How music sounds coming from our phones is determined by several factors – the quality of the original recording, the speakers or headphones that you’re using, and whether or not your phone supports lossless USB audio.
The first two are within our control, but the latter will depend on the phone maker. Thankfully, the good news is that Google has confirmed that the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro smartphones will be gaining support for lossless audio in a future update.
The Pixel 8 series will add support for lossless USB audio in a future later release, according to Dave Burke in response to a comment from a Redditor.
Android 14 added support for lossless audio formats over USB wired headsets. pic.twitter.com/XYPyvIrzrc
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) October 12, 2023
This is according to a reply on Reddit by Dave Burke, Google’s vice president of engineering, who confirmed that in a future update, Pixel 8 phones and other handsets will soon support the feature by default. Right now, as per the original question, apps like Tidal need an “exclusive mode” that effectively takes over the phone’s DAC in order to send out lossless audio.
With this upcoming update, Google will be adding OS-level support which means that future apps and handsets should be able to take advantage of this without having the need to create an exclusive mode.
For those unfamiliar, lossless audio is basically an audio format that can maintain the original audio source, meaning that what you listen to is how the song was originally mixed without any compression or enhancements made by software or hardware. This is generally the format that audiophiles prefer as it keeps the sound “pure”.