Apple Music lossless, Dolby Atmos spatial audio and 24-bit hi-res audio tracks go live
Apple’s promise to launch its upgraded Apple Music service in June has come to fruition. Customers are starting to report that tracks are being tagged with lossless 16-bit CD-quality, Dolby Atmos spatial audio and 24-bit hi-res as appropriate. The rollout, however, looks like it will take its time to reach all markets where Apple Music is currently available. It is the first time since Apple Music has launched that all tracks will eventually be at lossless 16-bit audio quality at a minimum with the final phase of the rollout being finalized across the range by the end of the year.
Prior to the launch of the new tiers, Apple Music was available to customers in the still very good 256 kbps AAC format. However, it was not CD-quality and is hence referred to as a ‘lossy’ format. The launch hasn’t been without controversy as none of Apple’s AirPods, including the very expensive AirPods Max, can properly support hi-res or even lossless audio. Apple’s HomePod and HomePod mini will, conversely, be updated to support lossless wireless audio streaming.
On the plus side, the new Apple Music tiers have been delivered at exactly the same price point. This has forced Amazon to scrap the premium it was charging for Amazon Music HD and puts pressure on Spotify to do the same with its new HiFi tier, set to launch later this year. The only service offering similar features to Apple, including Dolby Atmos spatial audio is Tidal. It also offers Sony 360 Reality spatial audio and Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) hi-res 24-bit audio, but continues to charge a premium for these offerings.
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