Apple Music Lossless Dolby Atmos: How YOU Can Enjoy Every Bit of Resolution!
Apple Music has upgraded to lossless streaming for its entire music catalogue with libraries of songs streaming at high-resolution and Apple’s new Spatial Audio by Dolby Atmos. Apple’s decision to offer it all at no additional cost is already reverberating through the streaming music industry. It beat Spotify to the lossless punch, and may have pushed the competitor’s decision when it comes to pricing. Last March I had predicted Spotify would offer lossless at no additional charge, now I’m certain of it! Amazon Music had already responded to its competitor’s lossless streaming announcements by dropping the price on its HD tier to match its basic music streaming package at 9.99 per-month. That clicking sound you keep hearing—it might just be Tidal Hi-Fi and Qobuz subscribers calculating the viability of jumping ship!
Apple Lossless Spatial Audio YouTube Discussion
Apple Music providing its lossless and Spatial Audio upgrade at no extra charge would normally put the ranks of competing lossless music streamers at a serious competitive disadvantage. But this is Apple we’re talking about here! So we know to expect hurdles to enjoying lossless and hi-res streaming from a company that has done little throughout its history to support these formats. So, we’ll examine how to obtain a bit-perfect stream from its new library of lossless and hi-res music files in the precise way we want to enjoy it. Expect barriers and perhaps even the need to break out of the Apple walled garden. But first lets look at the good news, Spatial Audio by Dolby Atmos.
The Good News: Spatial Audio by Dolby Atmos
Easily the most important upgrade to Apple Music is that its entire library of over 75-million tunes is now streaming lossless. Apple uses its own codec, ALAC or “Apple Lossless Audio Codec” to stream every song within 16-bit/44.1-kHz all the way up to 24-bit/192-kHz. But the crowning achievement for surround music fans is that Apple Music also includes select titles in its Spatial Audio format by Dolby Atmos.
Apple Music’s Spatial Audio by Dolby Atmos is a major boost for Dolby Atmos Music, a fledgling audio format that seems to be catching on. As we’ve seen from artists like Bad Think, studios are now recording specifically for the format which is sure to provide the best possible results. One Apple Music playlist entitled, “Made for Spatial Audio” says each track is either recorded in or remastered for Spatial Audio. It’s probably a good bet that music recorded in the studio specifically for the Dolby Atmos music format sounds amazing. If it’s anything like some of the HD-DVD and SACD discs that I still use from time-to-time, these will be an especially stunning experience for live recordings. It’s nice to see another “surround music” format making a comeback and adding variety to our music listening. One positive sign about Apple’s Spatial Audio is that it doesn’t need a specific audio resolution to get the effect. Apple even promises that its surround music format can be enjoyed over its own Bluetooth headphones that are decidedly NOT lossless. But expect results to vary, wildly.
Gene, our fearless leader at Audioholics has already jumped with both feet into the new Apple Music Spatial Audio using his Apple TV 4K connected to a Marantz SR8015, and he reports:
“Excellent results. The audio levels seem correct unlike Tidal (Dolby Atmos) being up to 20dB too low. There are about 119 files in each Atmos playlist and Atmos albums like Steven Wilson Future Bites are also available in Atmos.”. Gene DellaSala
But if Apple Music is serious about competing in the lossless streaming hi-fi market, it could pose a serious threat to small fish like Tidal. Offering superior sound quality with its Spatial Audio and forgoing compressed MQA technology with its own lossless ALAC stream could give it a competitive advantage. But, there are some caveats to consider if you’re planning on streaming Apple Music at all of its available lossless resolutions.
Bad News: Streaming Apple Music Hi-Res Audio
Apple’s highly successful but unique business model was initially built as a dedicated ecosystem into which one buys entry to live within its beautiful walled garden. Just be sure to mind the shrubbery around the perimeter and try not to stray beyond its enclosure. But Apple’s walled garden approach has been changing, slowly. Apple made ALAC an open-source codec since 2011, so there are many ways to enjoy its upgraded stream without being tied to Apple-only hardware. In fact, for now you’ll be required to step outside Apple hardware to enjoy its full range. Here, we’ll examine the wins vs losses you’ll encounter with Apple Music’s new lossless audio quality as we look for ways to obtain that bit-perfect stream that plays back in the exact resolutions that the Apple Music ALAC file is encoded.
Note on Hi-Res Audio: I’m not here to tell that you should listen to high-resolution audio, free of any transcoding or compression. We audio nerds can be obsessive about achieving digital purity, but not achieving purity shouldn’t deter your enjoyment of the music one bit! However, since a variety of resolutions on offer to Apple Music subscribers, you should at least know whether or not you’re getting exactly what the service is streaming. This list and its conclusions are also not intended to be fully comprehensive, there are probably more ways to stream than any one article can possibly cover. But here are the most common methods you try.
