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Good news for Apple Lightning fans?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
 We’ve learned Apple has quietly introduced a new specification for manufacturers in its Made-For-iPhone/iPad/iPod (MFi) program that allows them to create headphones that connect to iOS devices using a Lightning connector instead of the usual 3.5mm headphone jack. Apple has not flipped the switch on the audio input support for Lightning cables and existing iOS devices, but it says it will release an update in the future that will enable support in devices running iOS 7.1 or later.

 

http://9to5mac.com/2014/06/03/apple-introduces-mfi-specs-for-lightning-cable-headphones-support-arriving-in-future-ios-update/

 

I love me some ultra portable solutions. My interest is piqued...

post #2 of 23

Just curious, does this help in the possibility of a Lightning LOD Cable ever being created?

post #3 of 23

So, just a bunch of headphones built to include the Wolfson DAC that Apple mandates. Isn't this in principle just like one of those headphone mics that uses USB to connect to a PC? :etysmile:

 

Is Apple hoping to remove the 3.5mm jack from their products by doing this? One wonders. Is D/A conversion outside the device going to be better done than within the device? (that's not a genuine question, that's a quip.)

post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 
If I understand this right, what this means is that we can finally see some options for Lightning that we never saw before..

Imagine the functional convenience and form factor of something like FiiO e02i but through lightning port so the signal is not being double amped. Personally, I would love something like that, the option for better audio quality without sacrificing functionality of my all in one iPhone device while on the go.

I recently tried to bring an amp out in the wild with my iPhone and it is just unusable. I use my iPhone for comms, directions, music, and camera all at the same time, having an amp no mater how small attached to my belt is a hassle.

Without double amping, the only product available that even looks like it comes close to my needs is the Beyerdynamic A200p. It's a pretty slick device given the form factor and the music controls but if I'm not mistaken... No mic input? No mic passthrough? Also, it really fails to hit on pricing.

Hoping that with this new firmware update both of those issues can be addressed by manufacturers.
Edited by _j_ - 6/3/14 at 9:17pm
post #5 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by _j_ View Post

Imagine the functional convenience and form factor of something like FiiO e02i but through lightning port so the signal is not being double amped.

 

But would something like the Fiio e02i in execution really trump the built-in audio output? Or is it just an exercise to give Fiio a change at your hard-earned money? (Also insert all the self-purported audiophiles who claim amps and DACs below a certain price and size is meaningless :tongue: )

post #6 of 23

I've been scouring the news sites about WWDC to see whether hi-res support would be made available, and this report seems to me to be a sideways move.  Not because it does not support hi-res (which I could see to be somewhat against Apple's general "everyperson" strategy, even though I hear benefits due to a faster reconstruction rate), but because it requires a specific DAC chip to be compliant.

 

So in order to use a Lightning-compliant headphone, part of the electronic chain -- the DAC -- needs to some from a specific supplier.  Doesn't limiting the DAC model limit innovation?  This points to more sameness in audio, which is not robust IMO. 

post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzman7 View Post
 

So in order to use a Lightning-compliant headphone, part of the electronic chain -- the DAC -- needs to some from a specific supplier.  Doesn't limiting the DAC model limit innovation?  This points to more sameness in audio, which is not robust IMO. 

 

That sucks if true. Do you have a link to the details about the DAC limitation?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by heatofamatch View Post
 

 

But would something like the Fiio e02i in execution really trump the built-in audio output? Or is it just an exercise to give Fiio a change at your hard-earned money?

 

I'd certainly be willing to pay a premium for something that gives me media controls and mic passthrough that I can clip to my bag while on the go. Add in 'better' sound than through the on board iPhone AMP and I am happy.

