Why AirPods can’t listen to Apple Music lossless music

Why AirPods can’t listen to Apple Music lossless music

Apple today announced that it will upgrade its Apple Music music streaming service to include lossless sound quality music and spatial audio that supports Dolby Atmos. However, if you want to enjoy music with lossless sound quality, users may need to bring a pair of better quality wired headphones.

Although users can enable “lossless” in “Settings”, an Apple spokesperson told them that “lossless cannot work through Bluetooth.” In order to experience lossless sound quality music, users need to bring their own better wired headphones.


So, what about AirPods Max? It can actually be connected to the iPhone via a wired connection. Unfortunately, Apple made it clear that “AirPods Max does not currently support digital audio formats in wired mode.”

Typical Apple Music songs are played in AAC encoding at 256kbps, which is not up to the “lossless” standard, but it is sufficient for most users wearing ordinary headphones. Apple’s lossless music is 16 bit/44.1Khz (also known as “CD quality”), ALAC-encoded songs.


The higher the bit rate, the higher the quality of the music, because it means that the audio has undergone less compression.  The quality of audio files in CD is about 1411kbps, which is much higher than regular Apple Music AAC files. For Apple Music lossless music, it is actually higher, but transmission of such data requires better equipment (such as an external DAC amplifier).


Under ideal circumstances, Bluetooth technology can only reach a speed of 2000kbps. In reality, the bandwidth is lower due to interference and distance. This is the reason why lossless music cannot be used with any Bluetooth headset. In other words, any AirPods series or other Bluetooth headsets cannot fully experience lossless music.

This is not a problem with AirPods, but the current technical limitations. Bluetooth headsets (or almost all wireless headsets) cannot do it. Wireless bandwidth will sacrifice the sound quality delivered to the headset.

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Helen Chen

Author: CO-Founder of GCC

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