Apple Airpods, AirPod Max Beats Headphones
All of Apple’s wireless earbuds and headphones use Bluetooth to stream from the iPhone that has committed to wireless audio since dropping the 3.5-mm jack. Using any of Apple’s headphones including its popular Airpods, Beats wireless models and AirPod Max use Apple’s lossy AAC codec through Bluetooth, even when streaming Apple Music lossless ALAC source files. Apple watchers have speculated that Apple Music may have launched lossless audio a step out of sync with its other business divisions. Some believed Apple would launch Gen-3, or the next-generation of its popular Airpods to correspond with the launch of Apple Music lossless so as to include at least one that takes advantage of its new lossless and hi-res library. But even if developers at Apple are busy working on new headphones and Airpods, it’s unlikely they’ll be designed to achieve high-resolutions possible until Apple releases its own a Lightning port external DAC. As MacRumors points out:
“Airpods, Airpods Pro, and Airpods Max are limited to the Bluetooth AAC codec when paired with an iPhone, and won’t be able to stream Apple Music lossless files, Apple confirmed to T3.”
Apple Music Lossless Supported requires a 3rd-party external DAC
It’s no surprise that you won’t get lossless audio over Apple’s wireless headphones and earbuds. All Bluetooth codecs are lossy, even the hi-res codecs like aptX-HD and LDAC. But what if you could wire your headphones directly to your iPhone using Apple’s AirPod Max Lightning-to-3.5-mm Auxiliary cable?
Apple Wireless Headphones/Earbuds. LOSE!
AirPod Max Auxiliary Cable
My sympathy goes out to Apple fans that recently bought the 550 AirPod Max headphones expecting to be up-to-date with Apple Music for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, even using the optional AirPod Max Auxiliary Cable that allows you to connect AirPod Max directly to your iPhone, you won’t hear a bit-perfect match of all Apple Music’s ALAC files. Apple’s diminutive 35 Lightning-to-3.5-mm cable can only reproduce the limited range of iPhone’s internal DACs. Audio out from your iPhone Lightning port can only send a maximum of 24-bit/48-kHz audio to your headphones. That’s not bad, really because technically 24/48 is among the range considered hi-res. However, Apple Music source files go all the way up to 24-bit/192-kHz. It’s close, but some files will be down-graded to 48-kHz. Good enough for many, but not the bit-perfection we’re looking for.
AirPod Max Wired. LOSE!
Seriously, Apple? I don’t think Smart is the right descriptor for that case
iPhone-to-Headphone Portable Hi-Res/Lossless Sound
There is a workaround that will let you slip past iPhone’s internal DAC limitations and bypass the shrubbery around the Apple walled garden’s perimeter. Streaming Apple Music’s range of hi-res files directly from your iPhone is possible using an external DAC. Apple Music About page says:
“To listen to songs at sample rates higher than 48 kHz, you need an external digital-to-analog converter.”
This is good news for iPhone-users! The digital audio output from iPhone’s Lightning port is not limited to its internal DACs 48kHz ceiling. This puts iPhone’s digital audio output a step ahead of Android’s USB output (more on that later). The Lightning port on iPhone provides access to the raw digital output so you can use an external DAC/amp, the form factor commonly known as a dongle. But connecting a portable DAC/Amp isn’t a clean process since Apple doesn’t make one, you’ll need an additional dongle that converts the Lightning port to USB-C. Yeah, get ready to be double dongled.
You’ll need a lightning-to-USB-C adaptor. Apple sells a Lightning-to-USB Camera Adaptor, but you may be able to find one that works just as well in the aftermarket. Using iPhone as your source for mobile audio, just plug the portable USB headphone DAC/Amp into the USB-C side of the adaptor. There are plenty of USB DAC/Amp options available at a variety of prices, including the THX Onyx or Audioquest Dragonfly, they’re not much bigger than a USB thumb drive. There are larger portable headphone DAC/Amps available that bring the advantage of being battery-powered, but they’re almost as large as your phone, like the ones made by brands like FiiO or Monoprice.
The double-dongle configuration may seem a little obsessive, but it’s the price we pay for bit-perfect portable audio to your headphones. Depending on your headphones, you may need yet another dongle. A portable headphone DAC/Amp provides a powered 3.5-mm jack for your headphones, so if your favorite headphones use a quarter-inch plug, you’ll need a 1/4-inch-to-3.5-mm adaptor. That’s a veritable network of connectors to fit into your alongside your iPhone! I’ve heard the phenomena referred to as Dongle Hell.
iPhone w/ External DAC. WIN! (double-dongle config non-Apple DAC)
Android phones with a USB-C socket can easily connect a portable DAC/Amp directly without extra dongles. Unfortunately the Android OS will resample the outbound digital audio signal over USB port to 48kHz. Unlike iPhone, the Android OS does not let you bypass this processing step. Although, there are methods for rooting the sensitive files in the ‘droid OS. Doing this likely voids any warranty on your device and of course risks bricking your Android, but there are instructions online for brave souls willing to try. It’s an incredibly annoying feature of the default Android OS. So, your portable DAC/Amp will only receive a single digital audio resolution to decode, no matter the resolution of the source ALAC file from Apple Music.
Android w/ External DAC. LOSE!
