Apple Music is Adding a Lossless Tier This Year (Updated)

Posted on May 15, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Apple, Mobile, iOS, Android, iPadOS, Music + Videos with 23 Comments

Apple Music Picks Up Music Video Support on Android

UPDATE: Now, a user on Twitter has discovered a lossless logo on the Apple Music website too. —Paul

Amazon Music already offers a lossless streaming option, and Spotify said it will add one this year. But they’re about to get some new competition, courtesy of Apple Music.

Apple hasn’t announced anything yet, and I’m guessing it plans to wait for WWDC next month to do so. But 9to5Mac has found evidence of lossless music streaming coming to Apple Music via iOS 14.6. And 9to5Google has found similar evidence in a beta version of Apple Music for Android.

9to5Mac says it’s found references to “Dolby Atmos,” “Dolby Audio,” and “Lossless” in a beta version of Apple Music in a beta version of iOS. Apple warns users about the increased demands of lossless music, too. Apparently, lossless audio files will use significantly more storage space when downloaded. With 10 GB of space, you can store 200 hi-res lossless songs, compared to 1000 lossless songs or 3000 songs at high quality.

Streaming will introduce similar overhead for data: A 3-minute high-res lossless song at 24-bit/192 kHz quality will consume 145 MB of data, compared to 36 MB for lossless (24-bit/48 kHz) and 6 MB for high quality (256 kbps).

9to5Google, meanwhile, examined a beta version of Apple Music on that platform and discovered references to “HiFi” streaming options. But the Android version of the app doesn’t mention “Dolby Atmos” or “Dolby Audio,” so it’s possible that this support will be limited to Apple’s hardware.

“Lossless audio files preserve every detail of the original file,” Apple explains. “Turning this on will consume significantly more data.”

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Comments (23)

23 responses to “Apple Music is Adding a Lossless Tier This Year (Updated)”

  1. Lauren Glenn

    Finally! Hopefully they'll add more storage options on their devices (or micro SD? hope for everything, expect nothing).

    But I hope there's a hi-res iTunes Match equivalent for this... even if I had to spend $50/yr for that.

  2. Cardch

    I presume Apple lossless is better than lossless on other platforms, right?

    • Saarek

      As far as AAC specific the general view is that Apple's implementation is the best when it comes to the music streaming services.

      Outside of AAC other services offer higher quality, for a price.

      I'm intrigured to see how this new lossless tier pans out, Apple has likely done a good job and unlike those other services there is no price hike to use it, very nice.

    • crunchyfrog

      Not necessarily better just Apple proprietary setup for Apple's ecosystem.

    • Lauren Glenn

      Not even with the file format, I'm afraid. ALAC can do 24-bit/96 or 24-bit/192, but don't use iTunes to convert it from FLAC.

      Either way, you can't download the file (at least not yet) from iTunes.... only streaming or offline download in the app. People are saying no itunes downloads.

  3. kenross55

    I have wanted to write this for a while. I am a total Mac fan boy. I have been since 1984 when I held my first mouse in a store and moved an icon from one side of the screen to the other. I knew nothing about Jobs, and if I had it would have put me off because I think there was something twisted in that admitted genius. The point is, I disdained Windows. At the time I would never have admitted to having anything to do with it. Time has mellowed me, I work with Windows 10 all the time at work. But I still prefer the Mac. 

    Back in the day I listened to TWIT. I liked Dvorak for his contrariness and was troubled when he was unceremoniously dumped. I felt, in fact, a little righteous indignation. These days I have seen what’s floating across No Agenda and I get it. 

    But I stopped listening to TWIT. I stopped altogether. Except, for some reason, I kept on with Windows Weekly. Every week I would tune in. I still do. Because I don’t care what Paul and Mary Jo are talking about. I just like listening to them. They’re smart, funny and knowledgeable. It’s like listening to Feynman when I know nothing about physics. I just like them both . 

    So thanks you guys. Just wanted to say that. I hope the show continues. It has become a part of my week. 


  4. JH_Radio

    Oh yeah there's also the DragonFly DACs which work great on apple phones and are excellent sounding.

    DragonFly Series · AudioQuest

  5. JH_Radio

    In fact this article really puts everything with Apple going lossless into prospective...

