Apple Music to offer studio quality sound and Dolby Atmos for free

Apple has announced that lossless audio and spatial audio are coming to Apple Music in June 2021, and will be implemented at no additional cost to subscribers.

This will see the tech giant stream music at the original studio recording quality known as Lossless Audio. It will also provide Dolby Atmos surround sound in partnership with Dolby.

“Apple Music as we know it is about to change forever,” said vice president of Apple Music, Oliver Schusser.

Schusser said the changes would represent the service’s “biggest advancement ever in sound quality”.

All of the 75 million songs in the service’s library will be available to stream in lossless audio quality.

Support for Lossless Audio and Dolby Atmos will be indicated within the audio player, as seen in the image below.


Users will be able to stream music at quality up to 24-bit and 192kHz, which equates to a 9,216kbps bitrate.

In comparison, Spotify’s highest audio bitrate is 320kbps, with an upgrade to 1,411kbps CD-quality still in the works, while Youtube Music’s highest quality is 256kbps.

These studio-level tracks will however take up a considerable amount of storage, with a 5-minute track at around 345MB, or about 9.2MB per second.

Switching between quality can be done by navigating to Settings > Music > Audio Quality in the Apple Music app.

Here, users can choose different resolutions for different connections such as cellular, Wi-Fi, or for download.

Considering that these upgrades will be offered free of charge to all Apple Music subscribers, it can be seen as a big step for Apple to get ahead of rival music streaming services, which are priced similarly.

The images below show the prices of the subscription options on Apple Music, Spotify Premium, and YouTube Music Premium.

Apple Music


Spotify Premium


YouTube Music Premium


Comparing services

With over 130 million Premium subscribers, Spotify is the largest music streaming service in the world.

Apple Music, though still lagging behind Spotify, experienced significant growth from around 50 million subscribers in 2019 to 72 million by Q1 2020.

YouTube Music also saw a big increase in users over the last year, reaching 30 million subscribers.

This was driven by Google Play Music’s shutdown, which saw the migration of its subscribers to YouTube Music.

The table below shows a comparison of the libraries, features, and prices of Spotify, YouTube Music, and Apple Music.

Music streaming services compared
Spotify YouTube Music Apple Music
Number of songs 50 million 60 million
(not counting unofficial covers and live performances)
75 million
Free option Yes – with ads Yes – with ads Free 1-week trial only
Maximum streaming quality 320kbps 256kbps 9,216kbps
Upload own music No Yes Yes
Maximum upload n/a 100,000 100,000
Offline listening Mobile and desktop Paid only Mobile only
Podcasts Yes No Yes
Music videos No Yes Yes
Price Single – R59.99
Duo – R79.99
Family – R99.99
Student – R29.99
Single – R59.99
Family – R89.99
Student – R29.99
Single – R59.99
Family – R89.99

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Apple Music to offer studio quality sound and Dolby Atmos for free