After numerous leaks and speculations, Apple decided to spill the beans and officially announced two major upgrades to its Apple Music service. Apple Lossless Audio and Spatial Audio are the new audio weapons that are supposed to challenge Spotify and other platforms that offer hi-resolution audio streaming.The upgrade is coming to all subscribers in June at no extra cost, and some pending questions just beg to be answered. What is Apple Lossless Audio? Is it better than MP3? Can you listen to lossless audio using your AirPods? Read on to find out!
What is lossless audio?
On many compact discs, you can see something like 16 bit/ 44.1 kHz written somewhere. This means that the recording uses “snapshots” of the original sound 44,100 times per second. The 16-bit number just shows the sound palette that the system can distinguish.
Lossy formats like MP3 remove unnecessary information such as silent passages, frequencies that the human ear just can’t hear, etc. Whether or not you can really hear the difference, it’s rather subjective. You can take this test and see if you can spot the lossless sample.
Is Apple Lossless better than MP3?
So the answer to this question is “Yes”. On paper, this new ALAC technology is superior to MP3, when it comes to sound information that is preserved in the music file.
Is Apple Lossless as good as FLAC?
FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) is another encoding technology that became popular among audiophiles in the past 20 or so years. It offers sound resolutions from 16-bit/44.1kHz up to 24-bit/192 kHz, so it’s very similar to Apple’s own lossless format.
However, the algorithms behind Apple Lossless Audio aren’t as efficient as those used by FLAC, resulting in larger files overall. With that being said, the sound quality should be pretty similar, so another “Yes” on this one.
Can you listen to Apple Lossless Audio using AirPods, AirPods Pro, or AirPods Max?
How can you listen to Apple Lossless Audio?
Support for lossless is coming to Apple HomePod and HomePod mini in a future software update, so if you own one of these, sit tight.
Another thing worth mentioning is that you need to delete your music files and redownload them from the Apple Music catalog in order to get them in lossless audio.