Apple Lossless Music Is Coming. Many might consider today’s announcement to be the last domino to fall in a long awaited process of adapting high resolution audio into the mainstream. The hardware/software/content giant Apple is finally bringing high resolution music to its streaming service, with no additional cost to current subscribers.
The effect of this integration from a device maker with a footprint as large as Apple’s is sure to have a deep and long lasting impression on the landscape, and hopefully it users in a new era of better sound quality (or a least a demand) along with it. Additionally, Apple is bringing spatial audio with support for Dolby Atmos to their platform as well.
Interestingly, this is the word soup that takes up most of Apple’s press release. Described as “a revolutionary, immersive audio experience that enables artists to mix music so the sound comes from all around and from above.” A cool trick if done properly, to be sure, but audio purists are likely to be a little more excited by 24 bit/192 kHz streaming.
It looks as though at launch 24 bit/48 kHz will be the cap from Apple devices directly, with the upper tiers of high resolution still requiring an external DAC with such capabilities. Also, for subscribers who want the fullest extent of the recording, the high fidelity experience will not be an automatic feature. Fearing too much data usage across pay-as-you-play service plans, the Cupertino-based company will require users to opt-in manually to the tier from their device to get Apple lossless music up and running.
File transfers will still be encoded with Apple’s proprietary ALAC codex (Apple Lossless Audio Codec), so anyone hoping to see the more open FLAC options will still have to look elsewhere for their high resolution file encoding.
So there you finally have it. The 1000 lb. gorilla in the room finally joins the party. High resolution streaming as a no-cost benefit might be a little surprising given the pricing of some of the current leaders in that field, but Apple undoubtedly has the financial wiggle room to make it happen in order to get more people to buy into their ecosystem – a play that will benefit them more in the long run.
Apple Music Lossless streaming starts as a free opt-in option starting in June.
More info: Apple PR Release