Here's a surprise announcement: after nearly two years of waiting, Apple Music Classical is finally here and it has a launch date: Monday 28th March 2023.
Ever since the company acquired the classical-only streaming service Primephonic in 2021, we've been patiently waiting for Apple's version of the classical music service to appear.
According to the App Store (opens in new tab), the new Apple Music Classical is designed "specifically for classical music" and more crucially, it will be available to current Apple Music subscribers "at no additional cost".
And the good news continues: the Classical music library has over five million tracks already (joining Apple Music's over 100-million strong catalogue), and will feature songs available in up to 24-bit/192kHz Hi-Res Lossless quality (the highest Apple offers) and also in spatial audio with Dolby Atmos.
The latter is particularly interesting, as the launch date (28th March) is the same day that Sonos's new Era 300 spatial audio smart speaker will be on sale, and will also officially support Apple's spatial audio tracks from that date.
Coincidence? We think not.
- Sonos confirms Apple Music spatial audio support – and not just for its Era 300
- Read our five-star Apple Music review
Introducing Apple Music Classical, the new app designed specifically for classical music. Pre-order today on the @AppStore. https://t.co/lwnF4Dx4ua pic.twitter.com/F8uMKMVm2iMarch 9, 2023
You'll need to download the free app separately and if pre-ordering now, it will download automatically on to our iPhone on 28th March. It will work alongside any existing Apple Music plan (excluding the Voice Plan) and we reckon getting a whole new app with millions of songs at no extra cost is a pretty good deal.
It's not such a good deal for Android users, though, who are once again left behind when it comes to new Apple launches. Apple Music is available on Google Play Store and we expect the Classical app to be available for Android users at a later date.
Why the need for a separate app? Searching for classical music can be a minefield, with various conductors, orchestras and live variations available for any given work. Cataloguing the works isn't standardised, either, so it can be difficult to find the exact recording you want. To that end, Apple says the Classical app has a "specialised search" engine that lets you search by composer, work, conductor and catalog number - this should make finding specific works instantly.
Apple also says the app "makes it easy for beginners to get acquainted with the genre thanks to hundreds of Essentials playlists, insightful composer biographies, deep-dive guides for many key works, and intuitive browsing features." Apple also promises "accurate metadata" which any dedicated digital music fan will know is crucial for your music library (and peace of mind).
Apple's acquisition of Netherlands-based Primephonic should help with this. Primephonic was considered the world's largest specialist library of classical music (we liked it, giving four stars in our review). Before it closed, the service added hi-res streaming to its offering and boasted over 3.5 million classical tracks from 170,000 artists across almost 230,000 albums and 2400 labels.
What if you don't already subscribe to Apple Music? We imagine you'll need to subscribe to use the Classical app (individual plan: £10.99 / $10.99 / AU$12.99 per month), as it doesn't seem to be available as a separate paid app (yet). The app will work on Apple devices with iOS 15.4 and later, and you'll need compatible headphones (such as the AirPods Pro 2) and speakers (like HomePod 2 and upcoming Sonos Era 300) to fully enjoy the Hi-Res Lossless and spatial audio formats.
You can pre-order Apple Music Classical at the App Store now (opens in new tab), available on 28th March.
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