Does Lossless Audio Work with Bluetooth?
Apple’s announcement of lossless audio coming to Apple Music excited a lot of consumers, especially music enthusiasts and audiophiles. For years, audio streaming platforms have resorted to MP3 and AAC formats since they occupy less storage space. The reason they need less storage is that they’re compressed, which means a lot of detail and clarity is lost in the process compared to the original master quality track. If you haven’t already checked out our dedicated explainer about lossless audio and what it means for you, the end consumer, we urge you to check it out to get a rough idea about the concept of lossless audio and also understand what we’re discussing in this article in a better manner.
Can you listen to lossless audio via Bluetooth?
The straight answer is no. Lossless audio doesn’t work via Bluetooth.
Bluetooth, as a technology, just isn’t capable of transmitting so much data at such high speeds which is the reason for the lack of support for lossless audio transmission. Bluetooth works on the 2.4GHZ ISM spectrum which is focused on short-range communication. That’s the reason why even audio transmission via LDAC is not perfect. You may experience jitters and overall an unstable experience with audio cutting off from time to time. The range is also quite poor with LDAC and it’s just not a very refined experience.
None of the codecs used for music transmission via Bluetooth can achieve the right bitrate and sample rate required for lossless audio. Apple themselves clarified that the AirPods, AirPods Pro, and the ultra-premium AirPods Max, all of which work via Bluetooth, will not be able to play back lossless audio from Apple Music. Not just these specific earphones or headphones, but none of the truly wireless earphone options will be able to handle lossless audio regardless of how premium they are both in terms of features and price.
The simple reason for this is that most Bluetooth earphones and headphones max out at AAC, aptX, and aptX HD in terms of the codec used, and none of these codecs can achieve the minimum bitrate of 1,411kbps for an audio track to be classified as lossless. Not just the earphones, but it’s also necessary for your phone to have support for these codecs via Bluetooth. An iPhone, for example, only supports AAC for music played via Bluetooth irrespective of the earphones/headphones having support for better codecs.
What is the closest option to lossless audio in terms of Bluetooth Headphones?
The two popular formats used for lossless audio are FLAC and ALAC which are only supported via a pair of wired headphones or earphones. Therefore, it’s virtually impossible to get an experience of true lossless audio at 1,411kbps via Bluetooth. However, there’s one audio codec that comes quite close in terms of bitrate, and that is LDAC.
LDAC is natively supported by a lot of recent Android smartphones but the iPhone doesn’t have support for it. So if you use the right pair of Bluetooth earphones or headphones that have support for LDAC, you can experience audio at a maximum bitrate of 990kbps. While this is still far from 1,411kbps, it’s the best experience you can get with a wireless pair of headphones/earphones.
If you have a pair of wireless headphones that are studio monitors, you can also use them by plugging the AUX cable into the headphones and using them as a wired pair.
If you want to experience audio in LDAC, you can get a pair of 1More Triple Driver Neckband Earphones or the Soundcore Q35 if you’re looking for headphones. Some TWS earphones including the Oppo Enco W51 and the newly launched Sony WF-1000XM4 also have support for LDAC. If you want to experience the highest tier of true lossless audio on Apple Music, you’ll need a pair of wired earphones or headphones with a DAC. Don’t worry, we have a list of all the best DACs and earphones/headphones that you can buy to experience lossless audio on your smartphone and computer.