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  • Apple Music Lossless, High Resolution, and Dolby Atmos Announced

     

     

    Hi Guys, Apple has finally announced its lossless CD quality, high resolution, and Dolby Audio tier to its streaming music service Apple Music. It looks like lossless (44.1/48 kHz) audio and Dolby Atmos will be included for the same price as the lossy tier, but high resolution audio will be an additional cost. The Apple Music app also has offline downloads for those who don't want to use up an expensive data plan streaming high resolution audio over LTE or 5G.

     

    Here's the complete release from Apple - https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2021/05/apple-music-announces-spatial-audio-and-lossless-audio/

     

    P.S. I don't like to toot my own horn, but I have to say I was right when I said in 2014 that high resolution audio wasn't coming soon from Apple (link). I guessed that it would be at least 5 years. Nearly 7 years later, we finally have it, and I'm very happy to see Apple finally flip the high resolution switch. 

     

    P.P.S. Amazon Music HD has now cut its prices as well, "The monthly price has now been cut from $12.99 for Amazon Prime members, to $7.99. Non-Prime users have had the price cut from $14.99 to $9.99 monthly."

     

     

     

     

    Apple Music announces Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos; will bring Lossless Audio to entire catalog

    The next generation of sound on Apple Music is coming to subscribers June 2021 at no additional cost
     
    Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos and Lossless Audio are coming to Apple Music subscribers beginning June 2021.
     
    CUPERTINO, CALIFORNIA Apple today announced Apple Music is bringing industry-leading sound quality to subscribers with the addition of Spatial Audio with support for Dolby Atmos. Spatial Audio gives artists the opportunity to create immersive audio experiences for their fans with true multidimensional sound and clarity. Apple Music subscribers will also be able to listen to more than 75 million songs in Lossless Audio — the way the artists created them in the studio. These new features will be available for Apple Music subscribers starting next month at no additional cost.
     
    “Apple Music is making its biggest advancement ever in sound quality,” said Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats. “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. Subscribers will also be able to listen to their music in the highest audio quality with Lossless Audio. Apple Music as we know it is about to change forever.”

     

    Spatial Audio with Support for Dolby Atmos

    Apple is bringing Spatial Audio with support for Dolby Atmos to Apple Music. Dolby Atmos is a revolutionary, immersive audio experience that enables artists to mix music so the sound comes from all around and from above. By default, 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 Music will be adding new Dolby Atmos tracks constantly and will be curating a special set of Dolby Atmos playlists to help listeners find the music they love. In addition, albums that are available in Dolby Atmos will have a badge on the detail page for easy discovery.
     
    At launch, subscribers can enjoy thousands of songs in Spatial Audio from some of the world’s biggest artists and music across all genres, including hip-hop, country, Latin, pop, and classical. Apple Music is working with artists and labels to add new releases and the best catalog tracks, as more artists begin to create music specifically for the Spatial Audio experience. Together, Apple Music and Dolby are making it easy for musicians, producers, and mix engineers to create songs in Dolby Atmos. Initiatives include doubling the number of Dolby-enabled studios in major markets, offering educational programs, and providing resources to independent artists. 
     
    “Today marks the introduction of Dolby Atmos on Apple Music — a new music experience that is transforming how music is created by artists and enjoyed by their fans,” said Kevin Yeaman, Dolby Laboratories’ president and CEO. “We are working with Apple Music to make Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos widely available to all musicians and anyone who loves music.”
     
    J Balvin said: “I’m really excited to be part of this project with Apple Music because I always want to be a step ahead and I think this is one of those steps. With Lossless, everything in the music is going to sound bigger and stronger but more importantly, it will be better quality. Hearing myself and my music in Dolby Atmos for the first time, it was just crazy, it blew my mind, it’s indescribable. I think fans will really love this new experience.”
     
    Gustavo Dudamel said: “There are no words to describe the immersive, overpowering experience of being a conductor, leading a performance of Mahler’s towering ‘Symphony of a Thousand.’ But now, technology is advancing to bring that experience closer to our ears, our minds, and our souls. Share with me this monumental, live performance with my beloved Los Angeles Philharmonic, remastered in Dolby Atmos audio technology for the first time on Apple Music alongside my collection of Deutsche Grammophon recordings with the LA Phil, in rich, remarkable 3D sound.”
     
