Apple may be readying a new better-than-CD hi-resolution audio format that has 96 kHz, 24-bit sampling for Apple Music subscribers while also making use of the higher quality output of Lightning ports.
Apple Music is reportedly getting ready to launch its new hi-res music streaming with higher quality audio than can be streamed via standard headphone connectors during the next year, according to Japanese tech site Macotakara, which referred to “several insiders familiar with Apple” who were exhibiting at the Portable Audio Festival.
Last year Apple revealed its Lightning connector audio spec, which was also adopted for Lightning-capable headphones from Philips, JBL and more. There have also been recent rumours that the iPhone 7 may drop the standard audio jack completely to use the much thinner Lightning port for audio output. That means Apple could remove the audio jack plug that takes up space (and makes it harder to protect from water) but would also mean iPhones have high quality audio playback.
The iPhone’s current analogue jack can only deliver the equivalent of CD quality audio. But by moving to Lightning’s digital system, headphones can also use higher quality 24-bit digital to analogue conversion to deliver a much better sound and one that’s said to be closer to studio quality.
In the past, many better-than-CD audio formats have come and gone, such as Digital Audi Disc, SACD, and DVD-Audio. More recent attempts to deliver high resolution audio have also failed to gain much popularity.
But with the high profile of Apple Music, which already has more than 6 million subscribers in its first few months alone, as well as Beats headphones and the Lightning Connector spec, Apple may be able to popularise hi-res audio to a much wider audience, and also leverage that as a well to sell iPhones, accessories and Apple Music subscriptions.