Apple Music will also offer a so-called “non-lost audio” live streaming service starting next month, at no additional cost. But those who want to enjoy this higher sound quality will technically not be able to do so with Apple’s AirPods itself, nor with the brand’s HomePod models.
The big drawback of listening to music over the air is the loss of audio quality due to the compression of the file formats. So most streaming services now also offer lossless audio – say CD-quality “despite” compression – albeit at an additional cost. Apple will also jump on that train next month, and a customer won’t even have to pay extra for it. But … at the time of launch, no AirPods model will be able to offer the highest sound quality. From regular AirPods via AirPods Pro to AirPods Max, none of them can technically support the new feature.
For AirPods and AirPods Pro, it only makes sense that audio cannot be played without quality loss in this way, since they only operate wirelessly and support AAC codec over Bluetooth. This is good quality, but it is still a long way from CD or HD (ALAC) music quality. So Apple will have to follow Sony with its wireless LDAC technology and develop something similar if it is to achieve the highest sound quality through AirPods. Otherwise, the signal should be transmitted via WiFi instead of Bluetooth, but that’s not an issue at the moment.
The most serious line on the bill is for those who have paid at least 629 euros for the AirPods Max. These premium headphones with active noise cancellation allow listening via a cable connected to a device that can stream audio from Apple Music without losing quality, but even that doesn’t help, because at the moment this can only be analog and thus not digital. On the edge Apple clarified that in such a case, 24-bit / 48kHz music is converted into an analog signal, which is then converted back to 24-bit / 48kHz. That is why, strictly speaking, it is not about the non-missing sound: the remastered sound does not exactly match the original.
Do not take away from it, as the edge, The music experience will still be “exceptional”, “even with AAC over Bluetooth”, and “maybe even richer through connectivity.” But it remains a pity that other high-end headphones support digital audio at the highest quality when connected, for example via USB-C.
Besides non-missing audio, Apple will also launch an option to hear spatial audio in Dolby Atmos via Apple Music in June. This will be possible on all AirPods and HomePod models, as well as via the built-in speakers on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
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