Apple announced it during its last keynote.
It’s June 1st and a question arises: what will this change for the majority of Apple Music users? We explain everything to you.
June the entire Apple Music catalog was available in “compressed” sound quality. Sufficient for the majority of general users, a far cry from the audiophiles who are used to high definition sounds.
In order to conquer this audience, Apple has therefore decided to improve the sound quality of its entire catalog, that is, several million titles, at no additional cost.
As an allergy to MP3, Apple decided to transfer music using the AAC codec. The idea was to remove all inaudible noise to save space, but smoothly. Now the Apple Music library is based on files in the ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) format that promise lossless audio.
What does it bring in concrete terms?
Does this great Apple Music break translate into an amazing and magical new audio experience? Specifically, no. First, because few users know for sure the difference between AAC and ALAC audio. Justin Bacle, Sound Engineer and Audio Manager at DXOMark explains to Le Monde:
Very few listeners hear the difference between AAC and lossless music. However, studies show that some trained ears can occasionally distinguish it. I don’t know anyone who can do that for sure. For my personal use, “lossless” is not a purchase criterion.
While lossless audio doesn’t change much when you listen, it does have the disadvantage of consuming a lot more data (files are heavier). It also assumes a good network connection. Presumably for this reason Apple does not switch to “lossless” automatic. Users can choose whether to use it or not.
Do you need special material?
Yes. Apple may have been promoting wireless listening for a few years, but “lossless” listening to music doesn’t work with Bluetooth, which can’t carry that amount of data. In the car (with the appropriate equipment) or in transport, we therefore have to equip ourselves with wired plugs in order to benefit from the optimal quality. Otherwise, the music being played will be compressed as before.
Ironically, few Apple products support lossless audio. Only HomePod mini or AirPods Max owners can enjoy superior audio quality when the audio headset is wired in.
To really enjoy high definition sound, you have to equip yourself with very expensive equipment. This limits Apple Music’s novelty to a niche audience rather than the masses, still Apple’s usual target.
What about spatial audio?
In announcing this new version of Apple Music, Apple communicated a lot through Spatial Audio. Undoubtedly, behind this name hides the real novelty of the service that will transform the way the public hears.
Spatial Audio mixes up the audio market that was previously blocked by stereophonic sound distribution (distributed to the left and right). Thanks to a magic formula of secret algorithms, this technology promises the transmission of 360 ° sound from stereo sources (headphones, earphones). The result is enveloping and immersive sound. What can you rediscover our favorite titles? Without doubt.
But to take full advantage of this, we will have to wait a little longer. Only a few thousand titles are currently available in the catalog. Special equipment is also required. The latest generation of iPhone, iPad and Macbook Pro support this innovation. AirPods and Beats headphones (owned by Apple) are also compatible.
It’s more complex with the Apple TV 4K: A 5.1 sound system with five speakers and an amplifier is required. Other brands of headsets will work if they support spatial audio and the function is activated in the smartphone.
In any case, Spatial Audio is not immediately available. Unlike lossless audio, this feature will be introduced in June. A little more patience.