Apple Music deploys from today the lossless audio quality as well as the “Spatial Audio” Dolby Atmos on a selection of music tracks from the catalog, features that the brand teases for weeks.
We give you, in passing, our first impressions. All iPhones running iOS 14.6 and iOS 15 beta are compatible – Android users also have access to lossless audio quality, but not to Dolby Atmos Spatial Audio.
Apple has finally rolled out two features that have been teased for weeks: lossless audio quality and spatial audio – all without increasing the subscription price one iota.
Lossless audio quality means less compression of the tracks. This makes the sound seem much clearer, richer and more defined.
Until now, a handful of ultra-premium streaming platforms (Tidal, Qobuz…) offered this kind of quality in streaming, for an often very expensive subscription of more than 20 euros per month.
It is necessary to have adequate hifi equipment to really take advantage of it or it will be useless.
Moreover, neither the AirPods Pro nor the AirPods Max really allow you to listen to music without loss, due to the limitations of bluetooth technology.
The AirPods Max does have an analog audio jack input to bypass the Bluetooth connection, but – and this is amusing – the analog input converts the signal into digital, and compresses the sound at the same time.
As a result, you won’t be surprised to find independent tests that claim that the audio quality of the AirPods Max is better in bluetooth than in wired connection.
Apple Music Enables Lossless Quality And Spatial Audio At No Extra Cost
It’s as if Apple was encouraging you, for once, to take an interest in what competing headphone manufacturers are doing.
Which are, by the way, fully compatible with the other technology that has been teased for months and that also lands on some Apple Music tracks: Spatial Audio. Apple had not said much on the subject.
All we knew was that the AirPods Pro and Max offer to activate the feature during pairing, without it being really available anywhere, except, perhaps, on Apple TV+ content (but it’s not necessarily always very clear).
With the arrival of Spatial Audio in Apple Music, we actually realize that the technology is just a variant… of Dolby Atmos.
Despite the fact that Apple sells the technology under the name Spatial Audio, you won’t find any mention or logo “Spatial Audio” on the tracks remastered to support it. Instead, you’ll have to look for the Dolby Atmos logo.
Again, you don’t have to have AirPods Pro or AirPods Max to enjoy it. Any headset, even entry-level, can normally deliver this effect.
Apple Music: Are Lossless and Dolby Atmos Spatial Audio Worth?
Having listened to several songs compatible with AirPods Pro, the effect is clearly noticeable. The instruments are more cut out and stand out better.
Personally, though, I would leave Spatial Audio off. Lossless brings a real increase in quality, but Dolby Atmos often distorts, in my opinion, the original intention of the sound engineers and the artist.
The effect can sometimes be strange: the attack of the rhythms, for example, drowns out the other instruments, which can in some cases make stereo listening much more pleasant than the “spatial audio” mode.
Both of these new features are gradually being rolled out to songs in the Apple Music catalog, starting with the most recent releases.
You can easily access some of the artists whose songs have been remastered from the Explore tab. Lossless is available in Apple Music on Android and iOS 14.6 and iOS 15 beta.
Spatial Audio / Dolby Atmos on the other hand is an iPhone exclusive. You can enable / disable lossless quality and Spatial Audio in the application settings.
Note that lossless quality significantly increases data usage. You can set a different quality on cellular data in the settings.
By the way, two lossless quality levels are available: ALAC up to 24 bits / 45 kHz and ALAC up to 24 bits / 192 kHz.
Have you been able to test the lossless quality and the spatial audio? What did you think? Share your opinion in the comments of this article!