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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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    35 minutes ago, AudioDoctor said:

    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.

     

    Yes, if it's just tied to Apple Music and Sonos type products, then it isn't for many in this niche. However, it's a great thing overall that the biggest players in the market are offering it and it can only help people gain exposure to higher quality. If 0.0005 percent of people drift over to HiFi, our niche is looking really good. 

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    Competition is fantastic.

     

    I will be surprised if Apple will allow CE manufacturers to embed the service directly. AirPlay for sure but I've never been a fan of a go-through device.

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    8 minutes ago, loop7 said:

    I've never been a fan of a go-through device.

    I so agree. It's like having all the video stream through the remote before appearing on the television. 

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    45 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

     

    Yes, if it's just tied to Apple Music and Sonos type products, then it isn't for many in this niche. However, it's a great thing overall that the biggest players in the market are offering it and it can only help people gain exposure to higher quality. If 0.0005 percent of people drift over to HiFi, our niche is looking really good. 

     

    If Apple locks it into their own ecosystem then what real benefit will there be unless they increase the quality of their equipment significantly. 24/192 through a HomePod will still suck.

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    1 minute ago, AudioDoctor said:

    24/192 through a HomePod will still suck.

    especially since the HomePod's DSP likely functions at a far lower rate than 192. 

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    1 minute ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    especially since the HomePod's DSP likely functions at a far lower rate than 192. 

     

    Yes. The biggest disappointment to me is that they don't allow the purchase of Hi Res music.

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    So this seems to imply that if you ever purchased music from Apple, it's now downloadable as ALAC? Is that how y'all read this, too? Very cool, if true.

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    14 minutes ago, AudioDoctor said:

     

    If Apple locks it into their own ecosystem then what real benefit will there be unless they increase the quality of their equipment significantly. 24/192 through a HomePod will still suck.

    Hmm. The footnote mentions to play higher than 44.1/48kHz, the defacto for Bluetooth,  an external DAC is necessary, which also means it will show up in Audio Midi for example and Apple will play to it. Guess that the Apple music program will detect the DAC and play to it, but how does it know that it's a Dolby atmos capable for example. This is the domain of network AV receivers which have protocols already built in, big audience.

     

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    This will make the upcoming T.H.E. Show in Long Beach California even more fun.

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    24 minutes ago, feelingears said:

    So this seems to imply that if you ever purchased music from Apple, it's now downloadable as ALAC? Is that how y'all read this, too? Very cool, if true.

     

    I am looking for the article right now, but I think I read that is not the case, that no downloadable music will be lossless in any way.

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    7 hours ago, Ran said:

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

    I will be surprised if they do that. They tend to control the entire experience but I would love to them open things up.

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    10 minutes ago, ChipotleCoyote said:

     

    I am pretty sure if Apple were supporting MQA they would be contractually obligated to use the bolded phrase Master Quality Authenticated® at least three times in every press release.

     

    There are some labels that have slipped MQA files in to Qobuz, maybe someone with a set up that can stream lossless right now can find a 2L label album on Apple Music and see if the MQA light illuminates.

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    Here is a 2L album in Apple Music. Who wants to do the honors?

     

     

    Screen Shot 2021-05-17 at 5.17.03 PM.png

    Screen Shot 2021-05-17 at 5.18.48 PM.png

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    37 minutes ago, AudioDoctor said:

    There are some labels that have slipped MQA files in to Qobuz, maybe someone with a set up that can stream lossless right now can find a 2L label album on Apple Music and see if the MQA light illuminates.

     

    When this rolls out, I'll give it a try. (They said "coming in June," so it's all still AAC for now.)

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    3 minutes ago, ChipotleCoyote said:

     

    When this rolls out, I'll give it a try. (They said "coming in June," so it's all still AAC for now.)

     

    Yeah, I noticed. I went looking for the activation stuff, and even though my phone is on the Beta its not there yet. I can find no way to get it done on a Mac, either online or in the settings of Music.

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    1 hour ago, ChipotleCoyote said:

     

    I am pretty sure if Apple were supporting MQA they would be contractually obligated to use the bolded phrase Master Quality Authenticated® at least three times in every press release.

    So true!

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    3 hours ago, AudioDoctor said:

     

    Yes. The biggest disappointment to me is that they don't allow the purchase of Hi Res music.

     

    Even if you bought it would you actually own it?

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    2 minutes ago, jcbenten said:

     

    Even if you bought it would you actually own it?

     

    Why wouldn't I?

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    The wireless transmission element is most interesting to me. If they've come up with a way of wirelessly streaming CD res from a mobile device to a receiver chip without using wifi then I would subscribe. 

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    14 hours ago, firedog said:

    The hard core audiophiles will stay with services like Qobuz, Deezer, or Primephonic, who all offer quality hi-res or lossless streaming.

    If Apple & Spotify offer a way to stream lossless content to their DACs why would they choose to pay more to access the same content via those services?

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