Become a MacRumors Supporter for $25/year with no ads, private forums, and more!

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
56,994
19,863


In an interview with Billboard, Apple's vice president of Apple Music and Beats, Oliver Schusser, details the growth of and reaction to Spatial Audio and Lossless Audio on the streaming platform.

apple-music-spatial-audio-ad.jpeg

Apple Music gained Spatial Audio and Lossless support in June 2021, and since, Apple has continued to add new songs to its catalog that support both new features. Apple had previously promised that its entire catalog of 75 million songs would be made available in Lossless, and according to Schusser, the company has fulfilled its promise.

Schusser said that while the entire catalog of Apple Music songs supports the higher-quality format, the limitations of Bluetooth and the inability for headphones, such as AirPods, to play back the audio continues to be a challenge.
"Everyone in the industry was really focused on Lossless," says Schusser. "We have every song in our catalog available in Lossless to us delivered by the industry, but the challenge is it doesn't play on any headphone in the world over Bluetooth or any wireless connection, and that is by a country mile the number one way how people consume music these days."
Apple Music subscribers can listen to Lossless using the built-in speakers on their iPhone, iPad, Mac, and HomePod. Still, though, Schusser admitted that Lossless remains a niche feature that most average listeners won't notice but that Apple still wanted to move ahead in bringing it to the masses.
Schusser says most people can't tell the difference when Lossless music is played and noted that while it's an important feature to a select niche, it isn't a mass-market product. "And so," he says, "we went out and said we would like to have a feature for the mass market that works on pretty much every device and where people notice a difference."
Discussing Spatial Audio, which provides listeners with an immersive listening experience, Schusser says that compared to when the feature launched last summer, Apple Music's offering of Spatial Audio content has grown exceptionally. Schusser says that more than 50% of Apple Music subscribers are now listening in Spatial Audio.
Apple Music only had a few thousand songs available in Spatial Audio when it launched the feature last year, and the company went on a journey to sell artists and producers — along with listeners — on the new immersive experience.

"We now have more than half of our worldwide Apple Music subscriber base listening in spatial audio and that number is actually growing really, really fast," says Schusser. "We would like the numbers to be higher, but they are definitely exceeding our expectations."
While Apple continues to add new songs to its database that support Spatial Audio in partnerships with studios, the company is still focusing on ensuring the quality of the mixing on those songs.
For Apple's part, the company is emphasizing the importance of quality mixing here — compared to the early days of Dolby Atmos Music, when some mixes didn't live up to the quality of the original recordings. "We listen to every song that comes in Spatial Audio to us and we try to engage with people who make the cut during the process," Schusser says.
Spatial Audio is not only allowing listeners to enjoy new music in a more immersive way, but it's also re-engaging fans with older songs, according to Rachel Newman, Apple Music's global head of editorial and content.
"We're seeing huge uptick in artists' back catalog off the basis of them re-engaging their fans with a new way of listening to the music," says Rachel Newman, Apple Music's global head of editorial and content. Streams of Spatial Audio tracks on Apple Music editorial playlists have grown by 125% since the feature launched last summer, Newman notes.
In a previous interview made in December, another Apple Music executive echoed similar remarks made by Schusser regarding the limitations of Bluetooth and Lossless audio.

Apple would like "more bandwidth" than what Bluetooth can provide, said Apple's vice president of acoustics, Gary Geaves. "I'll stop right there. We would like more bandwidth," Geaves added.

Apple is very possibly working on addressing the limitations of Bluetooth by creating a new wireless protocol, and the company's next-generation high-end AirPods Pro expected to launch this year could be the first AirPods to support playback of Lossless Audio.

Article Link: More Than Half of Apple Music Listeners Using Spatial Audio, Says Apple Exec
 

stiligFox

macrumors 65816
Apr 24, 2009
1,317
848
10.0.1.3
When I had AirPods, the built in Spacial Audio really made music sound immersive and magical… even when it applied to old stereo music.

I wish Apple would let us use the Spatial Audio on third party headphones…

The music they’ve released so far that supports Dolby Atmos have that same amazing sound on my Bose headphones, but that’s still a rather tiny mix of music rather than the automagic mix that AirPods can apply to any music…
 

star-affinity

macrumors 68000
Nov 14, 2007
1,674
880
I know everyone who don't have a hearing disorder doesn't care (until or if you get it yourself…), but I really think Apple should focus some effort on helping people who got problems with the ears. Throw some money on biopharma and research helping those with hearing-loss and tinnitus! It would make more people enjoy music more and likely give you more subscribers to your music service. Maybe it would also make more people hear the difference between lossless and destructive compression. :)

At the same time I think a good DAC is one of the main things that raises the audio quality quite a lot. But of course the source material has to be of good quality too.
 
Last edited:

CJM

macrumors 65816
May 7, 2005
1,460
865
U.K.
I know this is fussy but I'd like the ability to switch between Spatial and not within the Music app itself.
For some tracks I like it, e.g. songs where the original mix was created with spatial in mind.

For others, I don't.
And yes I love listening to lossless on my high end audio system and headphones.
 

Danfango

macrumors 6502a
Jan 4, 2022
755
3,039
London, UK
Spatial is great for movies and TV that's about it. A good highlight is the scene in the last episode of The Expanse where they're attacking the rail gun array. That really turned it up. It completely breaks music recordings.

Now noise cancellation. That's a mega brilliant feature. So I'm sitting on a bus in London which is vibrating loudly in traffic with a Russian woman shouting at her cheating boyfriend in the background. Turn it on ... schwee-zoooo-oof and it's gone and I can actually listen to The Lark Ascending without having to turn it up to 11.
 

honglong1976

macrumors 68000
Jul 12, 2008
1,583
1,027
UK
Non-lossless, lossless, to be honest, you can't really tell the difference anyway.