There are workarounds for Android’s 48kHz digital output problem. The most popular is an Android app called USB Audio Player Pro, which bypasses the Android OS audio stack via USB. USB Audio Player Pro is a simple, elegant solution and as a music player, it’s compatible with a range of file-types and it even works with streaming services such as Quobuz, Tidal and Google Music. But it’s not compatible with Apple Music.
USB Audio Player Pro for Android. LOSE!
Apple Music lossless through Android’s USB port seems like another run-in with the prickly shrubs at the edge of Apple’s walled garden! But to be fair, this one mostly isn’t Apple’s fault. Just don’t hold your breath waiting for USB Audio Player Pro compatibility with Apple Music anytime soon, that one might just be an Apple decision.
Wi-Fi Network Distribution
Chances are we all have a Wi-Fi network in our homes with which we’re accustomed to streaming all forms of media without worry of using up wireless network data. Unfortunately, despite the Wi-Fi bandwidth being perfectly suited to streaming audio at high-resolution, there are still annoying run-ins with the Apple’s walled garden.
Roon Audirvana Players
The digital music server/player software service is a category that has taken off in recent years. If you own a considerable library of digital music at home, shared via DLNA/UpNP, Roon and Audivirana can do more than simply organize your library of songs and provide you with a networked music player. When they index your library they can permanently alter your at-home listening experience. They’re even capable of integrating music streaming services like Tidal and Qobuz to fill in the gaps in your personal collection. Although they’ll play-back ALAC files, none of these services (of which I’m aware) has reached an agreement for Apple Music compatibility.
Network Software Players. LOSE!
AirPlay 2 is the latest version of Apple’s multi-room network media streaming protocol that allows you to “cast” audio and video directly from your iPhone, iPad or Mac computer via your Wi-Fi network to compatible media-playing devices. Apple has generously licensed AirPlay 2 to many non-Apple products, so you can get your AirPlay-on with a solid list of audio equipment from brands such as Sonos, Naim, Marantz, Denon, Bowers Wilkins, Onkyo and Yamaha, or you can stream to Apple’s own HomePods or Apple TV (4K). But one problem with AirPlay 2 is that unlike other Wi-Fi streaming applications that use DLNA/UpNP, the AirPlay source initiating the “cast” isn’t simply directing a Cloud-to-playback-device stream, your iPhone remains an active participant of the stream.
I’m sorry Apple, but President, George W. Bush is calling and he says 2004 wants its era’s technology back! Multi-zone Wi-Fi streaming has advanced considerably since AirPlay.
When it comes to streaming a bit-perfect rendition of Apple Music’s library over AirPlay 2 you’re again met with the prickly shrubbery at the outer perimeter of Apple’s walled garden because AirPlay 2 audio is limited to 24-bit/48kHz. That’s not so bad, it’s definitely in the ballpark of Apple Music’s 24-bit/192-kHz stream. But AirPlay 2 will downgrade Apple Music’s highest resolution stream.
AirPlay 2. LOSE! (Limited to 24-bit/48kHz, not bad, but not bit-perfect)
Media and specifically music streaming audio components have been around for decades but seem to be growing in number, popularity and quality as ever larger audiences look to digital streaming as a hi-fi music source. On the high-end you’ll find true audiophile-grade streamers by brands like Auralic, Naim and Cambridge Audio that can cost thousands of dollars to put a phone or tablet at the center of your lossless music-listening session. But there are also mid-grade streamers costing just around 1K that sound great, well-built and a little more accessible to the mainstream audiences. Examples include Cambridge Audio’s CXN and the Bluesound Node line by NAD. Many can function as pre-amp, DAC and player, and can also serve as an endpoint (player) for software players like Roon. I recently reviewed an all-in-one streamer, Naim’s Uniti Atom Headphone Edition that also contains a headphone amp.
For budget DIY builders, dedicated streamers can take the form of mini computers as well. You can build a Raspberry Pi for around 50 and tailor it to specific apps you wish to stream including AirPlay 2, a common feature found in many dedicated music streamers. But as we’ve seen, AirPlay 2 is limited to a 48kHz stream. Most music streamers are directly compatible to a list of music service’s own cast/connect features, such as Spotify or Tidal Connect. But, unfortunately Apple Music lacks an embed Connect feature, probably because Wi-Fi streaming is already covered by AirPlay.
Media Streamers. LOSE!
Speaking of casting, this one shocked me! Chromecast is a great feature for Android phone or tablet users, it gives a wide assortment of audio apps found in the Google Play store access to Google’s own casting function. Even apps with their own embedded Connect feature, like Tidal and Spotify, can also be Chromecast to supported network devices. Be on the lookout for the Chromecast built-in on select media streamers for this capability.
If you happen to be using a media streamer, like Naim’s Uniti Atom with Chromecast built-in, you may have found a tunnel beneath the outer perimeter of Apple’s walled garden! For Apple Music on an Android device, Apple had the grace to allow Chromecast connect on its app. So, if you’re using a Cromecast built-in streamer, you may indeed stream directly from Apple Music’s Cloud to your player.
