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Apple Lossless and Dolby Atmos is on my iPhone and iPad

DavidMcRoy

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THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED TO INCLUDE MY INITIAL LISTENING REACTIONS

They both showed up as options under a new line called “Audio Quality” in Music Settings. (I am in Washington State, USA and the rollout may still be underway.) I look forward to your assessments.

Apple’s May 24, 2021 release about lossless audio:
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT212183

The above link begins with this disclaimer at the top:
“Lossless is not yet available but is coming soon,” but the link still provides some useful information on how lossless audio can be accessed.

Apple Insider‘s story from today, June 8, 2021 on Apple Lossless Audio, Apple Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos via Apple Music:
https://appleinsider.com/articles/2...ates-spatial-audio-and-lossless-audio-content

After my rushed listening sessions overnight, my initial reaction to Apple Lossless at ”up to” 48/24 vs. Apple AAC remains the same as in prior comparisons: usually there’s almost no difference to my well-trained, yet nearly 65 year-old ears. (I was a broadcast TV and radio audio engineer for 35 years.) Switching between the two in Apple Music Audio Quality Settings, any differences are very subtle to non-existent to me. Sometimes I “think” I prefer anything that isn’t lossy over anything lossy, but with Apple AAC it get’s tougher. It’s a very good process. You might have a different experience and fortunately you can switch among AAC vs. up to 48/24 or vs. up to 192/24 on the fly in your Apple Music Settings while listening.

I hooked up my ancient iPhone 6S Plus’s Lightning port to an Apple Camera Adapter, and fed power to the adapter through it’s Lightning port. (This is the only configuration that I can get to power the phone while extracting data from it at the same time.) I fed data from the adapter‘s USB-A port to the USB-B port on my Topping D30 Hi-Res Audio DAC.

In Apple Music Settings, you can also switch the headphone versions of the tracks created for “Dolby Atmos” in and out on the fly while listening to Dolby Atmos tracks. On those tracks, using conventional Etymōtic ER3XR in-ear monitors (earbuds) with Dolby Atmos set to “Always On” in Apple Music settings, the Dolby Atmos mixes I heard sounded many dB lower in level (maybe 10 dB or so?) than the conventional stereo mix and with heavier bass, a warmer midrange and a wider soundstage. There are a number of things about these tracks that differ from the originals other than expanded spatiality. I mean, they’re new mixes, so to speak.

Unlike Dolby Atmos mixes created for listening over a surround speaker system like my 7.1.4 system, movie and TV showe soundtracks being chief among them, the headphone mix does not give me any illusion of height, just greater width and enhanced isolation between some phantom image. Still, for headphone listening, I prefer the sound of the Dolby Atmos mix in most cases. A few isolated sound sources sounded outside my head by a little, whereas in most conventional stereo mixes everything sounds like it’s inside my head. As mentioned above, at least some of the remixes have a more bass-heavy spectral balance, too a bit heavy handed in my limited experience of far. Keep this in mind in your own evaluations.

I don’t think these 2-channel headphone mixes are intended for further processing through an outboard Dolby Audio Surround processor, but I tried it anyway!

I listened to a few of the Dolby Atmos remixes in 2-channel stereo speaker configuration. Audio levels dropped dramatically again of course, and the soundspace sounded wider, like there was more L-R dialed in, rather like the headphone presentation for which the format was intended. So you get everything you get with headphones, no more and no less.

I don’t think these 2-channel headphone mixes are intended for further processing through an outboard Dolby Audio Surround processor, but I tried it anyway! I immediately decided that I wouldn’t recommend it be used this way. I had to know though, so I went there for a few minutes. That was enough. I LOVE what my Dolby Audio Surround upmixer can do with conventional 2-channel stereo tracks. It’s way better than it has any right to be, a wonder and a mystery. If you have one, just keep feeding the plain old stereo mixes into it.

In summary, Dolby Atmos for headphones is best used just for headphones or 2-channel stereo speakers. You’re better off listening to regular 2 stereo tracks through your 2.0 to 7.1.4 hardware upmixer over an Atmos-compatible surround system. As for Apple Lossless Audio, my reaction is the same as it always has been: I “feel like” things sound “better” at 44.1/16 or higher than with the best lossy compression schemes like Apple ALAC, but I doubt I’d pass a double-blind test. If anything, AAC mostly sounds a bit rolled-off in the highs and somehow more “homogenized.” Take that with this caveat: I’m almost 65 years old but with decent hearing for my age, but worse than that, I’m jaded. So, I did what any red blooded audiophile would do: I checked “High-Resolution Lossless” (up to 192/24) and left it there. Just in case.
 

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DavidMcRoy

DavidMcRoy

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Has anyone checked on an AppleTV connected to an immersive system to see if it's real Atmos or just a headphone virtualizer?

