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TV & streaming

From lossless music to spatial audio: How to get the most out of Apple Music’s latest features

It seems not too long ago that MP3s were on everyone’s minds. Where to get them, how to share them and how many can we fit on our devices. Streaming audio has eliminated the need for all those concerns, offering huge libraries you can access from connected devices anywhere, anytime. You can usually listen to streaming music offline as well.

Two of the heaviest hitters out there regarding streaming audio services are Apple Music and Spotify. They use similar subscription models and compatibility and share many features. Tap or click here to check out how Spotify and Apple Music compare.

Now Apple is reaching into its bag of tricks to entice more customers to its streaming music service. The key here is sound quality in spatial audio with support for Dolby Atmos and lossless audio. So what does that mean for you? Read on to find out.

Surrounded by sound

To put it simply, spatial audio is 3D sound. The music you hear through your speakers or headphones will seem like it’s coming from different directions. Think movie theater or music festival. This feature is available for thousands of songs at launch, and Apple is working to make it easier for artists to provide spatial audio for upcoming releases.

Want to know if your tunes are messing with your hearing? Tap or click here to find out.

Traditional surround sound

Dolby Atmos is the foundation Apple built its spatial audio on. You can sample this tech in many movie theaters. It lets filmmakers and musicians choose where each sound originates and how far away it is from the listener. Even with a humble home surround sound system, you can experience directional audio that makes it sound like you have many more speakers.

Combining spatial audio and Dolby Atmos will potentially lend to a more immersive experience. Tap or click here to see how to turn audio files into text.

Lossless sound

Most audio experiences some loss when it is compressed for mass distribution. The artists’ and engineers’ original recordings lose data and quality on their way to your ears. Lossless audio is a compression format that retains the information as originally intended.

Apple’s ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) is making its way to its catalog of more than 75 million songs.

How to experience Apple Music’s new tricks

Beyond being an Apple Music subscriber, you’ll need to update your devices: iOS 14.6, macOS 11.4, or tvOS 14.6. On the hardware side, spatial audio works with AirPods Pro, AirPods Max and newer iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, iMacs and Apple TV.

You can stream music with Dolby Atmos on any Apple device with the W1 or H1 chip. This includes AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, and newer Beats by Dre headphones. Third-party headphones, sound systems, TVs and computers with Atmos support will also work. Tap or click here to read how Google Music is transitioning to YouTube Music.

When it comes to lossless music, iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV support lossless audio, as do AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max and Beats wireless headphone support lossless audio. If you use other Bluetooth headphones or speakers, you’re out of luck.

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