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Apple Music lossless audio quality is not supported by AirPods, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max

The lossless audio feature announced for Apple Music recently will not be supported by AirPods, AirPods Max or AirPods Pro.

twitter-logoSarthak Dogra | May 18, 2021 | Updated 11:55 IST

Highlights

  • Apple has announced the lossless audio feature for Apple Music recently.
  • The feature will work on high-quality ALAC files with considerable file size.
  • These files cannot be transferred to the AirPods offerings with the current connectivity options.

Apple has announced two new features to elevate the audio experiences for Apple Music subscribers. Starting June, the music streaming service will offer lossless audio and spatial audio with Dolby Atmos to its users. However, it has now come to light that even Apple's best headphones will not support the lossless audio feature.

In fact, all of the audio devices by Apple will not support lossless audio. The list includes AirPods, AirPods Max and AirPods Pro. The reason for this is the high quality of lossless audio, which any of the Apple headphones cannot receive as per their current hardware capabilities.

Lossless audio essentially encaptures all the details in audio as recorded at the time of production. The extensive details provide for a much higher quality of audio in large file size. The quality for these files ranges from 16-bit 44.1 kHz playback to 24-bit 48 kHz playback, while Hi-Res Lossless offers 24-bit 192 kHz quality.

In correspondence with T3, Apple confirmed that these ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) files would not be supported by its AirPods offerings. This is because AirPods, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max make use of Bluetooth AAC codec when paired with an iPhone. The connectivity option cannot transfer the full quality of the Apple Music 'Lossless' files to these devices.

Apple also mentioned that listening to the 'Hi-Res Lossless' tracks will require wired hardware, like an external DAC, to work on iPhone. AirPods Max will hence not support lossless audio even when used with the Lightning cable.

Apple did not mention this lack of compatibility with AirPods in its press release announcing the lossless audio functionality. It only mentioned that the feature could be listened to on an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV. The report by T3 highlights that Apple HomePod will also support the new feature.

Note that though the AirPods, AirPods Max, and AirPods Pro do not support lossless audio, they do support Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos. All headphones further support the feature with an H1 or W1 chip.

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