Apple’s New Lossless Audio Format Leaves Current AirPods Behind

·2 min read

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Apple plans to bring high-quality listening to its Apple Music platform in June with the introduction of a new Lossless Audio format. This update will be free, but AirPods and AirPods Max will be unable to support the new digital audio format.

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Apple recently announced some new key features for Apple music — Spatial Audio support for Dolby Atmos and a new Lossless Audio format. Lossless Audio will eventually be available for Apple Music’s entire catalog, while Spatial Audio will only be available for select tracks, signified by a special badge.

Lossless will have a few different tiers that listeners can choose from on their Apple devices, ranging from “CD Quality” at 16bit/44.1kHz, all the way up to “Studio Quality” 24bit/48kHz. There will also be a Hi-Resolution Lossless tier that will reach 24bit/192kHz, but this format won’t be playable on native Apple products and will require an external digital-to-analog converter (DAC).

Each of these Lossless tiers will consume significantly more data than Apple Music’s current 256kbps format, so subscribers can expect to have the ability to opt-in to Lossless listening at will. Lossless will include 20 million songs at launch in June, and will expand to Apple Music’s entire catalog by the end of 2021.

Apple Music’s new audio format will be provided at no additional cost for subscribers, but there’s a catch: Bluetooth headphones are not compatible with Lossless Audio. This means that base model AirPods, AirPods Max and wireless Beats headphones will all be unable to support the audio format. This incompatibility also includes AirPods Max wired mode using a Lightning connection.

It’s a rather strange move on Apple’s part, but one can only assume that some future iteration of AirPods will be made available with Lossless support included. For now, you’ll have to wait for an upcoming software update for HomePod and HomePod Mini if you’re dead set on checking out Lossless via Apple audio products.

AirPod Alternatives

apple music, Sennheiser HD 650 Open-back Audiophile and Reference Headphones, Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone
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While the lack of wired support for AirPods Max is frankly inexcusable, AirPods aren’t the only headphones that can’t play Lossless Audio; all Bluetooth headphones have the same issue.

Still, you can explore a number of third-party, wired headphones that can support Lossless Audio playback. For a solid listening experience that won’t empty your wallet, we recommend the Sony MDR7506, tried and true headphones that deliver quality audio at a reasonably priced $99.95.

If you want something a bit more high-end, check out Sennheiser’s HD 650 open-back headphones. Touting audiophile quality and luxury comfort, these headphones can easily go toe-to-toe with Apple’s $549 AirPods Max, all while retailing at a much lower cost of $399.99.

Also, be sure to set up a Deal Alert for any other headphones you may have your eye on.

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