Come June 2021, Apple is updating Apple Music in a big way. Specifically, it's adding lossless audio tracks and making them available to all Apple Music subscribers for free. This means that not only is Apple Music set to become a rival to other lossless streaming services (such as Tidal, Deezer, Qobuz, Amazon Music HD and the upcoming Spotify HiFi), but it's also going to be the cheapest lossless option — a subscription to Apple Music will continue to cost $10/month.
But can you play that lossless music on your HomePods? No. Not yet.
When this big lossless update rolls out, Apple Music subscribers will gain access to roughly 20 million ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Compression) tracks, with that number set to rise to 75 million tracks by the end of 2021, which are audio tracks that are roughly CD quality (16-bit / 44.1kHz). Apple says that you'll be able to stream even higher-resolution audio tracks (up to 24-bit / 192kHz), but you'll need to have an external DAC that supports it to experience them.
Do HomePods Play Lossless Audio?
Not right now, but they will.
Apple initially stated the both the HomePod and the HomePod mini would not be able to play lossless audio tracks from Apple Music, but the company has since backtracked on that statement. Via a support document, Apple now states that with a future software update, both its smart speakers will be able to support ALAC files and thus will support lossless streaming. Currently, HomePod and the HomePod mini only support AAC audio files, which is why they aren't able to play lossless tracks at the moment.
Do AirPods, AirPods Pro or AirPods Max Play Lossless Audio?
No, and they won't be able to.
According to Apple, AirPods, AirPods Pro and AirPods Max (as well as all its Beats headphones) will all not be able to play lossless audio tracks because their Bluetooth connections cannot support it. The kicker is that the AirPods Max will not be able to play lossless audio tracks even when wired into your iPhone, iPad or Mac.
The reason is the AirPods Max only have a Lighting jack and not a 3.5mm jack, so you can't use Apple's Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter ($9), which has a built-in DAC that supports lossless audio (up to 24-bit/48 kHz). So if you use Apple's special adapter you'll be able to listen to lossless audio on other wired headphones, but just not on its AirPods Max.