Lossless streaming option for Apple Music may launch within weeks

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited May 1
Apple is rumored to be preparing to reveal a high-fidelity feature for Apple Music within weeks, potentially alongside the launch of third-generation AirPods.




In February, Spotify joined Tidal in offering users lossless audio streams, with the launch of Spotify HiFi. While Apple doesn't currently provide lossless audio streaming options, it may do so soon if a rumor is to be believed.

A high-fidelity audio streaming service is said to be on the way, according to record label sources of Hits Daily Double. The option will apparently cost $9.99 per user, the same as its standard individual plan pricing.

The launch is also anticipated to occur at the same time as the introduction of third-generation AirPods. No exact details on launch timing were offered beyond "the coming weeks," nor further clarity on the supposed AirPods launch.

It is plausible that the "weeks" could result in a launch at WWDC 2021, which is set to take place from June 7. Though predominantly a software-centric event, Apple has been known to use it to make feature and hardware announcements.

Though Spotify launched its HiFi service, it has yet to actually roll it out to users. At the time, Spotify said it would be available in "select markets" later in 2021, but also declined to offer pricing.

Tidal currently offers its standard Premium account with 320Kbps audio at $9.99 per month, with Hi-Fi's lossless 1,411Kbps priced at $19.99 per month. Amazon Music's standard price is $9.99 per month, lowered to $7.99 for Prime users, while the HD service is an extra $5 per month.

If true, Apple's $9.99 extra fee for lossless would put it in the same ballpark as other existing Hi-Fi streaming offerings.

The possibility for a launch alongside new AirPods is plausible, as rumors of an update have floated for quite a few months. So far, the list of potential AirPods products includes the AirPods 3, the "AirPods X," the "AirPods Pro 2," and the "AirPods Pro Lite."

However, in March, prominent analyst Ming-Chi Kuo forecast that "AirPods 3" wouldn't come up until the fall of 2021, which was backed up by another report on March 26.

On April 28, it was claimed Apple was cutting its AirPods production by between 25% and 30%, on the back of supposed waning demand .
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 44
    doaldoal Posts: 9member
    I’ve been waiting for this for a century
    gregoriusmjeffharris
  • Reply 2 of 44
    tmaytmay Posts: 5,168member
    Interesting. 

    I bought a Schiit Modi multibit DAC that is delayed a bit due to component shortages, that I can use to better connect a Mac to my stereo system via USB 3. I've also acquired a couple of mid 90's Sony Dolby S cassette decks off eBay, so that I can record off of Apple Music to create my own mix tapes, because I like the nostalgia of that.

    Soon, there should be production of Type II cassettes in the U.S. using a new Cobalt formulation (that too has been delayed). 

    https://www.nationalaudiocompany.com/product/preorder-clear-c256-tabs-in-audio-cassette-carton-of-100/

    "We are excited to bring this new tape to you. It is tangible proof of our commitment to the cassette industry. Watch for our new C756™ Cobalt Type II tape coming in January, 2021." Now their stating May. 

    I doubt that these are as high a quality as Maxell, et al, Type II cassettes from the 90's, but that's the best you will likely see of new production.

    https://www.schiit.com/products/modi-1


    gregoriusmpujones1MisterKitCloudTalkin
  • Reply 3 of 44
    InspiredCodeInspiredCode Posts: 205member
    The referenced article is not explicit about an extra fee. It says $9.99 tier, not a $19.98 tier. It also says it will be the same price as the standard plan. 

    Additionally it says this “Speculation within the industry suggests Apple's move is to provide a more aggressively priced, higher-quality option after Spotify announced this week it was raising prices.” 

    This suggests Apple plans to significantly undercut Spotify’s price. If this were an extra fee, it would not be undercutting Spotify.

    Are we sure they are talking about it being an additional price in Apple’s case? 

    Apple may just be absorbing any extra cost to increase subscribers and to bring more music fans in the Apple ecosystem. They could then use Apple Music to drive more users to other Apple services. Apple tends to not like to make extra money over specs that don’t require physical hardware changes, so if they were forced to do add a fee by the industry I would expect it to be a smaller increase like Amazon’s. If they don’t increase the price, it gives Apple bragging rights that their service is superior to others. 

    Lossless was also something that deeply interested Steve Jobs, so I think Apple would want this to be for everyone simply in his honor.

    EDIT: All the other Apple news sites seem to be interpreting this the same as me.
    edited May 1 lolliverwilliamlondondope_ahmine
  • Reply 4 of 44

    Streaming lossless puts a considerably higher load on the servers and to give lossless without a premium would result in a very high user uptake.

    lkrupp
  • Reply 5 of 44
    InspiredCodeInspiredCode Posts: 205member

    Streaming lossless puts a considerably higher load on the servers and to give lossless without a premium would result in a very high user uptake.

    If they make it a standard tier feature, I wonder if it would have cellular limitations.
  • Reply 6 of 44
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,148member

    Streaming lossless puts a considerably higher load on the servers and to give lossless without a premium would result in a very high user uptake.

