AirPods Max won't support Apple Music lossless over Lightning, HomePod also left out

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Comments

  • Reply 41 of 54
    thedbathedba Posts: 667member
    xbit said:
    I guess I'll be retiring my APM and moving back to my B&W PX - headphones that are significantly less comfortable to wear but sound fantastic with higher bitrate audio over USB.
    The question here is, were you happy with the APM before this announcement? Did you enjoy the music pumped into your ears?
    If so, what's changed?
    edited May 18 StrangeDaysdewme
  • Reply 42 of 54
    mobirdmobird Posts: 661member
    I think Apple's "music is in our DNA" has left the building...
    What a cluster- 
  • Reply 43 of 54
    tedz98tedz98 Posts: 75member
    Younger people who’ve grown up in a streaming audio world playing music through cheap headphones or blue tooth speakers have no understanding of sound quality. They understand watts equals volume but they have no appreciation for sound quality. They don’t even appreciate true stereo sound. So for them high quality, lossless sound is meaningless. The number of younger people who are audiophiles or even near audiophiles is relatively small. So the market for 1411 kbps 24 bit audio is relatively small and Apple uses that in their product development and marketing. Plus I have to wonder about the quality of many recordings (at least newer recordings) and if they even have the proper level of quality at the source to take advantage of what Apple is releasing. Can a quality difference even be heard to be appreciated?
  • Reply 44 of 54
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,428member
    avon b7 said:
    "Lossless over Bluetooth is an obvious no-go due to bandwidth limitations".

    For standard Bluetooth that is true but
    Huawei has been doing high definition audio over Bluetooth since 2019 via a codec (BT-UHD) which I believe is propietary and a custom chipset (Kirin A1) 

    It means you have to have a Huawei phone and Huawei earphones with the chipset but that is precisely where Apple shouldn't have any issues.

    I can only assume this lossless move wasn't expected so soon and wasn't a consideration when recent Apple headphones were being designed.

    That said, I can get by with SBC and if other more efficient codecs are available, then it's a plus. I don't need lossless and I think most users will be fine without it too. 

    The simple answer to those that bought AP Max is that if they met your needs at time of purchase, that is all that matters. I can understand the possible frustration of some of those buyers, though.

    If a competitor managed to increase Bluetooth bandwidth issues years ago via a customised yet fully compliant/certified Bluetooth 5.1 BLE chipset, then Apple could have done the same.

    https://www.mobilescout.com/android/news/n114126/huawei-kirin-a1-chip-wearables-earbuds-details.html
    there are other high definition audio codecs for BT but none are technically lossless. It's a silly discussion, if you ask me, since the whole point of bluetooth is convenience. If you're interested in lossless audio then quality trumps convenience and you're willing to deal with a cord.
    randominternetpersonStrangeDays
  • Reply 45 of 54
    semi_guysemi_guy Posts: 64member
    Hold on - I assumed AirPods Max used a lightning to lightning cable to send digital audio from iPhone (or presumably Mac with a USB to lightning cable) to the DAC in the AirPods. Is the the only way to get wired audio into the AirPods Max via the ADC in the 3.5" connector? If so that's ridiculous.

