Where are lossless airplay headphones?

subjonas

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Feb 10, 2014
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Not sure this is the best place for this thread but-

I have some lossless wireless sennheiser headphones I use at home for music and tv (don’t want lossy Bluetooth headphones for this use case). They’re great, but there are several steps I need to take each time I want to use them, depending on what I want to listen to, and a lot of times I just end up not bothering. I think it would be ideal if Apple or someone made high end airplay (via WiFi not bluetooth) headphones. Like homepods for my ears. How come I haven’t seen any yet? Is there a technical obstacle? Battery life?
 

cmaier

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Jul 25, 2007
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California
Not sure this is the best place for this thread but-

I have some lossless wireless sennheiser headphones I use at home for music and tv (don’t want lossy Bluetooth headphones for this use case). They’re great, but there are several steps I need to take each time I want to use them, depending on what I want to listen to, and a lot of times I just end up not bothering. I think it would be ideal if Apple or someone made high end airplay (via WiFi not bluetooth) headphones. Like homepods for my ears. How come I haven’t seen any yet? Is there a technical obstacle? Battery life?
No actual humans can tell the difference and Apple doesn’t feel like ripping off suckers who think they can?
 

ian87w

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Feb 22, 2020
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Indonesia
Not sure this is the best place for this thread but-

I have some lossless wireless sennheiser headphones I use at home for music and tv (don’t want lossy Bluetooth headphones for this use case). They’re great, but there are several steps I need to take each time I want to use them, depending on what I want to listen to, and a lot of times I just end up not bothering. I think it would be ideal if Apple or someone made high end airplay (via WiFi not bluetooth) headphones. Like homepods for my ears. How come I haven’t seen any yet? Is there a technical obstacle? Battery life?
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the AirPods supports AAC, so if your songs are in AAC format, they are literally streamed as is to the Airpods. It will only fallback to old bluetooth SBC codec when paired with other devices (like an Android phone).
 

subjonas

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but the AirPods supports AAC, so if your songs are in AAC format, they are literally streamed as is to the Airpods. It will only fallback to old bluetooth SBC codec when paired with other devices (like an Android phone).
That’s what I understand as well. But my songs are all in ALAC (lossless), and my TV audio is also not AAC.

I came upon a reddit thread and somebody gave this explanation as to why there are no airplay headphones:
Yes, AirPlay supports 'lossless', but it is a very limited means for transmitting audio and is not really useful for small mobile devices on-the-go. This is why:
All audio transmitted by airplay is re-encoded to 44.1 kHz 16 bit ALAC. Any audio file - mp3, AAC, oog, even ALAC that isn't 44.1, 16 bit - that is transmitted over AirPlay has to be re-encoded to that format. Besides 'transcoding' lossy audio to this lossless format, even higher resolution lossless audio (88.2 kHz, 96 kHz, and higher bitrates) must be downsampled to 44.1 kHz, 16 bit to be played on AirPlay. This is a serious limitation because regardless of what audio you are playing, your data throughput is always pretty high: 706 kbps, all-day every day.
As you mentioned, there are no AirPlay headphones. AirPlay servers (like in your AirPlay router or Apple TV) are only hosted on wifi networks. Because AirPlay has such high data throughput requirements (especially if it's also transmitting video), AirPlay necessarily requires the speed and connection of a wifi network and likely wouldn't be useful on a low-energy mobile medium like Bluetooth.
www.reddit.com/r/apple/comments/53ie24/lossless_audio_on_airpods/

So the probably biggest reason airplay headphones don’t exist is because they need to always be connected to a WiFi network, meaning they can’t really go outside since they can’t connect directly to an iPhone or iPad. I didn’t really think about this because home is the only place I’d want to use them. Still, I can see why this would be too big of a limitation for Apple to want to make one of these. Perhaps a third party, hopefully.
 

BODYBUILDERPAUL

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Apple won't make something like this because it sounds like too much messing around. Remember Apple tend to go by what they and their engineers find along with tons and tons of market research. This explains why iTunes file are still 256kbps - there's a reason - as AAC, 256 /320 is damn good. I'm from a radio background and I find a CD rip at 320AAC to be perfect to my pretty critical ears.

Don't forget Apple insists that their products are flawless in connection and switch over. Compare Apple TV 4K to a BluRay player with loads of confusing audio options - the Apple TV 4K selects what the TV / amp is capable of and plays the best format to that device.