    I don’t know about that. I think the demand for ‘lossless’ audio is a lot less than the audiophiles claim it is. It would also affect users data plans, especially those who have low data plans. So even if it were free I don’t think the uptake would be overwhelming. But charging a premium for those who want lossless is a no brainer that increases revenue. If you want it, pay for it.
    Beatstmayllamajeffharris
  • Reply 7 of 44
    InspiredCodeInspiredCode Posts: 205member
    lkrupp said:

    Streaming lossless puts a considerably higher load on the servers and to give lossless without a premium would result in a very high user uptake.

    I don’t know about that. I think the demand for ‘lossless’ audio is a lot less than the audiophiles claim it is. It would also affect users data plans, especially those who have low data plans. So even if it were free I don’t think the uptake would be overwhelming. But charging a premium for those who want lossless is a no brainer that increases revenue. If you want it, pay for it.
    Personally I’d rather see atmos support or otherwise move music beyond stereo.
  • Reply 8 of 44
    JBSloughJBSlough Posts: 73member
    I’d rather see this on the iTunes Music store. 
    Beatssphericjeffharris
  • Reply 9 of 44
    lkrupp said:

    Streaming lossless puts a considerably higher load on the servers and to give lossless without a premium would result in a very high user uptake.

    I don’t know about that. I think the demand for ‘lossless’ audio is a lot less than the audiophiles claim it is. It would also affect users data plans, especially those who have low data plans. So even if it were free I don’t think the uptake would be overwhelming. But charging a premium for those who want lossless is a no brainer that increases revenue. If you want it, pay for it.

    You may be right and as a huge amount of music has been/is recorded very poorly most will not benefit from lossless. There will certainly be no increase in dynamic range where lossless might be an advantage.

    tmaygregoriusm
  • Reply 10 of 44
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,337member
    The referenced article is not explicit about an extra fee. It says $9.99 tier, not a $19.98 tier. It also says it will be the same price as the standard plan. 

    Additionally it says this “Speculation within the industry suggests Apple's move is to provide a more aggressively priced, higher-quality option after Spotify announced this week it was raising prices.” 

    This suggests Apple plans to significantly undercut Spotify’s price. If this were an extra fee, it would not be undercutting Spotify.

    Are we sure they are talking about it being an additional price in Apple’s case? 

    Apple may just be absorbing any extra cost to increase subscribers and to bring more music fans in the Apple ecosystem. They could then use Apple Music to drive more users to other Apple services. Apple tends to not like to make extra money over specs that don’t require physical hardware changes, so if they were forced to do add a fee by the industry I would expect it to be a smaller increase like Amazon’s. If they don’t increase the price, it gives Apple bragging rights that their service is superior to others. 

    Lossless was also something that deeply interested Steve Jobs, so I think Apple would want this to be for everyone simply in his honor.

    EDIT: All the other Apple news sites seem to be interpreting this the same as me.

    It blows me away how much Apple drags their feet on the obvious like lossless, podcasts and gaming. Things that should have been taken seriously a decade ago.

    When did Mastered for iTunes roll out? I’m trying to remember if it was lossless. 
    gregoriusmInspiredCodeJapheywilliamlondonScot1
  • Reply 11 of 44
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,337member
    I’ve been saying it for years. Apple needs a separate music event like they had for iPods back in the day.

    They could announce all music related tech in one go. AirPods, Beats, Speakers, Apple Music, Radio, iTunes, Apps and music related features. Have music presenters like the launch of Apple Music then cap it off it with an artist performance.

    I miss Bozoma “Boz” Saint John, Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. It’s as if Apple had a bad falling out with the music industry in general.

    P.S. Apple had an opportunity to make an “Apple Records” when Jimmy and Dre were hired. This was like hiring George Lucas and Steven Spielberg but not using them for film making.
    williamlondonllama
  • Reply 12 of 44
    gregoriusmgregoriusm Posts: 445member
    Beats said:
    I’ve been saying it for years. Apple needs a separate music event like they had for iPods back in the day.

    They could announce all music related tech in one go. AirPods, Beats, Speakers, Apple Music, Radio, iTunes, Apps and music related features. Have music presenters like the launch of Apple Music then cap it off it with an artist performance.

    I miss Bozoma “Boz” Saint John, Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. It’s as if Apple had a bad falling out with the music industry in general.

    P.S. Apple had an opportunity to make an “Apple Records” when Jimmy and Dre were hired. This was like hiring George Lucas and Steven Spielberg but not using them for film making.
    I do miss Boz. 
  • Reply 13 of 44
    kiltedgreenkiltedgreen Posts: 529member
    In answer to Beats:

    Years and years back. It’s not lossless - there are some detailed descriptions of MFI online, maybe on Apple’s website. The weird thing is Apple doesn’t make a point of telling you which albums are. Sometime yes, often no. I have MusicSmart, which indicates if a song is MFI and without it a lot of the time you’d never know from looking at the album page. Weird.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 14 of 44
    pujones1pujones1 Posts: 219member
    I’d like to give my two cents here. I think it should be a standard with the option to lower the quality dedicated by the user via software. No price increase at all. By giving the user the ability to change streaming quality on the fly let’s them manage their own data usage if necessary. 

