Last February, Spotify announced Spotify HiFi, a new subscription package specifically for users who want to enjoy audio in lossless quality. Not long ago, it was Apple Music’s turn to follow with a similar announcement.
In a press release, Apple announced that a lossless quality music catalog would be available on Apple Music starting next June. Interestingly, instead of charging extra, Apple instead ratified this lossless quality music catalog to all Apple Music subscribers. So as long as you’ve subscribed to Apple Music, you can instantly enjoy its lossless music catalog by activating it in the settings menu.
At the beginning of its launch, Apple targeted about 20 million songs available in lossless quality. The number will continue to grow until it includes all available songs (about 75 million songs) before the turn of the year. Apple uses ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec), a codec they have developed themselves for a long time and which they have made open-source and royalty-free since 2011.
When available later, Apple Music subscribers can access the settings menu to choose a resolution for each connection type (cellular, Wi-Fi, or download). The lossless resolution option itself starts at 16-bit/44.1 kHz, then rises to 24-bit/48 kHz, and the highest is 24-bit/192 kHz. For the latter, Apple doesn’t forget to remind you that you need a USB DAC, aka digital-to-analog converter.
In addition to the lossless music catalog, Apple will also present a unique record that offers Dolby Atmos spatial audio effects. The amount of Dolby Atmos content will be much less than the lossless content — just thousands of songs at the beginning of its launch. At least for me, it’s much easier to realize the sound is coming from all directions (Dolby Atmos) than the more detailed (lossless) sound.
As with the lossless catalog, the Dolby Atmos catalog in Apple Music will also be available for free to all subscribers. To enjoy it, you need a compatible device. By default, Apple Music plays Dolby Atmos content (if available) on all AirPods and headphones along with Beats earphones that have an H1 or W1 chip, not to mention on the built-in speakers of some of the latest versions of iPhone (starting with iPhone 7), iPad, and Mac.