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In case you missed it, Apple is rolling out HiFi Lossless Audio for all Apple Music titles in 2021. A significant portion of the library will be immediately converted when the new modes launch in June, with the rest on the way afterward.
Lossless Audio is designed to allow users to listen to music at precisely the quality they desire, all the way to studio-grade sound (in theory, at least). People can choose different quality options based on their connection to keep from eating up all their data, starting with 16-bit audio at 44.1kHz, or CD quality. This goes all the up to Hi-Resolution Lossless audio, 24-bit at 192kHz, for the ultimate experience – at no extra cost to Apple Music subscribers.
But, to take advantage of the higher tiers of Lossless Audio, you need compatible devices and accessories that can keep up, or else you might not even notice a difference.
Let’s take a look at exactly what you need (and what won’t work), so you can get the audiophile quality you want as Lossless Audio prepares for launch.
You’ll Need a Compatible Apple Device for Playback
No other Apple devices will be supporting Lossless Audio – at least not yet – and that includes the HomePod and HomePod mini. However, they do support Spatial Audio for configuring sound to your room.
Apple’s music player and iTunes are… fine. But they struggle to deliver Lossless Audio with all the detail that other apps can provide. That’s why, if you want the highest quality possible, you will want to download audio files and listen to them with a more adept music player. Obviously, this isn’t for everyone – at the high end, Lossless Audio files take up a ton of room, and this isn’t a great approach for small devices like iPhones but is more feasible for Macs.
If you want to go the download route, we suggest using the Vox Media Player. It’s so popular there’s a good chance you may have already downloaded it, and it can handle audio files with more care than native options, leading to a better sound experience.
When it comes to headphones, you’ll run into a problem early on: none of Apple’s headphones can handle true Lossless Audio. True Lossless Audio at higher tiers requires a wired connection, so most AirPods and Beats models are automatically disqualified. While you can plug in the AirPods Max, Apple has admitted that even then, the headphones are incompatible with Lossless Audio (although it still sounds great). The key is finding a great third-party wired headset for your tunes.
We suggest starting with the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0. These durable headphones are designed for audiophiles that want to experience the best sound, and this model is made to work with Apple devices and has an integrated smart remote. The 18-ohm transducers are engineered to produce top-tier sound.
If you’re thinking, “Whoa, I like the idea of Lossless Audio, but I’m not spending several hundred dollars on a headset,” then we suggest this far more affordable Sony model. The headset uses 4mm neodymium drivers for excellent sound quality, with a minimalistic and lightweight design that won’t weigh down your head like some models do. The coiled cord is also a nice addition, offering a 9.8-foot length and gold-plated plug that’s ideal for studio situations or just enjoying the maximum range of motion at your computer.
On the other hand, if cost is no factor and you really want the best audio you can get out of your Apple Music tracks, you can choose this beyerdynamic headset. It’s pricey, but has 45mm drivers with a 250-ohm rating and a frequency response range of 5 to 40,000Hz to push sound quality up and enjoy every single detail. The headset is also designed for long sessions with comfortable ear pads and two different material options so you can use what you like best.
If you’re planning on pushing Lossless Audio to the highest tiers, you’ll need more than just your Apple device – you’ll need a good external DAC to process the audio data correctly and deliver a true studio experience.
This popular Chord Mojo model is the ideal solution. It’s very portable, highly effective, and includes a chargeable battery so you don’t always need to find an outlet to use it. It also includes two analog outputs so multiple people can listen to the same audio at once – and the controls are simple enough that even those who haven’t used DACs before won’t have any trouble here.
Again, if you are not at all interested in paying several hundred dollars for a DAC, here’s a far more affordable model that will still deliver great results with Lossless Audio. It has a portable design with a battery rated for six hours, offers both 4.4mm and 3.5mm headphone plugs depending on what you have, and includes adjustable analog buttons for controlling the balance on your own terms… without getting too complicated.