Apple is to make its entire song catalog available in lossless audio, giving Apple Music listeners the option of studio-quality audio at no extra cost to existing subscribers.
As part of the company’s announcements today about the future of its music subscription service, Apple said it would make more than 75 million songs available in ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec).
The move is significant because Apple’s main rival in this space, Spotify, still doesn’t have its equivalent Spotify HiFi service live, despite unveiling it earlier in the year. Apple says it will offer three lossless tiers: CD quality (16 bit at 44.1kHz); slightly higher quality 24-bit audio at 48kHz; and full high-resolution 24bit, 192kHz audio.
The move to introduce lossless audio was made alongside the announcement that Apple Music will soon encompass Spatial Audio via Dolby Atmos, in much the same way as some titles on Apple TV+ already do.
From June, subscribers will be able to listen to thousands of songs from artists including Ariana Grande, Maroon 5, Kacey Musgraves and The Weeknd in Spatial Audio surround sound. Apple says it is “working with artists and labels to add new releases and the best catalog tracks” over the coming months.
Apple Music will automatically play Dolby Atmos tracks on all AirPods and Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip, plus the built-in speakers in the “latest versions of iPhone, iPad, and Mac”, according to the company.
Looking into the smallprint, this includes: “The iPhone 7 or later with the latest version of iOS; iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation or later), iPad Pro 11-inch, iPad (6th generation or later), iPad Air (3rd generation or later), and iPad mini (5th generation) with the latest version of iPadOS; and MacBook Pro (2018 model or later).”
Apple isn’t the only company looking towards HD audio as a way to get one over on the laggardly Spotify. Moments before Apple’s announcement, as reported by Billboard, Amazon revealed that it would also be making its high-fidelity audio service, Amazon Music HD, available to Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers at no extra cost.