For those of you using Lightning connector headphones hows the sound quality

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by TheRealAlex, Jul 4, 2016.

  1. TheRealAlex macrumors 65816

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    #1
    So no doubt Apple is getting rid of the 3.5mm jack they liquidated all the Wired BEATS headphones in case you needed proof.

    anyways I am curious to know if anyone is enjoying higher quality audio from the Lightning port if you happen to have headphones with a lightning port connector.
     
  2. redshifted macrumors regular

    redshifted

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    #2
    My understanding is that the headphones that plug straight into the lightning port basically have an Amp/DAC combo of some sort built-in. Each manufacturer is going to do their own version of Amp/DAC and equalization. I expect sound quality will be all over the place with the first-generation of lightning-only headphones.

    I don't have headphones that plug straight into the lightning port but I run an Oppo HA-2 Amp/DAC out of the lightning port on my iPhone 6+. I plug my headphones into that. This is basically the same thing and bypasses the iPhone's DAC. It's a lot less convenient having an extra piece of hardware to carry around but I can use any pair of headphones this way. I use a variety of headphones and the sound is better than the direct 3.5mm output for every pair of headphones. Some improve more than others.

    I hope someone with a pair of lightning-only headphones will share their impressions of the sound quality of their cans. Headphone audiophile sites will be lousy with reviews when enough product has shipped.
     
  3. redshifted macrumors regular

    redshifted

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    #3
  4. JarScott macrumors 68040

    JarScott

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    Hey I have some questions regarding this and I don't really want to make a new thread.

    I was in the market to buy a new pair of high end headphones and I made my purchase the other night, they're wired ones from Bose - one of my favourite companies. But it's just gotten me thinking because I want these headphones to last me a long time. Now, many people are saying that Lightning headphones will offer a digital connection and thus audio quality will be a lot better. But will it be noticeably better than headphones over an analog connection? Because presumably all a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter will do is convert the signal to analog.

    Am I better off returning what I've bought and wait for Bose to bring out a set of Lightning headphones possibly, or do you think I won't really be missing out on anything by using an adapter? More over, on many high end headphones, these included, the cable is detachable. Would manufacturers simply be able to make and sell digital Lightning versions of their cables without the need for the customer to buy new headphones entirely?

    What do you think?
     
  5. redshifted macrumors regular

    redshifted

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    #6
    If you're going to use your new headphones now and you enjoy the sound quality, then stick with them.

    Eventually, there will be a lot of aftermarket Lightning-to-analog converters. Apple will have their own I'm sure. The sound quality through them will vary. Some will be better than others. Bose will probably roll-out their own Lightning headphones - or at least offer a converter of their own.

    If you have a bunch of devices with 3.5mm output, then I wouldn't worry about it. Just enjoy your new headphones. If you're chomping at the bit to upgrade to the next iPhone with Lightning only output, then I'd suggest you wait. It's hard to say what you should do because all we really have are rumors that the next generation iPhones will have Lightning only audio. The quality of the DACs and amps in the Lightning-to-3.5mm adapters is hard to predict at this point.

    It's not an easy decision to make and the more money you have invested in headphones makes it even more difficult.
     
  6. JarScott macrumors 68040

    JarScott

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    #7
    Thanks, I'll stick with what I've bought. Like you say, I'm sure Bose will bring out their own adapters and cables plus I have over 3 devices with 3.5mm jacks. Seems logical to stick with what I've bought seeing as I'm happy with them!

    Thanks for getting back to me!
     
  7. redshifted, Sep 2, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2016

    redshifted macrumors regular

    redshifted

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    #8
    I had occasion to try listening to these headphones in a noisy Apple Store today. The sound isolation is not very effective. If you're planning to use these in noisy environments (like trains or planes), I'd look at other options. They were fairly comfortable to wear for 30 minutes and easily covered my average sized ears. They seemed to be sturdy and well-built. My OPPO PM-3s are about the same from a comfort standpoint for me. The OPPOs definitely have better sound isolation in noisy environments.

    I can't comment on the Cipher cable Amp/DSP/DAC because I'm not sure which audio output the display model was using. These cans sounded good (but not $400 great) in this particular use case.

    Apparently, Audeze has just announced two versions of in-ear magnaplanar phones - the iSINE10 and iSINE20:

    https://www.audeze.com/products/sine-series/isine10-ear-headphones

    Kinda pricey and certainly "eye-catching" design-wise (listing at $400 and $600 in two versions) with Lightning Amp/DSP/DAC Cipher cables. They also feature an App that adds equalization.

    It looks like Lightning connector headphones are really happening :cool:.
     
  8. redshifted macrumors regular

    redshifted

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    #9
    If the newly announced $9 Apple Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter contains a DAC, I'll test it against a variety of Amp/DACs. $9 may represent the cost of the old internal Amp/DAC chip found in earlier iPhone models.
    I'm sure I won't be the only one to take a good listen :cool:.
     
  9. cbautis2 macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    It has to contain a DAC. Lightning nor USB does not pass through analog audio since USB is ALWAYS 5V linear powered whereas analog is a voltage waveform.
    If you can get a USB male to female lightning, you can hook it up to any Mac and enjoy clearer audio since there's less interference than the DAC inside the motherboard.
     
  10. redshifted macrumors regular

    redshifted

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    #11
    I did a bunch of research on-line about the Lightning connectors pinouts and specs and patent and blah, blah, blah...
    The adapter they're including (or for $9) may or may not include a DAC based on everything I've read. Lightning is able to adapt itself to the device connected and that seems to include passing analog audio. Any engineers in the room? :p

    It seems that there was a bunch of info as early as 2014 that Apple was going to abandon 3.5mm in favor of Lightning eventually. This was based on info Apple sent along to peripheral manufacturers.

    I agree with you that bypassing less-than-ideal Amp/DACs and using better Amp/DACs (with less interference) is aways a good idea :cool:.
     
  11. cbautis2 macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    Since iPhone 7 has a earpods with lightning connector, you can get this accessory + a USB to micro USB female adapter to see if you get audio. If you do, it should be using a DAC inside. If it doesn't, maybe iPhone 7 still has a DAC chip inside that sends analog audio through lightning.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. redshifted macrumors regular

    redshifted

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    #13
    We know there's a DAC in the 3.5mm adapter now. Let the audiophile testing and reading of tea leaves begin :D!!!
     
  13. cbautis2 macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    They've got the measurements already. It has an output impedance of less than 1 ohm which would benefit multiple balanced armature IEMs with 16 ohms or less impedance. Some even claim that it sounds better than Audioquest Dragonfly black except when fed with power-hungry headphones.
     

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