Apple Music’s latest lossless audio update rolling out to users in June 2021 was met with a lot of applause but also a certain level of confusion as Apple’s own music gadgets, including Airpods, Airpods Pro, Airpods Max, Homepod and Homepod mini, don’t support the audio quality that audiophiles admire.
However, according to the recent update on Apple’s support page ‘about lossless audio in Apple Music’, the aforementioned Homepod models will support lossless audio playback following an update in the future.
Apple will use the ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) to make its entire catalogue available in the highest audio quality possible. At the time of the rollout, about 75 million songs on Apple Music will be available in lossless audio quality. The latest version of the app allows hi-resolution lossless playback up to 24 bit at 192 kHz.
The new lossless audio feature will be available to all Apple Music subscribers at no extra cost. It will allow listeners to experience songs of the same quality the artists’ record in the studios.
Why can’t Airpods, Airpods Pro and Airpods Max play lossless audio?
To sum it up in a word — Bluetooth.
All the three Airpods models mentioned above and Beats wireless headphones use Apple’s AAC Bluetooth codec to support music playback. Bluetooth doesn’t support lossless audio playback.
Homepod and Homepod mini also use AAC but support for lossless music is coming in future updates.
Airpods Max, however, can support an almost lossless audio playback using Apple’s Lightning to 3.5mm audio cable.
Those looking to connect their existing wired headphones or speakers to iPhone or iPad can use Apple’s Lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter that supports 24-bit/48 kHz lossless audio.