    Grammy Award-winning producer, songwriter, and composer Giles Martin said: “Since recording began, artists, producers, and engineers have tried to paint pictures with sound, transporting listeners to worlds they never knew existed, even when the sound came from a single speaker. Now with the dawn of immersive audio, we can take the music lover inside the music. From the feeling of hearing your favorite artist in the same room as you, to the experience of sitting directly in the middle of a symphony orchestra, the listening experience is transformative and the possibilities for the creator are endless. This is a quantum leap in technology – I have so far had the pleasure of mixing some of the greatest artists in history in Dolby Atmos. With this work I have found myself falling into albums I love. There is a unique experience of being able to fully immerse myself in music that, although is familiar, suddenly sounds new, fresh, and immediate. As a creator, it is beyond exciting that we can now share this incredible experience through Apple Music.”
     
    Mixing engineer Manny Marroquin said: “Spatial Audio gives music a new identity. Every time I mix in Atmos it gives me goosebumps. The future has arrived.”

     

    Lossless Audio

    Apple Music will also make its catalog of more than 75 million songs available in Lossless Audio. Apple uses ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) to preserve every single bit of the original audio file. This means Apple Music subscribers will be able to hear the exact same thing that the artists created in the studio.
    To start listening to Lossless Audio, subscribers using the latest version of Apple Music can turn it on in Settings > Music > Audio Quality. Here, they can choose different resolutions for different connections such as cellular, Wi-Fi, or for download. Apple Music’s Lossless tier starts at CD quality, which is 16 bit at 44.1 kHz (kilohertz), and goes up to 24 bit at 48 kHz and is playable natively on Apple devices. For the true audiophile, Apple Music also offers Hi-Resolution Lossless all the way up to 24 bit at 192 kHz.1
     
    Producer Piper Payne said: “The soul and life of the mix is sitting in the extra bits of data that are stored in the lossless file. As a mastering engineer, having the ability to convey the music to the listener at its highest quality is the end goal of what I work for every day.”
     
    Availability

    Spatial Audio with support for Dolby Atmos and Lossless Audio will be available to Apple Music subscribers at no additional cost.

    Thousands of tracks will be available in Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos at launch, with more added regularly.

    Apple Music’s catalog of more than 75 million songs will be available in Lossless Audio.

    More information, including a comprehensive list of compatible devices, is available at apple.com/apple-music.
     
      1. Due to the large file sizes and bandwidth needed for Lossless and Hi-Res Lossless Audio, subscribers will need to opt in to the experience. Hi-Res Lossless also requires external equipment, such as a USB digital-to-analog converter (DAC).

     



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    Hopefully Apple will provide an open API so application developers can integrate this service.

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    1 minute ago, Ran said:

    Hopefully Apple will provide an open API so application developers can integrate this service.

    Agree, this would be nice. Another option is always a good thing and more competition is better for us.

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    Agree, Apple is usually tight lipped with press releases or even keynotes. Consequently a flood of speculations and questions arise around the web.

     

    With this Apple Music update (very welcome upgrade, BTW) I see already questions about AirPods/HomePod/AppleTV compatibility, Bluetooth, AirPlay 2 etc.

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    So I'll be the old guy and ask whether iTunes downloads will be available in lossless or hi-res. That's the best way to know exactly what is getting fed to my DAC.

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    I have to admit I don't totally get the rationale for Apple Music to go lossless.

    Most of their devices playback music wirelessly via lossy AAC anyway. That said, when I listen to an AAC/mp3 track off a wireless AAC headphones, it sounds worse than a lossless ALAC file going to a wireless AAC headphones. I'm just not sure how many people would notice or even truly use the full lossless stream. I do Airplay lossless files to HomePods but is that something most people would notice? Not sure.

     

    But as our great leader @The Computer Audiophile likes to say, "I like options". In Canada, Tidal is my only option with Roon and it has been driving me nuts with all the MQA tracks. So if Apple Music has Roon integration, maybe I'll switch to Apple Music? Or maybe I'll switch to Hang Loose Convolver from Accurate sound for playback with Apple Music? Not sure yet.

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    23 minutes ago, new_media said:

    So I'll be the old guy and ask whether iTunes downloads will be available in lossless or hi-res. That's the best way to know exactly what is getting fed to my DAC.

    A previous report had suggested that lossless and hi-res lossless would indeed also be available for download too, however I didn't see any mention of that in the official release.

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    A tweet by Chris Welch (The Verge) informs that lossless audio will be exclusive to Apple Music.

     

    Not for purchases or iTunes Match.

     

     

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    1 hour ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    Reading through Apple release again, I'm reminded of what I dislike most from Apple, it's lack of details and transparency with respect to technical items. The talk of Dolby Atmos is cool and I love what it can do, but it may be like pulling teeth to get Apple to talk about how to play this audio on non-Apple hardware. 

    Like this I guess:

     

    How can I listen to Dolby Atmos music?

    .....or by connecting your Apple TV 4K to a compatible TV or audiovisual receiver.

     

    (So Apple TV via HDMI only I think)

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    This is great news! And it must sending some shivers to the competition. 
     

