September 27, 2023

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Apple’s new $19 USB-C EarPods appear to support lossless audio

Apple’s new $19 USB-C EarPods appear to support lossless audio

The iPhone 15 now comes with a USB-C port, as do the wired earbuds that came in the box. Nothing strange about that. Something perhaps more unexpected? Apple’s $19 USB-C EarPods appear to support lossless audio playback that works with Apple Music.

This is according to testing conducted by our friends at Makotakara today. Their testing shows that the EarPods USB-C have 16-bit/44.1kHz to 24-bit/48kHz support including lossless audio compatibility.

EarPods, remember them?

Of course, it’s easy to forget about EarPods in the age of AirPods. And disassembling them from the iPhone box in order to reduce waste also makes the EarPods a bit forgettable.

EarPods replaced Apple’s less prominent earbuds when the iPhone 5 debuted in 2012 — and coincidentally, the previous iPhone’s port has changed. The EarPods were revised in 2016 to replace the 3.5mm connector with a Lightning connector when the iPhone 7 dropped the headphone port.

Apple later dropped the headphone jack from USB-C iPads starting in 2018, but sold the USB-C to 3.5mm adapter and not the USB-C EarPods. Now that the iPhone 15 has moved on from Lightning, USB-C EarPods are here to enjoy on any iPhone, iPad, or Mac with a USB-C port. Apple confirms this on its product page for the new earbuds.

Lossless support

But what’s new is this revelation Makotakara EarPods with a USB-C port support audio playback without data loss. From the site (slightly modified machine learning translation):

When I connected the EarPods (USB-C) to my MacBook Air (M1, 2020) and checked the Audio MIDI settings, the EarPods (USB-C) averaged 16-bit/44.1kHz to 24-bit. I was able to confirm that it is equipped with a DAC that supports 48kHz.

Apple Music’s lossless audio is “Lossless: maximum resolution 24-bit/48 kHz” and “Lossless High-Res: maximum resolution 24-bit/192 kHz”, so EarPods (USB-C) are not playable. For loss. I was able to confirm that it is compatible.

So this is it. The revised AirPods Pro 2 with USB-C charging support lossless audio when used with Apple’s upcoming $3,499 Vision Pro headphone, and the $19 wired EarPods with lossless USB-C support as well.

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For higher volume sound, the new Beats Studio Pro headphones Support lossless via USB-C as well. Apple AirPods Max at $549 with Lightning? Not much, but we have high hopes for the first review which will hopefully happen next year.

Apple Music has, of course, supported Lossless at no extra charge for a while now. Meanwhile, Spotify promises that a “no loss” service will one day come for those who want to pay.

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