Mac O’Clock
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How will lossless sound on the HomePod mini

In May, Apple announced they plan to make lossless the new standard for Apple music. A few days later, they complemented that statement by adding that the HomePod mini will actually support these enhancements, after a software upgrade. All this is set to come in June.

Owners of a HomePod mini (with an Apple Music subscription) may rejoice — according to Apple their audio experience is set to improve.

But what does this mean in real life? Well, according to research not everyone can actually detect the difference between lossless and standard, so this might be more subtle than you think.

Listening to lossless music is like listening to a CD

The discovery of the MP3 was a very important step in the history of music , because it rendered the quality of the music in the closest possible way to the original one on the CD. In the long run, it allowed humanity to save shelf space and renounce CDs altogether, without too much regret.

With lossless, we might not need to compromise after all because the lossless quality is the equivalent of a flac file, which is the standard format of the music on a CD.

In terms of how it actually sounds, you should test it yourself — there are specialized websites that will let you test if YOU can tell the difference (personally I can barely hear it).

As a tradeoff, lossless takes more disk space and streaming bandwidth

Lossless music might be better quality, but it takes up to 6 times more space than an mp3 — that’s why it’s lucky you’re streaming it from Apple Music instead of storing it on your hard drive.

In terms of streaming, you’ ll need 1,4 Mbps, which is 7 times more than what Apple Music uses today, whereas Airplay can support 25 Mbps, so the HomePod mini does support the lossless files through Airplay, when you play it from your mac to your Homepod for example. It will most likely also work well with most internet providers, since 1,4 Mbps is somewhat standard speed.

Overall, Lossless doesn’t change very much

Realistically speaking, if you’re just walking in the street and you hear random music, you won’t be able to tell if it’s lossless or not- especially when that music comes from the small speaker that is the HomePod mini. That said, this is a welcome change in what the industry offers as a “default” so let’s hope Apple keeps raising the bar.

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Jane Jensen

Jane Jensen

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