One minor caveat that keep Chromecast from perfection is that it carries a 24-bit/96-kHz limit on high-resolution audio. Otherwise, you can stream directly from Apple Music to the streamer (with Chromecast built-in), up-to 24/96! This might be controversial, but because Chromecast isn’t capable of EVERY resolution in Apple Music’s library, I can’t technically call it a WIN. But up-to 24/96 is pretty close, I won’t complain. Chromecast certainly gets honorable mention.
Cambridge Audio’s CXN V2 streamer obtained Chromecast built-in via firmware update. Unfortunately, Chromecast is not available thus far on Bluesound’s new Node 2i, but there’s hope that a future firmware update will bring it. For Raspberry Pi builders, there are apps that will arm your DIY streamer with Chromecast built-in.
It seems ironic that Chromecast actually beats Apple’s own AirPlay 2 in streaming from Apple Music lossless. But one additional drawback about is that playback through Chromecast is not gapless so, mind the gaps!
Chromecast. LOSE! w/ Honorable mention (ONLY limited to 24-bit/96-kHz)
A few of us don’t mind putting a computer directly into our hi-fi systems. Being somewhat of an on-again/off-again gamer, I keep a full Windows 10 PC directly connected to my main media system. But because computers are decidedly not intended for hi-fi music listening, I use an external DAC. Windows and Mac both let you control the digital audio output bitrates and frequency range. When using a Mac, you must use an external DAC to get access to Apple Music’s high-resolution streams as the direct audio out is limited to 48kHz. According to Apple Music Help, to get the full range of Apple Music’s lossless library you’ll need to set your Mac’s Audio Quality settings to receive the maximum 24-bit/192-khz and use an external DAC.
Computer PC or MAC. WIN! (Using external DAC)
Apple TV 4K
Unfortunately, I’ve got bad news for our Chief Audioholic, Gene. Apple TV 4K digital audio output is limited to a maximum of 48-kHz, even when streaming from its HDMI output. So, you won’t receive all of Apple Music’s available lossless library without downgrading select hi-res music files. But that shouldn’t prevent one iota of Gene’s enjoyment of Apple Music’s Spatial Audio/Dolby Atmos Music as according to Apple Music’s Help section, high-resolution isn’t a requirement for Spatial Audio. But this is what Apple says about Apple TV 4K:
Apple TV 4K currently doesn’t support Hi-Res Lossless (sample rates greater than 48 kHz).
As the name suggests, Apple TV 4K is designed for movies and TV, rather than hi-fi music streaming. But I bet a product is coming called Apple TV 4K 2, or Apple TV 8K, and it will likely feature high-resolution audio!
Apple TV 4K. LOSE!
Editorial Note on Sampling Rate by Gene DellaSala
While I appreciate Wayde’s efforts here to show us all how to get maximum resolution from Apple Music. It’s important to put things into perspective. Downsampling to 48kHz is NOT necessarily a bad thing and in most cases inaudible. Don’t forget the usable audio bandwidth is 1/2 the sampling rate (24kHz) which is well beyond the limits of human hearing (20kHz for youngsters, much less as you get older). Keep in mind any home theater audiophile running room correction systems like DIRAC are already downsampling to 48Khz.
Apple has a long way to go to get fully aboard the hi-res/lossless bandwagon, if it’s really even a priority for the company. I’m sure Apple will survive just fine without fully supporting its own streaming music service. While Apple Music has made its first step in the right direction, Apple Music’s lossless upgrade has really illuminated the company’s long, troubled history as a closed ecosystem. Apple could do with more openness, especially to more wireless streaming solutions and cross-platform compatibility, because that’s the direction media consumption is going. It may seem overly-obvious, but the first (and second) rule of consumer media preference is simply:
People want to consume media when and how they want to consume media, (and without wires).
It’s been a long, difficult lesson for the broader consumer electronics industry to learn, especially for Apple. But the market will consistently reward openness and compatibility. The niche that cares about hi-res audio is no different. Apple’s history of ecosystem-protectionism is antithetical to that rule of consumer media preference. But, Apple has already come a long way. Permitting Apple Music to be Chromecast on Android is a surprising agreement between bitter smartphone rivals. So, maybe there’s hope for Apple after all!
Wayde is a tech-writer and content marketing consultant in Canada s tech hub Waterloo, Ontario and Editorialist for Audioholics.com. He’s a big hockey fan as you’d expect from a Canadian. Wayde is also US Army veteran, but his favorite title is just Dad.
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Apple Music vs Spotify
When it comes to the best music streaming services, Apple Music and Spotify immediately come to mind—which isn’t surprising, considering they lead the competition regarding the number of paid subscribers. Sporting different features catering to specific users, it can be difficult to choose between the two. Let’s dig a little deeper into Apple Music vs Spotify to see which is the right music streaming service for you.
Editor’s note: this article was updated on July 24, 2023 to mention the new Spotify Premium plan cost.
Apple Music vs Spotify: Streaming quality
As of August 2022, only Apple Music will provide you with an audiophile-grade streaming experience. Spotify announced its Spotify HiFi tier in February 2021 and said it would be releasing later that year. However, we are well into 2023, and there is still no Spotify HiFi—Spotify Co-President Gustav Söderström said it’s still coming, but nothing definitive has materialized yet. If it ever comes to fruition, Spotify will offer CD-quality audio and will only be available to select regions upon its release.
