Apple has quietly included support for playback of FLAC audio files on the 4K Apple TV, iPhone 8, and iPhone X, with compatibility also added retroactively to the iPhone 7 when iOS 11 gets its public release.

Support for the lossless compression codec now appears in the technical specifications on Apple's website for all of the above devices. However, as it stands, Apple's Music app does not currently support the format, so device owners who want to listen to the higher quality audio files will have to use the native Files app or a third-party app specifically made for FLAC playback, such as VLC or Plex.

Screen Shot 6
Apple's support for the FLAC codec doesn't officially extend to the iPhone 6s or iPhone SE, which may be because an A10 processor is a minimum requirement for hardware decoding and Apple is not satisfied with the power consumption tradeoffs of FLAC software decoding.

That said, Apple's latest iPad Pro range should also be capable of FLAC playback thanks to their high performance A10X Fusion chips, yet Apple hasn't updated its iPad Pro tech specs to indicate they will also support the standard.

It's possible that Apple is still testing FLAC support for its range of mobile devices, and may even have plans to offer the lossless compression standard as a download option in iTunes and playback in the Music app further down the line. However, it's worth noting that mobile users would only get the full benefits of FLAC by listening using Lightning-connected wired headphones, since a Bluetooth audio connection doesn't offer enough bandwidth to make the experience worthwhile.

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)

Top Rated Comments

canadianreader Avatar
50 months ago
Apple make it available on iTunes!!
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kyjaotkb Avatar
50 months ago
You can play HD Audio over Bluetooth. And it sounds great.

HD FLAC files sound brilliant. I'm considering the Note 8 as it has 1-bit audio playback as well. Have a bunch of DSD audio files. Does it make a difference? Certainly a hell of a lot better than AAC or MP3.

I have these BT headphones for my S7 edge that playback 24bit 96khz audio over Bluetooth, so it can be done. Just needs a proprietary codec (Samsung UHD over Bluetooth) or Qualcomm AptX HD

Peerless UHQ Sound
Enjoy superb UHQ audio with the Samsung Level On Wireless Pro – even better sound than CD quality audio. Using UHQ-BT codec technology, the Level On Wireless Pro allows you to enjoy a richer and more balanced audio experience with authentic-sounding, UHQ sound.

Alas, over Bluetooth, an iPhone, which doesn't have Apt-X compatibility, will re-compress anything that's not AAC to SBC, which sounds like absolute crap. For instance, Spotify - even in "Extreme" 320kbps Ogg Vorbis, sounds vastly inferior to Apple Music @256kbps AAC, because the iPhone sends raw AAC over bluetooth to compatible headphones, whilst it recompresses the OGG on Spotify into SBC.

The only solution I've found to use my Spotify subscription over Bluetooth in a decent quality is to use a cheap Android phone with Apt-X...

By the way, all those Bluetooth 5 bells and whistles will change nothing.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kyjaotkb Avatar
50 months ago
http://www.digitalaudioreview.net/2016/09/assume-bluetooth-piped-aac-apple-makes-an-ass-out-of-you-and-me/
we must assume that Bluetooth audio is still sent from iPhone 7 to Airpods, or any other Bluetooth headphone, using AAC – Apple’s ‘own’ lossy codec of choice. In theory and reality this diminishes the listening experience when directly compared to an aptX-piped Bluetooth pairing.
iOS only uses AAC over Bluetooth for content that is already encoded in AAC: Apple Music and songs bought on iTunes. Any other codec (Spotify's OGG, Deezer or Amazon's MP3, Anghami's Dolby Pulse, Qobuz's ALAC, Tidal's MQA...) is re-compressed using the inferior SBC codec, which is more battery-efficient but more lossy. As a result, you get double the compression artifacts and the soundstage is reduced to nothing.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zorinlynx Avatar
50 months ago
Lack of FLAC support has never been much of a big deal for me because both FLAC and ALAC are lossless and you can convert between them.

Any FLAC content I acquire gets transcoded to ALAC and I delete the FLAC files. Should I want FLAC in the future I can just transcode it back. That's what's great about lossless formats.

Just convert FLAC to ALAC, folks. It works natively on iTunes, plays back on hardware ranging all the way back to the first iPods, and the compression ratio is very similar. There's also plenty of free tools to do it, including ones that'll parallelize the conversion of many files to do it quickly on multi-core CPUs.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kyjaotkb Avatar
50 months ago
This is bizarre, are you serious?! Isn't there an optical out?
FLAC! But where are DTS, DTSHD, TrueHD, Atmos - for that matter where is bitstreamed anything on the Apple TV 4K? They support DD+ but won't even bitstream it, it has to be converted to LPCM. I was going to pre-order today, but changed my mind at the last minute due to the limited audio options.

I think more people care about HD audio formats for their movies than care about FLAC.
Crazy, isn't it?
I also wonder when Apple will bother to include higher than AAC formats into the HLS specification (apart from the antiquated AC3 pass-thru that's reserved for the Apple TV) - Apple's format for streaming over HTTP. It's a headache for streaming services who want to offer ALAC/FLAC streaming that HLS doesn't have any kind of lossless /HD audio support. They have to cobble together proprietary implementations loosely based on MPEG-DASH or even worse, HDS/RTMP (Flash!).
[doublepost=1505473688][/doublepost]
http://www.digitalaudioreview.net/2016/09/assume-bluetooth-piped-aac-apple-makes-an-ass-out-of-you-and-me/

AAC isn't as good even as AptX...
I know! But to me, Apple Music in AAC sent straight to my Bluetooth headphones on an iPhone sounds about the same as Spotify in OGG re-compressed to Apt-X and sent to my Bluetooth headphones on my Xperia XA.

