Apple Music Hi-Fi tier could land alongside AirPods 3, bringing key advantage over Spotify airpods pro / Airpods 3

It seems as though Apple could be planning to spring a surprise when it launches the AirPods 3: industry sources have claimed that a lossless, high-fidelity audio streaming tier is going to be added to Apple Music at the same time – but crucially, without a price hike.

That’s according to Hits Daily Double (via MacRumors), and while we can’t verify the claims, it would make sense for Apple to add the option for users – back in February Spotify HiFi was announced, a lossless, CD-quality tier coming later this year.

While Hits Daily Double says Apple Music’s new, higher-quality offering will be a new “tier”, it also mentions it will be at the same $9.99 per month price as the current plan, which makes it sound as though the extra Hi-Fi quality is going to be a free upgrade for users.

Whatever the details of the new package, Apple is playing catch up – although Spotify hasn’t launched its lossless, uncompressed audio streaming plan yet, you can sign up for such a plan on services like Deezer, Tidal, Qobuz and Amazon Music Unlimited.

But if Apple doesn’t offer a price hike, that’s going to be a real boon over its immensely-popular rival.

A treat for the ears

Apple Music streaming quality currently tops out at 256kbps AAC, and while that’s very crisp and clear, it’s still compressed – if you’ve got a high-end speaker set or pair of headphones, you’ll be able to hear the difference in high-quality audio.

CD-quality audio (16-bit/44.1 kHz) is the equivalent of 1,411 kbps, while studio-quality audio (24-bit/192 kHz) is the equivalent of 9,216 kbps. That studio-quality level is available on Tidal, Qobuz and Amazon, though Deezer and Spotify (in the coming months) stick to CD quality.

Exactly where Apple Music Hi-Fi lands on the quality spectrum – and how much extra it might cost – remains to be seen. With the WWDC 2021 software showcase event coming up at the start of June, it would give Apple the perfect opportunity to announce the update.

If this rumor is to be believed, the third-generation AirPods will break cover at the same time: they’re said to be arriving with shorter stems, and could incorporate a variety of new fitness tracking features as well.

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