After teasers were spotted on the Apple Music website over the weekend, Apple has formally announced that the music streaming service is getting support for lossless audio quality tracks next month. Not only that, but the company is also adding spatial audio to the service with Dolby Atmos support.
Dolby Atmos will allow music creators to mix their tracks in a way that allows different sounds to feel as if they're coming from many different directions. Tracks have to be specifically designed for this, and Apple says it will be adding new Dolby Atmos tracks regularly. At launch, you can expect "thousands of songs" from different genres to be available, and Dolby Atmos will be supported in AirPods or Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip, as well as on the built-in speakers of an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Tracks with Dolby Atmos support will also be highlighted with a badge to make them easier to find.
As for lossless audio quality, Apple Music will be using a proprietary audio format called ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) to bring high-quality audio to the entire catalog of over 75 million songs on the service. Lossless audio will be disabled by default due to the high data usage involved, but you can choose to enable it for Wi-Fi only or cellular network, with different tiers to choose from. The base level is CD quality, and offers 16-bit audio and 44.1KHz, but you can go up to 24-bit audio at 48KHz using only an Apple device. If you need even more quality, you can take the sample rate up to 192KHz, but this requires an external digital-to-analog converter (DAC) capable of supporting this kind of configuration.
All of this comes at no additional cost in the Apple Music subscription, though obviously, you'll need to spend money on a DAC if you want one and don't have it already. You can look forward to these additions in June, though a specific date for the launch wasn't given.