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Apple Music begins rolling out lossless streaming and Dolby Atmos spatial audio

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Audiophiles don’t have to deal with lossy listening anymore

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Apple Music has flipped the switch on its previously announced lossless-quality streaming and spatial audio features. Starting now, if you’ve got the latest iOS, iPadOS, and macOS updates installed, you’ll be able to stream select tracks both in standard lossless/CD-quality audio and high-resolution lossless (if you have an external DAC for the latter).

Apple said both features would arrive “today” during the WWDC keynote, but it took many hours after the event concluded before customers started seeing them appear in the app. You still might not if the rollout hasn’t reached you yet. The update is server-side on Apple’s part.

Be aware that lossless audio files take up considerably more storage when downloaded and also burn through more data when streamed. You can dig into all of the technical details and FAQs here. The standard AAC streaming remains the default unless you switch your preference to lossless in the Music app section of iOS settings.

Apple has said that over 20 million songs will be available in lossless quality at launch, with the entire Apple Music catalog of over 75 million tracks going lossless by the end of 2021. Lossless audio is exclusive to Apple Music and requires a subscription; it’s not available for purchase, nor can you upgrade purchased music or get it through iTunes Match.

Lossless audio is available on the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV 4K. Support for the HomePod and HomePod Mini will be added after a future software update.

Today is the first time you can also try out spatial audio on Apple Music. Millions of tracks now offer immersive, Dolby Atmos-powered mixes that Apple claims deliver “true multidimensional sound and clarity.” There will be a much smaller selection of spatial audio tracks than lossless ones, however, with Apple promising “thousands” of spatial audio tracks on day one with more to follow.

The company has put together several playlists to showcase the spatial audio Atmos experience across different music genres. Other companies like Tidal and Amazon are also offering these “surround sound” audio formats.

Both features now come included as part of the standard Apple Music subscription. More and more music services are offering lossless audio, and those that already were — like Amazon Music HD — are dropping the extra fees they’d previously charged to enjoy it.