Spacial audio - brilliant! Would be awesome with games.

Lag - Bluetooth/WIFI, great but too laggy. Try playing a music rhythm game such as Taiko.

So for me, no lag (Kleer did it years ago wirelessly) and spacial audio for games.
 

adamlbiscuit

macrumors 6502
Sep 22, 2008
393
691
South Yorkshire, UK
In my experience the quality in Dolby Atmos differs from song to song. Some sound okay, others sound impressive, and many others sound 'muddy' for want of a better term. Almost all of them play back at a lower volume than non-Dolby Atmos songs, so if you're playing a mix of stereo and Dolby Atmos music I find myself constantly juggling the volume. Yes, there is the Sound Check option but in my experience this overcompensates and in come cases reverses the issue (with Dolby Atmos becoming louder and stereo becoming quieter).

It's this inconsistency that has led me to turning Dolby Atmos off altogether.
 

211

macrumors regular
Feb 27, 2020
164
340
51.531011,-0.023979
I love Spacial Audio. The songs sound fuller and more immersive. When listening to a playlist mixed with songs in Spacial Audio and ones without, I can hear the difference. I wish there was a way to find out which albums/songs are in the works to be in Spacial Audio or a way to request albums. I also really like lossless and can hear the difference there as well. I'm no audiophile (apparently quite a few are here) but I appreciate both formats. This differentiates Music from the other streamers. Just wish Apple would also focus on the UI as well.
 

Relentless Power

macrumors Westmere
Jul 12, 2016
37,614
42,342
I suspect spatial audio is probably best served in like in a ‘cinema type’ setting, but for a personal listening experience, it’s very airy. But for me, I’m actually not used to it. Maybe if it was something that I was more accustomed to over the course of time, I may appreciate it more. But it also probably depends on the type of music.
 

Marco Klobas

macrumors 6502
Jul 14, 2017
350
668
Italy
I'm not against Spatial Audio for new released music (if done properly).

I'm definitely not convinced to remix music made prior to Spatial Audio – especially when artists aren't involved (which sometimes happens nowadays...).

Even though many people can't discern lossless music, I'd like Apple to introduce Exclusive Mode (automatic sample rate switching) in Music app on Mac, possibly bit perfect (currently, it isn't exactly) and update AirPlay to support hi-res.
 
  • Like
Reactions: arkitect

iosfan1991

macrumors newbie
Oct 8, 2015
17
31
"We have every song in our catalog available in Lossless to us delivered by the industry, but the challenge is it doesn't play on any headphone in the world over Bluetooth or any wireless connection, and that is by a country mile the number one way how people consume music these days."

Yeah, Bluetooth is the number one method because you removed the built in 3.5mm port from all your phones and the Lightning to 3.5mm port has a terrible DAC inside.

For people who don't remember; the iPhone 6 had a really good sounding DAC inside that was based on Apple's experience with iPods, with the iPhone 6S they put a cost reduced DAC inside that sounded a lot worse, so that the year after when the iPhone 7 (which was released with only Bluetooth), wireless headphones wouldn't sound too jarringly worse for people who "upgraded"!

Put the 3.5mm port back, admit you got it wrong already, and these "challenges" disappear.
 

Sheepish-Lord

macrumors 6502a
Oct 13, 2021
909
1,432
I know this is fussy but I'd like the ability to switch between Spatial and not within the Music app itself.
For some tracks I like it, e.g. songs where the original mix was created with spatial in mind.

For others, I don't.
And yes I love listening to lossless on my high end audio system and headphones.
I believe you can do this already by long pressing the volume slider in the control panel when music is being played.
 

neuropsychguy

macrumors 68000
Sep 29, 2008
1,718
3,551
I’ve had only great experiences with spatial audio but most of my listening is with classical music. There it really immerses you, like you’re the conductor.

I don’t only listen to classical music though and I’ve yet to find a song that sounds worse to me in spatial audio than in standard stereo or mono.
 

neuropsychguy

macrumors 68000
Sep 29, 2008
1,718
3,551
"We have every song in our catalog available in Lossless to us delivered by the industry, but the challenge is it doesn't play on any headphone in the world over Bluetooth or any wireless connection, and that is by a country mile the number one way how people consume music these days."

Yeah, Bluetooth is the number one method because you removed the built in 3.5mm port from all your phones and the Lightning to 3.5mm port has a terrible DAC inside.

For people who don't remember; the iPhone 6 had a really good sounding DAC inside that was based on Apple's experience with iPods, with the iPhone 6S they put a cost reduced DAC inside that sounded a lot worse, so that the year after when the iPhone 7 (which was released with only Bluetooth), wireless headphones wouldn't sound too jarringly worse for people who "upgraded"!

Put the 3.5mm port back, admit you got it wrong already, and these "challenges" disappear.
This test suggests otherwise about the DAC for the 6s: https://www.kenrockwell.com/apple/iphone-6s-plus-audio-quality.htm
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: wanha and EntropyQ3

schneeland

macrumors regular
May 22, 2017
119
268
Darmstadt, Germany
I don't really care for spatial audio (especially not on music that wasn't created to support it), but having lossless support with headphones would be a big plus. Minimum I hope they support the new LC3 codec for Bluetooth with a high bit rate.

That being said, I really wish, they would also spent some more time with their software and maintenance of their meta data (among others, title case is not used correctly for many releases, articles are not ignored in sorting for languages other than English and different artists with the same name are still lumped together - the latter admittedly neither Spotify not Google/Youtube Music does, so it's not a problem specific to Apple Music).
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.