iFi Journal

Unleash Apple Lossless with iFi DACs

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Apple’s recent announcement of Apple Lossless streaming on its Apple Music platform is fantastic news to music lovers everywhere.

Compared to before where the formats were ‘lossy’ – that is, a chunk of music information was lost on conversion back to what we actually hear from the digital format, ‘lossless’ does not lose any information. This new format is very high-resolution, up to the 24/192Khz format loved by audiophiles as a go-to format.

To get the best out of Apple Music’s new lossless High-Res format, a DAC; Digital-to-Analogue Converter, is needed to convert the 1s and 0s to an analogue music wave so that the human ear can hear it.

The iFi DACs do this and more. They are fully compatible with all Apple devices and no additional software or plugins are needed.

Apple Lossless on iFi DACs

Lossless vs Lossy – what is the audible difference?

Quite a lot!

You get a far more realistic sonic recreation of the voice, drums, and soundstage.

With lossy you always get that ‘missing out’ feeling because you know the information is there in the original, but you just don’t get to hear it. The sound is a little muddy, rather than crisp, sharp, and airy.

To play Apple Lossless

Source: https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT212183

*Subscription required to unlock ‘Audio Quality’ settings

On a Macbook you need a Mac with OS X 11.4 (min 8GB RAM) to stream the music well.

  1. Open the Apple Music app.
  2. In the menu bar, choose Music > Preferences.
  3. Click the Playback tab.
  4. Under Audio Quality*, select or deselect Lossless to turn it on or off. From here, you can also change the settings for streaming and downloading lossless audio.
    • Lossless for a maximum resolution of 24 bit/48 kHz
    • Hi-Res Lossless for a maximum resolution of 24 bit/192 kHz

An iFi DAC connected via USB will ensure the lossless Apple music stream remains intact. Just connect headphones and you will hear the
full glory!

https://ifi-audio.com/products/zen-dac-v2/

With an iPhone, you need a recent iPhone (iPhone 7 or later) with the latest iOS 14.6.

  1. Go to Settings > Music.
  2. Tap Audio Quality.
  3. Tap ‘Lossless Audio’ to turn it on or off. From here, you can choose the audio quality* for streaming and downloading audio.
    • Lossless for a maximum resolution of 24 bit/48 kHz
    • Hi-Res Lossless for a maximum resolution of 24 bit/192 kHz

You MUST have the USB-to-Lightning adapter. Without this, the iPhone will not send out the digital signal. Insert this into one of the iFi portable DACs such as the hip-dac. Connect to headphones and you will hear Wolf Alice’s How Can I Make it OK? like never before!

https://ifi-audio.com/products/hip-dac/

Remember, Apple Lossless Hi-Res cannot be played over Bluetooth wireless headsets at the higher resolutions as they are limited to 96kHz, so a separate DAC and a set of wired headphones are a must to reveal the full playback quality.

Lock onto the right colour LED!

To get true Apple Lossless Hi-Res, find a 24-bit/192kHz album. Be aware that there are many 44kHz and 96kHz; for these tracks, the LED colour on most of our DACs will stay the same (please refer to the respective User Manual).

Note: On the ZEN DAC V2, the LED will be white playing a 192kHz track. However, if it is only a USB DAC renderer, the LED will stay ‘green’ because this covers all bit rates up to 192kHz.

We recommend you use Coldplay: X&Y Album to test as it is all 192kHz hi-res lossless. If you can’t get the correct LED colour it will be a software setup issue, as the settings are user-selectable, like they are in TIDAL.

As outlined before, Apple Music shows the Sample rate, so the customer can see which is being sent to the DAC.

 

Atmos for Atmosphere.

In addition to Hi-Res Lossless, Apple Music introduced Dolby Atmos which Apple has called ‘Spatial Audio’ which gives the feeling that the sound is outside of your head and all around you. iFi DACs are 100% compatible with Dolby Atmos; in Apple Music > Settings > Music > Dolby Atmos. A demo album is Norah Jones’ Don’t Know Why. The enjoyment of Dolby Atmos does vary from song to song and is quite personal.

Note: Apple Music on OS X and iOS both support Atmos. Windows Apple Music does not presently.

…one more thing.

All iFi DACs have one further major advantage over non-iFi DACs and that is a circuit design called balanced. This is like a 4WD compared to 2WD car in the world of music. The balanced circuit compared to the common Single-Ended one simply puts out up to FOUR TIMES the power to your headphones so that they get the power to really pump them and make them rock to the beats of Dua Lipa’s We’re Good!

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