What you need to know about the next Apple Music updates

18 May 2021

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Apple has announced the newest updates coming to subscribers next month at no additional cost.

Apple Music subscribers will soon be able to enjoy new music streaming features including lossless audio at no extra cost.

From June 2021, Apple will make its catalogue of more than 75m songs available in lossless audio, which is considered the most accurate representation of the audio quality from the recording process.

It is using Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) to preserve original audio files.

To start listening to lossless audio, subscribers using the latest version of Apple Music will be able to turn it on in their audio quality music settings. Apple Music’s lossless tier starts at CD quality, which is 16 bit at 44.1 kHz, and goes up to 24 bit at 48 kHz. It will be playable natively on Apple devices.

Mastering engineer Piper Payne said the soul of the mix is sitting in the extra bits of data that are stored in the lossless file. “As a mastering engineer, having the ability to convey the music to the listener at its highest quality is the end goal of what I work for every day.”

‘The future has arrived’

Apple has also announced the addition of ‘spatial audio’ with support for Dolby Atmos, which will give artists the opportunity to create immersive audio experiences with multidimensional sound and clarity.

By default, Apple Music will automatically play Dolby Atmos tracks on all AirPods and Beats headphones with a H1 or W1 chip, as well as the built-in speakers in the latest versions of iPhone, iPad and Mac.

The company will add new Dolby Atmos tracks regularly and will be curating a special set of Dolby Atmos playlists.

Grammy Award-winning mixing engineer Manny Marroquin said: “Spatial audio gives music a new identity. Every time I mix in Atmos it gives me goosebumps. The future has arrived.”

Dolby Laboratories’ president and CEO, Kevin Yeaman, added that the introduction of Dolby Atmos on Apple Music will transform how music is created by artists. “We are working with Apple Music to make Dolby Atmos widely available to all musicians and anyone who loves music.”

Both spatial audio and lossless audio will be available to Apple Music subscribers at no additional cost, including those on family and student plans.

While Spotify recently announced the addition of CD-quality lossless audio, it will be made available at an additional cost.

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic