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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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    @wklie what is Lumin's view on Apple music? Is it something you see your products working with?

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    I can only tell users to use AirPlay for Apple Music - at this time I am not aware of another way of supporting Apple Music on our products.

     

    We are full speed ahead on adding support for Spotify HiFi though.

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    29 minutes ago, wklie said:

    I can only tell users to use AirPlay for Apple Music - at this time I am not aware of another way of supporting Apple Music on our products.

     

    We are full speed ahead on adding support for Spotify HiFi though.

    Maybe they'll use a new bluetooth codec? 

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    1 hour ago, wklie said:

    We are full speed ahead on adding support for Spotify HiFi though.

    This is good news. Based on Spotify announcement, we can continue to use Spotify connect to stream hires to devices like lumin which support Spotify connect. Is that right? 

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    29 minutes ago, Rexp said:

    Maybe they'll use a new bluetooth codec? 

     

    They will not. :) Apple confirmed to The Verge that lossless audio is not supported on any model of AirPods, which use AAC over Bluetooth; if they're not bringing it to their own Bluetooth hardware, they're definitely not bringing it to anyone else's. (To be fair, I don't think they could bring it to anyone else's, since I don't think there are any lossless Bluetooth codecs, period; even if Apple came up with one, both ends would need it.) According to MacRumors, not even the (no longer made) HomePod or the (still made) HomePod mini will work with Apple's lossless audio, although MacRumors is living up to their name and quoting "unnamed sources" on that -- it's documented that AirPlay is at capable of CD-quality lossless ALAC streaming, but reports are fuzzy as to whether it can currently do higher resolution.

     

    As I mentioned earlier, I'm less pessimistic than some others about the potential of Apple opening this up -- on their video streaming service, they've taken a "the more the merrier" approach to third-party clients, and there are a few third-party Apple Music clients out there, and even first-party clients for Android and Samsung TVs. But "less pessimistic" isn't the same as "optimistic." I'm pretty sure that personally, the only way I'll get it on my living room system is through my Apple TV hardware. (My A/V receiver has BluOS in it and could almost certainly be upgraded to support Apple Music with proper API support, but -- based on my experience with NAD/Bluesound so far -- I wouldn't be holding my breath for them to do that any time soon, even if Apple not only gives the okay but Tim Cook personally delivers API documentation to them.)

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    7 minutes ago, ChipotleCoyote said:

     

    They will not. :) Apple confirmed to The Verge that lossless audio is not supported on any model of AirPods, which use AAC over Bluetooth; if they're not bringing it to their own Bluetooth hardware, they're definitely not bringing it to anyone else's. (To be fair, I don't think they could bring it to anyone else's, since I don't think there are any lossless Bluetooth codecs, period; even if Apple came up with one, both ends would need it.) According to MacRumors, not even the (no longer made) HomePod or the (still made) HomePod mini will work with Apple's lossless audio, although MacRumors is living up to their name and quoting "unnamed sources" on that -- it's documented that AirPlay is at capable of CD-quality lossless ALAC streaming, but reports are fuzzy as to whether it can currently do higher resolution.

     

    As I mentioned earlier, I'm less pessimistic than some others about the potential of Apple opening this up -- on their video streaming service, they've taken a "the more the merrier" approach to third-party clients, and there are a few third-party Apple Music clients out there, and even first-party clients for Android and Samsung TVs. But "less pessimistic" isn't the same as "optimistic." I'm pretty sure that personally, the only way I'll get it on my living room system is through my Apple TV hardware. (My A/V receiver has BluOS in it and could almost certainly be upgraded to support Apple Music with proper API support, but -- based on my experience with NAD/Bluesound so far -- I wouldn't be holding my breath for them to do that any time soon, even if Apple not only gives the okay but Tim Cook personally delivers API documentation to them.)

    Oh well, hopefully someone else will develop it in the future. 

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    Bluetooth should be a dead end for streaming Hi-Res audio via lossless CODECs, pretty much like Apple Music is a dead end for 3rd party developers

     

    https://toolstud.io/video/audiosize.php

    Quote

    Apple Lossless (ALAC 757 kbps stereo)

     

    https://www.silabs.com/documents/login/presentations/tech-talks-evolution-of-bluetooth-5-5-1-5-2.pdf#page=4

    Quote

    2M PHY will double the throughput up to 1.4Mbps

     

    https://www.silabs.com/documents/login/presentations/tech-talks-evolution-of-bluetooth-5-5-1-5-2.pdf#page=5

    Quote

    Bluetooth 4 uses a single 1M PHY
    PHY = 1M
    Maximum throughput = 800 kbps

    Quote

    Bluetooth 5 adds an optional 2M PHY
    PHY = 2M
    Maximum throughput = 1438 kbps

     

    No, Bluetooth cannot deliver hi-res audio
    https://darko.audio/2020/11/no-bluetooth-cannot-deliver-hi-res-audio/

     

    The ultimate guide to Bluetooth headphones: LDAC isn’t Hi-res
    https://www.soundguys.com/ldac-ultimate-bluetooth-guide-20026/

     

    Bluetooth codecs 101: Everything you need to know
    https://www.androidauthority.com/bluetooth-codecs-997074/

     


     

    And then they've gotta update AirPlay 2 or something, otherwise we'll have to wait for stuff like AirPlay 2.5 or 3 etc.

