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Fingers crossed: the AirPods Pro 2 could deliver sweet lossless audio to your ear holes

Make it better than Sony's LDAC standard

Fingers crossed: the AirPods Pro 2 could deliver sweet lossless audio to your ear holes
Ivan Mehta
Story by

Ivan Mehta

Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh." Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh."

It’s a new year and there’s already a fresh Apple rumor hot off the presses: the upcoming AirPods 2 Pro will support lossless audio streaming. According to a note published by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the company is planning a design overhaul of its top-end wireless buds, along with a new case that will beep to help you find it.

The Cupertino-based company launched a lossless music tier for Apple Music last May. But there were only a few ways to enjoy it: if you’ve got an iPhone, you had to get an external DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) to listen to lossless files; if you’ve got a Mac or a MacBook, you could technically use a high-end pair of wired headphones to enjoy high-fidelity music.

 

Fiio Q3 headphone DAC/Amp
Fiio Q3 headphone DAC/Amp that you can use with your phone or desktop system.

However, the surprising bit was that none of the AirPods models — including the $550 AirPods Max — support lossless audio streaming out of the box. That seemed like an odd choice from Apple. Thankfully, the rumored AirPods Pro 2 could be an answer to that.

While I want to jump with joy, I am keeping my feet firmly on the ground for the time being. Until the new AirPods Pro are out, we would have no idea how they’ll improve the audio with Bluetooth’s current limitations.

Gary Geaves, Apple’s VP of Acoustics, told What Hi-Fi in an interview last week about the wireless standard’s bottleneck for audio delivery:

Things like the amount of latency you get when you move your head, and if that’s too long, between you moving your head and the sound changing or remaining static, it will make you feel quite ill, so we have to concentrate very hard on squeezing the most that we can out of the Bluetooth technology, and there’s a number of tricks we can play to maximize or get around some of the limits of Bluetooth.

But it’s fair to say that we would like more bandwidth and… I’ll stop right there. We would like more bandwidth.

It would be interesting to see if Apple’s solution could be applied to a wider range of wireless audio solutions. Currently, there are some standards such as Qualcomm’s AptX and Sony LDAC — which can transmit audio at a bitrate of 990kbps. You can learn more about bitrate here.

Apple’s challenge would be to surpass that and provide the industry best wireless audio experience. If the company manages to do that, it might push other stakeholders, including the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, which manages the standard, to update our beloved Bluetooth wireless spec for better sound.

In the end, the lossless audio support feature might not make a huge difference in the audio quality of the AirPods Pro 2. But it’ll hopefully make wireless audio less shitty.

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