Apple introduces Spatial and Lossless audio

John Tenido reports on coming improvements to the Apple Spatial and lossless audio quality of streaming music.
Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

With over 150 million premium subscribers and 356 million monthly active users, it’s no surprise that Spotify has been the king of the streaming service platform for a while. But that’s all about to change as in the early part of June, Apple introduced a new and mesmerising feature to Apple Music that could change the way people listen to music entirely.

Typically, music is streamed in a stereo sound – two clear outputs to the left and the right.

However, spatial audio, with the help of Dolby Atmos, will help provide a more immersive experience by providing a 360-degree sound profile. This means that you will be able to hear instruments and vocals coming from all directions, giving it a more open sound. 

Now, this is nothing new. It’s featured all throughout cinema and even on some music streaming platforms like Tidal, but what Apple Music provides that should have other platforms worried is that it comes to existing members… at no additional cost. 

A standard membership for most streaming services is £10 a month, but for Tidal, an additional £10 is required to receive the High Fidelity – HiFi – quality sound that Apple already provides. 

Apple has always been criticised for being “behind” from a technological standpoint when compared to Android, but what makes Apple the successful company that it is is the fact that they improve on the technology that was first introduced by its competitors. 

The same goes for its 5-year streaming service, Apple music improved on the flaws left behind by Tidal.  

At first, it was only available to streaming services like Disney+ and Netflix when streaming movies or TV shows and used dynamic headtracking to make the main source of sound come from your iPhone. 

Apple first introduced this feature with the release of their latest software – iOS 14, but it is now available on Apple music on iOS 14.6. 

The only catch is that this feature can only be enabled on Apple’s premium line of earphones, the Airpods Pro and their £550 headphones, the Airpods Max.

This isn’t the only thing that Apple introduced to their music catalogue. Apple Music is also bringing lossless audio to over 75 million songs, again, at no additional cost. 

Simply put, lossless audio allows your favourite tracks to be streamed in its most raw format, making it as close to the original source as possible. 

Before this announcement, Apple stated that their music was only available in one format – AAC at 256kbs – and what this basically means is a smaller file size. 

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Apple chose to use this codec as it was convenient for both streaming on cellular data and Wi-Fi. 

However, the problem with s smaller file size is that songs are often compressed, meaning that elements like the dynamic range of the song become lost. 

The controversy surrounding this update, however, is the fact that lossless audio is not supported through Bluetooth, which means that your £200 Airpod Pro’s and your Airpods Max that cost half a grand (a monkey in cockney rhyming slang) cannot be used. 

The other caveat is that for music to be streamed in lossless audio, it requires users to buy both a digital to analogue converter, and a USB A to lightning adapter.

However, streaming music that is extremely high quality will do significant damage to your data plan. 

Within the music settings on the iPhone, it will show that streaming lossless audio for three-minute songs will take up 356mb of your data and streaming the highest quality lossless will take up 145mb. 

So, it is recommended that if you want to listen to songs in that format, that you do so over Wi-Fi. 

Overall, there are a lot of sacrifices you must make in order to get this kind of listening experience, and if you’re not an audiophile, you may not be able to tell much apart, but if you’re a music lover that wants to experience the best of the best… it will all be worth it. 

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