Apple Engineer Addresses Lack of Lossless Support on New AirPods Pro

An Apple engineer has addressed the lack of lossless audio support in the second-generation AirPods Pro in a new interview.

airpods pro 2
Current Bluetooth technology in the AirPods lineup means that Apple's audio products do not support Apple Music Lossless audio. Apple has previously hinted that it may develop its own codec and connectivity standard that builds on AirPlay and supports higher quality audio streaming, but so far has not made any such move. ‌

‌Apple Music‌‌ offers lossless streaming which is 24-bit and up to 48KHz, and high-res lossless which goes up to 192KHz and requires an external digital-to-analog converter.

In an interview with What Hi-Fi?, Apple engineer Esge Andersen, who works on the company's acoustic team, said that Apple does not believe that current Bluetooth technology is a limiting factor in audio quality for the AirPods. Anderson added that even with current Bluetooth technology and codec standards, Apple can still make improvements in audio quality while the company's focus remains on reliability.

Andersen remains coy, saying that while audio quality is always a priority, "it is important to understand that we can still make big strides without changing the codec. And the codec choice we have there today, it's more about reliability. So it's about making something robust in all environments."

"We want to push the sound quality forward, and we can do that with a lot of other elements. We don't think that the codec currently is the limitation of audio quality on Bluetooth products."

During the interview, Anderson also offered an interesting look into how Apple developed the new second-generation ‌AirPods Pro‌ and how it validates sound quality. Anderson revealed that Apple has a panel of "sound experts" that offer Apple's engineers feedback on audio quality. "And at the end of the day, there is somewhat of a compromise, because you can't make it perfect for everybody yet," he said.

One of the most considerable improvements with the new second-generation ‌AirPods Pro‌ is better Active Noise Cancellation. Apple says that ANC on the new ‌AirPods Pro‌ is up to 2x better than before. Anderson said Apple was pushed to make this large improvement because it wanted "to give everybody an AirPods Max in their pocket."

Related Roundup: AirPods Pro
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Related Forum: AirPods

Top Rated Comments

Koni17 Avatar
18 months ago
He's right though, for most people, reliability is everything. Everyone notices when one or both earbuds drop out. Pretty much no one (according to blind tests) will notice lossless support in comparison to the quality offered now.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
B4rbelith Avatar
18 months ago
It’s been proven numerous times that lossless is pretty much indistinguishable from a good quality MP3 file; certainly in this kind of equipment.
It would just be a waste of bandwidth.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Boidem Avatar
18 months ago
The problem with 'lossless' music, is that to listen to it in order to really hear the benefits, you need some pretty decent kit. Either a decent hi-fi set up, or some very good earphones. IE; stuff that's superior to pretty much any wireless ear of headphones. I have done my own 'trials' with MP3 files at various quality, and 'lossless' music via CD. And above 192Kbps, you need progressively higher quality hi-fi gear to actually discern any difference at all. By 320Kbps, I could not tell the difference. Now that's entirely subjective and everyone's ears are different, but I'd be confident that not many people over 30, or even 20, could tell the difference either.

The next, and possibly most important factor, is 'does it actually matter'. For the vast majority of people, I'd say no. A lot of my older MP3 collection is pretty poorly encoded by current standards, but I can still enjoy the music. I'm fairly fussy about sound, yet I enjoy my APP2s, even though I know they are some way off 'proper' ear/headphones (ie stuff that costs many hundreds, if not thousands of pounds). At home, I have a lot of music ripped as lossless files, though some fairly decent speakers, and that experience is improved by having better quality source files. But for just walking about in a noisy environment, then APPs or indeed most basic ear/headphones are fine. Because I just enjoy the music.

'Lossless' audio is pretty much a gimmick. It has potential for high end systems, and multi channel recordings, but tbh for the vast majority, it's like having a car that can drive at 150mph, whilst most people have neither the skill nor the suitable environment to use the vehicle to anywhere near its true potential. Actually, not even like that most of the time. The average set of ear/headphones sold will be some way below the 'hi-fi' standard, very much in the 'consumer' range, so more like say a basic lower end Ford or whatever.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
contacos Avatar
18 months ago
I wonder if my hearing is truly bad or if people simply have a placebo effect.

Tried Master, Atmos and 360 Real Audio on Tidal and I hear no difference to regular 320kbs on Spotify, certainly don’t feel „emerged into the experience of feeling like I am at a concert hall“ as marketing always says
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tehabe Avatar
18 months ago
Lossless audio is a nice thing to have for archiving music but it is not really needed when you are on the go or just listening to music. AAC does an very good job and Apple makes the best AAC encoder out there.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Swissfashion Avatar
18 months ago
The ANC on the AirPods Pro 2 is a noticeable improvement. The bass response has also improved, without being overbearing. Just ordered another pair for a Christmas gift.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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