The things is BluTooth on an Apple device CAN sound fantastic - try say the SONY 1000 headphones with a Mastered for iTunes 256kbps file and you'll be damn impressed. Impressed to the point where you'll be happy with it and move on with your life. And that's the thing - it's great and history time and time again is showing us that the majority of customers WON'T pay for audio hence the reason why the HomePod is such a poor seller compared to the awful tinny, £50 Amazon Dot things.

AirPods have sold 60 million pairs during 2019. The digital world is all about portability - not being tied to anything at home etc and BluTooth rules in this case. WiFi simply does not work for the 'portable' life outside of the home and the majority of music listening in the century is on the move -music citing into people's lifestyle whilst running, driving, walking, gym, travelling etc etc etc. Very few with the exception of the old guy in his armchair are listening in the lounge. I did it as a child but I'll be honest, I wouldn't inn a million years sit in my house and just listen to music anymore. It kind of travels with me and i'll be honest - I use the stereo speakers in my iPhone 11 Pro to play 50% of my music now (cooking dinner for friends, showering/cleansing and even sat on the toilet :) with the other 50% from my AirPods Pro.
 

BrianBaughn

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Feb 13, 2011
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Well, 256kbps AAC sounds better than anything I grew up with. No high-end scratch-free LP playing audiophile quality gear in my history…or fancy 15ips factory made reel-to-reels.

However, I have a decent set of studio monitors and I can sure tell the difference between iTunes and the hifi version of Tidal. I'm thinking strongly about switching over when my Apple Music subscription is due…or maybe before.

The OP is one of us experiencing some form of "multi-platform-workaround-syndrome". It'll wear you out!
 
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subjonas

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Apple won't make something like this because it sounds like too much messing around. Remember Apple tend to go by what they and their engineers find along with tons and tons of market research. This explains why iTunes file are still 256kbps - there's a reason - as AAC, 256 /320 is damn good. I'm from a radio background and I find a CD rip at 320AAC to be perfect to my pretty critical ears.

Don't forget Apple insists that their products are flawless in connection and switch over. Compare Apple TV 4K to a BluRay player with loads of confusing audio options - the Apple TV 4K selects what the TV / amp is capable of and plays the best format to that device.

The things is BluTooth on an Apple device CAN sound fantastic - try say the SONY 1000 headphones with a Mastered for iTunes 256kbps file and you'll be damn impressed. Impressed to the point where you'll be happy with it and move on with your life. And that's the thing - it's great and history time and time again is showing us that the majority of customers WON'T pay for audio hence the reason why the HomePod is such a poor seller compared to the awful tinny, £50 Amazon Dot things.

AirPods have sold 60 million pairs during 2019. The digital world is all about portability - not being tied to anything at home etc and BluTooth rules in this case. WiFi simply does not work for the 'portable' life outside of the home and the majority of music listening in the century is on the move -music citing into people's lifestyle whilst running, driving, walking, gym, travelling etc etc etc. Very few with the exception of the old guy in his armchair are listening in the lounge. I did it as a child but I'll be honest, I wouldn't inn a million years sit in my house and just listen to music anymore. It kind of travels with me and i'll be honest - I use the stereo speakers in my iPhone 11 Pro to play 50% of my music now (cooking dinner for friends, showering/cleansing and even sat on the toilet :) with the other 50% from my AirPods Pro.
I agree most people don’t care about lossless/lossy music and apple almost surely won’t make these headphones. But in this case, I think the bigger reason is the limitation of airplay requiring wifi. If not for that limitation (also assuming no battery limitations), I think there would have a been a decent chance for “high-end” airplay headphones, considering that they made “high-end” airplay speakers (homepods).

I have a decent set of studio monitors and I can sure tell the difference between iTunes and the hifi version of Tidal. I'm thinking strongly about switching over when my Apple Music subscription is due…or maybe before.

The OP is one of us experiencing some form of "multi-platform-workaround-syndrome". It'll wear you out!
Not into subscriptions myself, but I plan on buying hi-res versions of some of my music soon. I’ve been dragging my feet because it seems the Apple ecosystem doesn’t really support hi-res audio (eg. airplay), though admittedly I haven’t fully looked into it. I’ll probably end up just occasionally playing the discs on my hd cd player from time to time. Would be really nice to have it all cozy in the apple ecosystem, but what can one do.
 
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nicho

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Feb 15, 2008
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I agree most people don’t care about lossless/lossy music and apple almost surely won’t make these headphones. But in this case, I think the bigger reason is the limitation of airplay requiring wifi. If not for that limitation (also assuming no battery limitations), I think there would have a been a decent chance for “high-end” airplay headphones, considering that they made “high-end” airplay speakers (homepods).


