Apple’s announcement of support for lossless audio in Apple Music was welcome but sparked confusion over what devices it would work with (see “Apple Takes Apple Music Sound Quality to the Next Level,” 17 May 2021). Apple has now published a support article offering more details:
- If you have already downloaded a song, you’ll need to delete it and redownload it to get the lossless version.
- On a Mac, you can listen to lossless audio with speakers or wired headphones, but you’ll need an external digital-to-analog converter to listen to songs at sample rates higher than the 48 kHz that Apple labels as Hi-Res Lossless.
- The Apple TV 4K will support lossless playback, but not at rates higher than 48 kHz.
- The HomePod and HomePod mini will gain lossless playback in a future software update.
- Lossless audio will play over Bluetooth but will not be lossless because, as some technical wags have noted, Bluetooth is inherently lossy. Sadly, this limitation includes the AirPods, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max.
- Apple’s Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter supports lossless audio up to sample rates of 48 kHz.
- The AirPods Max can play lossless audio with the optional Lightning to 3.5mm Audio Cable, but it will not be completely lossless.