The AirPods Max, Apple’s benchmark for sound and the best headphones, aren’t used for “lossless audio”. However, the big news from Apple Music will be available in over 75 million songs Only a few devices can reproduce this sound in high resolution via Apple Music.
Here we explain how ‘Lossless Audio’ works and why it doesn’t work with bluetooth headphones or over the Lightning cable or when streaming over speakers. A compatibility issue that Apple could fix in the future, but it is currently limiting the practical scope of introducing HiFi sound for Apple Music.
Why it doesn’t work with AirPods
AirPods work over bluetooth and what happens is that Apple wireless headphones use the AAC codec. Released in 1994, limited to approx. 256 kbps and does not achieve 16-bit CD quality.
Wireless connections via Bluetooth AAC may not use all of the bandwidth required to carry this uncompressed audio. Apple Music uses the ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) codec, but AirPods don’t support it.
The limits of bluetooth
No Bluetooth headset or speaker can wirelessly reproduce the “lossless” sound from Apple Music. The songs are heard, but not in high definition.
To address this lack of compatibility, Apple should create a codec This allows you to enjoy high-resolution sound via Bluetooth in the style of Sony LDAC or Qualcomm’s aptX HD, which allows you to play 32-bit / 96-kHz or 24-bit / 48-kHz songs.
With services such as TIDAL, Qobuz or Amazon Music HD, thanks to the support of these codecs, you can listen to your uncompressed songs on compatible mobile phones or wireless headphones.
What about the AirPods Max cable?
Uncompressed audio is primarily intended for listening through a cable or stereo system. AirPods Max have a built-in Lightning cable, but Apple headphones officially don’t support lossless audio.
This is because the port does not natively support digital audio formats. The AirPods Max cable contains a 24-bit / 48 kHz DACThe sound is analog and digitized. One step from digital to analog, then digital to where Apple cannot guarantee that there will be no lossalthough the DAC would support a sufficiently high resolution.
Other headphones with a USB C cable can use the “lossless” function
High-end headphones compatible with Hi-Res Audio can enjoy the latest Apple Music news. Via the USB-C cable and the 3.5 mm jack connection Models like the Sony WH-1000XM4 can listen to uncompressed songs in standard mode.
Apple declares that there is two aspects of their “lossless” sound. A first level with 16 bit / 44.1 kHz or 24 bit / 48 kHz and a second level “Hi-Res lossless” with 24 bit / 192 kHz. For this second version, Apple explains the following:
“For lossless, high-resolution audio playback, external devices are required, such as a computer. B. a USB digital-to-analog converter (DAC). “”
For this reason, if we want to enjoy the maximum sound quality from Apple Music in the headphones, we can do it with a Hi-Res model coupled to an external USB-C DAC.
What’s new with Sonos
In response to Billboard, Apple has confirmed that “lossless” audio is not supported from Sonos speakers.
Not even in HomePods
In response to Macrumors, Apple confirms that HomePods and HomePod Mini also don’t support lossless audio.
What Apple can do to add more support
The uncompressed sound of Apple Music can be enjoyed, for example, through a stereo system or good speakers connected to a MacBook.
To extend the support for its devices to “lossless audio”, Apple offers several options. The first and most obvious would be that Creation of a new wireless hi-res codec, LDAC style. Updating AirPods and adding that audio codec would expand support, and it’s a very professional method too.
IPhone 12 and AirPods Max support Bluetooth 5.0 and so they are theoretically ready to deliver CD quality audio up to 16 bits. Support for aptX HD is not added, so we should Expect a new generation of devices so that they are fully compatible with “lossless audio”.
Accordingly, some future AirPods Max 2 could integrate a USB C cable with a suitable DAC or a Lightning modification so that this analog-to-digital conversion does not have to be carried out.
What about Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos?
The story with “Spatial Audio” is almost the opposite. While “lossless” has a lot of songs but a lot of difficulty playing, Dolby Atmos sound and immersive audio are the other way around. All AirPods with W1 or H1 chips are sufficient here, but the number of songs is fewer. Spatial sound is the difficulty during recording, and “lossless” sound is the most difficult to transmit correctly.
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