Getting The Most From Apple Music’s New Lossless Service: iOS v OSX

Want to know how do get all of that high-resolution goodness from Apple Music into your hifi of choice with no fuss, no muss? Read on.

Apple’s OSX and related sound engine, Core Audio, is not, as you might expect, hi-res friendly. The problem is, playing music on a Mac using Apple Music is handicapped when it comes to hi-res because Macs do not support automatic sample rate switching.

Why is this a problem? Because the big news for Apple Music’s new lossless service is they offer music in a number of different resolutions, from 16-bit/44.1kHz (CD-quality) all the way up to 24-bit/192kHz, with a number of resolutions in between. If you want to hear a 24-bit/192kHz album and then a 24-bit/96kHz album in all their glory, you have to manually change this setting in Apple’s Audio MIDI Setup when using Apple Music on  a Mac. Ick.

The settings to change the sample rate resides in Finder > Applications > Utilities > Audio MIDI Setup.

Some people choose to go with third-party apps to workaround this OSX shortcoming, because these apps allow for automatic sample rate switching and no one in the known universe wants to manually change this setting each time they move from one resolution to another while listening to music.

Example: If you’re running Apple Music on a Mac and you have that Audio MIDI format set to “44,100 Hz”, all hi-res music will get downsampled to 44,100 Hz, pretty much negating the benefits of Apple’s new lossless service. Oops!

The good news, for those not interested in third-party apps, is there’s an Apple hardware solution that solves this limitation — Apple’s iOS supports automatic sample rate switching.

For home audio, one simple solution is to use an Apple iPad running Apple Music as your music server. You’ll need an Apple Lightning to USB3 Camera Adapter (about $35 from Amazon — see our Shopping List below) and a USB DAC. The Camera Adapter allows for two connections — USB which will connect to your USB DAC either directly in the case of a dongle DAC like the AudioQuest DragonFly Red, or with a USB cable. The Thunderbolt port is used for charging the iPad.

For playing music, you can use the iPad or an iPhone as a remote, since Apple Music allows for sharing between iOS devices.

To get the most from lossless music, you’ll also need a quality USB DAC that can play back hi-res files. Take a look at our Shopping List for a few recommendations that are just one click away.

For longer list of recommended DACs, check out Twittering Machines Favorite DACs.

Shopping List

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