My daily iPhone Apple Music hi-res check finally turned up gold this very morning. Apple Music Hi-Res streaming has (finally) arrived!
I put exclamation points at the ends of those sentences because people who care about the sound quality of the music they listen to, also care about lossless streaming. As a matter of more than semantics, I’m a fan of lossless music more than “hi-res”. Let me explain.
Most times, if you follow an actor’s work from film to film, the quality of those films can vary wildly (see Nicolas Cage). On the other hand, if you follow the director, odds are you will get more continuity. Not always, mind you, but a Werner Herzog film is a Herzog film. Focusing on hi-res music is like focusing on the actor’s clothes.
The thing is, saying “hi-res” does not guarantee sound quality. Good old fashioned CD-quality can sound better than hi-res because what really counts is what happens in the recording studio and the mastering process. But when all the stars align — music, recording, container — a hi-res recording can sound pretty damn wonderful.
Here’s the three step guide to sound quality (in order of importance):
- the quality of the music
- the quality of the recording
- the container
All that being said, I still end news about new lossless and hi-res offerings with a “!” because both are infinitely better than lossy streaming. I’m not just talking about sound quality, or the silly arguments over whether people can hear a difference between lossy and lossless, I’m talking about the art and science of music making, recording, and distribution.
Since the advent of file-based playback, music, and its quality, have been devalued — first to 99¢ a track, thanks Apple, then to $0.00 courtesy of Spotify (in the legal realm) — and the loudness wars crushed sound quality. Thanks digital. But that’s another story.
Apple Music finally opening its doors to lossless hi-res streaming is, when all is said and done, News and great news at that! (regardless of what Apple says)
To get hi-res from Apple Music out of your iPhone, go to Settings > Music > Audio Quality and select Lossless Audio. Then, from the same screen, go to Wi-Fi Streaming and select High-Resolution Lossless. Do the same for Downloads. Et voilà!