Apple Lists FLAC Audio Playback Support for 4K Apple TV, iPhone 7, iPhone 8, iPhone X

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
47,095
9,066



Apple has quietly included support for playback of FLAC audio files on the 4K Apple TV, iPhone 8, and iPhone X, with compatibility also added retroactively to the iPhone 7 when iOS 11 gets its public release.

Support for the lossless compression codec now appears in the technical specifications on Apple's website for all of the above devices. However, as it stands, Apple's Music app does not currently support the format, so device owners who want to listen to the higher quality audio files will have to use the native Files app or a third-party app specifically made for FLAC playback, such as VLC or Plex.


Apple's support for the FLAC codec doesn't officially extend to the iPhone 6s or iPhone SE, which may be because an A10 processor is a minimum requirement for hardware decoding and Apple is not satisfied with the power consumption tradeoffs of FLAC software decoding.

That said, Apple's latest iPad Pro range should also be capable of FLAC playback thanks to their high performance A10X Fusion chips, yet Apple hasn't updated its iPad Pro tech specs to indicate they will also support the standard.

It's possible that Apple is still testing FLAC support for its range of mobile devices, and may even have plans to offer the lossless compression standard as a download option in iTunes and playback in the Music app further down the line. However, it's worth noting that mobile users would only get the full benefits of FLAC by listening using Lightning-connected wired headphones, since a Bluetooth audio connection doesn't offer enough bandwidth to make the experience worthwhile.

Article Link: Apple Lists FLAC Audio Playback Support for 4K Apple TV, iPhone 7, iPhone 8, iPhone X
 
  • Like
Reactions: Avieshek

Delgibbons

macrumors 6502a
Dec 14, 2016
694
1,455
London
You can play HD Audio over Bluetooth. And it sounds great. 24bit audio has Been in Samsung phone's Cirrus DAC since the Note 4!

HD FLAC files sound brilliant. I'm considering the Note 8 as it has 1-bit audio playback as well. Have a bunch of DSD audio files. Does it make a difference? Certainly a hell of a lot better than AAC or MP3.

I have these BT headphones for my S7 edge that playback 24bit 96khz audio over Bluetooth, so it can be done. Just needs a proprietary codec (Samsung UHD over Bluetooth) or Qualcomm AptX HD

Peerless UHQ Sound
Enjoy superb UHQ audio with the Samsung Level On Wireless Pro – even better sound than CD quality audio. Using UHQ-BT codec technology, the Level On Wireless Pro allows you to enjoy a richer and more balanced audio experience with authentic-sounding, UHQ sound.

20170915_114917.png
 
Last edited:

Anonymous Freak

macrumors 603
Dec 12, 2002
5,181
509
Cascadia
Not sure why they'd make FLAC available on the iTunes Store when they have Apple Lossless...

Anyway, I wonder if W1 chip equipped headphones can do higher quality than standard Bluetooth?

And can confirm that the iPad Air does not support FLAC on iOS 11 GM. It shows up with an "audio file" icon in the new "Files" app (replacement for iCloud Drive,) and "previewing" it shows the "FLAC audio" text description, but it won't play it.
 
Last edited:

bartonnen

macrumors newbie
Jun 17, 2009
3
7
FLAC! But where are DTS, DTSHD, TrueHD, Atmos - for that matter where is bitstreamed anything on the Apple TV 4K? They support DD+ but won't even bitstream it, it has to be converted to LPCM. I was going to pre-order today, but changed my mind at the last minute due to the limited audio options.

I think more people care about HD audio formats for their movies than care about FLAC.
 

Delgibbons

macrumors 6502a
Dec 14, 2016
694
1,455
London
FLAC! But where are DTS, DTSHD, TrueHD, Atmos - for that matter where is bitstreamed anything on the Apple TV 4K? They support DD+ but won't even bitstream it, it has to be converted to LPCM. I was going to pre-order today, but changed my mind at the last minute due to the limited audio options.

I think more people care about HD audio formats for their movies than care about FLAC.
This is bizarre, are you serious?! Isn't there an optical out?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Avieshek and ikir

kyjaotkb

macrumors 6502a
Nov 20, 2009
639
297
London, UK
You can play HD Audio over Bluetooth. And it sounds great.

HD FLAC files sound brilliant. I'm considering the Note 8 as it has 1-bit audio playback as well. Have a bunch of DSD audio files. Does it make a difference? Certainly a hell of a lot better than AAC or MP3.

I have these BT headphones for my S7 edge that playback 24bit 96khz audio over Bluetooth, so it can be done. Just needs a proprietary codec (Samsung UHD over Bluetooth) or Qualcomm AptX HD

Peerless UHQ Sound
Enjoy superb UHQ audio with the Samsung Level On Wireless Pro – even better sound than CD quality audio. Using UHQ-BT codec technology, the Level On Wireless Pro allows you to enjoy a richer and more balanced audio experience with authentic-sounding, UHQ sound.

