iPhone 15 went USB-C, and so did the wired earbuds that used to come in the box. Nothing weird about that. Something perhaps more unexpected? Apple’s $19 USB-C EarPods apparently support lossless audio playback that works with Apple Music.
That’s according to testing conducted by our friends at MacOtakara today. Their testing shows USB-C EarPods have 16bit/44.1kHz to 24bit/48kHz support including lossless audio compatibility.
EarPods, remember those?
EarPods, of course, are easily forgotten in the era of AirPods. Being unbundled from the iPhone box in service of reducing waste also makes EarPods a bit forgettable.
EarPods replaced the less bulbous Apple earbuds when the iPhone 5 debuted in 2012 — coincidentally, the previous iPhone port change. 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 port from USB-C iPads starting in 2018, but it sold a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter and not 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 that bit on its product page for the new earbuds.
What’s new, however, is this revelation from MacOtakara that EarPods with USB-C support lossless audio playback. From the site (slightly edited machine learning translation):
When I connected EarPods (USB-C) to my MacBook Air (M1, 2020) and checked with Audio MIDI settings, EarPods (USB-C) are 16bit/44.1kHz to 24bit. I was able to confirm that it is equipped with a DAC that supports 48kHz.
Apple Music’s lossless audio is “lossless: maximum resolution 24bit/48kHz” and “high-resolution lossless: maximum resolution 24bit/192kHz”, so EarPods (USB-C) are lossless. I was able to confirm that it is compatible.
So there you have it. The revised AirPods Pro 2 with USB-C charging support lossless audio when used with Apple’s upcoming $3,499 Vision Pro headset, and the $19 wired EarPods with USB-C support lossless as well.
For a higher volume sound, the new Beats Studio Pro headphones support lossless over USB-C as well. Apple’s $549 AirPods Max with Lightning? Not so much, but we have high hopes for their first revision hopefully due next year.
Apple Music, of course, has supported lossless at no extra charge for a while now. Meanwhile, Spotify promises lossless is coming someday for those willing to pay up.