Apple Music lossless supported devices: what will (and won't) play lossless and Spatial Audio, and why

uishido

Member
Jun 1, 2021
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0
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"But actually they only work with analogue audio sources in wired listening mode. Which again means no lossless listening."

This sentence confused me. Why do analogue sources mean no lossless audio? Isn't a wired headphone plugged into an analogue port how people usually listen to lossless/hi-res music?
 

erbasically

Well-known member
Sep 26, 2012
26
2
18,545
"But actually they only work with analogue audio sources in wired listening mode. Which again means no lossless listening."

This sentence confused me. Why do analogue sources mean no lossless audio? Isn't a wired headphone plugged into an analogue port how people usually listen to lossless/hi-res music?
It seems to mean that if you are using AirPods Max, you can get higher quality by using a wired connection but it will not truly be lossless because you have to use a Lightning-to-3.5mm cable not a 3.5mm-to-3.5mm cable. From Apple's support page:

Can I listen to lossless audio using the AirPods Max Lightning to 3.5mm Audio Cable?
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.
 

geobrick

Member
Feb 9, 2022
1
0
20
It seems to mean that if you are using AirPods Max, you can get higher quality by using a wired connection but it will not truly be lossless because you have to use a Lightning-to-3.5mm cable not a 3.5mm-to-3.5mm cable. From Apple's support page:

Can I listen to lossless audio using the AirPods Max Lightning to 3.5mm Audio Cable?
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.
Yeah, true for the AirPods Max but not for other wired headphones. The reason Apple says "playback will not be completely lossless" for the AirPods Max is because in that configuration, the conversion has to happen twice before it gets to your ears. The "Lightning to 3.5 mm Audio Cable" (~$35) referenced above for the AirPods Max has a male 3.5mm plug to allow connecting the AirPods Max to an analog source. If you plug in your AirPods Max into a DAC using that cable, you're converting the signal twice (once at the DAC and again at the headphones) and Apple considers that 'not completely lossless'. I'd agree with their assessment of that situation.

If you use the $9 "Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter" for old school wired headphones, you'll get lossless audio (up to 24-bit/48 kHz) assuming the source from apple music (or any other source) is lossless. That information is on the same apple support page referenced above.

For me, I'm looking for a way to get Apple Music losslessly into an older receiver and so far, using the $9 "Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter" from my iPhone to a 3.5mm/RCA cable seems to be the best option now. If I had an A/V receiver with HDMI inputs, I could probably use an Apple TV 4k to stream lossless Apple Music to the receiver.
 

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