Today’s announcements appear to refer to lossless audio via Apple’s ALAC coding scheme as well as Dolby Atmos for special as well as conventional headphones, and separately Apple Spatial Audio. I have a complete Dolby Atmos system, but I‘ve read nothing today that refers to any way of listening other than references to using an Apple TV 4K running TViOS14.6, which I don’t have. I have conventional headphones and IEMs, but nothing with gyros, etc. for the full effect of Apple Spatial Audio, a process which purports to allow the listener to rotate his head and still perceive a soundstage that sounds fixed in space.
 
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abdo123

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I’m really interested to see if an iPad can downmix Atmos to 7.1 via something like Okto DAC 8
 

kejar31

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I tried this in my theater Apple TV 4K --> Denon receiver with 5.2.4 setup. Its definitely a real Atmos mix. Only had a few min at lunch to really listen though and as with anything it will depend on the mix. "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye sounded amazing in my setup with good use of location data.

Unless otherwise shown I am going to assume this is a proper Atmos mix using positional data for instruments and vocals.
 

gonzoucab

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when apple music in roon ?

XD
 

Somafunk

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Apple Music will never be available in roon, there is zero upside for apple to open up their system to incorporate the approx 120,000 roon users. It’d make more sense for apple to buy roon and incorporate the very useful features into the dire apple music app.
 

gonzoucab

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Apple Music will never be available in roon, there is zero upside for apple to open up their system to incorporate the approx 120,000 roon users. It’d make more sense for apple to buy roon and incorporate the very useful features into the dire apple music app.
XD
 

Somafunk

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What is XD?
 

richard12511

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Apple Music will never be available in roon, there is zero upside for apple to open up their system to incorporate the approx 120,000 roon users. It’d make more sense for apple to buy roon and incorporate the very useful features into the dire apple music app.

I wish Apple would buy Roon!!!

Roon still has the best album recommendations of any service, including Spotify, and the support for PEQ and convolution files is a critical feature missing from most other services.
 

gonzoucab

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I wish Apple would buy Roon!!!

Roon still has the best album recommendations of any service, including Spotify, and the support for PEQ and convolution files is a critical feature missing from most other services.
Qobuz need to buy roon. Tidal is death
 
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DavidMcRoy

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I’m really interested to see if an iPad can downmix Atmos to 7.1 via something like Okto DAC 8

As I understand things, “Dolby Atmos” from Apple Music appears to be an entirely different animal from the Dolby Atmos we are accustomed to in multichannel home theater. What Apple Music is calling “Dolby Atmos” is a 2-channel stream for headphones or a pair of stereo speakers that presents a wider soundstage, in my experience, and not a stream meant for reproduction over a surround system with height channels, etc. If I’m wrong, someone please correct me.
 

kejar31

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As I understand things, “Dolby Atmos” from Apple Music appears to be an entirely different animal from the Dolby Atmos we are accustomed to in multichannel home theater. What Apple Music is calling “Dolby Atmos” is a 2-channel stream for headphones or a pair of stereo speakers that presents a wider soundstage, in my experience, and not a stream meant for reproduction over a surround system with height channels, etc. If I’m wrong, someone please correct me.

Umm considering that I have been listening different atmos albums all night that use of all channels and some songs literally spinning music around me in both the lower then followed by the upper channels which was in no doubt on purpose I say you are incorrect sir.

You may not like this music but listen to it on a proper atmos with upper channels and tell me other wise

F03EE9D6-5A04-4480-9224-96DCF6137530.jpeg
 

kejar31

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Idk what’s different, are you using an Apple TV 4K —> receiver?
 
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DavidMcRoy

DavidMcRoy

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Umm considering that I have been listening different atmos albums all night that use of all channels and some songs literally spinning music around me in both the lower then followed by the upper channels which was in no doubt on purpose I say you are incorrect sir.

You may not like this music but listen to it on a proper atmos with upper channels and tell me other wise

View attachment 134614



That’s how I’m listening, over a 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos system with 4 height channels and it sounds nothing at all like the Dolby Atmos soundtracks I’m accustomed to. It sounds like something that was meant to be heard strictly on 2-channel setup or headphones, not decoded for surround
 

kejar31

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Not to mention some of these albums saw regular atmos releases like the REM one. Why would Apple try to change it?

If they wanted to do some extra DSP for headphone use it would be done at the ATMOS processing on the phones and tablets before it’s sent to the stereo out. If so this would not effect external ATMOS processing.
 
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DavidMcRoy

DavidMcRoy

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Not to mention some of these albums saw regular atmos releases like the REM one. Why would Apple try to change it?

You and I may be comparing two different things. I don’t have an Apple TV4K, which Apple says is necessary to get at the version of Dolby Atmos on Apple Music that’s needed to feed an outboard Dolby Atmos processor. From my iPhone, iPad and Mac Mini I can only get access to a 2-channel mix labeled “Dolby Atmos” that is designed for 2-channel listening, with no mention made about any further decoding to feed 7.1.4 channels, or what have you as being recommended or required. So, to get access to those mixes from Apple Music, I have to buy an Apple TV4K, which I will do.
 
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