An Apple engineer has discussed the lack of lossless audio support in the second-generation AirPods Pro in a new interview.
The current Bluetooth technology in the AirPods range means Apple’s audio products do not support Apple Music Lossless audio. Apple has previously hinted that it could develop its own codec and connectivity standard that builds on AirPlay and supports higher quality audio streaming, but so far has made no such move.
Apple Music offers lossless streaming of 24-bit and up to 48 KHz, and high-res lossless that goes up to 192 KHz and requires an external digital-to-analog converter.
In an interview with Which Hi-Fi?, Apple engineer Esge Andersen, who works on the company’s acoustics team, said Apple doesn’t believe current Bluetooth technology is a limiting factor in the AirPods’ audio quality. Anderson added that even with current Bluetooth technology and codec standards, Apple can still make improvements in audio quality while keeping the company’s focus on reliability.
Andersen remains coy, saying that while audio quality is always a priority, “it’s important to understand that we can still make big strides without changing the codec. And the codec choice we have there today is more about reliability. So it’s about making something robust in all environments.”
“We want to take the sound quality to the next level, and we can do that with many other elements. We don’t think the codec is currently the limitation of audio quality on Bluetooth products.”
During the interview, Anderson also gave an interesting glimpse into how Apple developed the new second-generation AirPods Pro and how it validates sound quality. Anderson revealed that Apple has a panel of “sound experts” who provide Apple engineers with feedback on sound quality. “And at the end of the day, there’s kind of a compromise, because you can’t make it perfect for everyone just yet,” he said.
One of the major improvements with the new second-generation AirPods Pro is better active noise cancellation. Apple says ANC on the new AirPods Pro is up to 2x better than before. Anderson said Apple was pressured to make this big improvement because it “wanted to put an AirPods Max in everyone’s pocket.”
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