As expected, Apple has announced a high fidelity expansion of Apple Music, bringing both Lossless Audio and Spatial Audio to users. The icing on the cake? It’s all free.
Well, not free, exactly. You still have to be a paying subscriber of Apple Music. But the additional hi-fi content won’t cost an extra penny, unlike most rival services. There is no “HD” or “premium” tier to subscribe to; every subscriber can now access these beefed up tracks.
By comparison, the going rate for most lossless audio subscriptions is $20/month, double the $10/month which has become standard for regular quality audio streaming services.
Here’s what Apple had to say about the new features in a press release:
“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.”
That Dolby-powered Spatial Audio stuff won’t work on every device, but if you have the latest iPhone, iPad, or Mac you’ll be capable of checking it out. AirPods and Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip can also handle this stuff, as can Apple’s HomePod speaker.
Apple also says its lossless audio is available on all 75 million plus tracks, though Spatial Audio will be present on much fewer.
Here’s how to access the new high-quality audio files:
“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.”
In a bold move that’s a clear and direct response to Apple’s announcement, Amazon has – on the same day – nixed the charge for its own lossless audio tier. Amazon Music HD is now included with all Amazon Music subscriptions (excluding the discount student deals), putting the two tech giants neck-and-neck in the race to claim as many audiophile subscribers as possible.
Apple and Amazon making this kind of thing available at no extra cost is a big deal. Services like Tidal were created with high fidelity streaming as a unique selling point, and now Apple Music offers something similar for half the price. Your move, Spotify….