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Teardown Confirms Digital-to-Analog Converter in Lightning EarPods and 3.5mm Adapter

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Apr 12, 2001
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Vietnamese website Tinhte has shared a teardown of Apple's new Lightning EarPods and Lightning-to-3.5mm headphone jack adapter included in the box with iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The video confirms that, as expected, each accessory is equipped with a small digital-to-analog converter.


The chip in the adapter, labeled 338S00140 / A0MU1621 / TW, does not have branding for any particular manufacturer, but Apple typically sources its audio-related chips from Cirrus Logic, which produces digital-to-analog converters. The chip in the EarPods is nearly identical, with a label of 338S00140 / A0QK1623 / TW.

The inclusion of a digital-to-analog converter, or DAC for short, enables both the new EarPods and traditional analog headphones with 3.5mm jacks to function over the Lightning connector, which delivers digital audio. The tiny chip is protected by a metal shield and two layers of plastic.


Apple controversially removed the 3.5mm headphone jack on iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, forcing customers to use a growing selection of Lightning-equipped headphones like Apple's own EarPods, wireless Bluetooth headphones, or traditional headphones connected via the Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter.

Article Link: Teardown Confirms Digital-to-Analog Converter in Lightning EarPods and 3.5mm Adapter
 
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gsmornot

macrumors 68040
Sep 29, 2014
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If you had never seen a lightening connector before you saw these pictures you would think its huge. Look how many parts are in this thing. Its tiny but the parts inside a just incredibly tiny.

Anyhow, with the DAC in the connector you have an opportunity for other brands to provide their own DAC that might just as well be a better design.
 

Phil A.

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Apr 2, 2006
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If there wasn't a DAC....how else would make sound?

It would literally be magical if it didn't include a DAC.

You'd be amazed - I've seen quite a few posts suggesting that Apple had somehow changed the lightning port to output analog sound as it was "impossible" to include a DAC in the plug as there wasn't enough room!


DAC includes "protection" so you only can play iTunes purchased music?

Why would it? iTunes purchased music isn't protected anyway ;)
 

AppleInLVX

macrumors 65816
Jan 12, 2010
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Seems fine, and shocked at how small they can make a DAC, but the dongle needs a line of code to stop it falling asleep after a few minutes of inactivity. It's bad when you're on hold and lose the mic when the other party connects, or if the volume controls stop working until you unplug and replug the thing. Other than that, it's all good.
 

Return Zero

macrumors 6502a
Oct 2, 2013
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I'm somewhat confused... Not by the presence of a DAC in the lightning headphones, but by the presence of the third audio amplifier found previously in Chipworks' iPhone 7 teardown. An amplifier is used on an analog signal, but the signal leaving the port is still digital. What am I missing here?

EDIT: added emphasis :D
 
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Narcaz

macrumors 6502
Jul 18, 2013
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I'm somewhat confused... Not by the presence of a DAC in the lightning headphones, but by the presence of the third audio amplifier found previously in Chipworks' iPhone 7 teardown. An amplifier is used on an analog signal, but the signal leaving the port is still digital. What am I missing here?

The internal speakers.

I guess Apple also killed the low end (<30$) wired headphone market for the iPhone with this move. Headphone manufacturers will have to pay the lightning licence fees and need to include a dac that matches at least the earpods. Without Apple scale i doubt this is possible.
 
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Morris

macrumors regular
Dec 19, 2006
174
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London, Europe
I'm somewhat confused... Not by the presence of a DAC in the lightning headphones, but by the presence of the third audio amplifier found previously in Chipworks' iPhone 7 teardown. An amplifier is used on an analog signal, but the signal leaving the port is still digital. What am I missing here?
The iPhone 7 has speakers so it will still need a DAC and amp built-in to play sound.
 

Phil A.

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Staff member
Apr 2, 2006
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Anybody knows if the "quality" of the DAC can impact the quality of sound? If yes... how good are the ones provided by Apple? Are there better ones?

Yes, and Yes - you can pay upwards of £1,000 for a top-end DAC! The question really is whether this DAC is at least as good as the one that's built in to the iPhone and I'd guess it will be but time will tell
 
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