Last week, Apple
announced the June launch of two new uncompressed streaming tiers in its Apple Music streaming service: Lossless Audio (up to 24bit at 48kHz) and Hi-Resolution Lossless (up to 24bit at 192kHz). Only days later, however, it emerged that
none of Apple’s headphones and speakers are able to support even the basic Lossless option – a surprising omission, particularly for the premium AirPods Max.
Now, however, new information from an
Apple support document indicates that both the HomePod and the HomePod mini will get support for Lossless in a future software update.
“HomePod and HomePod mini currently use AAC to ensure excellent audio quality,” the document reads. “Support for lossless is coming in a future software update.”
The document, meanwhile, appears to imply – and Apple has since confirmed – that the AirPods Max, contrary to previous reports, do support the Lossless tiers to some extent, but only when plugged in: the word “completely” in the final sentence below suggests that they will benefit from at least some of the benefits of the Lossless upgrade.
“AirPods Max can be connected to devices playing Lossless and Hi-Res Lossless recordings with exceptional audio quality,” the document notes. “However, given the analog to digital conversion in the cable, the playback will not be completely lossless.” [Italics added by Macworld.]
We emailed Apple to ask for clarification on whether AirPods Max (when plugged in) will indeed play Lossless tracks to a higher quality standard than non-Lossless ones, even if they don’t reach the quality threshold for fully supported hardware, and the company confirmed that this is correct.
We also asked for an approximate timeframe for when HomePod owners can expect Lossless support to be added in a software update, but Apple said it didn’t have any further information to add.
The reason the AirPods Max can’t support Lossless wirelessly, by the way, comes down to the limitations of the Bluetooth wireless standard: even
Bluetooth 5.0 hasn’t got enough capacity to carry uncompressed streaming audio. This also means the other AirPods models, which don’t offer the option of a wired connection, will never be able to support Lossless.
This article originally appeared on
Macworld Sweden. Translation by David Price.