Apple Music Hi-Fi looks to be inbound, will bring CD-quality Bluetooth streaming to iPhones for the first time
The Apple Music streaming service was introduced in 2015 but has already grown to over 72 million subscribers making it one of the leading music streaming platforms on the market. However, one aspect of it that has always ruled it out for audiophiles is that it has relied on 256 Kbps AAC files (which while good) are sub-CD quality. It’s leading competitor Spotify has already announced a Spotify HiFi tier coming later this year it now looks as though Apple is following suit with a CD-quality (lossless) streaming tier of its own.
Hits Daily Double first broke the news that Apple was planning on introducing the new tier which it says is designed to counter Spotify’s move, rather than compete with even higher fidelity offerings from the likes of Tidal. Even better, Apple’s new CD-quality tier will be aggressively priced at the same US$9.99 per month price as its standard plan. This compares with the US$14.99 per month Amazon charges for its Music HD tier although the ETA for Apple's new streaming tier isn't clear.
Macrumors subsequently did some digging into the iOS 14.6 beta and found references to “lossless audio”, “high-quality stereo streaming” and “HiFi” in the Apple Music app. The good news for Apple headphones owners that if you own Apple’s AirPods Pro or AirPods Max, your headphones will work with the new service. However, the regular first and second-generation AirPods aren’t expected to be compatible. One lingering question is what Apple’s choice of streaming audio codec will be, although our bet is that it will be proprietary, rather than either Qualcomm's AptX Adaptive or Sony's LDAC.