Apple Music launches new high quality options with ‘spatial audio’ and lossless songs

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Apple Music has launched new, higher quality options that will allow people to listen to songs in “spatial audio”.

The new update will arrive next month and make the entire catalogue available at lossless quality, Apple said. Users will also get access to spatial audio, which will let artists create songs in Dolby Atmos, allowing music to come from all around rather than just out of two different stereo channels.

All of the new features will be available for free as part of the existing Apple Music offering. Other services, such as Tidal, have required users to pay extra for access to their better quality songs.

It will launch in June, Apple said, and it did not give a specific date.

Initially, “thousands” of songs will be available in the surround sound versions, Apple said, and it committed to adding more all the time. Doing so relies on producers putting specific sounds or instruments in space, and so they must be mixed and submitted specifically for the new features.

It will be available by default to anyone listening through AirPods or Beats with Apple’s H1 or W1 chip, or through the built-in speakers on the newest iPhones, iPads and Macs.

Until now, both Apple Music and Spotify have only offered their songs in “lossy” versions. That attempts to save bandwidth and storage space by compressing songs down, but also means that parts of the files can be lost.

Apple now says that all of its music – more than 75 million songs – will be available in lossless versions, using Apple’s own ALAC, or Apple Lossless Audio Codec. That allows all of the audio file to be sent over to people who are streaming music.

Listeners will be able to choose just how lossless they want their music to be: it will begin at CD quality, but goes all the way up to “Hi-Resolution Lossless”. It can be changed in the Settings app, where it will be found under “Music” and then “Audio Quality”, and users can choose to only listen at high quality when on WiFi, for instance.

Spotify has also said that it is rolling out HiFi listening later this year, and Amazon is introducing its own Amazon Music HD. Tidal made its name giving listeners access to better quality audio files, and still offers songs in even higher resolution.

“Apple Music is making its biggest advancement ever in sound quality,” said Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats, in a statement. “Listening to a song in Dolby Atmos is like magic. The music comes from all around you and sounds incredible.

Now we are bringing this truly innovative and immersive experience to our listeners with music from their favorite artists like J Balvin, Gustavo Dudamel, Ariana Grande, Maroon 5, Kacey Musgraves, The Weeknd, and so many more.

“Subscribers will also be able to listen to their music in the highest audio quality with Lossless Audio. Apple Music as we know it is about to change forever.”  

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