forget about progress and improvement, better technology, better audio and video. Keep the old so I don’t have to do anything. Why did they go and get rid of that perfectly acceptable RS-232 serial port anyway. And they should have kept that Toslink port on the new ATV4 even though it doesn’t support more efficient encoding  like 7.1. I hate change!
    S/PDIF went away because it has no HDCP, not because HDMI is "better". 


    jasenj1 said:
    I'm unclear what benefits the Lightning connector has over USB-C. As for a digital format, I suggest MQA. MQA goes all the way back to the mastering stage, so it's a bit more than just taking a CD and resampling it to a different format. If Apple went to a hi-res format, I'd be very likely to subscribe. I have a pretty decent home sound system, and I would invest in some true high quality headphones or earbuds for in the office. The free streaming services meet my needs for background-noise level of listening, but I know I'm not getting good fidelity. 
    Here's one benefit:



    jasenj1chia
  • Reply 17 of 77
    This makes sense to me.  I think this has to be the killer iPhone 7 feature set.  It also provides the vision of rhe Beats acquisition, the primary end game.  I for one can't wait & I am a vinyl type of guy.
    arftech1983
  • Reply 18 of 77
    noivadnoivad Posts: 186member
    An audio chain is only as good as it’s weakest link. A Majority of people won’t have the equipment, nor be willing to pay over $100 for the minimum “buy-in” to that level. & of those that do, the difference could be lost on many if not most of them without ear training or without properly mastered audio. Still, for the few that DO have the equipment, content & ears, this is good news. I just wish they dumped lossly for lossless, 24-bit is great if you have audio that takes advantage of the >96dB S:N (16-bit’s limit) ,which isn’t much in pop music, but it could make the loudness wars moot. A 96kHz sample rate is just a bonus with few noticeable advantages, the biggest being an inexpensive way to get high-end analog source quality without the high-end analog price (easily in the 4 figures). Personally, I wish they’d just increase the fidelity of the wireless systems so more people would realize the convenience of wireless systems.
    1983
  • Reply 19 of 77
    Maybe I missed something. Can I bypass the rather feeble quality of an iPod's inners to deliver the higher quality music? Does an external DAC help? Or will I require a new higher-quality audio output from a new generation of iPod?
    I ask, because I appreciate the higher quality of SACD over CD. And my 80GB iPod Classic is almost dead, so am in the market for a new music-player. I've been looking at few alternatives including a high-end player from SONY.
  • Reply 20 of 77
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,819member
    I hope they also offer higher res files for download too, not just streaming. Be nice if I could have the option to upgrade all the music I've purchased from iTunes.
    1983bloodshotrollin'red
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