    With normal headphones the audio follows this path:
    • source instrument/voice > ADC > DAC > ears. 
    With Airpods Max in wireless mode you'd go
    • source > ADC > BT compression > DAC > ears. 
    With the wired 3.5" connection you'd go 
    • source > ADC > DAC > ADC (in 3.5mm to lightning cable) > DAC??
    That's absurd, no wonder they don't claim lossless support over a cable. The doubling of quantisation steps would almost certainly incur a loss worse than the AAC Bluetooth compression. In signal theory you need twice the sample rate that the signal is played at to avoid quantisation error (known as the Nyquist frequency), so the ADC in the 3.5mm jack would have to sample at 96khz to avoid sampling errors. And apparently it does not.
    With normal headphones the audio follows this path: 
    • Computer  > DAC on motherboard > audio cable to headphones  > speaker > ears
    With Airpods Max in wireless mode you'd go 
    • Computer > BT transmission (AAC up to 256kbps) > DAC (H1 chip) >  speaker > ears. 
    With the wired 3.5" connection you'd go 
    • Computer >  DAC  on motherboard > audio cable to headphones > (3.5mm to lighting adapter) ADC (24-bit 48kHz) > lightning digital > DAC (H1 chip) >  speaker > ears. 
  • Reply 46 of 54
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,487member
    elijahg said:
    dysamoria said:
    I’m surprised Lightning doesn’t carry digital audio. I wonder why I thought it did.
    It does, that's the issue. The DAC in the AirPods Max apparently can't do 24 bit @ 96kHz. If it relied on an external DAC it could do any frequency and bitrate, as it would just be an analog signal. Seems like a bit of an oversight considering the price and audience. 
    “ apparently can't do 24 bit @ 96kHz”” — Apparently may be a key word here. 
    Maybe there is a firmware update for APM coming at WWDC that will unlock the “apparent” APM DAC limitation.  Or the firmware update is imminent in the next day or two?

    So why on earth would Apple have put that limitation on the DAC? Perhaps to stall APM users from looking to other music providers that serve lossless already. They may not have been ready to announce lossless ability at the time of the APM announcement.

    It’s more like Apple to surprise us than to disappoint us. 
    But if that is not the case here and it turns out the APM can never play the lossless music, I think it’s a PR fail. And that is despite the fact that spatial sound will impact the average and even above average music listener more than lossless.
    If the DAC it could originally do 96kHz, they'd presumably have enabled already. The combo DAC/ADC in the 3.5mm adapter is a custom chip, so not possible to know from the part number. But the analog part also relies on the source device having a 24 bit 96khz ADC too, which wouldn't matter if it was streamed in lossless right to the APM's DAC. Though that's moot too since presumably the APM's DAC is only 16 bit/48kHz. I suspect they didn't intentionally put that limitation on the DAC, they just didn't foresee lossless audio being available (as others have suggested, it seems the APM may have been rushed or has been sat around for a while before release). 

    All in all lossless is pretty pointless IMO, but the point being introduction of it without APM support is just weird. The differences in lossy vs lossless are absolutely minimal and it's akin to those who decide on how good a computer by its CPU frequency.
  • Reply 47 of 54
    sphericspheric Posts: 2,107member
    direktor said:
    Maybe?

    96k 24bit is 4.6mbits/sec

    96k 16bit is ~3mbits

    i dunno, most people I know these days have at least 5 down if not 10. Rural areas not withstanding. 


    That's UNCOMPRESSED bitrate. Lossless compression will probably reduce that by about 1/3. 
  • Reply 48 of 54
    Scot1Scot1 Posts: 96member
    I’m guessing I’m late to the table here but I don’t understand why HomePod and HomePod mini would not receive an update in order to benefit from spatial audio.
    caladanian
  • Reply 49 of 54
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,266member
    tedz98 said:
    Younger people who’ve grown up in a streaming audio world playing music through cheap headphones or blue tooth speakers have no understanding of sound quality. They understand watts equals volume but they have no appreciation for sound quality. They don’t even appreciate true stereo sound. So for them high quality, lossless sound is meaningless. The number of younger people who are audiophiles or even near audiophiles is relatively small. So the market for 1411 kbps 24 bit audio is relatively small and Apple uses that in their product development and marketing. Plus I have to wonder about the quality of many recordings (at least newer recordings) and if they even have the proper level of quality at the source to take advantage of what Apple is releasing. Can a quality difference even be heard to be appreciated?
    Younger people in previous generations grew up listening to cheap headphones attached to CD or cassette walkmans, or to boom boxes, or Walmart stereos, or K-Mart rack-mount stereos with cheap speakers playing crappy cassettes or mass-produced, filthy vinyl, or transistor radios, or 8-tracks in noisy cars, and the list goes on. 

