I am in no way an audiophile and can’t articulate the difference in audio nuances. I listen to vinyl and I have a Technics SLQ 300 and a Rega P2 turntable with both using below $100 needle and an amp/speaker below $500. While I will not claim that vinyl has superior audio quality (it’s not), I enjoy the warmer sound it offers and it allows me to just sit and listen to the music. I am usually on my desk, and I listen to Apple Music on my MacBook Pro with Grado SR325e headphones. Sometimes, I use my wireless Grado GW100 when I wanted to be able to move around. I use my Airpods to listen to music when I’m outside.
I am excited about Apple Music Lossless & Spatial Audio but I wanted to share my thoughts and want to hear what others think of the recent significant upgrade to Apple Music. Maybe someone else can share their thoughts and setup. For this post, I will share my thoughts using headphones only.
My audio gear:
Airpods (1st gen)
Grado SR325e ($300) - wired and considered as a beginner audiophile headphones
Grado GW100 ($250) - wireless Bluetooth (can also be wired) with drivers that one notch below the Grado SR325
Audio Technica ATH-M20X ($30-$50) - wired monitoring headphone which I use for podcast recording and mixing
Note: I tested Lossless by changing settings. I also A/B tested with the same iTunes purchased song (downloaded) and a Lossless Apple Music song (downloaded) just to make sure that I’m not listening to a cached song.
Using AirPods with Spatial Audio:
better sound experience than the vanilla output when turned on. It has improved the AirPods as a listening device with Spatial Audio (Dolby Atmos). I think more people would appreciate this setup with their iPhone.
Grado GW100 with Spatial Audio connected through BlueTooth:
brighter and louder with added hum from too much treble and bass. Will keep this turned off when using this headphone.
Grado SR325e with Spatial audio (wired):
Connected to the iPad Pro with a dongle. I tried it with my 16" MBP but no way to check if Dolby Atmos is turned on or not (I toggle on/off but it doesn’t switch compared to when testing Apple Music on the iPad Pro.) I tried turning it off on the settings but there was no difference on my MacBook Pro. On the iPad Pro, better sound output compared to Grado GW1000. I hear more details and I can notice the Spatial audio with this setup. Soundstage is also more noticeable.
Grado SR325e with Lossless (CD quality) with a Macbook Pro:
Hard to tell the difference between High Quality and Lossless. There are added details to some of my fave songs that I didn’t notice back then but not mind-blowing enough.
Audio Technica ATH-M20X wired connected to a dongle on the iPad Pro using Spatial Audio:
a bit muddled, sometimes the vocal is underpowered. Bad Soundstage. Disappointing but I think I am used to the warmer sound of the Grado headphone. With the ATH-M20X, I prefer to turn off the Dolby Atmos.
Audio Technica ATH-M20X connected to a MacBook Pro for Lossless:
no noticeable difference between High Quality and Lossless.
Spatial Audio is a game-changer for average Apple Music listeners, especially for Airpods users. Lossless will only factor in a better audio setup. My setup has no noticeable difference between High-Quality audio and Lossless. If you don’t notice any difference, I think it’s best to just stick to the High-Quality settings as it doesn’t eat up that much bandwidth.