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Apple specs out Lightning headphone output


HiWire
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Seems pointless to the end user, but they're probably a-fixin' to eliminate the 3.5mm (1/8 inch) jack: http://9to5mac.com/2014/06/03/apple-introduces-mfi-specs-for-lightning-cable-headphones-support-arriving-in-future-ios-update/

 

Obviously, this could lead to new headphone and accessory sales (again – moar DACses?).

 

Bluetooth still seems to be a muddle re: sound quality: http://www.cnet.com/news/can-aptx-give-you-better-sound-over-bluetooth/

Edited by HiWire
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I SERIOUSLY doubt that it will result in moar DACses. 

 

Certainly, every MFR who could afford to buy the apple-chips necessary to get the digital stream off of ipods will have a DAC. So maybe we get 4 or 5 new DACs and another ipod-SPDIF converter... WOW. 

 

The really cool thing (for apple) is that after you buy those $350 headphones you are gauranteed to buy another ipod so you dont have to obsolete your headphones when you upgrade to an Android.

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BRB, super busy starting my niche business offering audiophile Lightning-to-TRRS adapters.

 

:frantic:

 

From the device manufacturer's standpoint, it makes perfect sense to just use the one hole. People tend to have stubborn individual preferences though. (Down, Steve.)

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From what I've read before this announcement, the 3.5mm jack is limiting how thin they can make devices and they've been looking at alternatives for a while.  Looking at my phone, it appears as though the lighting jack is about 40% smaller than the 3.5mm jack, so that might be why.  I'd imagine someone will come up with a dongle (worst word ever) that would allow for standard headphones to still be used and will sound as good (or bad, depending on your opinion) as the standard headphone jack.  But it is just one more thing that would have to be purchased.

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As I read it---and I could be way off here---there is no analog signal coming off the lightning connector.  The DAC has to be in the headphones.

 

So you're killing off any passive headphone use on iDevices. Sennheiser will have to be doing a lot of catch-up if they want to connect to an iPhone.

 

Love to hear if someone has a link to the actual spec.

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I'd hope there will be the "thin one" with no headphone jack, and the other ones.  But I've come full circle.  I almost never use headphones with my iphone anymore.  I use it in the car via a dock, and everywhere else I use the ipad or the computer.

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I'm going to write a little blurb about it monday, but from what I heard listening to the developer's conference speech by the guy doing the bit on the lightning/headphone jack, is that future implementations (of a 3.5mm jack-less iPhone) of the lightning connector will automatically route an analog signal to the jack when plugging in a passive headphone.  

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I really think it's going to be OK.

 

When they first introduced Lightning, Apple was careful to describe it as a multi-protocol digital interface.  I take that to mean that on the phone end, the interface chip can be software-driven to emulate things other than USB (and that what people call a "DRM chip" in Lightning cables is more importantly a handshake chip, that tells the phone "I'm a USB cable, so use that emulation mode").

So, if the interface doesn't have to act USB-like, and if Apple still wants to bundle cheap-to-build iBuds with phones and iPods (and sell other earwear too with the best possible margins), what are they going to do?  I figure they will supply at least one audio mode that is very cheap to build for.  It seems to me that would be PWM, plus the chip for handshake and the control signals (play/pause, volume up/down).

 

It seems to me that in that case a minimal adaptor could be small and cheap, either sold as an Apple accessory or provided by headphone manufacturers in the "designed for iPhone!" editions of their products. 

 

And none of this precludes higher-fidelity DACs and pro-level digital audio protocols for them.  I think Apple gets a certain amount of mileage from showing people using iPads for mixdowns and performance and DJ-ing and the like, so I think they will make sure there are pro-level Lightning audio protocols as well as an audio protocol optimized for inexpensive iBuds and the like.

 

Just my speculation.

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