Why Apple’s AirPods don’t deliver ‘Lossless’ audio

From Jose Adomo’s “Kuo: AirPods Pro 2 to offer Lossless support, new form factor, more” posted Sunday on 9to5Mac:

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is back in 2022 with his first report about the AirPods Pro 2, rumored to launch later this year. According to Kuo, there’s a lot changing with the upcoming AirPods

We expect Apple to launch AirPods Pro 2 in 4Q22 with new selling points, including a new form factor design, support for Apple Lossless (ALAC) format, and a charging case that can emit a sound for users to track. We are optimistic about the demand for AirPods Pro 2 and estimate shipments will reach 18–20mn units in 2022.

This is the first time an analyst or leaker predicts that wireless earbuds could feature Lossless support. By the end of 2021, AirPods’ creator addressed the limitations of Bluetooth in an interview.  Gary Geaves, Apple’s VP of Acoustics, has said that Apple would really like a wireless standard that allows for more bandwidth.

“Obviously the wireless technology is critical for the content delivery that you talk about,” he says, “but also 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”, he smiles.

My take: With Apple, to mangle a Joni Mitchell lyric, you don’t know what you’re missing until they’ve got it.

8 Comments

  1. Robert Varipapa said:
    Can you really have true ‘lossless’ audio with Bluetooth?

    0
    January 3, 2022
    • John Konopka said:
      Maybe Apple will invent Bluetooth variant 7, or 8 or 9 or whatever and add it to the standard. BT already encompasses quite a number of standards.

      “The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from.”

      1
      January 3, 2022
      • David Emery said:
        Apple might well develop a -proprietary- high bandwidth connection technology, but they can’t call it Bluetooth. That’s a trademark owned by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (standards body.) Apple is a primary member of that body.

        0
        January 3, 2022
        • John Konopka said:
          That what I was getting at. Apple could come up with a new BT format which worked for them and then have it added to the BT standard.

          1
          January 3, 2022
  2. Fred Stein said:
    Slightly OT:

    Apple stands tall amidst other stocks taking a hit This validates Apple as a quintessential anti-fragile investment.

    These AirBuds, just one of many “incremental” successes, support a market cap of $3T or $K * 1B users.

    0
    January 3, 2022
    • Kirk DeBernardi said:
      Fred S. —

      Sorry Fred, but I gotta correct that.

      AirPods. Not AirBuds.

      0
      January 3, 2022
  3. I pull out a 10-year old pair of wired Shure professional sound-isolating earphones to listen to certain albums like Weather Report or Paco de Lucia. A client bought them for me long ago for ~$500. The audio is incredibly crisp and I’m reminded what goes missing over BT.
    BT is a power hog too, unsuitable for AR needs in an eyeglass-style frame.
    One office I work in has 30+ bluetooth devices going in a tall, narrow structure. Mice lose their connection so often we’re back to wired mice on some systems. I go around turning off & charging BT devices.

    1
    January 3, 2022
  4. Kirk DeBernardi said:
    Read last night on 9to5 Mac that they believe Apple (although as yet officially unannounced) has completed their goal of all songs being made “lossless” at the close of last year.

    Hmmm…

    0
    January 3, 2022

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