     

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/marksparrow/2019/10/23/bws-formation-wedge-sounds-awesome-but-needs-some-polish

    Quote

    Apple’s AirPlay 2 protocol downsamples audio files to 24-bit 44.1 kHz

     

    https://www.technologyfocus.net/can-airplay-2-support-hi-res-audio/

    Quote

    This number is supported by the fact when I stream Amazon Music HD to my Airplay 2 capable speaker, the device capability changes to indeed 24-bit/44.1 kHz.

     

    Not promising at all, therefore not an appealing option for audiophiles then.

     

    Since they really can't care less about 3rd party developers, we audiophiles could simply stick with Spotify HiFi / TIDAL / Qobuz etc.

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    I have a Homepod Mini and the sound is phenomenal, it's really strange to me that it will not be able to stream lossless audio tho, because it doesn't use Bluetooth, at least not in the traditional sense, but rather WiFi, that plus having a really powerful processor inside, it should easily be able to at least playback CD quality audio, I'm actually thinking about buying a second one to have them in stereo to be able to enjoy spatial audio / Dolby Atmos, I know is not really audiophile, but spatial audio on the Airpods Pro is gamechanging, it really is incredible what they were able to achieve, makes me sad tho that because of the limitations of bluetooth, we can't enjoy wireless lossless audio, at least not in a real sense.

     

    My dad designs amplifiers and has taught us, my brother and I, the wonders of lossless high fidelity audio, but I never really got me to care too much about it, specially since I would need to use a service with a lot smaller catalogue like Tidal or Qobuz (the later one isn't even available in Mexico) compared to Apple Music, but now? Heck, I'm now looking to buy a new DAC (any entry-level recommendations?) and a new pair of headphones (My HyperX Cloud II's may not gonna cut it), this may be only a move to annoy and put pressure on Spotify, Amazon Music, Tidal, Deezer, etc, but I believe this can really work as a stepping stone for a lot of people to get into the HiFi music world

    By the way, I have read a ton of info around this, and AFAIK, Apple is NOT going to use MQA but rather it will use ALAC, I mean, the name is "Apple Lossless Audio Codec", Why would Apple, from all companies in the world, decide to license another codec, specially now that it has been shown that MQA is nothing more than snake oil? and also, the HiRes lossless option will be available for no extra charge

    Just adding my two cents to the conversation!

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    45 minutes ago, BrownMagic said:

    Based on Spotify announcement, we can continue to use Spotify connect to stream hires to devices like lumin which support Spotify connect. Is that right? 

     

    Our current Spotify Connect implementation will work up to 320kbps.  We will provide a firmware upgrade (with the latest SDK) to support Spotify HiFi at lossless CD quality when that becomes available, but I cannot say about other brands.  Hi-Res is not available from Spotify.

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    By the way, according to reddit, if you have iOS 14.6 RC you can already see the Atmos, Apple Digital Master and Lossless badges on video albums, and when you tap on the Lossless badge it says you can hear it in up to 24 bit 192 KHz

    image.png.97909ab35c02672d435d6d52f41b0776.png

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    1 hour ago, seeteeyou said:

    Bluetooth should be a dead end for streaming Hi-Res audio via lossless CODECs, pretty much like Apple Music is a dead end for 3rd party developers

     

    https://toolstud.io/video/audiosize.php

     

    https://www.silabs.com/documents/login/presentations/tech-talks-evolution-of-bluetooth-5-5-1-5-2.pdf#page=4

     

    https://www.silabs.com/documents/login/presentations/tech-talks-evolution-of-bluetooth-5-5-1-5-2.pdf#page=5

     

    No, Bluetooth cannot deliver hi-res audio
    https://darko.audio/2020/11/no-bluetooth-cannot-deliver-hi-res-audio/

     

    The ultimate guide to Bluetooth headphones: LDAC isn’t Hi-res
    https://www.soundguys.com/ldac-ultimate-bluetooth-guide-20026/

     

    Bluetooth codecs 101: Everything you need to know
    https://www.androidauthority.com/bluetooth-codecs-997074/

     


     

    And then they've gotta update AirPlay 2 or something, otherwise we'll have to wait for stuff like AirPlay 2.5 or 3 etc.

     

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/marksparrow/2019/10/23/bws-formation-wedge-sounds-awesome-but-needs-some-polish

     

    https://www.technologyfocus.net/can-airplay-2-support-hi-res-audio/

     

    Not promising at all, therefore not an appealing option for audiophiles then.