Whether that is better or worse than anything else would remain to be heard.

post #8 of 23
I guess introducing such connections would be a perfect opportunity for 'someone' to buy the company beats.....
post #9 of 23
The 9to5mac story has the DAC link embedded in the story.

http://9to5mac.com/2014/06/03/apple-introduces-mfi-specs-for-lightning-cable-headphones-support-arriving-in-future-ios-update/

This link is at the end of the fourth paragraph where the restriction is mentioned.

http://www.wolfsonmicro.com/products/dacs/WM8533/

But wait! The story talks about "Standard Lightning Configuration" and "Advanced Lightning Configuration", and the former needs the WM8533 DAC chip. Perhaps the latter does not, and it sounds more like a standard DAC/amp scenario. So maybe there is hope after all.

I'm hoping that Apple decides to extend the audio to 96kHz sampling (or at least allow upsampling) which does improve reconstruction of standard-rate audio. I'm finding the CEntrance HiFi-M8 sounds better from its USB connection which does hi-res as compared to its MFi connection which is currently limited to 48kHz and 16-bit.
post #10 of 23

Could this be the end of the 3.5mm jack? It's quite frightening to think that in the future audio equipment from companies might just rely on one solution removing the 3.5mm jack and using one standard port to listen to music.It may make our equipment obsolete.

post #11 of 23

So this is very interesting.  Just imagine:  Beats headphones with built-in iPod :-)  

Lightning used to sync to Mac/iTunes-HD.

 

Apple has already caused several industry "resets" in the past.

Now Thunderbolt making its way into the PC market.

 

No reason to doubt Apple's ability to replace USB2.0/USB3.0 or the 3.5mm jack.

post #12 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by AUDIOBREEDER View Post
 

Could this be the end of the 3.5mm jack? It's quite frightening to think that in the future audio equipment from companies might just rely on one solution removing the 3.5mm jack and using one standard port to listen to music.It may make our equipment obsolete.

Very interesting contemplation! 

 

An analogy:  I remember when HDMI was being first introduced in A/V circles around 2005 as a "convenience" and "best quality" option.  Of course, it is also encrypted, and broadcasters and content providers started talking about "plugging the analog hole," meaning getting rid of every video playback device that has an analog video connection.  Now, take a look at your TVs, Blu-ray players, even boxes -- analog is disappearing, and so is the "hole."

 

So, if a company moves to go fully digital in an audio connection, it also allows encryption through the chain, which means that unencrypted content starts to be marginalized.  Here's a thought:  What if you could hear a special streaming music service with the highest quality only through Lightning headphones -- music streaming through the standard audio jack was compressed (downrezzed)?  That is more or less what has happened with video...

post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzman7 View Post


But wait! The story talks about "Standard Lightning Configuration" and "Advanced Lightning Configuration", and the former needs the WM8533 DAC chip. Perhaps the latter does not, and it sounds more like a standard DAC/amp scenario. So maybe there is hope after all.
 

 

Thanks for the links, that is great news. The 'Standard' config sounds similar to using the 30-pin adapter right now.Happy to hear I might not need that adapter anymore regardless of the DAC chip used.

 

I am very much looking forward to those higher end creative options though ~ Would love to see something like Microstreamer with media controls and mic passthrough.


Edited by _j_ - 6/4/14 at 2:10pm
post #14 of 23

I am looking forward to an even slimmer iPhone with the lightning option.

 

I have just purchased the "Lightning to USB Camera Adapter" to use with my (yet to arrive) JDS Labs C5D - via USB. But that will be a bit of a clunky setup. Also looking forward to a clear standard for pure digital out via lightning, that is easier to integrate from 3rd party vendors. 

 

Mind you all: this is part of the MFi program so clearly aimed at 3rd party vendors to create products, so that's always good news.

 

My prediction: some new iPhones will have no 3.5mm headphone jack anymore. BUT you can either just get the lightning to 3.5mm adapter (or adapter cable) or other things....

 

Cheers,

K

post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koolpep View Post

My prediction: some new iPhones will have no 3.5mm headphone jack anymore. BUT you can either just get the lightning to 3.5mm adapter (or adapter cable) or other things....

That would require putting both a DAC and a headphone amp in the adapter, which wouldn't solve any problem and just add bulk (and cost). If anything, it will produce a worse result than the iPhone's internal DAC and amp.
Edited by skamp - 6/5/14 at 12:27am
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