Not into subscriptions myself, but I plan on buying hi-res versions of some of my music soon. I’ve been dragging my feet because it seems the Apple ecosystem doesn’t really support hi-res audio (eg. airplay), though admittedly I haven’t fully looked into it. I’ll probably end up just occasionally playing the discs on my hd cd player from time to time. Would be really nice to have it all cozy in the apple ecosystem, but what can one do.
It's not directly related to the points you're making, but a good set of airplay headphones would actually have fitted the "homepod" name better than the homepod we got. they should have called the homepod the apple speaker or apple home or something like that.

there are battery operated speakers that connect to wifi (on battery power) and have airplay 2, including libratone zipp/zipp mini 1&2. other brands have introduced them too. i'm sure the hardware could fit into something similar to the beats studio form, with a bit of rejigging to put some of the necessary hardware in the band or something.

i guess it's too much of a niche to consider though.
 
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BODYBUILDERPAUL

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Feb 9, 2009
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I agree most people don’t care about lossless/lossy music and apple almost surely won’t make these headphones. But in this case, I think the bigger reason is the limitation of airplay requiring wifi. If not for that limitation (also assuming no battery limitations), I think there would have a been a decent chance for “high-end” airplay headphones, considering that they made “high-end” airplay speakers (homepods).


Not into subscriptions myself, but I plan on buying hi-res versions of some of my music soon. I’ve been dragging my feet because it seems the Apple ecosystem doesn’t really support hi-res audio (eg. airplay), though admittedly I haven’t fully looked into it. I’ll probably end up just occasionally playing the discs on my hd cd player from time to time. Would be really nice to have it all cozy in the apple ecosystem, but what can one do.
I agree that they have made the HomePod - whether you'd actually hear any difference between a 256AAC file and a lossless on that tiny speaker i'm not convinced. It's definitely not a HiFi speaker in any word - it's a lifestyle speaker but not practical as it's not bluetooth and isn't battery operated. Also, the HomePod has been a true disaster for Apple in sales. What I find interesting is case proven - the digital world is portable - 60million people in 2019 bought AirPods as they fit into a travel / on the go lifestyle whereas a stationary speaker in a home is in a way very 1970s-90s - last century thinking. I love everything Apple but I don't have any interest or desire to own a HomePod - I never stay in one room long enough.

Also the Audio buffs are old snobs. They diss Apple and wouldn't buy Apple AirPlay headphones. They are too eccentric and at war with themselves. You see it just by reading an AV forum for 20 seconds. Leave them alone to fight. Apple certainly does! Apple's goal is to appeal to the creatives, to make a difference, to inspire - AirPlay headphones don't really do any of this.

You really can have the best product in the world but if nobody wants or needs or desires to buy it...
 

subjonas

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I agree that they have made the HomePod - whether you'd actually hear any difference between a 256AAC file and a lossless on that tiny speaker i'm not convinced. It's definitely not a HiFi speaker in any word - it's a lifestyle speaker but not practical as it's not bluetooth and isn't battery operated. Also, the HomePod has been a true disaster for Apple in sales. What I find interesting is case proven - the digital world is portable - 60million people in 2019 bought AirPods as they fit into a travel / on the go lifestyle whereas a stationary speaker in a home is in a way very 1970s-90s - last century thinking. I love everything Apple but I don't have any interest or desire to own a HomePod - I never stay in one room long enough.

Also the Audio buffs are old snobs. They diss Apple and wouldn't buy Apple AirPlay headphones. They are too eccentric and at war with themselves. You see it just by reading an AV forum for 20 seconds. Leave them alone to fight. Apple certainly does! Apple's goal is to appeal to the creatives, to make a difference, to inspire - AirPlay headphones don't really do any of this.

You really can have the best product in the world but if nobody wants or needs or desires to buy it...
Whatever one thinks of the HomePod’s audio quality, value, or its success in the market, my theory/argument is really just that whatever Apple was going for in the HomePod, they very well could have gone for in a headphone version, were it not for the WiFi limitation. It might have even come out before or even instead of the HomePod, since like you said, people prefer having mobility. Not saying anything about how well it would have sold, simply that it had a good chance of existing. A pointless theory of course.
 

BODYBUILDERPAUL

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Feb 9, 2009
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& cellular data caps aren't ready for HD audio streaming yet, let alone Apple's tech/codecs themselves.

I'd love it though, even if I could listen to the highest possible quality audio over the home WIFI...
In Europe we've got a very strong 4G network that is fast and reliable. No problem with data caps - many with 60GB and unlimited. Plus don't the majority download their streaming playlists anyway rather than live stream?
Very exciting times!
 
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