View attachment 717905
Alas, over Bluetooth, an iPhone, which doesn't have Apt-X compatibility, will re-compress anything that's not AAC to SBC, which sounds like absolute crap. For instance, Spotify - even in "Extreme" 320kbps Ogg Vorbis, sounds vastly inferior to Apple Music @256kbps AAC, because the iPhone sends raw AAC over bluetooth to compatible headphones, whilst it recompresses the OGG on Spotify into SBC.

The only solution I've found to use my Spotify subscription over Bluetooth in a decent quality is to use a cheap Android phone with Apt-X...

By the way, all those Bluetooth 5 bells and whistles will change nothing.
 

Delgibbons

macrumors 6502a
Dec 14, 2016
694
1,455
London
Alas, over Bluetooth, an iPhone, which doesn't have Apt-X compatibility, will re-compress anything that's not AAC to SBC, which sounds like absolute crap. For instance, Spotify - even in "Extreme" 320kbps Ogg Vorbis, sounds vastly inferior to Apple Music @256kbps AAC, because the iPhone sends raw AAC over bluetooth to compatible headphones, whilst it recompresses the OGG on Spotify into SBC.

The only solution I've found to use my Spotify subscription over Bluetooth in a decent quality is to use a cheap Android phone with Apt-X...

By the way, all those Bluetooth 5 bells and whistles will change nothing.
I'm very impressed by aptx actually. Sounds great. Obviously UHQ bluetooth sounds the best to me but AptX sounds pretty damn sweet on the s7edge
[doublepost=1505473223][/doublepost]
No optical out, just HDMI. I think the HD formats won't stream over optical anyway.

Read this: http://developer.dolby.com/News/Dolby_Audio_Support_on_Apple_TV.aspx

It's talking about the ATV4 not the new 4K, but the audio specs for the two are the same.
Ugh. I wasn't expecting Atmos anyway tbh. Never mind
 
  • Like
Reactions: aylk and drumcat

Anonymous Freak

macrumors 603
Dec 12, 2002
5,181
509
Cascadia
What's interesting on the AppleTV specs is that the non-4K "video formats supported" listings specifically say what level of audio is supported for each video format. But the 4K video formats don't specify their audio support at all. I wonder if that will get added between now and shipping? Also, oddly, for non-4K, it only lists the audio support in videos as "with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats"

Yes we know it supports Dolby AC-3 and EAC-3 in movies (those two audio formats are listed under "Audio Formats".) I wonder if maybe we'll see more/better audio support added to the list between now and release?
 

Delgibbons

macrumors 6502a
Dec 14, 2016
694
1,455
London
Alas, over Bluetooth, an iPhone, which doesn't have Apt-X compatibility, will re-compress anything that's not AAC to SBC, which sounds like absolute crap. For instance, Spotify - even in "Extreme" 320kbps Ogg Vorbis, sounds vastly inferior to Apple Music @256kbps AAC, because the iPhone sends raw AAC over bluetooth to compatible headphones, whilst it recompresses the OGG on Spotify into SBC.

The only solution I've found to use my Spotify subscription over Bluetooth in a decent quality is to use a cheap Android phone with Apt-X...

By the way, all those Bluetooth 5 bells and whistles will change nothing.
http://www.digitalaudioreview.net/2016/09/assume-bluetooth-piped-aac-apple-makes-an-ass-out-of-you-and-me/

Audiophiles know only too well where the devil resides. Missing entirely from Apple’s September 7th keynote was mention of the iPhone 7’s support for Qualcomm’s aptX codec.

Filling that void we must assume that Bluetooth audio is still sent from iPhone 7 to Airpods, or any other Bluetooth headphone, using AAC – Apple’s ‘own’ lossy codec of choice. In theory and reality this diminishes the listening experience when directly compared to an aptX-piped Bluetooth pairing.

AAC isn't as good even as AptX...
 

kyjaotkb

macrumors 6502a
Nov 20, 2009
639
297
London, UK
This is bizarre, are you serious?! Isn't there an optical out?
FLAC! But where are DTS, DTSHD, TrueHD, Atmos - for that matter where is bitstreamed anything on the Apple TV 4K? They support DD+ but won't even bitstream it, it has to be converted to LPCM. I was going to pre-order today, but changed my mind at the last minute due to the limited audio options.

