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This is why AirPods Max and Pro won’t support Apple Music lossless audio

By Nadeem Sarwar May 17, 2021, 6:03 pm
airpods max title

Earlier today, Apple announced that Apple Music is marrying Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos for its entire catalog of audio content. In addition to it, over 75 million songs will be available to stream in lossless quality. But as soon as the announcement was made, an online debate and lots of confusion around audio codecs emerged, whether Bluetooth transmission can handle a bitrate high enough to support truly ‘lossless music’ and what devices actually support this experience. Well, Apple has confirmed that lossless audio streaming is not supported on any AirPods model. Not even the $549 AirPods Max.


Lossless music listening experience on AirPods Max? or AirPods Pro? NOPE

“Lossless audio is not supported on AirPods, any model. AirPods Max wired listening mode accepts analog output sources only. AirPods Max currently does not support digital audio formats in wired mode,” an Apple spokesperson was quoted as saying by TheVerge. So, there you have it – No lossless audio support for AirPods Max. And yeah, the AirPods Pro don’t offer that perk either. What about using a digital audio converter, since the AirPods Max support wired playback?

Even if you put Apple’s own Lightning-to-3.5mm cable to use, you won’t be able to enjoy lossless music in all its high-fidelity magic. That is because when you play a lossless song (24-bit depth / 48kHz sampling rate) from Apple Music using both the Lightning cable and a 3.5mm connector, the audio signal is converted into an analog signal and then re-digitized into a 24-bit / 48kHz output signal. So, what you’re listening is not the actual high bitrate, high depth music that you can call lossless and true-to-studio quality.

Apple will have to create a new audio codec to achieve true lossless experience on AirPods

Essentially, if you’re streaming lossless audio from Apple Music, you’re not actually listening to the true lossless audio on your AirPods Max despite using a wired connection. So, is there a solution? Well, to support true lossless audio on the AirPods Max, Apple might have to create its own proprietary audio codec that enables high bitrate signal transmission. This is not actually impossible, as Sony has its own LDAC codec that is said to deliver audiophile-grade lossless music streaming experience by transmitting audio at a maximum bitrate of 990kbps. Will Apple pull it off? Well, the company has not revealed any intentions of doing so. At least not yet.

apple music

However, if you’re not worried too much about lossless music listening, and Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos is sufficient for you, there is some good news. Apple says that all its audio hardware – including the AirPods series and Beats headphones – with an H1 or W1 chip inside will offer you the enhanced music listening experience that you would expect from Dolby Atmos.

View AirPods Max at Amazon

View AirPods Pro at Amazon


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