    The reality is that a kid growing up now listening to AirPods and an iPhone playing Apple Music AAC files has better quality consumer grade sound than any previous generation, by a long shot. 

    Everyone wants to negatively compare current consumer grade audio gear to idealized classic audiophile gear, and that’s just nonsense. 
    edited May 18 elijahgroundaboutnowStrangeDays
  • Reply 50 of 54
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,557member
    According to this T3 article, they received confirmation from Apple that the HomePod does support Apple lossless.  Who's right? T3 or Macrumors?

    https://www.t3.com/us/news/airpods-max-and-airpods-pro-dont-support-apple-music-lossless-apple-confirms

    "Apple has already noted that listening to the 'Hi-Res Lossless' tracks will definitely require wired hardware such as an external DAC, but with no aptX Bluetooth support on iPhone, that means some kind of wired headphones and likely a dongle for 'Lossless' listening listening from an iPhone too."

    "Apple has also confirmed support on Apple TV and HomePod, which may make it easier to hear the high-quality tracks."

    edited May 18
  • Reply 51 of 54
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,222member
    Scot1 said:
    I’m guessing I’m late to the table here but I don’t understand why HomePod and HomePod mini would not receive an update in order to benefit from spatial audio.


    Spatial Audio: AirPods Max use spatial audio with dynamic head tracking to place sounds virtually anywhere in a space — delivering an immersive, theaterlike experience for content recorded in 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos. Using the gyroscope and accelerometer in AirPods Max and iPhone or iPad, spatial audio tracks the motion of a user’s head as well as the device, compares the motion data, then remaps the sound field so it stays anchored to the device, even as the user’s head moves.

    I think the need of the Gyroscope and Acceletometer is also the reason there is no spatial audio with Apple tv as well? 

  • Reply 52 of 54
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,266member
    jcs2305 said:
    Scot1 said:
    I’m guessing I’m late to the table here but I don’t understand why HomePod and HomePod mini would not receive an update in order to benefit from spatial audio.


    Spatial Audio: AirPods Max use spatial audio with dynamic head tracking to place sounds virtually anywhere in a space — delivering an immersive, theaterlike experience for content recorded in 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos. Using the gyroscope and accelerometer in AirPods Max and iPhone or iPad, spatial audio tracks the motion of a user’s head as well as the device, compares the motion data, then remaps the sound field so it stays anchored to the device, even as the user’s head moves.

    I think the need of the Gyroscope and Acceletometer is also the reason there is no spatial audio with Apple tv as well? 

    The gyroscope and accelerometer are only relevant to surround sound when watching movies on your iPhone or iPad. The AirPods Pro and Max communicate with your iPhone and iPad to determine its location and orient the surround audio to the screen. So even if you turn your head, the sound stays positioned to the action onscreen, just as if you are in a movie theater.

    Because your AppleTV device can be placed anywhere in the room, regardless of where your TV screen is, AirPods Pro and Max don't have any sure way to know where the screen is in order to orient spatial audio to that screen. Further complicating matters, the listener can be positioned anywhere in the room in relation to the TV screen, and probably rarely directly front-and-centered, so getting it right seems unlikely without further tech. So they just don't turn headphone spatial audio on for AppleTV, because it would have a high fail rate when trying to properly orient the sound.

    None of that matters for spatial audio for music, however, because there's no picture to which the sound needs to relate. As such, the gyroscope and accelerometer won't be involved for Apple Music spatial audio. Instead, the surround sound in your ear buds or earphones will just be oriented around where your ears are. If you turn your head, the music should turn with you, just as it does now for stereo music.
    edited May 18
  • Reply 53 of 54
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,222member
    AppleZulu said:
    jcs2305 said:
    Scot1 said:
    I’m guessing I’m late to the table here but I don’t understand why HomePod and HomePod mini would not receive an update in order to benefit from spatial audio.


