Apple today announced a lossless streaming tier of Apple Music, which is due to launch next month. The lossless streaming tier of Apple Music will stream music in CD-quality on compatible devices, with Apple also offering Hi-Res streaming on compatible devices.
Hi-Res audio will offer even better audio quality and further make your listening experience enjoyable. However, you will only be able to stream lossless music from Apple Music on your AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, and other Beats-branded headphones with the H1 or W1 chip. Hi-Res audio streaming won’t be available on any of Apple’s headphones, though, including the $549 AirPods Max.
Apple has confirmed to T3 that this equipment, sadly, does not include AirPods Pro or AirPods Max. Both of Apple’s elite headphone models only use the Bluetooth AAC codec when connected to an iPhone, which means they can’t receive the full quality of the Apple Music ‘Lossless’ files, which will be encoded as ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) files.
The lack of Hi-Res audio streaming on the AirPods and AirPods Pro is understandable. However, the inability of the $600 AirPods Max to playback Hi-Res audio without an external DAC could irk a lot of customers who got the headphones to listen to music in its purest possible form.
Apple states that for streaming Hi-Res audio, you need to make use of an external USB DAC. In Hi-Res, the streaming quality will go up for 24 bit at 192kHz.
Do note that Hi-Res audio is different from Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio, both of which will be available across all AirPods models. Dolby Atmos playback will also be available on the built-in speakers of iPhone, Mac, and iPad.