    So if I’m an audiophile and Apple offers lossless without an increase in price……
    My money would be going to Apple and I’ll share that info with all my other audiophile buddies. If they absolutely want to increase the price then increase it by $5. 

    I agree with Beats’ comment. Apple should have been on these things a long time ago. These are no-brainers. 

    Thanks for listening. 
  • Reply 15 of 44
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,039member
    This is a feature I’ve been waiting for. Lossless audio likely also includes surround mixes like Dolby Atmos. Unlike just about every other past ‘audiophile’ format, in Apple’s case there are already millions of users who have the necessary hardware to play lossless and surround/spatial audio. 

    In the past, new audiophile formats have been hobbled by the necessity of specialized playback hardware, and it never gets past being an expensive, niche market. That ultimately limits the incentive to take the extra effort to record, remix and issue/reissue music on expensive physical media. Especially if Apple includes the format in the standard pricing tier, those barriers will no longer be at issue, and there will be an explosion of available content. 

    Amazon and Tidal have ventured into this area, but failed miserably in implementation. First, lossless and surround cost their subscribers extra. Second, their apps’ UI buries the specialized formats and makes them almost impossible to search up. Tidal will play Dolby Atmos on AppleTV, but apart from promoted playlists and the 30 or so most recent (promoted) releases, you cannot search by format. Their iOS app will not play Atmos/Spatial audio. Amazon’s iOS app will play some spatial audio content, but it’s also hard to find. Atmos won’t play from their AppleTV app, and is instead limited to their version of the HomePod, which is ironic, as a single device cannot actually create surround sound. 

    So once again, Apple is in the position of not being first by any means, but may yet deliver with a game-changing implementation. 
    edited May 1 Scot1
  • Reply 16 of 44
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,039member

    Streaming lossless puts a considerably higher load on the servers and to give lossless without a premium would result in a very high user uptake.

    As their primary business is selling hardware, very high uptake is what they probably want. AirPods Pro can already play back movies in Dolby Atmos. Surround mixes of your favorite music would drive sales of buds and headphones, so long as it isn’t hidden behind the barrier of a luxury subscription tier. 
  • Reply 17 of 44
    lotoneslotones Posts: 29member
    I'm not a streamer, but I'd love to be able to purchase high resolution music from Apple.

    And while I'm dreaming, add all my FLAC files to my Apple Music library.

    Please.
  • Reply 18 of 44
    Steve Jobs never wanted lossless. He and Neil Young had a meeting about that very thing before there ever was an iTunes Store let alone streaming. So as Neil’s Pono player and music store were about to start making money, Apple bought their mastering facility and shut it down. Because Steve was an asshole.  

    I’ll stick with Qobuz.
  • Reply 19 of 44
    lotoneslotones Posts: 29member
    Beats said:
    I’ve been saying it for years. Apple needs a separate music event like they had for iPods back in the day.

    They could announce all music related tech in one go. AirPods, Beats, Speakers, Apple Music, Radio, iTunes, Apps and music related features. Have music presenters like the launch of Apple Music then cap it off it with an artist performance.

    I miss Bozoma “Boz” Saint John, Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. It’s as if Apple had a bad falling out with the music industry in general.

    P.S. Apple had an opportunity to make an “Apple Records” when Jimmy and Dre were hired. This was like hiring George Lucas and Steven Spielberg but not using them for film making.
    You may or may not know this, but there's already an "Apple Records", established in 1968 by a little known British band called The Beatles. When Apple Computers became a thing, Apple Records sued for trademark infringement, which was settled on the stipulation that Apple Computers never became associated with the music industry. Of course, in the 2000's the iPod changed all that, and Apple Record and Apple Computers had to have another "talk". They again agreed to terms that satisfied Apple Records.

    So that may have had something to do with why Apple didn't start a record label. And if they did, they absolutely could not call it "Apple Records". I'm a bit surprised they get away with "Apple Music".
    edited May 1 viclauyycdjames4242seanj
  • Reply 20 of 44
    lotoneslotones Posts: 29member
    Steve Jobs never wanted lossless. He and Neil Young had a meeting about that very thing before there ever was an iTunes Store let alone streaming. So as Neil’s Pono player and music store were about to start making money, Apple bought their mastering facility and shut it down. Because Steve was an asshole.  

    I’ll stick with Qobuz.
    The iTunes Store opened in 2003.

    Jobs died in 2011.

    Pomo launched in 2015.

    Pomo hardware was too expensive for mainstream consumption.

    Pomo's content partner, Omnifone, was bankrupt when Apple bought them in 2016.

    You obviously have a casual relationship with reality.


    viclauyycdope_ahminesphericAppleZulubestkeptsecretseanjibillCloudTalkin
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