Apple Music announces Lossless Audio, Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited May 17
Apple has revealed that its long-rumored lossless audio streaming feature for Apple Music plus Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos is coming in June, at no additional cost to subscribers.




Apple Music Lossless will provide users with high-bitrate versions of tracks currently available on the service. The Lossless versions preserve almost all of the detail of the original music recording, which can give listeners a more immersive and generally better experience.

"Apple Music is making its biggest advancement ever in sound quality," Apple's vice president of Apple Music and Beats Oliver Schusser said. "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."

Around 20 million songs will be available at launch in Lossless Audio, with Apple Music's full 75 million tracks coming by the end of 2021. The launch brings Apple Music in line with other rival music subscription services -- Tidal and Amazon both offer lossless audio to their users. While Spotify has announced its own similar feature, it has yet to roll out to users.

To achieve this high quality, Lossless tracks are encoded at bitrates far above the standard 256kbps that Apple Music streams usually employ. In fact, Apple appears to be offering two versions of Lossless, with both eclipsing the current version in terms of bitrate.

The standard Lossless will provide audio at 24-bit/48kHz. A high-resolution Lossless option raises this even further, to 192kHz.

Each song will also take up more space when cached on Apple devices. For example, 1,000 lossless-quality songs will occupy the same amount of storage space as 3,000 "high quality" tracks.

Naturally, they also consume more bandwidth to stream as well. While a high-efficiency or high-quality track may use 1.5MB or 6MB of bandwidth respectively, a standard Lossless version would use 36MB, while the high-resolution version consumes 145MB.

Spatial Audio with support for Dolby Atmos




Additionally, Apple is bringing Spatial Audio with support for Dolby Atmos to Apple Music. The company says that Apple Music will automatically play Dolby Atmos tracks on all AirPods and Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip, as well as the built-in speakers in the latest versions of iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Apple says that there are "thousands" of songs in its catalog that will be available to listen to with Spatial Audio, and that number is going to grow over time.

Apple's decision to introduce Apple Music Lossless to the service arrives almost six years into its life. Apple Music officially launched on June 30, 2015.

Rumors of a high-fidelity streaming option for Apple Music have floated for quite a few months, with Spotify's launch increasing the volume of such claims.

In the week before Apple's launch, code leaks within the Apple Music app for Android and the web app effectively confirmed Lossless was on the way. On Sunday, Apple was more direct in hyping the new addition, by declaring "Music is about to change forever" in the Apple Music app.

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jahblade
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 73
    So excited by this news. 

    Makes me even sadder about the HomePod demise though - such a perfect match. 
    sflagelmike1cornchipbyronljahbladeflyingdprepressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 73
    ionicleionicle Posts: 62member
    Fantastic! Cant wait to hear some of my library using this!

    free too! Jackpot!
    equality72521cornchipbyronljahbladewatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 73
    uktechieuktechie Posts: 61member
    I assume it will be supported by Apple TV connected via HDMI to a Dolby Atmos AV receiver too - that’s the obvious use case but not mentioned here. 
    gregoriusmwilliamlondonbyronlrob55watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 73
    kfury77kfury77 Posts: 46member
    The new Apple Music Lossless quality is available to existing subscribers as an add-on to their current plan. Lossless costs an extra $9.99 per month for each user, the same as the base individual monthly subscription price.

    Where did you get that information from? 

    I think that’s an error in the article. It is a free upgrade according to Apple. 
    EsquireCatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 73
    ionicleionicle Posts: 62member
    Apple has revealed that its long-rumored lossless audio streaming feature for Apple Music plus Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos is coming in June, at no additional cost to subscribers.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 73
    bakerzdosenbakerzdosen Posts: 107member
    So excited by this news. 

    Makes me even sadder about the HomePod demise though - such a perfect match. 
    Exactly. It really makes no sense. Any other company I could see doing this as a ploy to drum up sales (HomePods are sold out most places - especially space gray.)

    I own 2 and going completely against conventional wisdom (don’t buy a discontinued tech product) I’d like to buy 1 or 2 more. But, especially now, I’m not willing to pay more than $200 for one. So here I am trolling the local classifieds looking for <$200 HomePods daily…

    I doubt lossless would make a big difference to what you hear on a homepod but I do look forward to giving the Atmos stuff a whirl.
    MacProwilliamlondonequality72521cornchipbyronlScot1jahbladewatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 73
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,153administrator
    kfury77 said:
    The new Apple Music Lossless quality is available to existing subscribers as an add-on to their current plan. Lossless costs an extra $9.99 per month for each user, the same as the base individual monthly subscription price.

