Testing out Apple Lossless and the Q35s

What is it?
Apple has opened up Lossless Audio to all its Music subscribers providing almost all albums at CD quality. A good number of albums in the library will also be provided in full 24-bit/192KHz quality.

How do I do it
Download a minimum of iOS 14.6 and jump in to Settings – Music. Here you can change the quality of the audio for *Download, *Streaming etc.

*Don’t forget this will eat in to storage and more importantly data use for those not on an unlimited plan.

Android Users as of now are waiting for the APK to be updated (this could be wrong as of writing this) to allow for the Lossless library.

I downloaded my regularly played songs to my iPhone, these included a mixture of Lossless to Hi Res Lossless. With 936 songs downloaded, I used approximately 14.64gb of space. Songs were downloaded in Apples version of FLAC originally called ALAC.

How do we make use of this then
This is the million dollar question and those of you that have seen my review of the Q35s (https://youtu.be/n1d_th-EPK4) will be eagerly waiting to hear the answer.

iPhones cannot output anything above 24-bit/48KHz via Lightning earphones OR the Lightning to 3.5mm Adapter. What makes this worse is that Apple still rely on AAC / SMB for Bluetooth connectivity meaning any Audio streamed to your headset will be compromised.

Thanks Apple.

The best options I have found so far for us iPhone users is as follows and remember, this is just my experience - I would highly recommend you test for yourself and find out what works for you.

Lightning to 3.5mm Adapter
This is by far the cheapest option available to you right now. Although it doesn’t output above 24-bit/48KHz, for most people this will be much better than any previous listening experience.

This held true when I went from Bluetooth on the Q35s to the 3.5mm Auxiliary cable - There was a markable increase in quality with lows, mids and highs sounding considerably better. Music sounded warmer and much fuller.

Apple Camera Kit to DAC
Oh goodness this was messy. Connecting up a FiiO DAC to your iPhone isn’t as simple as using the included Lightning to USB-C cable.

Using a FiiO BTR5 connected via USB C to USB A to the Apple Camera Kit to the iPhone (Told you it was messy), I managed to get full Lossless Hi Res audio out via Auxiliary cable.

I’ll admit now, the sound quality blew me away but I had been left with a bitter taste in my mouth seeing it had taken me 15 minutes + to get it working. The price of the BTR5 is reasonable but when you have to invest in the Apple kit too, it hurts the pocket a little too much for me.

FiiO do offer the Q1 Mk2 which is MFI certfied and comes with a USB C to Lightning cable that works. At the time of writing this, I couldn’t get hold of one so couldn’t test this. There are plenty of reviews online stating this is a very good route to go down.

What about other headphones
Well, it would be rude to comment on what other headphones sound like but keeping with my loyalty to SoundCore.

The Life P2s, although using the same connection they always have, did see some benefit of the new, higher res files provided by Apple. This will be the same for the Q20s I own and again, are only limited by the Bluetooth Codec they connect via.

I have tried some ZSN Pro X, wired headphones and these did sound VERY good using the above methods.

In Summary
So, although the Q35s have LDAC, Apple users are going to struggle to get the maximum quality out of the new Apple Music offering. Hopefully the iPhone 13 will provide at minimum, Apt-X HD but knowing how Apple like to keep things ‘in house’, I’m not holding out hope.

I’ll update this topic once the new Apple Music app for Android is released, I have a Samsung Mobile sat with me for work testing and will see what LDAC plus Apple Lossless sounds like**.

**Even though LDAC is supported, offering the highest speed transfer of music via Bluetooth right now, this does mean that Lossless, Hi Res audio will still be compromised. It will however, sound a lot better than when connected to an iPhone via Bluetooth using a standard Codec such as AAC or SMB.

More Reading
Courtesy of an article from Digital Trends ( How to Listen to Lossless and Dolby Atmos on Apple Music | Digital Trends):

iPhone with wireless earbuds or headphones

  • Lossless 16-bit/44.1kHz: No
  • Lossless 24-bit/48kHz: No
  • Lossless 24-bit/192kHz: No
  • Dolby Atmos Music: Yes

Apple Watch with wireless earbuds or headphones

  • Lossless 16-bit/44.1kHz: No
  • Lossless 24-bit/48kHz: No
  • Lossless 24-bit/192kHz: No
  • Dolby Atmos Music: No

iPhone with wired earbuds/headphones and Lightning adapter

  • Lossless 16-bit/44.1kHz: Yes
  • Lossless 24-bit/48kHz: Yes
  • Lossless 24-bit/192kHz: No
  • Dolby Atmos Music: Yes

iPhone with wired earbuds/headphones and hi-res external DAC

  • Lossless 16-bit/44.1kHz: Yes
  • Lossless 24-bit/48kHz: Yes
  • Lossless 24-bit/192kHz: Yes
  • Dolby Atmos Music: Yes

Android phone with wired earbuds/headphones and hi-res internal DAC

  • Lossless 16-bit/44.1kHz: Yes
  • Lossless 24-bit/48kHz: Yes
  • Lossless 24-bit/192kHz: Yes
  • Dolby Atmos Music: No**

Android phone with wired earbuds/headphones and USB-C adapter

  • Lossless 16-bit/44.1kHz: Yes
  • Lossless 24-bit/48kHz: Yes
  • Lossless 24-bit/192kHz: No
  • Dolby Atmos Music: No**

Android phone with wired earbuds/headphones and hi-res external DAC

  • Lossless 16-bit/44.1kHz: Yes
  • Lossless 24-bit/48kHz: Yes
  • Lossless 24-bit/192kHz: Yes
  • Dolby Atmos Music: No**

Android phone with regular wireless earbuds or headphones

  • Lossless 16-bit/44.1kHz: No
  • Lossless 24-bit/48kHz: No
  • Lossless 24-bit/192kHz: No
  • Dolby Atmos Music: No**

Android phone with aptX HD- or LDAC-capable wireless earbuds or headphones

  • Lossless 16-bit/44.1kHz: Yes*
  • Lossless 24-bit/48kHz: Yes*
  • Lossless 24-bit/192kHz: Yes*
  • Dolby Atmos Music: No**

iPhone or Android phone with a Bluetooth speaker

  • Lossless 16-bit/44.1kHz: No
  • Lossless 24-bit/48kHz: No
  • Lossless 24-bit/192kHz: No
  • Dolby Atmos Music: No

Lossless-capable Wi-Fi speaker

  • Lossless 16-bit/44.1kHz: Yes
  • Lossless 24-bit/48kHz: Yes
  • Lossless 24-bit/192kHz: No
  • Dolby Atmos Music: No

Hi-res lossless-capable Wi-Fi speaker

  • Lossless 16-bit/44.1kHz: Yes
  • Lossless 24-bit/48kHz: Yes
  • Lossless 24-bit/192kHz: Yes
  • Dolby Atmos Music: No
3 Likes

Thanks for this test article. You’ve worked a lot to describe it all. :clap:
I’m glad to have an Android phone and LDAC. For the first time in my life, I feel “better” than the user Apple hardware.
I do not have the Q35 headphones yet, but maybe someday in the future… :slightly_smiling_face:

2 Likes

Such good information, thanks for taking the time to put together and share with the community.

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Appreciate all the info.

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You’re all very welcome, I enjoy testing these things. Must admit I’m hoping to test more of SoundCores kit when it comes out!

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Thanks for posting this. Quite a bit of information. :+1:

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Excelent post. Very detailed.

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