New ‘Lossless’ Music Codec for Apple AirPods Pro, AirPods Max Still in the Works | What Is It? Why Does It Matter?

AirPods Max on Display at Apple Store Credit: Jack Skeens / Shutterstock
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This is one of the most common questions I’ve received since writing about how the new codec Apple is working on could greatly improve future AirPods, especially the sound. So I want to tell you what this codec will be, how it’ll improve the sound of the AirPods, and when it’ll be available. Let’s get started!

First of all, what does codec mean? It’s quite simple: it’s a mashup of the words code and decode. You could say a codec is a program that compresses a file. It can also convert between analog and digital audio. For the AirPods to work, Apple has to use a codec to “send” music from your iPhone to your AirPods. Apple uses the Apple AAC Bluetooth Codec, which is pretty good – but is not even close to lossless.

I’ll show you that in a moment, but first, I need to briefly explain what bitrate means: it’s the term used to describe the amount of data being transferred into audio. As you can imagine, the higher the bitrate, the better the sound.

Apple’s AAC codec has a bitrate of 256 Kbps. That’s not bad, but if you compare it to another codec called FLAC at 1411 Kbps, it doesn’t look very good.

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Does that mean Apple’s codec is trash compared to FLAC? Not at all, but to trained ears, it makes a big difference.

So What Is Apple Working On?

Apple announced last year that it would add lossless files to Apple Music, but the problem is that most people with an iPhone use it with AirPods, which can’t utilize that feature.

Apple knows this, and that’s why its engineers have been working on a new codec that will work between new AirPods and iPhones so that the world’s most popular earphones can receive larger files and improve sound quality.

It likely won’t make a huge difference, but it’s definitely a step forward for the AirPods, especially the AirPods Max.

I’ve heard that Apple has been working on this for a while, and it could be ready to be implemented in the AirPods Pro 2, due to launch in September or October. As I said, the Cupertino-based company believes this codec will boost the AirPods sales as they’ll be marketed as “lossless earbuds.”

Apple plans to do the same with the AirPods Max 2. The AirPods Max have the best drivers on the market at this price point, so the difference between the old codec and the new one will be pretty remarkable. I can’t wait to try them out next year.

So, in summary, future AirPods will sound better thanks to the new codec Apple is developing. The funny thing is that most people won’t notice the difference, but for those who can, it’s great news. 

Let me know what you think about it in the comments. I hope you found this article helpful. As always, have a fantastic day.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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