    Where did you get that information from? 

    I think that’s an error in the article. It is a free upgrade according to Apple. 
    Detritus left over from something else. Edited out. Thanks to those who politely pointed it out.

    Happens with breaking news, sometimes.

    edited May 17 EsquireCatsderek73avon b7gregoriusmequality72521tenthousandthingsbyronljahbladepscooter63ronn
  • Reply 8 of 73
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 523member
    I'm extremely curious about the spatial audio versions. From the statement, it sounds like they're working with a whole separate sample track per channel, so music needs to be specifically remixed for it. Kind of like SACD or DVD-Audio.

    Lots of songs dating back to the 80s are mixed as four or five channels, then encoded down to two with Dolby Pro Logic during mastering. An appropriate decoder unfolds the encoded audio back to four or five separate channels. If they gave AirPods Pro and Max the ability to decode Pro Logic, that would open up spatial audio to a bunch of existing media, including a lot already on Apple Music.
    EsquireCatswilliamlondonJapheyFileMakerFellerradarthekatrepressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 73
    polymniapolymnia Posts: 1,044member
    Anyone know if this high-quality music is served to a connected Sonos system? I assume yes, but I haven't checked. 

    Edit: I am running S2 software that supports high res audio on my Sonos system. 
    edited May 17 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 73
    sflagelsflagel Posts: 617member
    So excited by this news. 

    Makes me even sadder about the HomePod demise though - such a perfect match. 
    Exactly. It really makes no sense. Any other company I could see doing this as a ploy to drum up sales (HomePods are sold out most places - especially space gray.)

    I own 2 and going completely against conventional wisdom (don’t buy a discontinued tech product) I’d like to buy 1 or 2 more. But, especially now, I’m not willing to pay more than $200 for one. So here I am trolling the local classifieds looking for <$200 HomePods daily…

    I doubt lossless would make a big difference to what you hear on a homepod but I do look forward to giving the Atmos stuff a whirl.
    It does not say anywhere that Atmos Music will be available on HomePods, AirPlaying won't solve this. It is SOOOO weird, since Lossless + Atmos + HomePod would have been close to the ultimate home music listening experience.

    As far as I can tell, Atmos Music will only work on specific ear- and headphones, and on the built-in speakers, not when using AirPlay. So, so, so weird to discontinue HomePods. Also because we know that HomePods can process Atmos wirelessly, no upgrade would have been required!
    Scot1jahbladerepressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 73
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,153administrator
    polymnia said:
    Anyone know if this high-quality music is served to a connected Sonos system? I assume yes, but I haven't checked. 
    Apple has specific requirements for Dolby and Lossless, and we're looking at them right now. First glance, 30 minutes in, and it doesn't look like it.

    More coming soon.
    polymniagregoriusmjdb8167repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 73
    ericthehalfbeeericthehalfbee Posts: 4,256member
    Wait until Spotify finds something to complain about.
    EsquireCatslkruppwilliamlondonpulseimagesequality72521jahbladeStrangeDayspscooter63viclauyycronn
  • Reply 13 of 73
    idomoidomo Posts: 6member
    After many years using Apple Music on my Apple devices, I bought a streamer. It's airplay capable, but this is not a good integration into serious hifi stereo equipment. Even with lossless, Apple Music is not for me anymore. I'm happy now with Qobuz. 
    cornchip
  • Reply 14 of 73
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,028member
    Imagine. I was actually right about this one. I've been blathering about Apple introducing surround music on threads here since before the lossless rumor started.

    Others were first, but Apple is the one that will make it an industry standard that consumers expect.

    Surround formats have always been a niche thing, limited by the need for nerdy purchases of special hardware and playback media.

    Now, millions of people already have the hardware, and Apple is making it available standard as part of your existing music subscription. Amazon and Tidal got there first, but they charge extra for it, limit the ways available to play that content, and then insanely make surround content hard to find in their apps. The Apple Music app's UI is miles ahead of the competition already, so this really will be an instant game changer on the order of the popular introduction of stereo music back in the late 1950s. Even with that, adoption of stereo as standard took years. Even the Beatles released their albums in mono through 1968, with the stereo mixes being an afterthought left to the studio wonks after the musicians all went home. This is a big deal.

