Apple Music: What is Lossless / Hi-Res Lossless?

If you call up the Apple Music app on your iPhone, iPad, Mac or Android device, you will find lots of information about the individual artists, albums and titles there. Certain symbols and terms have also been displayed for some time in order to briefly represent the maximum audio quality that can be called up. Under the respective designations are Apple Digital Master, Dolby Atmos and Lossless or Hi-Res Lossless. For the last two, I have compiled the most important information and links for further reading in this article. 

What do the terms Lossless and Hi-Res Lossless stand for in the Apple Music app? How to Listen to the Best Audio Quality in Apple Music Subscription? You can find details about the topic here!

What do the terms Lossless and Hi-Res Lossless stand for in the Apple Music app? How to Listen to the Best Audio Quality in Apple Music Subscription? You can find details about the topic here!

What is (Hi-Res) Lossless in the Apple Music app?

If you tap on the icon of this description of the audio quality of an album or track on the iPhone or iPad, a small explanatory text will appear. For Lossless this is: Lossless format uses Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) for bit-perfect playback at up to 24-bit/48kHz. The fact that Hi-Res Lossless offers even more audio quality is evident from the corresponding explanatory text: Hi-Res Lossless format uses Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) for bit-perfect playback up to 24-bit/192kHz. For the realization of the whole thing, this is what comes with compression, by the way Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) for use.

Lossless audio compression for the best listening experience

In addition to the explanatory texts shown above and an "OK" that you can tap on, Apple Music appears App also "Further information". If you tap on it, you get to the Apple support document HT212183, which explains lossless audio in Apple Music subscription in detail. In the introduction it says, among other things, “[…] Thanks to our own implementation of AAC [...] we are able to provide audio output that is virtually indistinguishable from the original studio recording.“ On mobile devices, mono speakers and with cheap headphones you might not hear a difference. However, if you use correspondingly powerful headphones or speakers, you will recognize the quality as such.

Listening to music with Lossless / Hi-Res Lossless: Here's how!

In the support document linked above, you can find instructions on how to listen to Apple Music subscription's lossless compressed music on iPhone, iPad, Mac, HomePod, Apple TV and Android devices. In addition to wired speakers with digital-to-analog converters and similar accessories, you can also use Apple's own headphones. According to the source, the following models are equipped with the Bluetooth codec AAC from Apple:

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3 comments

  1. Paul says:

    That's how I understood it. That Apple was very bothered that everyone uses Bluetooth because it cannot transfer enough data that is required for Lossless. So it's technically not possible. Then the Apple AirPods Max, i.e. the big expensive headphones, have a cable connection. But this one is only used for power transmission. Not for data transfer.

    That's why I'm asking, Mir-Res Lossless isn't possible with the Apple AirPods Max, is it? After all, these are not studio headphones either.

    • Johannes Domke says:

      Hi Paul,

      do you have a source for Apple's statement that the company is interfering with Bluetooth? Or do you know when that should have happened? That would be interesting.

      As described in the article and also shown in the linked support document, the listed Apple and Beats headphones can handle lossless content wirelessly. This is ensured by the AAC and ALAC codecs used for Bluetooth. These compress data before sending it and unpack it after receiving it. This means that voluminous audio files can also be used via Bluetooth.

      Best regards
      John

  2. Paul says:

    Hi John,

    Unfortunately I can't give you a source for this. I once read that in an interview with developers who were at Apple.

    I think I remember. Meaning: Apple is annoyed that Bluetooth wireless technology restricts the possibility of high-quality audio so much. This was also the reason why Apple introduced several quality levels to Apple Music. Because you couldn't climb the highest one straight away.

    But I can't find a source for it myself.

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