Apple Music recently released its high-resolution streaming options at no extra cost. You can now stream 16-bit/44.1kHz, 24-bit/48kHz, and 24-bit/192kHz audio and use Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos content through Apple Music. Apple Music also streams content at 256kbps utilizing the AAC audio format and streams via one high-quality Bluetooth codec: AAC, which is far more efficient than most other open-source lossy alternatives. By default, Apple Music will stream at the highest possible quality and reduce quality when streaming using cellular data. However, this quality throttle can be disabled in the settings.
On the other hand, Spotify has its streaming quality set to automatic by default, adjusting depending on your connection strength—whether you’re on Wi-Fi or cellular data. The app streams audio using the open-source Ogg Vorbis codec at up to 320kbps for Spotify Premium users, and up to 160kbps for people with a free account.
The streaming quality from both services is sure to satisfy casual music listeners. However, if you’re someone who lives in an area with an unreliable internet connection, you’ll appreciate Spotify’s variable streaming quality options for an uninterrupted playback experience. If you don’t want to have to worry about altering stream quality to accommodate data constraints, Spotify also lets Premium users download and save up to 10,000 songs at a time on up to five different devices. Downloaded music can be saved at the same bitrate options as streaming—up to 320kbps.
Apple Music vs Spotify: Content and recommendations
When it comes to music content libraries, there’s no beating Apple Music. With over 60 million songs, you’ll be sure to find music from the artists you love, and from artists you have yet to discover. over, Apple Music is well-known for making exclusive deals with artists like Drake and Taylor Swift for early content releases. This is exclusive content is due in large part to Apple’s paid-only service; users are required to have a paid subscription after the three-month free trial. On top of the exclusive content, users have access to many on-demand radio shows, including Apple Music 1.
While Apple Music may have more content, Spotify’s music catalog is still extensive with over 80 million songs, with around 40,000 added daily. Unlike Apple Music, Spotify also offers podcasts, with over 4 million titles currently on the platform. Over the years, Spotify has been diversifying its content library to become the ultimate audio streaming application, which is why the company has gone to great lengths to secure big-name podcasters like Joe Rogan. However, though you can’t listen to podcasts via Apple Music, Apple has a podcast service, Apple Podcasts, which is free for any Apple-device owner.
There’s no beating Spotify when it comes to recommendations
Spotify is well-known by consumers for its ability to recommend songs based on your listening history. Sure, Apple Music’s human-curated Stations allow users to discover new music, though it doesn’t quite compare to the magic behind Spotify’s recommendation algorithms.
Over the years, Spotify has refined its algorithms to help you discover songs based on your music tastes.
At the bottom of every playlist, you’ll see recommendations for new songs based on what’s on your list. You also get custom playlists such as Discover Weekly, which automatically generates hours worth of new music for you to discover based on your listening patterns. Spotify also includes a collection of hand-picked playlists featuring the latest hits, which are automatically reorganized for each user according to their tastes.
The latest version of Apple Music features a dedicated Listen Now tab that is full of song recommendations based on your listening habits. Listen Now replaces the cumbersome design of the old “For You” page with an interface that is much more streamlined—while bearing a strong resemblance to Spotify app’s home page.
Alternatively, you can also take songs, albums, and playlists and create Stations, automatically generating a list of similar songs—including everything from hits to hidden musical gems. Spotify also has this feature, though most people opt to use the platform’s Discover Weekly playlist to find new music.
Does Apple Music or Spotify have better features?
When it comes to music streaming apps, Spotify has the best user interface—which is surprising considering Apple is typically the king when it comes to design. In this case, Spotify’s app layout is much cleaner and better organized than Apple Music.
Spotify’s UI is laid out in a way that gives you instant access to your own content. The home page shows your recently played songs and playlists, which is what most people want to see when opening a music app. Every part of Spotify’s design puts your content at the forefront, only providing you with suggestions after you’ve seen what you wanted to see.
Apple Music is also well-designed, though it can come across as overwhelming with all the different tabs at the bottom of the screen. It seems like Apple wants to show off all the features at first glance, though this tends to get in the way of accessing your content. Apple Music’s interface divides its features into separate sections, rather than integrating them into a single scrollable page like Spotify. The large, colorful artwork plays into Apple’s design aesthetics, making Apple Music—like the company’s other apps—quite pleasing to the eye.
Apple Music and Spotify are now tied for search functionality
Spotify now allows you to search for songs by lyrics.
With Apple Music, you can search for songs using lyrics.
In terms of search functionality, Apple Music outshone Spotify for quite some time because it had a Search by Lyrics feature and Spotify didn’t. How many times have you wanted to listen to a song only to remember the lyrics and not title? However, now Spotify has implemented this feature as well, so regardless of which service you’re using, you can forgo Googling and type your lyrics directly into the app’s search bar. You’ll then be presented with the song with a small excerpt showing the lyric you searched—talk about convenience.
Apple Music’s on-screen lyrics are a piece of eye candy
Both Apple Music and Spotify have recently added on-screen, karaoke-style lyrics to their apps. Gone are the days when you’re jamming to your favorite song, only to forget the lyrics and switch into a freestyle mumble.
