Apple Music is getting two big updates next month: support for high-quality lossless audio and for spatial audio through Dolby Atmos. But even more surprising: the features will be available for free to all subscribers. The company says it’ll have 75 million lossless audio songs in its catalog to start, and anyone listening through AirPods or Beats that use the H1 or W1 chip or the built-in speakers in the latest versions of the iPhone, iPad, and Mac will have spacial audio turned on by default.
To turn on lossless audio, subscribers must run the latest version of Apple Music and can go to Settings > Music > Audio Quality. There, they can opt into different resolutions for different connections, like cellular, Wi-Fi, or for download.
Apple Music’s lossless audio starts at CD quality, which is 16 bit at 44.1 kHz (kilohertz) and goes up to 24 bit at 48 kHz natively on Apple devices. It tops out at 24 bit at 192 kHz. For the highest quality lossless file, there’s one major catch; subscribers will need external equipment to enjoy the 24-bit 192 kHz files, including a USB digital-to-analog converter (DAC).
Lossless audio is now becoming standard across the biggest music streaming apps. Amazon just announced today that it’s make Amazon Music HD available for free to Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers, and Spotify plans to launch its HiFi tier later this year. Tidal also offers what it calls “Tidal Masters” that can even exceed high-resolution 96 kHz / 24 bit audio.