Apple Music launched lossless audio and offers its ever-growing user base unparalleled sound quality at no extra cost.
However, when it comes to lossless formats, compatibility with devices, and understanding the differences in sound quality, there are many burning questions that Apple Music subscribers still have.
In this article, we’ll take a look at Apple Music and lossless playback so that you can understand what all the fuss is about.
1. Is Apple Music’s Lossless Quality Worth It?
There are a few factors to consider when trying to decide whether Apple Music’s lossless quality setting is worth it, but in the end, it will come down to the type of listener you are.
Most people love music, but there are some of us who take things a step further.
The term audiophile refers to a music lover who critically listens to music, who forks out for the best sound system and headphones, and who can hear the subtle differences between audio formats.
For an audiophile, it will always be worth it to listen to Apple Music’s lossless formats because they have the refined ear and the expensive tech to listen and appreciate Apple Music’s lossless quality enabled tracks.
However, even if you’re not an audiophile yet, you can be. So long as you have the right equipment, you can begin listening to Apple Music’s lossless quality tracks and discover all that it has to offer.
2. How do you Turn Lossless On & Off?
If you want to enable or disable lossless listening on your device, then simply take a look at the corresponding guide.
Remember, you’ll want to ensure you are running the latest version of the Apple Music app before you begin.
Here’s How to Enable/Disable Lossless Audio on your iOS Device:
- Launch ‘Settings’ from your device.
- Tap ‘Music’ followed by ‘Audio Quality’
- Toggle ‘Lossless Audio’ to ON or OFF.
Here’s How to Enable/Disable Lossless Audio on your Android Device:
- Launch the Apple Music app.
- Navigate to ‘Settings’
- Tap ‘Audio Quality’
- Toggle ‘Lossless Audio’ to its ON or OFF position.
- Pick your settings for both ‘Downloads’ and ‘Streaming’
Here’s How to Enable/Disable Lossless Audio on MacOS:
- Launch the Apple Music app on your Mac.
- Open ‘Preferences’ from the menu bar under ‘Music’
- Click ‘Playback’
- Now click the check box beside ‘Lossless Audio’
- Pick your quality settings for both ‘Streaming’ and ‘Downloads’
Here’s How to Enable/Disable Lossless Audio on Apple TV:
- Navigate to ‘Settings’ and then choose ‘Apps’
- Open ‘Music’ and select ‘Audio Quality’
- Choose ‘Lossless’ from the available options.
Here’s How to Enable/Disable Lossless Audio on your HomePod:
- Launch the Home app from your iOS device.
- Remember to use the same device that you used to configure your HomePod.
- Select the ‘Home’ button and then access your ‘Settings’
- Locate your name from ‘People’
- Choose ‘Apple Music’
- Disable or enable ‘Lossless Audio’
3. Is the Lossless Feature Available in All Countries?
Apple Music has aimed to ensure that its service is as similar as possible between regions and countries; however, sometimes, not all content is available.
You may have noticed that not all songs on Apple Music are available in all countries, and the same is true for lossless formats, too.
Although lossless audio has come to countries such as India, Apple explains on its support page that:
“(…) lossless [Audio Formats] aren’t available in all countries or regions.”
For more detailed information on your particular country, simply head to Apple’s “Availability of Apple Media Services” page.
4. Does the Lossless Format use More Data?
The lossless formats that Apple Music offer naturally use more data and take up more space on your device.
The reason why they use more data is that they are bigger files with more information. That extra information is what gives the listener the higher definition sound quality – all that extra detail is stored in that extra data.
Let’s crunch the numbers and see how much data is used with Apple Music’s lossless formats in comparison to the standard formats of ‘high-quality and ‘high efficiency’:
- ‘High-quality’ and ‘high effienciey’ are used by most Apple Music users to listen to tracks.
- A user with 10GB of storage space on their device could download approximately 3,000 tracks at high-quality.
- That same user would only be able to save 1,000 songs at ‘Lossless quality’ and only 200 tracks at ‘Hi-Res Lossless’.
Those download numbers speak for themselves and really put into perspective how much storage space is consumed for the luxury of high-definition listening.
Let’s take a look now at the data usage in regard to streaming:
- If a user wants to listen to a 3-minute song at ‘high efficiency’ or ‘high quality,’ it will consume 1.5MB or 6MB respectively.
- The same song at ‘Lossless’ quality will consume 36MB.
- At ‘Hi-Res Lossless’ quality, that song will consume 145MB.
5. Does Apple Music Lossless Cost Extra?
Lossless listening on Apple Music does not cost you any additional extras on your monthly subscription. That said, lossless formats are not available on the Apple Music Voice plan.
However, if you have any other subscription to Apple Music, then you have access to all of Apple Music’s lossless listening settings.
Nevertheless, lossless formats cannot be enjoyed without the right hardware.
If your device or headphones are incompatible, then you may have to pay to upgrade or buy additional tech to ensure that you can get the most out of Apple’s lossless formats.
