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Apple is revolutionizing its music service, but millions of AirPods users are left out

Apple Music is one of the largest music streaming services in the world alongside Spotify. On Monday, the group announced that the entire music catalog consisting of 75 million songs can soon be streamed in lossless quality. In June it should start with 20 million titles, gradually the entire catalog will be updated, the company said. Great for all users: The upgrade is free of charge, so it is not billed with a surcharge, as is the case with some competitors.

The sound quality of the new Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) should be significantly better than before. According to media reports, songs in the new format should be three to 25 times larger, depending on quality, and thus require more bandwidth.

AirPods are left out

The lossless quality can be heard on an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV. However, there is a catch: The high-resolution songs can be played on the popular AirPods .

Background: All AirPods models – whether the entry-level model, the AirPods pro with noise canceling or the AirPods Max over-ear headphones, which cost 600 euros – are connected to other devices via Bluetooth. And the bandwidth of the AAC codec used for this is far too low. So Apple would have to develop a new codec for its wireless headphones to support lossless audio quality. This problem is not exclusive to Apple, but affects all manufacturers. However, other manufacturers such as Sony have developed their own codecs that do not deliver studio quality, but a significantly higher bit rate than Apple’s standard quality.

This decision caused a lot of amazement in social networks. Because it is atypical for Apple that the company announces a central new feature, which is then not supported by its own devices. Especially since Apple always emphasizes how much music is part of the company’s DNA.

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Listening to lossless audio on an iPhone requires wired headphones and it is possible that an additional adapter may be required to get the best sound quality. However, the AirPods Max will not be able to play lossless audio even if you connect them via a Lightning cable, as Apple confirmed to “T3”. This is also annoying in view of the price tag of 600 euros.

Most of them don’t have to be too angry. Because studies repeatedly show that many people are not even able to distinguish high-resolution music from standard quality. You can find more information and a hearing test here.

Spatial sound

For most Apple Music subscribers, the new, spatial sound is therefore likely to be more interesting. With the support of Dolby Atmos, Apple implements a 3D sound in Apple Music. The company has announced that it will partner with artists such as Ariana Grande, Maroon 5, Kacey Musgraves, and more to launch. However, new titles are to be added continuously and own playlists are to be offered. Albums that support the 3D sound feature called “Spatial Audio” are marked with a new Dolby Atmos logo in the app

So far, Spatial Audio requires either AirPods Pro or the ear-spanning AirPods Max. Now all AirPods or Beats headphones with a W1 / H1 chip are supported.

Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats, describes the current changes as “the greatest advance in audio quality that has ever been made.”

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