Apple Music announces Lossless Audio, Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos

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Apple has revealed that its long-rumored lossless audio streaming feature for Apple Music plus Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos is coming in June, at no additional cost to subscribers.

Apple Music Lossless will provide users with high-bitrate versions of tracks currently available on the service. The Lossless versions preserve almost all of the detail of the original music recording, which can give listeners a more immersive and generally better experience.

"Apple Music is making its biggest advancement ever in sound quality," Apple's vice president of Apple Music and Beats Oliver Schusser said. "Listening to a song in Dolby Atmos is like magic. The music comes from all around you and sounds incredible. Now we are bringing this truly innovative and immersive experience to our listeners with music from their favorite artists like J Balvin, Gustavo Dudamel, Ariana Grande, Maroon 5, Kacey Musgraves, The Weeknd, and so many more."

Around 20 million songs will be available at launch in Lossless Audio, with Apple Music's full 75 million tracks coming by the end of 2021. The launch brings Apple Music in line with other rival music subscription services — Tidal and Amazon both offer lossless audio to their users. While Spotify has announced its own similar feature, it has yet to roll out to users.

To achieve this high quality, Lossless tracks are encoded at bitrates far above the standard 256kbps that Apple Music streams usually employ. In fact, Apple appears to be offering two versions of Lossless, with both eclipsing the current version in terms of bitrate.

The standard Lossless will provide audio at 24-bit/48kHz. A high-resolution Lossless option raises this even further, to 192kHz.

Each song will also take up more space when cached on Apple devices. For example, 1,000 lossless-quality songs will occupy the same amount of storage space as 3,000 "high quality" tracks.

Naturally, they also consume more bandwidth to stream as well. While a high-efficiency or high-quality track may use 1.5MB or 6MB of bandwidth respectively, a standard Lossless version would use 36MB, while the high-resolution version consumes 145MB.

Spatial Audio with support for Dolby Atmos

Additionally, Apple is bringing Spatial Audio with support for Dolby Atmos to Apple Music. The company says that Apple Music will automatically play Dolby Atmos tracks on all AirPods and Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip, as well as the built-in speakers in the latest versions of iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Apple says that there are "thousands" of songs in its catalog that will be available to listen to with Spatial Audio, and that number is going to grow over time.

Apple's decision to introduce Apple Music Lossless to the service arrives almost six years into its life. Apple Music officially launched on June 30, 2015.

Rumors of a high-fidelity streaming option for Apple Music have floated for quite a few months, with Spotify's launch increasing the volume of such claims.

In the week before Apple's launch, code leaks within the Apple Music app for Android and the web app effectively confirmed Lossless was on the way. On Sunday, Apple was more direct in hyping the new addition, by declaring "Music is about to change forever" in the Apple Music app.

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