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Apple launches Dolby Atmos music on Apple TV, HomePod, more devices

18 May 2021 | Rasmus Larsen |

Starting next month, Apple Music will offer lossless audio quality as well as Dolby Atmos, which will work on Apple TV, HomePod, and headphones. But what about AirPlay speakers from partners?

Music in Dolby Atmos

Apple Music will soon offer music in Dolby Atmos format for a more encompassing listening experience. Dolby Atmos is an object-based audio format, meaning that music is no longer pre-mixed to stereo channel perspective. Apple is not the first company to offer music in Dolby Atmos. Tidal, for example, has been offering it since May 2020. However, the selection is still sparse because music must be created in Atmos. - "Apple Music is making its biggest advancement ever in sound quality," said Oliver Schusser, Apples VP of Apple Music and Beats. "Listening to a song in Dolby Atmos is like magic. The music comes from all around you and sounds incredible. Now we are bringing this truly innovative and immersive experience to our listeners with music from their favorite artists like J Balvin, Gustavo Dudamel, Ariana Grande, Maroon 5, Kacey Musgraves, The Weeknd, and so many more. Subscribers will also be able to listen to their music in the highest audio quality with Lossless Audio. Apple Music as we know it is about to change forever." Dolby Atmos music will work on the Apple TV box connected to headphones. It will also work on HomePod as well as Apple TV 4K connected to a compatible Dolby Atmos speaker system. It requires tvOS 14.6, which will be released next month together with the launch of the the new Apple Music features. - "All Apple Music subscribers using the latest version of Apple Music on iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV can listen to thousands of Dolby Atmos music tracks using any headphones," explained Apple. "You can also hear Dolby Atmos music using the built‑in speakers on a compatible iPhone, iPad, MacBook Pro, or HomePod, or by connecting your Apple TV 4K to a compatible TV or audiovisual receiver. The company did not comment on AirPlay support so it is unclear if AirPlay compatible speakers from Bang & Olufsen, Bluesound, Sonos, and other partners will benefit.

Apple Music Atmos

Lossless audio quality

Together with Dolby Atmos, Apple Music will launch lossless audio in ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) for over 75 million songs. Audio quality starts at 16-bit at 44.1 kHz and goes up to 24-bit at 48 kHz on Apple devices such as Apple TV. In addition, it will offer 24-bit at 192 kHz lossless audio but the highest quality requires an "external equipment such as a USB digital to analog converter", the company said. Both lossless audio and Dolby Atmos will be included in the the standard Apple Music subscription. The new features will launch in June.

Apple Music: Dolby Atmos and lossless quality

What is Dolby Atmos music? Dolby Atmos is an immersive audio format that enables musicians to mix music so it sounds like the instruments are all around you in space. How can I listen to Dolby Atmos music? All Apple Music subscribers using the latest version of Apple Music on iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV7 can listen to thousands of Dolby Atmos music tracks using any headphones. When you listen with compatible Apple or Beats headphones,8 Dolby Atmos music plays back automatically when available for a song. For other headphones, go to Settings > Music > Audio and set Dolby Atmos to Always On. You can also hear Dolby Atmos music using the built‑in speakers on a compatible iPhone, iPad, MacBook Pro, or HomePod,9 or by connecting your Apple TV 4K to a compatible TV or audiovisual receiver. What is lossless audio? Lossless audio compression reduces the original file size of a song while preserving all of the data perfectly. Apple Music is making its entire catalog of more than 75 million songs available in lossless audio at different resolutions.1 In Apple Music, “Lossless” refers to lossless audio up to 48kHz, and “Hi-Res Lossless” refers to lossless audio from 48kHz to 192kHz. Lossless and Hi-Res Lossless files are very large and use much more bandwidth and storage space than standard AAC files. How can I listen to lossless audio? You can listen to lossless audio using the latest Apple Music app on an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV.7 Turn on lossless audio in Settings > Music > Audio Quality. You can choose between Lossless and Hi-Res Lossless for cellular or Wi-Fi connections. Note that Hi-Res Lossless requires external equipment such as a USB digital to analog converter. Is there any additional cost to listen to Dolby Atmos music or lossless audio? No. Both are included in your subscription to Apple Music.
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