    P.S. I called this one as far back as September, 2019. I've admitted here when I was wrong (turns out Apple quit making routers; that never made sense to me), so I'm going to gloat a little on this one. I'm pretty sure Ming Chi Kuo never said squat about this development, and it will one day be noted as a really big deal.
    edited May 17 equality72521FileMakerFellerradarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 73
    EsquireCatsEsquireCats Posts: 1,165member
    kfury77 said:
    The new Apple Music Lossless quality is available to existing subscribers as an add-on to their current plan. Lossless costs an extra $9.99 per month for each user, the same as the base individual monthly subscription price.

    Where did you get that information from? 

    I think that’s an error in the article. It is a free upgrade according to Apple. 
    Thanks I was a bit confused for a moment there.

    Other than that, I'm very much looking forward to the spatial audio tracks, these can sound so immersive which could be awesome if it reaches over into their chill/focus/meditation playlists.
    Scot1watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 73
    TomPMRITomPMRI Posts: 29member
    So, does this apply to iTunes Match subscribers?
    baconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 73
    If this is allowed to be posted without being deleted (they REALLY don’t like any criticism on this site)….

     What will be interesting is can existing surround sound mixes from DVD and BD audio be served up with this technology.  It will be a while before we know of course.

     There are some AMAZING surround sound mixes out there.  Often by Steven Wilson but also others.

    R.E.M’s back catalogue post Out of Time, Sgt. Pepper, The White Album and Abbey Road, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, A Night at the Opera and many many others.

     To have these wirelessly served to your ears would be amazing.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 18 of 73
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,153administrator
    If this is allowed to be posted without being deleted (they REALLY don’t like any criticism on this site)….

     What will be interesting is can existing surround sound mixes from DVD and BD audio be served up with this technology.  It will be a while before we know of course.

     There are some AMAZING surround sound mixes out there.  Often by Steven Wilson but also others.

    R.E.M’s back catalogue post Out of Time, Sgt. Pepper, The White Album and Abbey Road, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, A Night at the Opera and many many others.

     To have these wirelessly served to your ears would be amazing.
    Criticism is fine, as errors happen, especially when things break. The forum guidelines for posting are clear on where and how to let us know, and the forum is not it.

    And, you're right. I'm looking forward to A Night at the Opera, very much.
    edited May 17 roundaboutnowFileMakerFellerrepressthis
  • Reply 19 of 73
    ITGUYINSDITGUYINSD Posts: 270member
     "as well as the built-in speakers in the latest versions of iPhone, iPad, and Mac"

    What does this mean?  If just the built-in speakers, how does this work on a Mac Mini M1?  I can only imagine that would sound terrible.
    And, blaring the music out of the speakers of an iPad or iPhone?  Equally crappy. 

    Now, I have not heard AirPod Pro or AirPod Max.  Would AirPod Pro be good enough for great spatial sound, or would the top-tier Max be recommended (or the cheaper Beats Studio 3 Wireless)?
    edited May 17
  • Reply 20 of 73
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,028member
    zimmie said:
    I'm extremely curious about the spatial audio versions. From the statement, it sounds like they're working with a whole separate sample track per channel, so music needs to be specifically remixed for it. Kind of like SACD or DVD-Audio.

    Lots of songs dating back to the 80s are mixed as four or five channels, then encoded down to two with Dolby Pro Logic during mastering. An appropriate decoder unfolds the encoded audio back to four or five separate channels. If they gave AirPods Pro and Max the ability to decode Pro Logic, that would open up spatial audio to a bunch of existing media, including a lot already on Apple Music.
    Seems unlikely. Studios and artists are going to want surround versions of their music to be mixed for that purpose, not reverse-engineered back up the chain. Mastering is the last step, is done by professionals, and is what makes a recording sound great, rather than just good or amateurish. Even if it were possible to automatically reach back to separate out tracks that existed prior to the stereo mastering, it wouldn't sound right, as no one ever intended that to be the final product. Apple Music's surround content will have been mixed and mastered for that purpose, not automatically tinkered with to simulate something never intended. 
    pscooter63FileMakerFellerseanj
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