It’s been speculated and rumoured for a couple of weeks and now Apple has revealed that subscribers to its Apple Music streaming service will be able to enjoy lossless audio, as well as Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos at no extra charge.
Apple will be making its entire library, which features more than 75 million tracks, available in lossless audio quality (ALAC).
The price of $9.99 / £9.99 / €9.99 price point remains, and subscribers will get access to tracks in 16-bit/44.1kHz all the way to Hi-Res lossless files at 24-bit/192kHz. Subscribers will need to opt in for Hi-Res audio due to the size and bandwidth of the files. Apple’s press release also stated that external equipment will be needed for Hi-res Audio playback too, such as a USB DAC. It appears that the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max won’t support the lossless feature due to a lack of compatibility.
Apple also announced that Spatial Audio with support for Dolby Atmos is coming to Apple Music as well. There does appear to be a catch as Apple Music will only default to automatically play Dolby Atmos tracks on all AirPods and Beats headphones that feature the H1 or W1 chip. That list includes the AirPods (2019), AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, Beats PowerBeats Pro and Solo Pro. The latest versions of the iPhone, iPad and Mac support this feature, too. It’s not an unsurprising development given Spatial Audio is only available within Apple ecosystem.
Apple will be adding new Atmos tracks ‘constantly’, with a curated set of Atmos playlists made available to subscribers to find their favourite tracks. Discovery of Dolby Atmos tracks will be made easier by a badge on the details page.
At launch, subscribers will be able to enjoy thousands of songs in Spatial Audio, the dynamic head-tracking feature that allows for sounds to be placed anywhere within an virtual hemisphere of sound. Music genres that will support Spatial Audio around launch include hip-hop, country, Latin, pop, and classical.
And Apple will be looking to generate more audio content in Spatial Audio with the news that it’s “working with artists and labels to add new releases and the best catalogue tracks”.
Apple Music with Lossless Audio / Spatial Audio & Dolby Atmos will be made available to subscribers beginning June 2021, and it’ll arrive at no additional cost.
With Spotify set to launch its HiFi quality music tier later this year and Amazon dropping the price of the lossless subscription just ahead of the Apple news, it seems as if the music streaming war has escalated massively with this news.