It turns out that no AirPods will be able to play lossless audio when the feature arrives on Apple Music. This includes the US$549 AirPods Max, even when they are using a wired connection, The Verge reported.
“Lossless audio is not supported on AirPods, any model,” an Apple spokesperson said by email. “AirPods Max wired listening mode accepts analog output sources only. AirPods Max currently does not support digital audio formats in wired mode.” It makes complete sense that the AirPods and AirPods Pro have no way of playing lossless audio. They’re totally wireless, and Apple supports the AAC codec over Bluetooth. AAC sounds plenty good, but it’s nowhere near the bit rate of CD-quality or high-resolution tracks. To do any better, Apple would need to come up with some new wireless codec — its own version of Sony’s LDAC, sort of — or make these things play music over Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth. None of that is happening today or by June when Apple Music will start offering lossless. Things are a little more complicated with the AirPods Max, which can be plugged into audio sources with a cable. However, it turns out that even if you have Apple’s $35 Lightning-to-3.5mm cable plugged into a device that’s streaming lossless Apple Music tracks, you’re not going to hear the full audio fidelity of the source.