How to listen to lossless audio and Dolby Atmos on Apple HomePod and HomePod Mini
Music is one of Apple’s core product areas, pre-dating all the iPhones and iPads we know today. Apple Music also, besides having a killer library, supports lossless audio and Dolby Atmos. You might not be too interested in that, but then again, you might be.
If you have a HomePod or a HomePod Mini (or multiple HomePods) you can listen to supported music in both lossless and Dolby Atmos. It’s actually one of the easiest and most affordable ways to listen to the best versions of the Apple Music library.
But before you can use it, first you have to enable it. Here’s all that you need to know.
What is Lossless Audio and Dolby Atmos?
Before turning both of these features on, a little backstory on what they are if you’re unfamiliar. Lossless audio isn’t just one spec on Apple Music, but it does start at CD quality. Apple has its own codec, ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec), which it uses on Apple Music to deliver lossless audio. On Apple Music, this starts at 16 bit at 44.1 kHz and goes up to 24 bit at 48 kHz. There is also an additional tier that isn’t HomePod compatible, delivering Hi-Resolution Lossless at up to 24 bit at 192 kHz. On the HomePod, you’ll be getting the first.
Numbers are great but what do they mean? In simplest terms, you’re not losing detail in the audio, often lost during compression. Apple Music’s entire 75 million song library is available with lossless audio.
Dolby Atmos is part of Apple Music’s spatial audio feature, not available on all tracks. Dolby Atmos allows music to be mixed so it truly sounds like it’s coming from all around you. Spatial audio and Dolby Atmos compatible music can be found in dedicated sections within the Apple Music applications.
How to enable lossless audio and Dolby Atmos
For this, you’ll need to be using the Apple Home app on an iPhone or iPad. The Home app on macOS doesn’t currently have the necessary features to enable it. Open the app and then follow these steps.
- Click on the house icon in the top left corner.
- Select Home Settings.
- Under people, select your profile.
- Under media, select Apple Music.
- Enable the toggles for Lossless Audio and Dolby Atmos.
As the feature is specific to Apple Music, only audio from that source will be played in lossless and/or Dolby Atmos. As the lossless audio feature consumes more data, it is turned off by default.
Once enabled though you don’t have to worry about it again. Music will play in these formats whether you request it with voice or send it from a mobile device or your Mac.