Google has confirmed that it will soon be adding lossless audio over USB-C to the Pixel 8 phones. The news came from a Reddit AMA for Android 14, where Dave Burke (VP of Engineering for Android at Google) announced that the Pixel 8 phones do support lossless audio output over USB-C.
On that front, Burke said, "I'm excited about this feature (I may have personally asked the team for this quite a while ago, cough!). Basically, what it does is ensure "bit perfect audio," so audio bypasses the audio mixer, any processing effects, etc. We've added OS support -- so the next step is for support from device makers and app developers. Pixel 8 and other OEMs are expected to support this mode in their hardware abstraction layer (HAL) implementations in later releases."
The important part is the "later releases" statement, which means the feature has yet to drop for Android 14. OS-level support for lossless audio output over USB-C has been added to Android 14 on the Pixel 8 phones, but the feature has yet to be unlocked. App developers will also have to enable the use of a special API so their apps can take advantage of the feature.
For those who aren't certain of what this means, lossless audio delivers the most accurate representation of the original as possible, without artifacts or filtering. In other words, you'll hear music exactly how the artist intended.
One thing to consider is that lossless audio files are considerably larger than standard files. In addition, you'll need suitable hardware to take advantage of the feature. You won't get this with Bluetooth earbuds, and even with cheap wired headphones, you probably won't notice much difference.
True lossless will require listening to a lossless file (either stored on your device or via a steaming service that supports lossless audio) and a pair of headphones up to the task.
At the moment, the only streaming services that support lossless audio are Tidal, Apple Music, Deezer, and Amazon Music HD. As for Spotify, it's been rumored that its lossless audio tier would have been available in 2021 but it did not come to fruition. According to Bloomberg, Spotify is prepping the new HiFi tier that should go live near the end of 2023 -- so very soon. However, that is still just a rumor and Spotify has yet to confirm it.
This is still a huge step forward for music lovers who want to listen to their favorite artists with the best sound possible. Just make sure you have a high-quality pair of wired headphones ready for when the lossless feature goes live and third-party platforms can implement it.