Lossless Playback Now Available in Apple Music

In June 2021, Apple offered lossless audio for iPhone and iPad running iOS and iPadOS 14.6 or higher, and the Mac for all subscriptions at no extra cost

RAYMOND OGLESBY @RaymondOglesby2
August 4,2021

In June 2021, Apple offered lossless audio for iPhone and iPad running iOS and iPadOS 14.6 or higher, and the Mac for all subscriptions at no extra cost. Let’s explore this feature.

This is for iPhone and iPad running iOS and iPadOS 14.6 or higher, and Mac

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You can stream most music in lossless format except for broadcast radio, live and on-demand content, and music videos.

What is Lossless Playback

Music is compressed to save on space, particularly when it comes to streaming. The bitrate of a particular file or stream determines the quality of the music, with more bits generally meaning better quality. When you choose a higher bitrate, you will also consume more bandwidth (streaming) or space on your device (downloading).

Until recently, Apple Music could only be streamed using “lossy” AAC (Advanced Audio Codec) compression. While Apple claims that “the difference between AAC and lossless audio is virtually indistinguishable,” the company now offers lossless compression that uses ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) instead.

ALAC is an open-source format that uses around 50% of the space of uncompressed audio. Support ranges from 16-bit/44.1 kHz CD quality to more modern 24-bit/192kHz recordings. Enabling lossless audio playback for Apple Music is easy and comes at no extra financial cost, but there’s more to lossless than simply flipping a switch.

Check Your OS

First, go to;

Settings > General > Software Update

There you will see your version number. If not 14.6 or higher, tap the blue link to download and install. After installation, go back to your Home Screen.

Enable Lossless Playback on iPhone and iPad

First, you must be a subscriber to Apple Music to enable Lossless audio. After subscribing (3 months free trial), then launch Settings and tap on Music. Next, tap on Audio Quality. Refer to below image:

Lossless 1
Selecting Audio Quality option

Now, under Audio Quality, toggle Lossless Audio to ON. See below image:

Lossless 2
Enabling Lossless Audio

Next, tap Wi-Fi Streaming. See following image:

Lossless 3
Accessing Wi-Fi Streaming

:Now, choose between a Lossless 48kHz sample rate or a High-Resolution Lossless 192kHz sample rate. Refer to below image

Lossless 4
Selecting High-Resolution Lossless option

If you choose High-Resolution Lossless and do not have a converter, you will receive a message. See below image:

Lossless 5
Message about using a DAC converter

Next, make a choice and exit Settings.

Enable Lossless Playback on a Mac

First, open your Apple Music app, and then click on

Music > Preferences

in the menu bar. Now, on the Playback tab, select Audio Quality. Next, toggle Lossless to ON. Next, choose between 48kHz and 192kHz sample rates. If you do not see the option, you may need to update your macOS.

Using AirPods

Wireless headphones and earphones use compression to stream music from your iPhone to your ears. This includes Apple’s AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, and the Beats range of earphones and headphones. Since audio must be compressed for use with wireless Bluetooth audio, lossless audio offers no benefits.

To enjoy lossless audio, you will need to use a wired pair of headphones or speakers or the built-in speakers on your iPhone.

But wait, there is a catch. The iPhone cannot output the higher sample rate of 192kHz (Hi-Res Lossless) without an external digital-to-analog converter (DAC). The DAC in the iPhone is limited to 48kHz output.

Listening Difference

If you are frustrated that your expensive AirPods Max will not support lossless audio, consider for a minute that most people can not tell the difference. The best that you can do is to make sure that high-quality streaming is enabled under

Settings > Music

on your iPhone or iPad so that you are getting the best possible quality that’s available to you.

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