I think more people care about HD audio formats for their movies than care about FLAC.
Crazy, isn't it?
I also wonder when Apple will bother to include higher than AAC formats into the HLS specification (apart from the antiquated AC3 pass-thru that's reserved for the Apple TV) - Apple's format for streaming over HTTP. It's a headache for streaming services who want to offer ALAC/FLAC streaming that HLS doesn't have any kind of lossless /HD audio support. They have to cobble together proprietary implementations loosely based on MPEG-DASH or even worse, HDS/RTMP (Flash!).
[doublepost=1505473688][/doublepost]
I know! But to me, Apple Music in AAC sent straight to my Bluetooth headphones on an iPhone sounds about the same as Spotify in OGG re-compressed to Apt-X and sent to my Bluetooth headphones on my Xperia XA.

The worst is, the iPhone doesn't even recompress Spotify's OGG into AAC, it uses the inferior and older SBC codec, which frankly stinks. It does the same with Tidal Hi-fi or Qobuz Hi-Fi.
 

unibility

macrumors 6502a
Apr 6, 2012
589
423
FLAC or ALL takes up considerable space if you have a vast collection. Any where between 2 and 8 times larger thank HW MP3's. Can many of you hear the difference in FLAC audio over 320kbps MP3?
 

kyjaotkb

macrumors 6502a
Nov 20, 2009
639
297
London, UK
http://www.digitalaudioreview.net/2016/09/assume-bluetooth-piped-aac-apple-makes-an-ass-out-of-you-and-me/
we must assume that Bluetooth audio is still sent from iPhone 7 to Airpods, or any other Bluetooth headphone, using AAC – Apple’s ‘own’ lossy codec of choice. In theory and reality this diminishes the listening experience when directly compared to an aptX-piped Bluetooth pairing.
iOS only uses AAC over Bluetooth for content that is already encoded in AAC: Apple Music and songs bought on iTunes. Any other codec (Spotify's OGG, Deezer or Amazon's MP3, Anghami's Dolby Pulse, Qobuz's ALAC, Tidal's MQA...) is re-compressed using the inferior SBC codec, which is more battery-efficient but more lossy. As a result, you get double the compression artifacts and the soundstage is reduced to nothing.
 

Delgibbons

macrumors 6502a
Dec 14, 2016
694
1,455
London
FLAC or ALL takes up considerable space if you have a vast collection. Any where between 2 and 8 times larger thank HW MP3's. Can many of you hear the difference in FLAC audio over 320kbps MP3?
Definitely on well recorded classical stuff. Granted not a massive difference on pop stuff thats been squashed to buggery and ruined by brickwall limiting anyway.

Again....this is the advantage of microSD expansion I guess.
[doublepost=1505474275][/doublepost]
Crazy, isn't it?
I also wonder when Apple will bother to include higher than AAC formats into the HLS specification (apart from the antiquated AC3 pass-thru that's reserved for the Apple TV) - Apple's format for streaming over HTTP. It's a headache for streaming services who want to offer ALAC/FLAC streaming that HLS doesn't have any kind of lossless /HD audio support. They have to cobble together proprietary implementations loosely based on MPEG-DASH or even worse, HDS/RTMP (Flash!).
[doublepost=1505473688][/doublepost]
I know! But to me, Apple Music in AAC sent straight to my Bluetooth headphones on an iPhone sounds about the same as Spotify in OGG re-compressed to Apt-X and sent to my Bluetooth headphones on my Xperia XA.

The worst is, the iPhone doesn't even recompress Spotify's OGG into AAC, it uses the inferior and older SBC codec, which frankly stinks. It does the same with Tidal Hi-fi or Qobuz Hi-Fi.
SBC is bloody horrendous.
 

hvfsl

macrumors 68000
Jul 9, 2001
1,801
106
London, UK
I re-ripped all my music to Apple Lossless years ago but would have preferred FLAC as my understanding is that's it's an open standard compared to AL. So is this going to be an option in iTunes from here forward (rip in FLAC) or have I misread/misunderstood?
ALC is open-source as well, although it has less support in the open-source community.
 

Breenston

macrumors member
Jan 9, 2014
31
199
FLAC or ALL takes up considerable space if you have a vast collection. Any where between 2 and 8 times larger thank HW MP3's. Can many of you hear the difference in FLAC audio over 320kbps MP3?
Yes. As long as you are listening on decent head/earphones (i.e. those NOT supplied by Apple). And if you have a proper audio player. So that will exclude your phone.
 

simonmet

macrumors 68020
Sep 9, 2012
2,207
2,992
Sydney
Slightly off topic but it’s inexcusable that AirPlay can’t even stream 48 KHz which is the standard frequency for TV/Cinema. It sends 44.1 kHz instead, the standard for audio CDs and music. Some will argue there’s no way you can tell the slight reduction but I argue there’s no reason they can’t send it in its native encoding quality! It’s a pretty minor increase in bit rate and still well within spec, even for slow Wi-Fi!

Can anyone confirm this is still the case with AirPlay 2?
 
Last edited: