A new quality level will be available to all Apple Music users from June 2021, Apple Corporation said in an announcement. Apple Music will then no longer offer lossy encoded audio data, but at least CD quality, in some cases even hi-res audio. In addition, spatial audio with Dolby Atmos will be used.
Apple Music is ultimately the service that changed the way music is distributed forever many, many years ago with the Apple iTunes solution in combination with the Apple iPod. While Apple Corporation was initially considered a clear pioneer, it has clearly missed the boat with its competitors in recent years.
It is no longer Apple with Apple Music that is considered the market leader in the field of music distribution, but rather Spotify. Apple has also not been setting the pace for a long time when it comes to quality, as offerings such as TIDAL, Qobuz, Deezer or HIGHRESAUDIO, and even Amazon with Amazon Music HD, are clearly ahead of the game.
Apple Music to connect
As Apple Corporation now announces in a press release, Apple Music will be raised to a new level of quality in June 2021. Audio data in the lossy encoded AAC format will be a thing of the past; albums will then be available for streaming in at least “CD quality” in the so-called ALAC format, i.e. Apple Lossless Audio Codec.
ALAC instead of AAC
With this change, millions and millions of music titles will be offered in lossless form for music streaming via Apple Music. More than 75 million titles would be available at the start of the new service, with Apple Corporation now promising that every bit of the original recording would be preserved.
Apple Music users will be able to enjoy albums exactly as they were recorded.
16 bit and 44.1 kHz as well as 24 bit and 48 kHz
This means that Apple Music does not stop at “CD quality”, depending on the recording, they will also be available in hi-res audio, so Apple Music will also be aimed at audiophile music lovers in the future.
In contrast to other providers, however, Apple Corporation is obviously drawing a clear line here for the time being, because hi-res audio means exclusively 24-bit and 48 kHz for Apple Music.
The exciting thing is that Apple Corporation states that Apple Music can be played back in this new quality level on any Apple device, starting with desktop systems and extending to notebooks and mobile devices such as the Apple iPhone and Apple iPad.
The user can decide for himself which quality he ultimately wants to obtain via the corresponding settings. In the Settings under the heading Music, the selection Audio Quality is to be found for this purpose.
“The soul and the life of the mix are in the additional data bits that are stored in the lossless file. As a mastering engineer, the ability to deliver the highest quality music to the listener is the main goal of what I work for every day.”Piper Payne, Producer during Apple Corporation’s presentation
CD quality and hi-res audio at no extra cost
Perhaps the most notable detail of Apple Corporation’s announcement is that the new offering will be available in CD quality or Hi-res audio at no extra cost. All Apple Music subscribers will thus be able to access this content directly without having to pay a single cent more for it when it starts in June 2021.
Apple Music announces Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos
Another announcement from Apple Corporation about Apple Music concerns an aspect that has been very popular with many manufacturers in the field of audio systems in recent months, namely so-called spatial audio.
Ultimately, this is nothing more than immersive surround sound, as is known from the film industry and thus also from home cinema. Music should not be limited to stereo alone, but should be presented as a room-filling sound experience.
Apple today announced that Apple Music will offer its subscribers industry-leading sound quality with Spatial Audio and support for Dolby Atmos. Spatial Audio gives artists the ability to create immersive audio experiences for their fans with true multi-dimensional sound and clarity, the company said.
Dolby Atmos is a revolutionary immersive audio experience that allows artists to mix music so that the sound comes from everywhere, left, right, and even above. This is supposed to create a completely new sound experience, provided the appropriate hardware is available, of course.
Dolby Atmos on a variety of solutions from Apple Corporation
By default, Apple Music automatically plays Dolby Atmos tracks on all Apple AirPods and Beats headphones with an Apple H1 or Apple W1 chip, as well as on the built-in speakers of the latest versions of Apple iPhone, Apple iPad and Apple Macs.
Wide range of tracks
Apple Music will constantly add new Dolby Atmos tracks and curate a special set of Dolby Atmos playlists to help listeners find the music they love, it said. In addition, albums available in Dolby Atmos will have a corresponding logo on the details page to make them easier to discover.
At launch, subscribers should already find thousands of songs in Spatial Audio across a wide range of genres, including hip-hop, country, Latin, pop and classical. Apple Music is also working with artists and labels to add new releases and the best catalogue tracks.
Apple Corporation clearly sees itself as a pioneer here, with plans to double the number of Dolby-enabled studios in major markets as quickly as possible, offer educational programmes and provide resources for independent artists as part of a related initiative.
“Today marks the launch of Dolby Atmos on Apple Music – a new music experience that will transform the way music is created by artists and enjoyed by their fans. We’re working with Apple Music to bring Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos to all musicians and everyone who loves music.”Kevin Yeaman, President and CEO of Dolby Laboratories
Again, the new Dolby Atmos offering will be available to subscribers at no additional cost.
Getting to the point
For years, there have been repeated reports on the web that Apple Corporation was working on a download and streaming service in which audio data would no longer be available in lossy form, but in hi-res audio. So far, these reports have proved to be unfounded rumours, but now the time has actually come. Apple Music will be available in June 2021 at least in CD quality, in many cases also in Hi-res Audio. However, hi-res audio means no more than 24 bit and 48 kHz.
At the same time, Apple Corporation will also introduce Spatial Audio and thus music in immersive surround sound with Apple Music, using Dolby Atmos.
The biggest surprise in all this is probably that it all comes at no additional cost to users. This means that Apple Corporation can finally catch up with its competitors, and what’s more, Apple Music will provide them with competition that should not be underestimated.