Apple’s latest AirPods Pro 2 do not support lossless audio even though the company’s own music streaming service, Apple Music, offers support for lossless audio streaming. In a new interview, an Apple engineer shared insight into why the second-generation AirPods Pro do not support the audio format.
$249 AirPods Pro 2 feature a simpler venting system compared to previous generation
In an interview with What Hi-Fi?, Esge Andersen from Apple’s acoustics team discussed the audio tuning and hardware design of the new AirPods Pro. Launched as part of Apple’s WWDC 2021 keynote, Lossless audio refers to audio up to 48kHz, they are huge files and use much more bandwidth and storage space than standard AAC files.
Back when Apple announced that Lossless audio would soon become available across its entire Apple Music catalog, consumers were confused since Apple’s own AirPods, including the $549 AirPods Max do not support the format.
As per Andersen, the lack of lossless audio support is not due to a Bluetooth codec limitation. Instead, the AAC codec that Apple uses is focused on offering a reliable experience.
Andersen remains coy, saying that while audio quality is always a priority, “it is important to understand that we can still make big strides without changing the codec. And the codec choice we have there today, it’s more about reliability. So it’s about making something robust in all environments.”
“We want to push the sound quality forward, and we can do that with a lot of other elements. We don’t think that the codec currently is the limitation of audio quality on Bluetooth products.”
Anderson went on to discuss all the improvements Apple made in the second-generation AirPods Pro. Not only do the earbuds offer better sound quality, but their noise cancellation is also twice as strong. One of the most significant differences between both generations is that the AirPods Pro 2 feature a simpler venting system, which helps to improve the sound.
In the AirPods Pro 2, the venting system was simplified: there’s now one vent at the back of the buds, rather than two (one in the front and one in the back) as found in the previous Pro model.
It’s thanks to this new back venting system that the AirPods Pro have been able to reach those higher, cleaner highs and better, deeper bass. Andersen says the biggest challenge has been to improve the high frequency response in particular. And they have been able to do so by optimising “the airflow for the driver so we can get better excursion.”
As of right now, there is no way to guess when Apple’s own AirPods will support Lossless audio. The company has expressed interest in developing its own codec in the past, however, nothing has been confirmed.