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Rumor: AirPods may get software update to support lossless audio streaming

A new rumor says the upcoming AirPods Max update won’t support Adaptive Audio.

I’d like to this this is true, but I’m a little skeptical: still, as noted by Apple Track, streaming audio to AirPods will get a major update in the future, according to Jon Prosser on the Genius Bar podcast.

While Bluetooth is too technically limited to support lossless audio streaming, a different codec or firmware update could be released in the future to support the higher bandwidth needed to stream HiFi audio on AirPods, he says. 

Apple confirmed yesterday that no AirPods currently support lossless audio in any way, but used the word “currently.”

On May 17, announced that it’s adding “Lossless” and “Hi-Resolution Lossless” streaming options to Apple Music in June 2021 for no extra charge, as well as offering Dolby Atmos “Spatial Audio” 3D music, too. However, the tech giant confirmed to T3 that this equipment, sadly, doesn’t include the AirPods Pro or AirPods Max.

In Apple’s terminology, Lossless is CD quality, from 16-bit 44.1kHz playback up to 24-bit 48kHz, while Hi-Res Lossless delivers up to 24-bit 192kHz. Both of Apple’s elite (and expensive) headphone models only use the Bluetooth AAC codec when connected to an iPhone, which means they can’t receive the full quality of the Apple Music Lossless files, which will be encoded as ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) files. 

As T3 notes: ”It raises questions over what the best options for listening to the higher-quality music will be – Apple has already noted that listening to the ‘Hi-Res Lossless’ tracks will definitely require wired hardware such as an external DAC, but with no aptX Bluetooth support on iPhone, that means some kind of wired headphones and likely a dongle for ‘Lossless’ listening listening from an iPhone too.”

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.