Apple Music is getting two major updates next month: support for high quality, lossless audio and support for spatial audio via Dolby Atmos. What’s even more surprising, however, is that the features are available for free to all subscribers, including those with family and student plans. The company says it will have 75 million lossless audio songs in its catalog by the end of the year and will launch 20 million.
To enable lossless audio, subscribers need to be running the latest version of Apple Music and can go to Settings> Music> Audio Quality. There you can select different resolutions for different connections such as cellular network, WLAN or for downloading.
Apple Music’s lossless audio starts at CD quality, which is 16 bits at 44.1 kHz, and goes natively up to 24 bits at 48 kHz on Apple devices. It reaches 24 bits at 192 kHz. There’s a big catch to the high-quality “high-resolution lossless” experience: subscribers need external devices like a DAC in order to enjoy it.
Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos Audio could prove to be even bigger business for Apple Music listeners. It offers more immersive mixes for anyone listening to the latest AirPods or Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip. Spatial Audio is also played through the built-in speakers on the latest versions of iPhone, iPad, and Mac by default. To turn it on for other headphones, users need to go to Settings> Music> Audio and set Dolby Atmos to Always On.
Spatial Audio will be compatible with most Apple devices made in the past few years, including Apple TV 4K plugged into a compatible television or receiver.
Lossless audio is now becoming the standard in the largest music streaming apps. Amazon only announced today that Amazon Music HD is available free of charge to subscribers of Amazon Music Unlimited and Spotify plans to start its HiFi tier later that year. Tidal also offers what it calls “Tide master”Which can even exceed 96kHz / 24-bit high definition audio.