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.
Apple Music subscribers will also be able to listen to more than 75 million songs in Lossless Audio. These new features will be available for Apple Music subscribers starting next month at no additional cost.
“Apple Music is making its biggest advancement ever in sound quality,” said Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats. “Listening to a song in Dolby Atmos is like magic. The music comes from all around you and sounds incredible.
“Now we are bringing this truly innovative and immersive experience to our listeners with music from their favorite artists like J Balvin, Gustavo Dudamel, Ariana Grande, Maroon 5, Kacey Musgraves, The Weeknd, and so many more. Subscribers will also be able to listen to their music in the highest audio quality with Lossless Audio. Apple Music as we know it is about to change forever.”
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. At launch, subscribers can enjoy thousands of songs in Spatial Audio.
“Today marks the introduction of Dolby Atmos on Apple Music — a new music experience that is transforming how music is created by artists and enjoyed by their fans,” said Kevin Yeaman, Dolby Laboratories’ president and CEO. “We are working with Apple Music to make Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos widely available to all musicians and anyone who loves music.”
Apple Music will also make its catalogue of more than 75 million songs available in Lossless Audio. Apple uses ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) to preserve every single bit of the original audio file.
The launch means that Apple Music will beat Spotify to HD audio. The market leader recently recruited Billie Eilish to announce its plans.
Amazon Music, Deezer and Tidal already have HD services available.
Premium audio tiers offered by the streaming services do vary in terms of the quality with no real uniformity in the labeling of services for consumers, who may ending up being confused by the multiple options on offer.
Apple Music customers can choose different resolutions for different connections such as 4G, Wi-Fi, or for download. 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.1
(Updated) Apple Music’s move to go free with Lossless Audio and Dolby Atmos has prompted an immediate price war with Amazon Music. The online giant has responded by announcing that Amazon Music HD will be available to all eligible Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers at no extra cost. Amazon Music HD previously cost £14.99 a month (£12.99 for Prime customers).
“When we first launched Amazon Music HD, our goal was to lead the industry by enabling music fans around the world to stream the best quality recording, the way artists intended their music to be heard,” said Steve Boom, VP of Amazon Music. “We’re thrilled now to make Amazon Music HD available to everyone at no extra cost. All music fans should have access to this quality of music, and now they do!”
It means that Amazon Prime customers and existing subscribers on the reduced Prime offer can get an HD service for £7.99 a month in the UK.
While the price war may potentially boost subscriber numbers and reduce churn for Amazon Music and Apple Music, there will be concerns within the industry that a pair of tech and retail giants are holding down streaming prices, which have remained static for some years.
HD tiers provided a route to increases in Average Revenue Per User across the streaming ecosystem, but that will stall if the announcements today by Apple and Amazon prompt Spotify to follow suit in not charging extra for higher quality audio.
Spotify has recently raised prices across some of its tiers. During its evidence to the DCMS Committee inquiry into the economics of streaming, the market leader complained that its rival Apple Music did not need to worry about profitability.