    What I an eager is to know how do we stream in high res to our dac? 
     

    Airplay 2 is not the answer since it not lossless and it goes through the device hence draining battery.  So is Airplat 3 in the works? Are we getting an Apple Connect?

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    17 minutes ago, Confused said:

    Like this I guess:

     

    How can I listen to Dolby Atmos music?

    .....or by connecting your Apple TV 4K to a compatible TV or audiovisual receiver.

     

    (So Apple TV via HDMI only I think)

    Yes, with Apple hardware. I'm thinking about other ways and the nuances that are bound to appear. For example, finding an official Apple statement about which audio is supported over AirPlay is like pulling teeth. Sure, it can be done usually, but it isn't easy. 

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    Idea. If someone here has a Mac Mini M1 and an Apple Music account, please try using the Black Hole program to connect Apple Music and HQPlayer together on the Mini M1 and see if it works. This would be one way to to do it.

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    27 minutes ago, BrownMagic said:

    What I an eager is to know how do we stream in high res to our dac? 

    Use CCK with an iDevice ?😀

     

     

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    30 minutes ago, BrownMagic said:

    This is great news! And it must sending some shivers to the competition. 
     

    What I an eager is to know how do we stream in high res to our dac? 
     

    Airplay 2 is not the answer since it not lossless and it goes through the device hence draining battery.  So is Airplat 3 in the works? Are we getting an Apple Connect?

     

    This will be a journey. Without integration into products from Roon, Aurender, Lumin, Audirvana, etc... it will be really tough. Apple Music won't change the sample rate automatically, so we are back to the Audio Midi issues of 2007. 

     

    Sonos may eventually get lossless or 48 kHz from Apple Music, but that's not incredibly exciting. 

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    Great news all round, except for Tidal, Qobuz, Roon & mqa 🤣

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    The Amazon announcement means that Tidal is clearly an inferior offering. More trouble for MQA/Tidal.

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    Quite a few things to understand how hi-res will be handled.

     

    Will Airplay 2 be updated to support up to 192 kHz? Technically it's feasible (it's a WiFi/Ethernet protocol after all – bandwidth isn't a problem). Is to be seen if Apple is interested...

     

    Actually, even AirPlay 1 cloud be pushed to 192 kHz if only Apple would be interested.

     

    Who knows, maybe at the upcoming WWDC there will be some news for AirPlay.

     

    Many streamers implement AirPlay through Shairport-Sync, which is an AirPlay 1 only reverse engineering project. No AirPlay 2 on the horizon.

     

    The Mac-DAC link (via USB or whatever) and its sampling rate managed by Audio MIDI Setup, as @The Computer Audiophile pointed out, is another issue.

     

    Let's wait a few weeks and hope that Apple Music Hi-Res Lossless will somehow fit for audiophiles.

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    20 minutes ago, JoshM said:

    Very happy to see no MQA. Hopefully this deals a death blow to it as a format.

     

    As of now, though, I don't see Apple as likely to overtake Qobuz in quality. (See Amazon HD.) Unless Apple 1) demonstrates that they're actually streaming lossless hires, 2) creates a quality standalone app, and 3) allows developers to integrate the service into audiophiles players like Audirvana, it's not going to be an option for serious audiophiles. It's hard to say whether that matters at all to Apple, though.

     

    This is, however, a belated victory for Neil Young, who tried to convince Steve Jobs to go the lossless hires route pre-Pono.

    The hard core audiophiles will stay with services like Qobuz, Deezer, or Primephonic, who all offer quality hi-res or lossless streaming.  For more "average"  people who just want quality sound, the Amazon and Apple offerings (and upcoming Spotify) will be all they need. I don't think Tidal is going to be attractive to them at all, the way it is currently structured. Of course, the tiny number of MQA fanboys will stay there. But they are a drop in the bucket and insignificant. 

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    47 minutes ago, JoshM said:

    This is, however, a belated victory for Neil Young, who tried to convince Steve Jobs to go the lossless hires route pre-Pono.

    Wow, that's right!

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    3 minutes ago, ChipotleCoyote said:

    I also noticed KEF's LS50 Wireless II page now lists the Apple Music in addition to the AirPlay 2 logo, making me wonder if they have, or plan to, integrate it directly.

    My guess is that KEF is using a StreamUnlimited card, so this service comes with the card as an option. If HiFI companies want Apple Music lossless etc.. this is probably the way to get it. Working with a much larger vendor who can work with Apple. 

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    I have mixed feelings about this, however if we can't use it in a way we want to with our systems, are locked into using Apple Music to stream it, and are unable to purchase/download Hi-Res, I fail to see any reason at all to use it.

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