6. Can you Really Hear the Difference when Choosing Lossless?
If you have the storage space, the data allowance, and the means to listen to Apple Music’s lossless audio, then the only real concern you’re likely to have is whether you’ll be able to distinguish the difference in quality.
The folks at HeadPhoneHonesty.com looked at Apple Music’s lossless audio formats in great detail, and whilst they came to the conclusion that lossless formats were very much worth listening to, they also conceded that:
“(…) if you’re not an audiophile who uses mostly high-end audio gear and listens to music critically, you’re probably not going to spot a huge difference in your music.”
There are some big differences that set lossless audio quality apart from what you’ve listened to before with Apple Music. However, you’ll need to know how to listen out for it and have a pair of headphones that allow you to.
With all that in mind, if you want to hear your favorite tracks as they were intended, with no loss in sound quality or detail, then purchasing the right gear and adjusting your settings on Apple Music won’t be a problem.
7. What Format is Used for Apple Music Lossless Playback?
Apple Music created a specific format in order to grant their listeners access to lossless playback of tracks within the Apple Music library.
ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) is how Apple ensures that the musical detail of each track is preserved for users to enjoy.
Remember, compressed tracks in the standard streaming formats, such as AAC, which is favored by most platforms, results in a loss of audio quality and detail.
The ALAC format may be bigger in size than its AAC counterpart, but it delivers much more in terms of sound definition.
8. Is Apple Music Lossless Available on All Devices?
It’s important to realize that there are two tiers to Apple Music’s lossless audio quality:
- 24-bit at 48 kHz (CD Quality)
- Hi-Res Lossless
- 24-bit at 192 kHz
Hi-Res Lossless is another step up from Apple Music’s ‘Lossless’ in terms of sound quality and data usage, but it’s not supported on all devices.
Moreover, your device needs to support the lossless format type we discussed earlier – ALAC.
The devices that support ALAC are as follows:
- iPhone with OS 14.6 or higher
- iPad with OS 14.6 or higher
- Mac with macOS Big Sur 11.4 or higher
- Apple TV 4K with tvOS 14.6 or higher
- Android Devices with the Apple Music app 3.6 or higher.
- Amazon Echo with Alexa
Although these devices support ALAC, you’ll need to have a wired connection to your headphones or speakers to ensure lossless playback.
That means that Apple’s wireless headphones, such as Apple Airpods, do not allow for lossless playback unless you connect them with a 3.5mm lightning cable.
Moreover, when it comes to the Hi-Res Lossless tracks that have sample rates that are above 48kHz, you’ll need a standalone DAC (digital to analog converter) connected to your hardware.
An external DAC allows users to take lossless listening to the next level and listen to Apple Music’s Hi-Res Lossless tracks in all their glory by converting the audio to an analog signal.
9. Is Apple Music Lossless Available for Windows & Android?
As mentioned above, it is possible to enjoy Apple Music’s lossless audio quality on Android. However, the same is not true for Windows machines.
However, as PazuSoft.com points out:
“Windows 11 happens to be able to run Android apps. So, you just need to install Apple Music Android app on Windows 11.”
So if you’re a Windows 11 user, you are in luck, and you can simply run Apple Music via the Android app. If not, you’ll have to make do with iTunes and play your Apple Music tracks from iTunes in WAV/AIF formats.
10. Is Apple Music Lossless as Good as CDs?
Apple Music Lossless quality is as good, and with Hi-Res Lossless, even better than CD quality.
Apple Music offers its entire music library in CD-quality lossless format. That’s over 100 million songs that can deliver that level of detail.
CD quality can be termed as 16-bit/44.1 kHz. To put things in perspective, Apple Music’s Library has been converted to meet that at a minimum, with some tracks being at a quality of 24-bit/193kHz.
11. Is Apple Music Lossless Better than Spotify’s?
Spotify has not currently offered its customers the option of lossless formats, despite it announcing that Spotify Hi-Fi would be released in 2021.
This new tier of Spotify tracks would allow for CD-quality listening but, for the time being, Spotify listeners can only experience songs at a bitrate of 320kbps.
So, for now, Apple Music reigns supreme against its biggest competitor in terms of quality.
Apple Music’s ability to provide users with real lossless listening has attracted many audiophiles and converted them from Spotify subscribers.
12. What about Tidal?
Tidal offers 3 paid tiers for subscribers to access its library, with two tiers offering lossless listening.
- Tidal’s HiFi plan offers users the ability to listen in FLAC.
- Tidal’s Master plan takes things up a notch and offers Hi-Res Lossless listening.
- Tidal offers different music formats, including FLAC, MQA, and AAC.
- Tidal is comparable to Apple Music in terms of sound quality, but Apple Music uses only AAC and ALAC.
- Tidal’s top tier (Master) offers the same maxed-out quality settings as Apple at 24-bit/192kHz.