1621595905 how apple music lossless audio will work with airpods

How Apple Music Lossless Audio Will Work With AirPods

How apple music lossless audio will work with airpods

Apple definitely un-applied this week. Just as it launched lossless audio versions of every single track in its Apple Music Library with over 75 million songs, it also admitted that No one Its wireless headphones – including the highly expensive $ 550 AirPods Max – are currently compatible with these lossless versions. This is a very shocking entry from a company that usually introduces new products and features with the tagline: “It just works.”

Right now, lossless audio only works with two wireless standards, and Apple’s headphones don’t offer either. Is there any way to Apple’s insanity? Prolific Apple leaker John Prosser believes that we are only in a carefully planned rest period between Apple announcements and we just have to wait for the other shoe to fall.

But what is that plan, and when will we know what is included in that plan? How does Apple intend to achieve the prickly (and deeply technical) barrier imposed by its choice of wireless audio technologies?

I think the answers are rooted in a major shift of Apple’s trusted AirPlay technology to work on Bluetooth, and I think it is coming to Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2021 on June 7. We’ll possibly explore all the details, but here’s how it might work, why Apple wouldn’t take the easy path, and what Apple fans would gain to move beyond this leap in wireless audio fidelity.

How will Apple wirelessly lossless audio?

When it comes to streaming media wirelessly between devices, there are two primary technologies: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Bluetooth has been the preferred option for sending audio over wireless headphones, because despite its narrow size of “pipe”, it uses less energy, which helps with battery life.

Wi-Fi, with its more extensive pipes, has been preferred for sending video and high-quality audio, but only if the receiving device has a wall-like power plug-in due to the high energy demands of Wi-Fi. There is a stable source.

Wi-Fi would seem to be the logical choice for sending lossless audio. It is already being used to do this in homes – wireless speakers from Sonos, Denon and Apple all use Wi-Fi. But when it comes to wireless headphones, no one uses Wi-Fi.

So it’s back to Bluetooth. Can you fit lossless audio through a relatively narrow pipe of Bluetooth? Companies like Qualcomm and Sony have created high-quality audio codecs such as aptX HD and LDAC that aim to do just that – and have been largely successful. The performance of LDAC is so good that the Japan Audio Society, which oversees the “high-res audio” designation, considers it one of two codecs that meet its standard for sound quality.

But both aptX HD and LDAC are proprietary technologies that must be licensed if you want to include them in your products. Historically, Apple has proved resistant to licensing any technology that it thinks it can avoid. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs famously expressed disdain at the notion of sporting Mac’s HDMI ports for exactly this reason (Apple eventually added HDMI to its machines).

If only Bluetooth codecs that have a proven track record of supporting high-quality audio must be licensed, and if Apple refuses to license them, this leaves only one option.

Airplay over bluetooth

Apple already has a very influential wireless media platform that it has been developing over the years called AirPlay, which creates seamless wireless links between Apple devices (such as the iPhone and Apple TV) for the transmission of both audio and video. .

There are hundreds of wireless speakers, streaming media devices, and smart TVs that are compatible with AirPlay.

AirPlay can deliver lossless audio up to 24-bit / 48 kHz, which is Apple Music’s mid-level for lossless music. AirPlay sends this audio using the Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC), which is the format that Apple Music will use for its lossless music track.

But AirPlay uses Wi-Fi as its wireless networking delivery system, not Bluetooth.

So what do we do with Prosser’s statement that, “with a simple update at any time,” Apple’s wireless headphones can be made to work with AirPlay? The W1 and H1 chips in Apple and Beats wireless headphones are powerful Bluetooth devices, but they do not offer Wi-Fi.

I estimate that at WWDC 2021, Apple will announce an extension of its AirPlay technology that allows it to run over Bluetooth to deliver lossless audio up to 24-bit / 48kHz.

Such a move would be in line with Apple’s approach to wireless media delivery and its desire to elevate its products from the competition, which is not seen as competitive.

AirPlay is an Apple exclusive from a broadcast point of view. Only Apple devices are capable of transmitting AirPlay. The recipient side of the AirPlay equation is open to any third party who wants to license the technology and as we have seen, many companies have already taken advantage of this opportunity.

Airplay over Bluetooth will continue this. Any third-party manufacturer can make “Made for AirPlay” Bluetooth headphones or speakers, and they will be guaranteed to work with Apple Music’s lossless audio. But not just Apple Music. Airplay over Bluetooth, like Airplay over Wi-Fi, will work with any media app that chooses to support it.

Can it work

It is reasonable to doubt the notion of successfully optimizing Wi-Fi-based technology for Bluetooth, but AirPlay has an advantage that other Bluetooth codecs do not: when streaming media is sent to AirPlay, all computational Heavy lifting is done on the sender side.

By the time it reaches the receiving device, there is no work left to play the audio. In theory, this could actually reduce the amount of power required by wireless headphones or speakers.

What about android?

If AirPlay can only be used to send media wirelessly from an Apple device, then what about Apple Music customers using Android?

If their chosen phone supports other high-quality Bluetooth codecs such as aptX HD or LDAC, they are free to purchase a set of compatible wireless headphones. The quality is likely to be excellent and Apple will not have to pay one percent of the license fee for Android customers to enjoy it.

Whether Apple chases AirPlay over Bluetooth, or something else, it won’t take us long to wait – WWDC 2021 is almost here and it will likely give us the answer.

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