Apple Eddy Cue

Apple Music boss says 98 percent of people can’t identify lossless audio

Apple Music boss Eddy Cue says most people can’t tell the difference between compressed and lossless audio but he believes that spatial audio is ‘a game-changer’.

In a recent interview with Billboard, Cue, who is Apple’s Senior VP of Internet Software and Services, admitted that: “If you take a 100 people and you take a stereo song in lossless and you take a song that’s been in Apple Music that’s compressed, I don’t know if it’s 99 or 98 can’t tell the difference. For the difference of lossless, our ears aren’t that good”.

He went on to say that to say that only audiophiles with “incredible ears” can really tell the difference, but that this requires “very, very high-quality stereo equipment”.

Apple Music recently launched spatial audio with Dolby Atmos, while also bringing lossless audio to its entire catalogue at no extra cost for subscribers. 

Several of the big streaming platforms, including TIDAL, charge a higher fee for lossless content. 

While Apple Music now offers lossless audio across it entire catalogue, lossless listening is not supported by any of the brand’s HomePod speakers, or its headphones, not even the top-of-the range AirPods Max cans. A future software update is expected to bring lossless support for the HomePod speakers.

Spatial audio is much better supported by Apple’s hardware – both on the AirPods Pro and Max – and it’s this immersive format that Cue believes is the future. 

Speaking with Audio Media International, Mirek Stiles, Head of Audio Products at Abbey Road Studios agrees that spatial audio is a truly game-changing development, saying: “Stereo is a marvellous format, but spatial audio takes sound to new dimensions of enjoyment, and now that it’s actually convenient for the consumer to experience this expansion of the sound stage, things are going to get very interesting. This is the most significant development in sound since stereo was introduced to the general public in 1958 and it will affect all aspects of our daily digital life.”

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