Apple Lossless VS AAC: Which One Is Better

Written By Robert Fabry Last updated: January 11, 2024

In the past, most of the songs that you can download from Apple Music is in Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) format. But On May 17, 2021, Apple announced that they would begin offering lossless audio in Apple Music in June 2021, with all lossless music being encoded using the Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC). Many users don’t know what these files are.

Can you hear the difference between ALAC and AAC? Does Apple Lossless sound better than AAC? We’ve put together this guide to explain everything you need to know about Apple Lossless vs AAC, including what they are, and how they compare to one another. Part one of this article will give you an overview of ALAC and AAC. You will get a clear comparison of ALAC and AAC in part two. Part three will give you bonus information on how to get Apple Music songs to any format.

Contents Guide Part 1. ALAC vs AAC: OverviewPart 2. ALAC vs AAC: ComparisonPart 3. Bonus: How to Download Apple Music Songs to Any Format?Part 4. Summary

Part 1. ALAC vs AAC: Overview

Apple Music offers lossless audio and Dolby Atmos support at no additional cost elevating the service to the top of the streaming music hill. If you don’t understand lossless audio and AAC, and how they work, you may not know how they can benefit your music listening. Before comparing Apple Lossless vs AAC, we will discuss what exactly they are.

Lossless And Spatial Audio

Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC)

ALAC is the best audio format developed by Apple. It is a compression format that retains all data in the original recording. It compresses audio files but does not extend the sound quality is affected. There is no big difference from the original sound recording. Apple Lossless is the best format when ripping CDs because it will give you the original sound on the CD. This Apple Music lossless audio feature was only limited to specific tracks on the platform. Apple Music has made a promise of making this feature available to all tracks by the end of the year 2021 which actually happened!

Advanced Audio Coding (AAC)

AAC is an audio format for lossy digital audio compression. AAC was intended to replace the MP3 format because it has better sound quality than MP3. AAC has 48 full bandwidth, several audio channels combined in one stream, and 15 low-frequency effects. AAC format allows you to listen to high-quality stereo. The AAC format is a default format for various applications and devices in Apple's iTunes and iTunes Store. It's also the standard audio format for many other devices and platforms such as Google Home, YouTube Music, DivX Plus Web Player, PlayStation 4 and more. The AAC format is mainly used to hold analog sounds in a digital way allowing you to play them on digital media players. Analog sounds are big files but AAC format removes some information to reduce the file size.

Advanced Audio Coding

There is a close relationship between Apple Lossless and AAC formats. But there is some difference between the two formats. Get the comparison of Apple Lossless vs AAC in part two below.

Part 2. ALAC vs AAC: Comparison

The comparison of Apple Lossless and AAC is somehow technical because the two are closely related. Both formats use the M4A audio extension so it is hard to get the difference. Some fundamental qualities bring out the comparison of Apple's Lossless and AAC. Some of the qualities are file size, sound quality, compatibility, and many more. Below is a comprehensive explanation.

File Size

Is AAC a lossless format? Yes. AAC is a lossy format while ALAC is a lossless format. This means that Apple Lossless gives you bigger audio files than AAC. Apple's Lossless format keeps all the information in the original recording making it a huge output file. AAC format has smaller files because some sound information is removed. The file size difference is 10 times between the two formats. This is the biggest disadvantage of the Apple Lossless format. The huge files occupy a lot of space on your device.

Sound Quality

Apple Lossless vs AAC, is Apple Lossless high quality? Of course, Apple Lossless has better sound quality than AAC. Apple's Lossless format has all the original recording sounds. Apple's Lossless format has a higher bitrate than AAC. However, you will not hear the sound quality difference on basic earphones or ordinary sound systems. You need a quality set of music systems for you to get the difference in sound quality. Lossless Audio tracks cannot currently be streamed to wireless headphones, including AirPods.


Apple's Lossless format is less compatible with the hardware and operating systems. All current Apple devices can play ALAC-encoded files. The open-source library libavcodec incorporates both a decoder and an encoder for the ALAC format, which means that media players based on that library (including VLC media player and MPlayer, as well as many media center applications for home theater computers, such as Plex, XBMC, and Boxee) are able to play ALAC files. As of 2015, Windows 10 includes support for ALAC encoding and decoding, thereby enabling other media players to use it. None of Apple's headphones, however, work with lossless audio.

Lossless Support Feature

On the other hand, the AAC format is supported by several media players and music streaming services. It is supported on a wide range of devices and software such as PlayStation Vita, digital audio players like Sony Walkman or SanDisk Clip, Android and BlackBerry devices, various in-dash car audio systems, and is also one of the audio formats used on Spotify web player.

You may be interested: Play Apple Music on PS5!


Apple Lossless vs AAC, is Apple Lossless better than AAC? Apple's Lossless format was developed by Apple Inc. On the other side, the AAC format was developed by several companies like Bell Labs, Nokia, Dolby Laboratories, Microsoft Panasonic and Sony. Apple Lossless and AAC have different developers but they use the same M4A extension.

Licensing Fee

Consumers cannot see this difference but it is there. Apple Lossless format is free and the software makers are not charged anything. AAC format has some charges depending on the units produced. Sometimes AAC has a flat rate on all units produced. This is why you will not get extra charges on iTunes if you choose to use Apple Lossless format.

Part 3. Bonus: How to Download Apple Music Songs to Any Format?

Part two above has given you the comparison of Apple Lossless vs AAC. Which music format sounds better? They have the pros and cons. You can select the format you prefer depending on the device used. If the audio format can not be compatible with your device, you need to convert it to the correct one. Therefore, converting your file is paramount. The best converter tool, AMusicSoft Apple Music Converter, works at a fast speed of 5X to convert your audio files on Apple Music to various formats, including MP3, ALAC, FLAC, WAV, AAC, M4A, and M4B.

Plus, Apple Music songs have DRM protection hence you may find it difficult to play ALAC and AAC music outside Apple devices. MusicSoft Apple Music Converter can remove DRM from Apple Music files to enhance compatibility of device usage. So you can share any Apple Music downloads with anyone without limit and play Apple Music songs on any device you want. It will maintain all the ID tags of the song hence you can easily identify the output file.

AMusicSoft program is compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems. The software is user-friendly because it automatically loads your music library when you launch it. Click the free download button to try playing music anywhere!

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Download Apple Music Songs to Any Format

Step 1. Open the converter and add the Apple Music songs by selecting them from your music collection. Just simply drag and drop the song to the plus icon.

Select The Music

Step 2. From the available formats mentioned, choose one and then select the folder to save downloads as well.

Choose Output Format

Step 3. Get started with conversion by hitting the Convert button below.

Click On The Convert Button

Step 4. Download the results by heading to the Converted section above.

Just wait for the process to be completed patiently. Now you have downloaded DRM-free music on your Windows or Mac computer, you can play them on any music player for offline listening, or transfer converted songs to other devices for streaming, such as smart TVs, smart speakers, or portable music players.

Part 4. Summary

It is an uphill task to compare Apple Lossless vs AAC formats. But if you look at the defining factors you can see the difference. Apple Lossless has bigger files than AAC files because it holds all information in the original recording. Apple Lossless format is less compatible with most media players and operating systems. It is also less compatible with most devices except Apple devices. Apple Lossless has better sound quality than the AAC format. Apple Lossless was developed by one company while AAC was developed by a group of companies.

You can get Apple Music songs or iTunes songs in the simplest format MP3 with the help of AMusicSoft Apple Music Converter. It is the best converter on the market nowadays. It can handle many files at the same time without reducing the speed.

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