Apple Music announces free lossless, Spatial Audio & Dolby Atmos upgrade

Apple Music on iPhone
Apple Music on iPhone (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple Music has announced support for Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos.
  • Subscribers will get the upgrades music at no extra charge.

Apple Music today confirmed what we've all been expecting – Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos support is coming next month across a chunk of the catalog while lossless audio quality is also being offered on 75 million songs. None of this will come at any additional cost, either.

Apple made the announcement via a Newsroom post moments ago.

Apple today announced Apple Music is bringing industry-leading sound quality to subscribers with the addition of Spatial Audio with support for Dolby Atmos. Spatial Audio gives artists the opportunity to create immersive audio experiences for their fans with true multidimensional sound and clarity. Apple Music subscribers will also be able to listen to more than 75 million songs in Lossless Audio — the way the artists created them in the studio. These new features will be available for Apple Music subscribers starting next month at no additional cost.

However, Apple did slip one caveat in – only 20 million songs will be available in the lossless format on day one. The other 55 million will be available by the end of the year, apparently.

Apple outlined the details on what we can expect from Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos, saying that you'll need a pair of AirPods or Beats headphones with the H1 or W1 chip inside if you want to take advantage of the latter.

Apple is bringing Spatial Audio with support for Dolby Atmos to Apple Music. Dolby Atmos is a revolutionary, immersive audio experience that enables artists to mix music so the sound comes from all around and from above. By default, Apple Music will automatically play Dolby Atmos tracks on all AirPods and Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip, as well as the built-in speakers in the latest versions of iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Apple Music will be adding new Dolby Atmos tracks constantly and will be curating a special set of Dolby Atmos playlists to help listeners find the music they love. In addition, albums that are available in Dolby Atmos will have a badge on the detail page for easy discovery.

As for lossless audio, Apple Music users will be able to choose from different options when picking the specific audio quality they'd like to listen to. Note that higher quality audio will require mode data to download, so keep that in mind on cellular connections.

Apple Music's Lossless tier starts at CD quality, which is 16 bit at 44.1 kHz (kilohertz), and goes up to 24 bit at 48 kHz and is playable natively on Apple devices. For the true audiophile, Apple Music also offers Hi-Resolution Lossless all the way up to 24 bit at 192 kHz

All of this will go live, at no additional cost, in June 2021. That means Apple Music will continue to be available for $9.99 per month and as part of the Apple One bundle. Some of the new features, including Apple's lossless audio will be available to Apple Music users on Android too, however Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos will not.

Now might be a very good time to treat yourself to some new headphones to take advantage of all this. Check out the best AirPods Max deals available right now to make sure you're all set

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.