Apple has introduced lossless audio and Dolby Atmos Spatial Audio support to its Apple Music users. The two new features will be available at no additional cost to the existing subscribers starting from June. Meanwhile, close on the heels of Apple’s announcement, Amazon has also made the HD music streaming on its platform free. In other words, Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers can get lossless audio without any additional charge.
Now Amazon was already on the turf, its offering isn’t Hi-res lossless like Apple’s. With the new introduction, it’s Apple who has joined the league of Tidal, Spotify, and Deezer who are already offering lossless audio to their subscribers. But Apple has an upper hand because it is providing the service free of cost. Following this, other players might also re-structure their subscription plans as Amazon has already rolled out.
Coming back to Apple, Cupertino-giant will offer its entire portfolio of 75 million songs in lossless audio format. This will be done as a staged approach, initially starting with 20M tracks and complete the roster by 2021.
The quality starts at 16 bit, 44.1kHz, and goes up to 24 bit, at 48kHz. Also, the Hi-Resolution Lossless level will support up to 24 bit at 192 kHz enabled through app settings but you would require DAC hardware to access it.
Speaking of hardware, only select Apple devices with the latest software (iOS 14.6, iPadOS 14.6, macOS 11.4, or tvOS 14.6 and above) and audio accessories will support these music libraries. HomePods, Bluetooth earphones including Apple’s current AirPods and Beats products in the market won’t support this ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec). Even if you use a wired connector/lightning cable, still no use due to the digital-analog-digital conversion.
Apple Music will also play tracks in Spatial Audio mode using the new Dolby Atmos feature. The Spatial Audio mode will only be available through built-in speakers of Apple devices and headphones with H1 or W1 chip which include AirPods and Beats. As of now, there are limited music tracks available in this mode but Apple promises to keep extending the list later.
Amazon Music Unlimited with HD streaming
In the same row, Amazon introduced HD music streaming to the members with Amazon Music Unlimited plans. There will be no additional cost for opting for the new service. However, for now, the company has rolled out HD streaming in limited countries only including the US, Canada, UK, Germany, Spain, France, and Italy.
The subscribers from the aforementioned countries will enjoy the collection of 70 million songs in HD resolution with more than 7 million in Ultra HD formats. Amazon also announces to add music in the formats of 3D Audio, Dolby Atmos, and Sony 360RA. The lossless audio will support CD resolution of 16 bits at 44.1kHz and can go up to 24 bits at 192 kHz for Ultra HD streaming.
The two announcements from Apple and Amazon will likely send a ripple down the entire music streaming industry. And it will be interesting to see if other music streaming platforms will also follow the footsteps of these giants soon.