The presentation of on-screen lyrics on Apple Music (left) is much more eye-catching compared to the approach taken by Spotify (right).
While Spotify’s inclusion of on-screen lyrics is nicely integrated into the Now Playing screen, Apple Music’s full-screen presentation of the lyrics just seems more attractive with its bold text and pleasing gaussian blur background; like a classier-looking karaoke machine. With both streaming services, the lyrics highlight as the singer sings them, and you have the option to scroll through the lyrics and jump to a specific line in a song.
Take control of your sound with EQ
Spotify (left) offers graphical EQ controls while Apple Music (right) only provides iOS users with a list of presets.
If you like to fine-tune their listening experience, you’ll enjoy Spotify’s inclusion of a graphical equalizer, allowing you to tailor the sound of your music to your tastes. The app also includes several EQ presets for you to choose from, if you so desire. Android-owning Spotify users will be bumped into their phone’s system audio settings to EQ the sound, which may impact audio in other apps.
On the other hand, Apple Music doesn’t really offer any extensive EQ functionality. In fact, all you get are a list of EQ presets to choose from, which are only available to iOS users via the Settings app.
Spotify is better for use with voice assistants
If you use a voice assistant in your daily life, whether it be through a smartphone or Smart speaker, Spotify has you covered. The platform is supported by most, if not all voice assistants—including Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri. Yes, you read that right. Even Siri supports Spotify. Do note that voice assistant integration requires a Spotify Premium subscription.
On the flip side, Apple Music is quite lacking in terms of voice assistant functionality, with only Siri having full support for the platform. Unless you’ve got a HomePod or any other Siri-enabled device, don’t expect to stream your Apple Music playlists using your non-Apple virtual assistant.
What is Apple Music Spatial Audio?
As of June 7, 2021, Spatial Audio with support for Dolby Atmos is available to Apple Music users. This is a feature that mimics the effects of surround sound and provides a 3D audio experience. Any Apple listening device such as the Apple Airpods Max or an iPhone 12 Pro will automatically play supported songs in the Dolby Atmos format. Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos is available to any Apple Music subscriber at no additional cost. Compatible songs will be clearly labeled on the Apple Music interface, and Apple plans to create playlists of Dolby Atmos content to make it easy for users to find.
Apple Music vs Spotify: Sharing is caring
Both platforms make it easy to share music with your friends and family. With either app, you can share songs on your Instagram story, or even send a direct link on your social media platform of choice. While this is certainly useful, Spotify has a couple of tricks up its sleeve that give it a leg up over Apple Music.
For starters, Spotify allows you to create Collaborative Playlists, allowing you and your friends to make the perfect playlist for a Friday night in, or a Saturday night out. You also have the ability to quickly share songs and playlists through Spotify Codes, which can be generated and scanned within the app itself. Apple Music doesn’t yet support collaborative playlists, but does support playlist-sharing.
Apple Music vs Spotify: Pricing
Spotify and Apple Music both offer pricing options comparable to one another. An individual Apple Music plan costs 9.99/month, which is slightly cheaper as Spotify Premium’s new 10.99/month rate. For alternative plans, find the tables below:
Unlike Apple Music, Spotify allows you to use the service for free with a few caveats. Music can be played in shuffle mode you’re limited to skipping songs up to six times per hour. You’ll also be subjected to many audio ads that are pretty annoying to listen to.
Apple’s music streaming platform is available as part of Apple One: the company’s collection of services that gives you access to Apple TV, Apple Arcade, and 50GB of iCloud storage. The Individual plan starts at 14.95/month, while a family plan is available for 19.95/month—with support for up to five users per family account.
Comparing the prices, it seems that both services offer a great value for money and you can’t go wrong either way. If you’re a student, Spotify may appeal more to you by including non-music streaming perks like Showtime and Hulu. However, if you’re already invested in the Apple ecosystem, then Apple Music—or even the Apple One bundle—may be worth considering.
Before committing to either of these streaming services, take advantage of their free trial periods. Apple Music gives you access to its entire library of songs and radio stations for three months—which is quite generous when compared to Spotify. After that, you’ll have to pay for a subscription to continue accessing the service.
Spotify, on the other hand, only lets you try Premium for a month before you either pay for a subscription or revert to the ad-supported free version. However, while Apple Music’s trial period is limited to an individual account, Spotify gives you a free month regardless of your chosen plan. That includes Duo and Family plans, meaning that multiple people can try Premium for free under the same subscription.
Apple Music vs Spotify: Which is better?
Spotify and Apple Music are similar streaming services, but Spotify has a leg up, especially for those who live with their partners.
After comparing these two streaming services, Apple Music is a better option than Spotify Premium simply because it currently offers high-resolution streaming. However, Spotify still has some major advantages like collaborative playlists, better social features, and more. If you’re someone who avidly uses Apple devices in their daily life, you’ll appreciate Apple Music’s familiar UI design language, Siri support, and automatic synchronization across Apple devices.