    Spatial Audio: AirPods Max use spatial audio with dynamic head tracking to place sounds virtually anywhere in a space — delivering an immersive, theaterlike experience for content recorded in 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos. Using the gyroscope and accelerometer in AirPods Max and iPhone or iPad, spatial audio tracks the motion of a user’s head as well as the device, compares the motion data, then remaps the sound field so it stays anchored to the device, even as the user’s head moves.

    I think the need of the Gyroscope and Acceletometer is also the reason there is no spatial audio with Apple tv as well? 

    The gyroscope and accelerometer are only relevant to surround sound when watching movies on your iPhone or iPad. The AirPods Pro and Max communicate with your iPhone and iPad to determine its location and orient the surround audio to the screen. So even if you turn your head, the sound stays positioned to the action onscreen, just as if you are in a movie theater.

    Because your AppleTV device can be placed anywhere in the room, regardless of where your TV screen is, AirPods Pro and Max don't have any sure way to know where the screen is in order to orient spatial audio to that screen. Further complicating matters, the listener can be positioned anywhere in the room in relation to the TV screen, and probably rarely directly front-and-centered, so getting it right seems unlikely without further tech. So they just don't turn headphone spatial audio on for AppleTV, because it would have a high fail rate when trying to properly orient the sound.

    None of that matters for spatial audio for music, however, because there's no picture to which the sound needs to relate. As such, the gyroscope and accelerometer won't be involved for Apple Music spatial audio. Instead, the surround sound in your ear buds or earphones will just be oriented around where your ears are. If you turn your head, the music should turn with you, just as it does now for stereo music.
    I pictured Spatial audio for music being able to use the sound stage of music the same as a movie. Keep the audio centered and give it location the same as the screen you are looking at when watching a movie. If you turn your head the the sound shifts appropriately as if you are in front of the band, orchestra etc.. and just assumed you would need the same tech to achieve this with music as well.

    Thanks for clearing it up for me.. B)

    I was actually reading about it oh WhatHIFI after seeing your comment. I see the updated device list shows ATV ( Music Only ).

    iPhone 7 or later
    iPad Pro 12.9‑inch (3rd generation and later)
    iPad Pro 11‑inch
    iPad Air (3rd generation and later)
    iPad (6th generation and later)
    iPad mini (5th generation)
    MacBook Pro (2018 model and later)
    Apple TV (Music only) 




    edited May 18 AppleZulu
  • Reply 54 of 54
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,487member
    semi_guy said:
    Hold on - I assumed AirPods Max used a lightning to lightning cable to send digital audio from iPhone (or presumably Mac with a USB to lightning cable) to the DAC in the AirPods. Is the the only way to get wired audio into the AirPods Max via the ADC in the 3.5" connector? If so that's ridiculous.

    With normal headphones the audio follows this path:
    • source instrument/voice > ADC > DAC > ears. 
    With Airpods Max in wireless mode you'd go
    • source > ADC > BT compression > DAC > ears. 
    With the wired 3.5" connection you'd go 
    • source > ADC > DAC > ADC (in 3.5mm to lightning cable) > DAC??
    That's absurd, no wonder they don't claim lossless support over a cable. The doubling of quantisation steps would almost certainly incur a loss worse than the AAC Bluetooth compression. In signal theory you need twice the sample rate that the signal is played at to avoid quantisation error (known as the Nyquist frequency), so the ADC in the 3.5mm jack would have to sample at 96khz to avoid sampling errors. And apparently it does not.
    With normal headphones the audio follows this path: 
    • Computer  > DAC on motherboard > audio cable to headphones  > speaker > ears
    With Airpods Max in wireless mode you'd go 
    • Computer > BT transmission (AAC up to 256kbps) > DAC (H1 chip) >  speaker > ears. 
    With the wired 3.5" connection you'd go 
    • Computer >  DAC  on motherboard > audio cable to headphones > (3.5mm to lighting adapter) ADC (24-bit 48kHz) > lightning digital > DAC (H1 chip) >  speaker > ears. 
    I left out the obvious parts like speakers and computer for brevity 😉you are missing the original source > ADC though, the music (usually) doesn't get generated by the computer.
    edited May 18
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