     

    Since they really can't care less about 3rd party developers, we audiophiles could simply stick with Spotify HiFi / TIDAL / Qobuz etc.

    Thanks, what's your definition of hi-res? Above 16/44.1 or 24/44.1

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    What are predictions for Qobuz and TIDAL pricing moving forward? With Amazon and Apple both pricing lossless/high resolution at previously lossy prices, will Q & T lower pricing? 

     

    I realize many of us in this niche are willing to pay more for the integrations these two services offer but it is a curious issue.

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    What's next for Qobuz and Tidal and Roon...

     

    My exact concerns.  As a Roon + Tidal user, I'm worried that the whole ecosystem will come tumbling down.  For Roon, Tidal is the only streaming service available in my country.  Music discovery has been great, but I always knew that being tied to a single source streaming service was the weakest link in my Roon subscription.

     

    Exciting times! But very worrisome.

    Cheers,

    Jay

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    11 minutes ago, mindnoise said:

    What's next for Qobuz and Tidal and Roon...

     

    My exact concerns.  As a Roon + Tidal user, I'm worried that the whole ecosystem will come tumbling down.  For Roon, Tidal is the only streaming service available in my country.  Music discovery has been great, but I always knew that being tied to a single source streaming service was the weakest link in my Roon subscription.

     

    Exciting times! But very worrisome.

    Cheers,

    Jay

    I just don't see Apple doing enough to replace something like Roon.   I am new to Roon but love that it integrates into my Sonos system for the whole house audio, and my Hi-Fi products supporting both my local files and Tidal in a fairly nice to use app.    

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    On 5/20/2021 at 5:55 AM, wklie said:

    at this time I am not aware of another way of supporting Apple Music on our products.


    Maybe you will have to add HMDI interface. (For AppleTV).

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    The press update is quite clarifying for the average Apple user.

     

    They probably noticed the speculations and the buzz spreading on internet. 🙂

     

    For the audiophile niche there're still a few things to understand about how to benefit the hi-res stuff.

     

    It seems that lossless hi-res will be "limited" to the Mac/iPhone/iPad -> DAC solution only. I was (and still am) hoping for a Wi-Fi solution (AirPlay).

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    According to Apple, AppleTV and the HomePods will get lossless support with a future software update. Since the HomePod doesn’t have Ethernet, my guess would be Airplay 3 is on its way. 

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    This is in Apple's FAQ and it is clear as mud:

     

    "Can I redownload my iTunes purchases in lossless?

    "If you subscribe to Apple Music, you can redownload music in lossless only from the Apple Music catalog." 

     

    Does this mean that Apple Music acts like iTunes Match to extent the content is now available in the Apple Music catalogue, so you can play the downloaded file on devices that are not linked to Apple's infrastructure?  Or does it just mean that, so long as you remain an Apple Music subscriber, you can download any Apple Music material (including your iTunes purchases) for offline playback in Apple Music?  Or does it mean something else altogether?

     

    I worked at Apple for 12 years.  Helping Apple avoid transparency for the sake of liability avoidance was a chunk of my job.  That culture hasn't changed, so I doubt that Apple will be much more forthcoming about this and we will just have to wait and see what works and what doesn't. 

     

    That said, if being a subscriber means being able to upgrade to lossless my purchased files and be able to play them after my subscription ends, this streaming-service-non-fan happily will subscribe to Apple Music for as long as it takes to upgrade my purchased content. 

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    It means that Apple Music subscribers can download locally DRM lossless tracks. Not buy them or convert the already bought songs from AAC to ALAC.

     

    If you already have some Apple Music's tracks downloaded (again, AAC, DRM, for off line listening) you can delete them and download again in lossless ALAC.

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    I think that we agree that this Apple Music lossless/hi-res launch is choppy.

     

    That said, it's interesting to observe the attention this audio topic has grabbed, though. I mean, among regular users, not audiophiles.

     

    Granted, a lot of them enthusiastically jumped on this lossless bandwagon without knowing exactly what all this is about.

     

    Funny enough, they discovered that they can't enjoy this audio bliss because current casual Apple devices aren't fully compatible.

     

    Questions about new headphones and DACs are already popping out. Their wallets surely won't be lossless... 🙂

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    1 hour ago, Marco Klobas said:

    It means that Apple Music subscribers can download locally DRM lossless tracks. Not buy them or convert the already bought songs from AAC to ALAC.

     

    If you already have some Apple Music's tracks downloaded (again, AAC, DRM, for off line listening) you can delete them and download again in lossless ALAC.

    I don't doubt you can download again Apple Music tracks previously downloaded for offline Apple Music listening.  The reference was to "iTunes purchases," though, not to previously downloaded Apple Music tracks. 

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    It's an "elegant/smart" answer about iTunes purchases to inform that it's not possible to upgrade owned purchases to ALAC, inviting users to subscribe to Apple Music if they aren't already. 🙂

     

    That's my interpretation.

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