Following the opening keynote at WWDC21, which was dedicated to the announcement of iOS 15, Apple also added an update to its Apple Music app. It is currently possible to stream songs in lossless quality and the famous Dolby Atmos “Spatial Audio”. Next pit explains how to activate these functions on your iPhone.
While you obviously need to have a subscription to Apple’s music streaming service, you don’t have to pay a dime for these two new features – which is a good thing.
Apple Music: How to Enable Lossless Audio on Your iPhone
Lossless quality refers to the compression, or the virtual lack of compression, of the audio signal between your iPhone and your headphones or earphones. In practice, this compression should lead to minimal or nonexistent quality losses, so that there is no loss of data and you can listen to your songs in the best possible way.
Apple offers two levels of high resolution audio: Apple Music Lossless (24 bit / 48 kHz) and Hi-Res Lossless (up to 24 bit / 192 kHz).
How to enable lossless quality in Apple Music:
- Go to on your iPhone the settings and then Music.
- Choose Audio quality.
- Use the Lossless audio Slider for activating / deactivating the function.
You can also define the scenarios in which you want to use lossless quality on Apple Music: over WiFi, with mobile data, and offline (downloaded songs). You can then choose between several quality levels:
- Loss-free for a maximum resolution of 24 bit / 48 kHz.
- Hi-Res Lossless for a maximum resolution of 24 bit / 192 kHz.
Note: To really enjoy Hi-Res lossless quality, you need a DAC that not all Apple devices are compatible with
Apple Music: How to Enable Spatial Dolby Atmos Audio on Your iPhone
Apple Spatial Audio picks up 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos signals before applying directional audio filters by adjusting the frequencies each ear hears, so sounds can be placed virtually anywhere in 3D space. This results in an experience that feels like you are in a movie theater, with a sound that “surrounds you”.
The technology isn’t new, and in fact, Apple doesn’t even use the nickname “Spatial Audio” but simply Dolby Atmos in the iOS and Apple Music interface. This means that you can still benefit from using non-Apple headphones / earphones. For the time being, however, the Apple brand is keeping the exclusive “Head-Tracking” function, which allows you to track your head movements and adjust the sound accordingly.
How to enable Dolby Atmos spatial audio on your iPhone
- Go to the settings then Music.
- Choose Dolby Atmos.
- Choose Automatically, Always on, or Out.
Apple Music: Which iPhones Support Lossless Quality and Spatial Dolby Atmos Audio?
All iPhones running iOS 14.5 and iOS 15 Beta are compatible with lossless quality and spatial Dolby Atmos audio, in addition to Android users who have access to lossless quality audio without spatial Dolby Atmos audio. Currently, this means that all iPhone models from the iPhone 12 to the first-generation iPhone SE to the iPhones released in 2016 will benefit.
Compatibility here simply means that you can enable these features on your iPhone. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you will actually benefit from them.
For Spatial Audio, we mentioned earlier that all headphones and earphones that support Dolby Atmos technology are compatible, regardless of whether they are Apple-made or not. The Bose QuietComfort 35ii is therefore compatible with the AirPods Max, for example.
On the other hand, with lossless quality, it’s a little more complicated and this topic would certainly deserve a full article of its own. But to make it simple, neither the AirPods Pro nor the AirPods Max allow you to really listen to music losslessly due to the limitations of Bluetooth technology.
The AirPods Max have an analog audio jack input to bypass the Bluetooth connection, but the analog input converts the signal into a digital signal and compresses the sound at the same time.
Finally, if you want to listen to Apple Music tracks at a bit rate higher than 24 bit / 48 kHz on your iPhone, which corresponds to the “Hi-Res Lossless” resolution, you need to connect to a DAC and external digital-to-analog converters and use wired headphones.
Have you had the chance to test the lossless audio quality and Dolby Atmos on Apple Music? What headphones or audio products are you using to enjoy your lossless music on Apple Music? Are you interested in your own article on the topic of lossless quality? Tell me all about it in the comments!