On the other hand, Spotify has always been designed with cross-compatibility in mind. If you’re looking to step out of Apple’s ecosystem when streaming music, Spotify is sure to satisfy listeners with its vast collection of music and podcasts, and its powerful music recommendation algorithms. However, while you can access Spotify for free, Premium doesn’t just eliminate the ads. The free version of Spotify doesn’t let you save music locally, which can tax mobile data plans, and also limits how often you can skip songs while using the mobile app (6 an hour). Still, it’s a great option if you want to save money and mainly listen to music on your computer.
Frequently asked questions about Apple Music and Spotify
No, the “download” function of Apple Music is not truly a download, but rather a feature that allows you to listen to the music from the app offline. It is not the same as purchasing the music, and therefore it can only be used with your Apple Music account.
Indeed you can! To add songs from your laptop/desktop, all you have to do is open your audio files using the Music app. After you’ve synchronized your library, your files will be available on all your devices which have Apple Music installed.
Yes, however, his process is far from intuitive. In order to add your own music from the Desktop app, go into your settings. Scroll to “Local Files” and enable “Show Local Files.” From there, you can specify paths for Spotify to find music from.
Complete Guide to Play Tidal Music on Apple TV
Apple TV is a digital media player and can be controlled by an Apple Remote or Siri Remote control device, or by Apple TV Remote app on iOS devices such as iPhone, iPod touch, and Apple Watch. With its Wi-Fi capability, Apple TV can play digital content from iTunes Store, Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and so on. There is a Music app on Apple TV, like the app on your iPhone or iPod. You can search for Apple Music from it, and you can also play the music from iTunes library which you create on iPhone or Mac by turning on the Home Sharing. It is a straight way and easy to play Apple Music. How about the Tidal Music? Whether Tidal Music can be streamed on Apple TV in the same way as Apple Music do or not?
The answer is positive since Tidal Music has unveiled a new app for Apple TV 4K and the Apple TV HD running tvOS 12.0 or later. With the Tidal Music for Apple TV, users can access millions of songs and thousands of playlists and stations, as well as access their purchased music in My Music library. Users also are able to browse and search for music. In short, the same features are available on the Tidal Music app for Apple TV as the apps installed on other devices. So far, the new Tidal Music app is available in the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Mexico, Japan, and India, you can download the app directly in the Apple TV App Store.
Since the app, however, is not available in most countries and areas, people still are looking for a way to streaming Tidal Music on Apple TV. In this case, Tidal Music users need to download Tidal Music to the format that is supported on iTunes or Music app if you want to play the songs from Tidal Music on Apple TV. Here we suggest you try Tidabie Tidal Music Converter that converts Tidal Music to different formats and let the music available on any media players.
Part 1: Play Tidal Music on Apple TV (4th Gen) via Tidal App
The built-in Tidal app on Apple TV enables you to listen to Tidal music directly. You can browse the Tidal catalog and play the songs or videos with your subscription of Tidal on the TV. In addition, you are able to save the media files on it for playback. So convenient it sounds. Now you are offered the guide on playing Tidal songs on Apple TV.
STEP 1 Turn on your Apple TV. Reach the App Store from the home screen.
STEP 2 Install and launch the Tidal app on the TV.
STEP 3 Find the link.TIDAL.com on your phone or other devices.
STEP 4 Log in to your account or create a new account.
STEP 5 Input the code displayed on Apple TV and play the Tidal songs or videos on the TV.
Part 2: Play Tidal Music on Apple TV (1st-3rd Gen) with AirPlay
Since Apple TV 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation doesn’t have App Stores and cannot install the Tidal app on the TVs, you can instead use the AirPlay feature, which is native to nearly every Apple device, to stream your music. Please follow the below steps.
STEP 1 If you have installed the Tidal app on another Apple device, like your iPhone or iPad, make sure that your Apple TV and another Apple device are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
STEP 2 Log in Tidal on your iPhone or iPad and start playing Tidal music on this iOS device.
STEP 3 When the song is playing, tap “Device Available” icon at the bottom and choose “ devices”, select Apple TV to play the music.
If you play Tidal music from the web player or desktop app on a Mac, open the “System Preferences” app and click “Sound” and then “Output”. Select AirPlay for the output. This will beam any audio from your Mac onto your Apple TV, without sharing the screen.
Part 3: Download and Play Tidal Music on Apple TV via Tidabie
Tidabie Tidal Music Converter is a professional tool, especially designed to convert Tidal Free Hi-Fi Music to plain MP3, AAC, FLAC, WAV, ALAC and AIFF format with ID3 tags kept. And it’s also available in both Windows and macOS versions. With no need to install extra application, you are now able to get Tidal music truly offline and move the downloaded Tidal songs to Apple TV without limitation.
Tidabie Tidal Music Converter
Tidabie Tidal Music Converter is a 100% clean and safe program. You can download Tidabie on PC or Mac computer and convert Tidal Music to open music format with just a few steps:
STEP 1 Launch Tidabie Tidal Music Converter
Open Tidabie Tidal Music Converter on PC or Mac computer and click the Log in button to log in to your Tidal Music account.
