Following yesterday’s WWDC keynote, Apple has begun rolling out Lossless Audio and Dolby Atmos for Apple Music subscribers. So long as you have the latest software (and compatible devices), you should be able to stream certain tracks at CD quality resolution or higher.
Enabling the feature is easy. On the iPhone and iPad, head on over to Settings, select Music, and scroll down to Audio. There you should see two menus: Dolby Atmos and Audio Quality. For Atmos, if you select Automatic then that’s what you’ll get whenever you’re connected to an Atmos-compatible device, including the AirPods, AirPods Pro, or the AirPods Max. In the Audio Quality menu, you can flip on Lossless Audio and then select what resolution level you want for cellular streaming, wifi streaming, and downloads.
On desktop, all you have to do is open the Music app, head to Preferences, and select the Playback tab to access the same menu. For the Apple TV, you can access the menus by moseying on to the Settings menu, select Apps, then Music. If you can’t find the menus, double-check to see that you’ve updated the firmware and restarted. If that still doesn’t work, keep in mind the feature may still be in the process of rolling out.
There are a few caveats to the whole lossless audio thing. For starters, these aren’t small files. Streaming them over cellular and wifi will eat up your data, while downloading them will take up more space on your device. For already downloaded music, you’ll have to delete and then redownload if you want the lossless version. Also, while iPads, iPhones, and Macs will support both standard CD-quality lossless (24-bit/48kHz) and high-res lossless (48-bit/192 kHz), the Apple TV can only support CD quality. Speaking of high-res lossless, you’ll need an external digital-to-analogue converter.
Keep in mind that Bluetooth headphones don’t support lossless audio. So while your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV will be able to play those resolutions, your AirPods won’t. (However, a 3.5mm Lightning to Audio cable for the AirPods Max will let you listen to lossless audio.) Apple does plan on bringing lossless audio to the HomePod and HomePod mini, but that’s not rolling out today. However, so long as you have Bluetooth headphones that support spatial sound — like the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max — you can stream Dolby Atmos content.
But what about the content? So far Apple has said more than 20 million songs will be available to start, with the rest of the Apple Music catalogue getting lossless audio by the end of the year. (Previous iTunes purchases are not compatible and can’t be upgraded, as this is an Apple Music exclusive and requires a subscription.) You can identify which albums/songs support either spatial sound or lossless by checking out the description — they should have the Lossless and Dolby Atmos icons. Or, you can also check out the Spatial Audio hub in the Browse tab of Apple Music, which includes specially made playlists showcasing the feature.
So there you have it. If you’ve still got questions, Apple’s put together a comprehensive support page. Happy listening!