Apple Music is getting two huge new features coming in June 2021 with iOS 14.6.
Spatial audio with Dolby Atmos, which basically brings the immersive 3D, 360 degrees sound stage that’s been blowing minds for movies and TV to Apple Music.
There’ll be thousands of spatial audio tracks at launch, and Apple Music will be constantly adding more Dolby Atmos tracks and playlists. And you can play them on any AirPod or Beats… pods with a W1 and H1 chip, which is almost everything since the headphone jack got jacked back in 2016. As well as any recent iPhone, iPad, or Mac, HomePods, and Apple TV if it’s connected to a Dolby Atmos system. No dynamic head tracking for audio like there’s been for video. At least not yet.
Lossless audio is coming to all 75 million songs in the Apple Music catalog using Apple’s own ALAC format. Yeah, Apple Music streaming only, at least for now, no iTunes purchases or upgrades.
It starts at CD-quality, 16 bit at 44.1 kilohertz and goes up to 24 bit at 48 kilohertz. To prevent RIP data plan and storage, you have to opt-in and set rates for cell, Wi-Fi, and download, because file sizes.
You have to be wired to use it, because Bluetooth, even AirPlay would be a waste. And, honestly, there’s a debate over just how much compression and what bit-rate any human ear, let alone older than teenage hear, can really differentiate, so I won’t call it nerd placebo, but I will say it’s not as factually transformative as spatial audio will be.
There’s also a Hi-Res lossless option for all the golden ears out there that goes 24 bit at 192 kilohertz, but you’ll need to break out extra gear like your USB DAC to enjoy it. You… you’re already breaking out your vacuum tubes, aren’t you?