At launch, the HomePod and HomePod mini will not support Apple Music Lossless but will instead feature support for Dolby Atmos for Apple Music. Dolby Atmos, otherwise known as Spatial Audio, creates an immersive three-dimensional experience that simulates music all around the listener. Apple Music Lossless provides listeners with higher quality audio.
In June, Apple will offer Apple Music subscribers a “Standard” Apple Music Lossless tier with audio up to 48kHz, and “Hi-Res Lossless” with audio between 48kHz and 192kHz. Hi-Res Lossless requires external equipment like a USB digital-to-analog converter.
Despite support for Apple Music Lossless in a future software update for HomePod and HomePod mini, the AirPods and AirPods Pro will not be gaining support. In the support document, Apple explains that current Bluetooth doesn’t support the higher quality format that Apple Music Lossless provides. In addition, AirPods Max will not support Lossless wirelessly, however, Apple says that using a cable, the $550 over-ear headphones will play back Lossless audio.
The Lightning to 3.5 mm Audio Cable was designed to allow AirPods Max to connect to analog sources for listening to movies and music. AirPods Max can be connected to devices playing Lossless and Hi-Res Lossless recordings with exceptional audio quality. However, given the analog to digital conversion in the cable, the playback will not be completely lossless.
Apple Music Lossless and Dolby Atmos will be available in June with more than 20 million tracks supporting Lossless audio and thousands of tracks supporting Dolby Atmos.