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TV & streaming

Apple Music is getting some big upgrades – for free

Been singing along to your favorite tunes on Apple Music? Maybe you are one of the millions of listeners who propelled Due Lipa’s Levitating to the top of the charts. Whatever your preference of music style or artist, the platform is getting a big update soon.

Since it launched in 2015, Apple Music has spread to 167 countries and amassed just under 100 million users. Three years ago, it surpassed Spotify as the music streaming service with the most paying users. No wonder people figured out how to share audio across two sets of AirPods.

For the most part, listeners have been content with its streaming quality. But Apple announced that the platform will now include the option to change audio quality and even use Dolby Atmos in certain situations.

Here are the details

It’s not something that the ordinary music fan would know about, but serious audiophiles will rejoice with Apple Music’s inclusion of Lossless Audio. So, what is it exactly? Well, it’s near-CD quality for Apple’s 75 million song catalog.

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However, the company will be using its own version called Apple Lossless Audio Codec or ALAC for short. “Apple uses ALAC 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,” the company said in a press statement.

In short, it is much better audio quality — but it comes at a price. Since the quality is higher, the bandwidth needed to stream the audio is also increased. That means you will use a lot more data when streaming Justin Bieber in ALAC.

For that reason, Apple won’t turn it on by default. Here is how to change the audio quality to Lossless for free:

  • You need a paid subscription to Apple Music
  • Open the Apple Music app
  • Navigate to Settings
  • Tap Music, and then tap Audio Quality

Once in the menu, you can select which audio settings to enable with different network connections. The options range from cellular to Wi-Fi and the audio quality when downloading a track.

The ranges for Apple Music’s Lossless tier are:

  • 16-bit at 44.1kHz (CD quality)
  • 24-bit at 48kHz
  • 24-bit at 192kHz (Hi-Resolution Lossless)

For the highest audio quality, Apple stresses that you will need a USB digital-to-analog converter (DAC).

Spatial Audio with Support for Dolby Atmos

In addition to adding Lossless audio, Apple introduced Spatial Audio with support for Dolby Atmos to Apple Music. You might be familiar with Spatial Audio, as several high-end headphones use the technology for films and video games.

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As a refresher, spatial audio is a technique used by artists and audio engineers to mix music, so the sound comes from all around and from above. It is hugely effective when wearing headphones or earbuds, and that is where Apple’s hoping to gain the most.

Apple Music will automatically play Dolby Atmos tracks on all AirPods and Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip. The same goes for iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

It’s important to note that only a fraction of the tracks on Apple Music supports Dolby Atmos. The company said that it “will be adding new Dolby Atmos tracks constantly and will be curating a special set of Dolby Atmos playlists.”

Another thing that Apple didn’t mention is that lossless audio doesn’t work with wireless headphones or earbuds. To enjoy the quality upgrade, wired headphones must be used, which rules out AirPods or HomePods.

Want to try it out? Best Buy is giving you a free six-month trial without having to buy anything. Not to be outdone, Amazon slashed the price of Music HD on the same day as Apple’s announcement. The monthly price for Amazon Prime users has been reduced from $12.99 to $7.99.

By clicking our links, you’re supporting our research. As an Amazon Associate, we earn a small commission from qualifying purchases. Recommendations are not part of any business incentives.

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