The worst is, the iPhone doesn't even recompress Spotify's OGG into AAC, it uses the inferior and older SBC codec, which frankly stinks. It does the same with Tidal Hi-fi or Qobuz Hi-Fi.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
hvfsl Avatar
50 months ago
I re-ripped all my music to Apple Lossless years ago but would have preferred FLAC as my understanding is that's it's an open standard compared to AL. So is this going to be an option in iTunes from here forward (rip in FLAC) or have I misread/misunderstood?
ALC is open-source as well, although it has less support in the open-source community.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

General Apps Messages

All Three Major U.S. Carriers and Google Adopt Rich Communication Services, But No Sign of Apple Interest

Tuesday July 20, 2021 1:15 pm PDT by
For the last several years, Google has been pushing a new communications protocol called Rich Communication Services, or RCS. RCS is designed to replace SMS, the current text message standard, and it offers support for higher resolution photos and videos, audio messages, bigger file sizes, better encryption, improved group chat, and more. Verizon today announced that it is planning to adopt...
AirPods Pro Beta Firmware

AirPods Pro Beta Firmware Now Available

Wednesday July 21, 2021 6:50 am PDT by
Upcoming AirPods Pro firmware updates are now available to Apple Developer Program members as beta versions. AirPods Pro firmware beta one features FaceTime Spatial Audio and Ambient Noise Reduction. Custom Transparency mode, including Conversation Boost, was initially expected to be included in the beta but appears to have been delayed for a later version. Apple made the announcement...
maxresdefault

Apple Music to Livestream Premiere of Kanye West's New Album 'Donda' on Thursday

Wednesday July 21, 2021 1:49 am PDT by
Apple Music on Thursday will host a global livestream for the premiere of Kanye West's tenth studio album, titled "Donda." The sold-out event will take place at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, and Apple Music's livestream will start at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The livestream was revealed in a Beats Studio Buds ad that aired during the NBA Finals. The ad features U.S. track...
ios wifi settings

Apple Confirms iOS 14.7 Fixes WiFi Bug and Many Other Vulnerabilities

Wednesday July 21, 2021 11:38 am PDT by
Following the release of iPadOS 14.7 this morning, Apple has shared details on the security updates that are included in iOS 14.7, iPadOS 14.7, macOS Big Sur 11.5, watchOS 7.6, and tvOS 14.7, all of which came out this week. Notably, Apple's documentation confirms that the iOS 14.7 and iPadOS 14.7 updates address a WiFi-related vulnerability that could impact iOS devices when joining a...
16 inch macbook pro m2 render

Gurman: Redesigned MacBook Pros to Launch Between September and November

Sunday July 18, 2021 7:39 am PDT by
Apple can be expected to release its redesigned 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros sometime between September and November, as part of another packed fall season for new product launches, according to Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman. In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman says that the new MacBook Pros will go into production in the third quarter and can be expected to be...
macOS Malware Feature

Common Windows Malware Can Now Infect Macs

Wednesday July 21, 2021 8:13 am PDT by
A common form of malware on Windows systems has been modified into a new strain called "XLoader" that can also target macOS (via Bleeping Computer). Derived from the Formbook info-stealer for Windows, XLoader is a form of cross-platform malware advertised as a botnet with no dependencies. It is used to steal login credentials, capture screenshots, log keystrokes, and execute malicious files. ...
magsafe battery pack solo

Hands-On With Apple's MagSafe Battery Pack

Tuesday July 20, 2021 11:14 am PDT by
The new MagSafe Battery Pack that Apple debuted this week is arriving to customers starting today and it's also now available for in-store pickup in many Apple retail locations around the world. We snagged one this morning and thought we'd take a look at it to let MacRumors readers know if it's worth the $99 asking price. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. As the name ...
macOS Big Sur Feature Orange

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.5 With Podcast App Updates and Bug Fixes

Wednesday July 21, 2021 10:15 am PDT by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.5, the fifth major update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November 2020. macOS Big Sur 11.5 comes two months after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.4. The new ‌‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌‌ 11.5 update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences. macOS Big Sur...
apple tv 4k design green

Apple Releases tvOS 14.7 for Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K

Monday July 19, 2021 10:04 am PDT by
Apple today released tvOS 14.7, the seventh update to the tvOS 14 operating system that initially debuted in September 2020. tvOS 14.7 comes two months after the launch of the tvOS 14.6 update. tvOS 14.7, which is a free update, can be downloaded over the air through the Settings app on the Apple TV by going to System > Software Update. ‌‌Apple TV‌‌ owners who have automatic software ...
ipad pro m1 feature

Apple Releases iPadOS 14.7 With Apple Card Merging Option, Fix for 3.5mm Headphone Jack to USB-C Adapter Bug

Wednesday July 21, 2021 10:18 am PDT by
Apple today released iPadOS 14.7, marking the seventh major update to the iPadOS operating system that came out in September 2020. Apple already released iOS 14.7 on July 19, but for some reason, delayed the iPadOS 14.7 debut until today. The iPadOS 14.7 update can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new ...