STEP 2 Choose Output Setting
Click the Settings icon on the upper right corner to choose the output format (Auto/MP3/AAC/WAV/FLAC/AIFF/ALAC), output quality, output path, output folder organized (Artist, Album, Artist/Album, Album/Artist, None) and others.
STEP 3 Add Tidal Music to Tidabie
Open an album, artist or playlist, click the Add to list icon floating on the interface, followed that a pop-up window will let you select the Tidal songs that you want to play on Apple TV.
STEP 4 Start Downloading Tidal Song to Computer
Click the Convert Now button to start converting the Tidal music to MP3/AAC/FLAC/WAV/AIFF/ALAC format. Currently, Tidabie supports ripping Tidal music at 10X faster conversion speed.
STEP 5 Find the Local Tidal music
Click the History icon on the upper right corner and you’ll see all the Tidal music that have been converted successfully. Or you can also go to the output folder directly to access the well-recorded Tidal music.
You can now use Tidabie Tidal Music Converter to download Tidal music as plain music files, transfer them to iPhone via iTunes and then put the Tidal songs to Apple TV for streaming freely. It’s recommended to download Tidabie to test whether it meets your need and then decide whether you’d like to get it or not.
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Mar 29 Apple Music Classical—not ready for audiophile primetime
Yesterday, Apple launched the Apple Music Classical app based on its 2021 purchase of the classical music specialty app, Primephonic.
It’s a good-looking, highly informative classical app geared to detailed metadata searches specific to the highly individual nature of classical works. In this, the app mimics Roon, although not as detailed. But whereas Roon only allows two high-definition services to populate its ecosystem, Tidal and Qobuz, Apple Music, of which the classical app is a subsidiary, is left to Sonos and others where high-definition playback up to 192 kHz is not supported.
As such, if you want Apple Classical native support on any of the major player’s high-end audiophile components including Lumin (review forthcoming), Naim, Aavik, dCS, Aurender, Innuos and many others, you’re out of luck. The closest you’ll get to HiRes Audio as advertised on the Apple Classical info page is plugging a high-end DAC into your iPhone, the only platform at launch. Not an ideal “high-end” solution.
Apple’s PR says: “Apple today launched Apple Music Classical, a brand-new standalone music streaming app designed to deliver the listening experience classical music lovers deserve. With Apple Music Classical, Apple Music subscribers can easily find any recording in the world’s largest classical music catalogue with fully optimized search; enjoy the highest audio quality available and experience many classical favourites in a whole new way with immersive Spatial Audio; browse expertly curated playlists, insightful composer biographies, and descriptions of thousands of works; and so much more.”
The PR goes on to list the music luminaries helping to launch the app. Lots of biographies, podcasts, playlists, etc, all to the good, and a superb app for those new to classical music.
When Apple, very late to the party, switched its library to CD quality, it was a big deal. The main reason is Apple’s reach—they simply have the widest, deepest catalogue for classical music. And that’s yet another reason for a classical music civilian why Apple Music Classical may be perfect for you. But as an audiophile, it’s a big no.
The Highest Audio Quality
Apple Music Classical features lossless audio of up to 24 bit/192 kHz throughout the service so listeners can experience the nuances of every performance. In Hi-Res Lossless mode, sound is so astoundingly crisp and clear that each note feels close enough to touch. And thanks to revolutionary Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos, listeners can enjoy thousands of recordings from the best seat in the concert hall, immersed in a 360-degree soundscape where music comes from every direction, including above. Apple Music Classical’s Spatial Audio catalogue adds new albums every week as legendary recordings are remastered and contemporary performances are captured in Spatial Audio.
According to my friend Austin, a specialist in streaming and digital music:
“Yep, that is Apple for ya. They did half the job. Only Sonos has it built in and only up to 24/48. AirPlay 2 is the same issue. You can connect an AudioQuest Dragonfly or the like to a mobile device and do a bit better. Until Apple wakes up and gets native support in high-end devices, you will have to look elsewhere.”
Apple headphones and the HomePod Gen 2 are hardly audiophile devices, all dependent on Apple’s audio computational trickery. Compare the same Apple Music track to a HiRes 192 Qobuz or Tidal MQA track through a high-end, two-channel streaming system, and there’s no comparison. Sure, Spatial Audio through my SONOS setup and Apple TV 4K can sound impressive, but again, compared to my Aavik streamer and audiophile setup, it’s a non-starter. Of course, an Apple Classical setup can be heard for pennies on the audiophile dollar. You gotta pay to play.
Once again, it’s an audiophile lunch bag let down from Cupertino. Maybe Apple will fix this in an update, but unless they talk to and support high-end devices (they don’t play well with others—Google, Netflix, etc—so don’t hold your breath), pass.
Apple Music Classical is included at no extra cost with nearly all Apple Music subscriptions.
- Beginning today, Apple Music Classical is available for download on the App Store everywhere Apple Music is offered, excluding China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey.
- Apple Music Classical is available for all iPhone models running iOS 15.4 or later.
- Apple Music Classical for Android is coming soon.
- To listen to music on Apple Music Classical, users must have an internet connection.
- For more information, visit Apple.com/music and follow @appleclassical on