This was speculation and rumor for a couple of weeks and now Apple has officially unveiled that customers of its Apple Music streaming service will be able to enjoy lossless audio as well as spatial audio with Dolby Atmos at no extra charge.
Apple is building the entire library, which contains more than 75 million tracks, which are available in lossless audio quality (ALAC).
So the price will remain at its current $ 9.99 / £ 9.99 / € 9.99 price point, and customers will get access to the track in 16-bit / 44.1kHz for high-res lossless files at 24-bit / 192kHz. Subscribers must opt in for high-res audio due to the size and bandwidth of the files. Apple’s press release also stated that high-res audio playback would also require external devices, such as USB DAC.
Apple also announced that Spatial Audio is also coming to Apple Music with support for Dolby Atmos. There seems to be a catch with this news, as Apple Music will default to playing Dolby Atmos tracks automatically on all AirPods and Beats headphones, which have an H1 or W1 chip. That list includes AirPods (2019), AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, Beats PowerBeats Pro and Solo Pro. The latest versions of iPhone, iPad and Mac will also support this feature. This is not a surprising development, as spatial audio is only available within the Apple ecosystem.
Apple is adding new Atmos tracks ‘continuously’, with a curated set of Atmos playlists available for customers to find their favorite tracks. The search for the Dolby Atmos track will be made easier by a badge on the details page.
At launch, subscribers will be able to enjoy thousands of songs in spatial audio, a dynamic head-tracking feature that allows sounds to be placed anywhere within the virtual hemisphere of the sound. Music genres that support spatial audio around the launch include hip-hop, country, Latin, pop, and classical.
And Apple wants to generate more audio content in spatial audio with the news that it is “working with artists and labels to add new releases and best catalog tracks”.
Apple Music with lossless audio / spatial audio and Dolby Atmos will be made available to customers from June 2021, and will be available at no additional cost.
With Spotify launching its HiFi-quality music tier later this year and Amazon dropping the lossless subscription price just before Apple News, it seems as if the music streaming war with this news escalates in a big way has gone.