Entertainment Quantified

May 23, 2021 - Music Lossless

Lossless Music

Fourteen years ago I wrote a post on Director’s Intent. In it I tried to express that director’s have a method to their madness in showing film grain in their movies. Give it a read if you haven’t, but replace HD-DVD with Bluray. So what does this have to do with music? Well Now Apple Music and Spotify are coming out with lossless music. This is probably to combat Amazon Music, Tidal, and Qobuz. Doesn’t matter why they are doing it, it’s best for the consumer right? Well…

Lossless CD quality music is great. It’s the sound that my generation grew up on, and to some it’s night and day different than the compressed MP3 sound that the next generation grew up on. Tidal and Qobuz also have about 7% of their catalog in a Hi-Res Audio quality. Through the right setup this music sounds really good. The separation between instruments, the sound stage height and width, and the… well… it gives us the producer’s intent on the music. Short of actually being in the recording studio, we can feel like there isn’t anything being done to our music.

Now, the keen observer would notice that I said, “through the right setup.” What is the right setup? Well, it’s not what you think. Those $550 AirPods Max, or $249 AirPods Pro will not provide a better listening experience than the existing lossy music. The reason is that with wireless headphones you must use Bluetooth to connect to them, and what do we know about Bluetooth? It is lossy. The AAC codec or aptX codec are lossy.

That means that all that glorious loss-less music coming into the pipe gets compressed before going to the headphones and then into your ear.

So what can you do? There are alternatives to getting that lossless music into headphones, but you won’t do it wireless. First you’ll need one of these:

Lightning to USB Adapter

To connect to your iPhone or iPad and give you a USB connection. Then you need one of these:

Audioquest Dragonfly

To plug your headphones into. Yes that’s right, you need physical connections, not wireless, in order to get the best results. Now you probably shouldn’t plug just any old headphones into it. I’d recommend at least Sennheiser HD 660 S headphones.

So, what do you think of Apple Music going to lossless now? It’s more of a marketing gimmick than anything else.


Apple is about due for a refresh of their AirPods. What if they have an ace up their sleeve? What if they plan on coming out with a lossless codec for Bluetooth? That would be a game-changer. Although, not one that’s technically possible.


Apple did not introduce a lossless codec for Bluetooth. I don’t think that’s possible.

In other news, John Darko just posted a video on YouTube that says basically the same as what I said here. Only quite a bit more elegantly. You shuold watch it.

I also did a video on YouTube talking about DACs and Music, please watch it and let me know what you think!