The new Hi-Res audio options, which will become available to Apple Music subscribers at no extra cost from next month, will be made available to users of the Siri-powered speakers via a future software update.
Apple has revealed the plans quietly on an updated support document that says: “HomePod and HomePod mini currently use AAC to ensure excellent audio quality. Support for lossless is coming in a future software update.”
Apple points out that Bluetooth connections cannot support lossless audio, which is why the AirPods range misses out right now. However, because the HomePod and HomePod mini rely on Wi-Fi connections, Apple Music subscribers will be able to stream lossless audio directly from their speakers.
That also applies to the Apple TV, Mac, iPhone and iPad models, but Apple recommends using a DAC to ensure lossless sound from anything but the internal speakers. A pair of compatible wired headphones, plus a DAC is going to be the best (if not only) way to access the Hi-Res Lossless tier that offers the truly lossless experience. Without that, you’re gonna have to settle for the better-but-not-best CD-quality ALAC files.
Apple says the top resolution of 24-bit/192 kHz will be “virtually indistinguishable from the original studio recording,” but will require some additional tech.
However, the big news here is the support for the HomePod mini and the HomePod. Considering Apple enables users to pair these for stereo sound, this should make an excellent combination.
Apple continues to keep the original HomePod alive despite discontinuing it last year in favour of the HomePod mini. Last week we learned the new Apple TV 4K will support passthrough audio, meaning you’ll be able to play any audio connected to your television through the HomePod speaker.
The original HomePod also supports Dolby Atmos and Apple has also confirmed it is bringing the surround-sound like tech to Apple Music too.
If you’re an Apple Music subscriber, a pair of HomePod mini speakers or a cheaply-available HomePod is looking more attractive than ever. The latter is certainly sticking around among the best smart speakers to own despite being put out to pasture.