    The Best Device for Apple's Hi-Fi Music Is an Android Phone | Digital Trends

  6. JH_Radio

    You'd hear the difference depending on which bluetooth version is supported. Right now with apple devices, their BT only supports AAC streaming and their devices don't support high-rez either, so no. For high rez stuff you'd need a phone that supports AptX HD. then you'd need a pair of headphones or speakers that do too. For lossless AptX support would be good enough. With wired headphones, you can tell although maybe not so much with a $20 priced headphones.

    • Lauren Glenn

      If you plan to use hi-res, you want LDAC. AptX HD is *fine* and better than probably a few others (AptX, SBC), but LDAC is good... limited range but I know I can get about 20 feet away before it starts breaking up with LDAC. Apple supports neither, I believe.

  7. Username

    I doubt anyone genuinely cares about lossless. However, surround audio (via Dolby Amos) going mainstream - that’s big. How many false starts in last 70 years?

    • crunchyfrog

      Agreed. Few if anyone under 30 even understands the concept much less cares about bit rates when they are using their wireless earbuds while listening to music that stinks anyways.

      • Lauren Glenn

        This makes me laugh in a way because I remember when DCC and MiniDisc came out (1:4 ratio and 1:5 ratio respectively for compression). A lot of people said it ruined the quality of music and wouldn't buy them.

        Then MP3s came out and people got content with 128kbps even with iTunes despite that being bad quality... People were just fine with that. Then comes 256kbps and everyone says, "you don't need that. You can't hear it anyway." Now FF to today with lossless, "you don't need lossless. AAC 256kbps is just fine. You can't hear any more than that anyway."....

        Well, it's free, so now you have no reason not to use it except for lower data rates and the fact you don't have a micro SD card in your phone ;)

        • glenn8878

          Back in those days, most people had high fidelity stereo systems that played vinyl records. Then CDs were an actual improvement since it eliminated the flaws of vinyl like scratches, pops, and hisses. Then we migrated to PC stereo systems. Today, were left with mobile smart phones that connect to a Bluetooth mono speaker. It’s like 2 steps forward and one step back.

          • Lauren Glenn

            The one thing people like about records isn't the dynamic range of them. A CD can beat that. The mastering is what they like. If they have too much bass on an LP, the grooves are wider and you have less on a side.

            CDs were excellent back in the beginning... now, they're all dithered down from far higher res sources.... and many (far too many) are mastered to be louder and it just destroys the sound.

            At one point, Iron Maiden said that they weren't going to use that kind of mastering that loudness wars resulted in. Every since A Matter of Life And Death, their albums sound far better....

            I still hope this whole thing gets people realizing that 44.1kHz/16-bit is too outdated.

  8. j5

    Question for the audiophiles: can you actually hear the difference in these lossless tiers if you use Bluetooth headphones or a smart speaker?

    • Lauren Glenn

      I have Qobuz and when I buy hi-res audio and use LDAC on my LG V60, I can definitely hear it. I truly dislike bluetooth headphones for music but my XM3 with LDAC made me really want to use it. Wired is still better but this is very tolerable. Not sure if Apple Music on Android will be as good since chances are that it's locked to 48kHz/24 as most Android apps are. PowerAmp isn't limited to this and can go to 384kHz/32-bit.... LDAC goes up to 96kHz/32-bit (possibly 24-bit though)

    • james.h.robinson

      Probably not. But I can hear the difference with plugged-in headphones, especially when using a DAC/Amp.

      • j5

        I ask because I listen to a lot of music while working from home. That’s why I asked. I have some Bose QuietComfort headphones. But that’s as close as I get to high quality music listening headphones.

  9. dallasnorth40

    So, they will finally catch up to Amazon music.

  10. ghostrider

    “Turning this on will consume significantly more data.” and likely cost you "significantly more money" on your monthly sub I assume. Ah, the cost of progress!

  11. Saarek

    I wonder if this will be an AirPod line exclusive? Guessing not if it’s out on Android too.

    I for one would love a higher quality stream. My Sony XM4’s are capable of a lot more than the standard AAC stream Apple uses (even if that stream is very good).