AirPods Max
Jun 10, 2021 at 4:48 PM Post #4,351 of 4,364

MICHAELSD

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I just quote: 'If you're using regular headphones (under 100Ω), you can't do better than using this adapter or just plugging it into your iPhone, iPad or iPod. Only if you're running 240Ω or higher headphones are you likely to need a professional amp like the Benchmark DAC1 HDR to get more output.'
And: 'The only reason to get an outboard headphone amplifier for use with your iPhone 7 Plus is if you have high-impedance (100Ω or greater) headphones like the 600 Ω beyerdynamic DT880 which often require more voltage than the 1V RMS maximum from iOS devices and this adapter. In this case, you still don't need a DAC; the analog output from this adapter will probably be better than what you'd get from an expensive outboard DAC!'
Audio is very important to Apple. All of their products have extremely high-quality DAC’s. The output from the adapter is better and more transparent than the 3.5mm output on older devices.
 
Jun 10, 2021 at 4:56 PM Post #4,352 of 4,364

hehifi

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I just quote: 'If you're using regular headphones (under 100Ω), you can't do better than using this adapter or just plugging it into your iPhone, iPad or iPod. Only if you're running 240Ω or higher headphones are you likely to need a professional amp like the Benchmark DAC1 HDR to get more output.'
And: 'The only reason to get an outboard headphone amplifier for use with your iPhone 7 Plus is if you have high-impedance (100Ω or greater) headphones like the 600 Ω beyerdynamic DT880 which often require more voltage than the 1V RMS maximum from iOS devices and this adapter. In this case, you still don't need a DAC; the analog output from this adapter will probably be better than what you'd get from an expensive outboard DAC!'
According to my experience, for example, AKG N5005 which has one dynamic and quad balanced armature drivers in each earphone with a sensitivity of 116dB SPL/V@1kHz, its resistance is 18 ohm. Not crazy difficult to be driven, right?

However, I tested it with iPhone with that adapter, I need to set relative high volume, the sound stage is pretty narrow, and frequencies are not well extended.
I tested it with dragonfly cobalt on MacBook, N5005 sounds pretty good, the sound stage is wide, I can hear a lot of details, it was very enjoyable.
I tested it by directly connect to my m1 MacBook Pro, N5005 also sounded very good, slightly worse than dragonfly cobalt.
I tested it with Sony WM1A, N5005 sounds great!

Conclusion: the output power does affect the HiRes IEM sound. And the apple Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter is just not sufficient to drive most HiRes IEMs. Probably, WestStone W80 is a good IEM for the apple adapter since it is quite easy to be driven.
 
Jun 10, 2021 at 5:35 PM Post #4,353 of 4,364

MICHAELSD

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The more I’m listening to Dolby Atmos the more I am enjoying it on my Powerbeats Pro, and seeing the utility for music. Atmos mix engineers need to pay particular attention to the lead vocal, since I feel like if it’s too distant-sounding with too much reverb/echo or lacking clarity it ruins the entire mix.
 
Jun 11, 2021 at 6:07 PM Post #4,358 of 4,364

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One thing I’ve learned about Atmos. Make sure when NOT using AirPods of any kind that you change the Atmos setting to ‘Always On’. If you like (or want to try) Atmos.

Also, I’m still baffled by Apple’s demo of Spatial Audio using a track by The Weeknd. I’ve yet to hear any meaningful difference on my APM. Is it just me? The Gaye demo is much more dramatic.


 
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Jun 11, 2021 at 6:30 PM Post #4,360 of 4,364

MICHAELSD

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After giving Atmos more time and comparisons, I do have to say that it is interesting. It feels like it’s trying to replicate what audiophiles would normally look for in spaciousness and soundstage with a high-end, expensive headphone. It does still feel like it’s simulating it via software to a trained ear, which it is, and it’s slightly more artificial-sounding compared to i.e. my Audeze EL-8 Titanium which can naturally separate and bring a widened soundstage to stereo tracks. Even with AAC the amount of clarity on planar magnetic drivers is astounding. (Unfortunately my 2012 Retina MacBook Pro is considered obsolete so it doesn’t support the latest version of MacOS with the new version of Apple Music.) It does still feel like stereo despite Apple’s claims, just widened stereo. Having sounds behind and above you is mostly hype, despite the excellent imaging performance of most of Apple’s latest headphones.

I’ve got to say it does make my Beats Solo3 feel like a different headphone. Releasing Dolby Atmos at no additional charge and even letting consumers enable it on non-Apple headphones was generous of Apple. If I’m being honest if I had to purchase new hardware that was made for Atmos to be able to experience it it may have had a different first impression.

I do still feel tracks sound great when it’s just instruments, but the lead vocal typically makes it sound less natural. I’d like more clarity on vocals specifically. This is going to be tricky to get right. There are a lot of background layers that are much more apparent with Atmos. I can appreciate having it as a way to experience music from a new perspective. I think if Apple focuses on new hardware made and partly tuned for Atmos, which it’s not clear how much forward thinking was put into AirPods Max although it could certainly be adjusted via firmware updates, it could potentially take it to the level that they’re trying to achieve.


Edit: This song is a standout in Atmos. They did an excellent job balancing the track, with bass and a kick drum that still punches through in a way a lot of Atmos tracks tend to neglect along with oodles of layers/imaging and a lead vocal that cuts through with presence and authority.
 
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Jun 11, 2021 at 11:22 PM Post #4,362 of 4,364

neverover

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Releasing Dolby Atmos at no additional charge and even letting consumers enable it on non-Apple headphones was generous of Apple. If I’m being honest if I had to purchase new hardware that was made for Atmos to be able to experience it it may have had a different first impression.
I think it’s clear that Apple want to take Spotify out of market. For me they already kill Tidal now, $10 vs $20 is pretty no brainer, and besides Apple have better playlist compared to other services.

I really like how Dolby Atmos sound with APM. But like what others said, they need a particular tuning for it. Some tracks are mastered better than the other. Was wondering if they can automatically master each file with AI tho? This would save time in updating their entire library to Atmos.
 
Jun 11, 2021 at 11:44 PM Post #4,363 of 4,364

tinyman392

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I think it’s clear that Apple want to take Spotify out of market. For me they already kill Tidal now, $10 vs $20 is pretty no brainer, and besides Apple have better playlist compared to other services.

I really like how Dolby Atmos sound with APM. But like what others said, they need a particular tuning for it. Some tracks are mastered better than the other. Was wondering if they can automatically master each file with AI tho? This would save time in updating their entire library to Atmos.
Machine learning to mix and master music seems like an interesting idea. Keep in mind it’s not only the labor requirements, but licensing as well. It’s up to the labels to do it. Not really Apple.
 
Jun 12, 2021 at 11:56 PM Post #4,364 of 4,364

MICHAELSD

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Let me just add that Dolby Atmos in the car, where I’ve been doing a majority of music listening lately, is surprisingly magical.

I was expecting it to sound terrible and to disable it after a few seconds, but maybe Apple is onto something that this is more exciting than lossless.

The soundstage Dolby Atmos creates is remarkable at times. It’s as if Taylor Swift is just outside my windshield, and I can clearly hear and pinpoint every layer of backing vocals, guitars, pianos, and strings. There have been details I’ve been able to pick out of songs that I wouldn’t even hear in lossless files on high-end headphones.

Oddly I’ve found that I wanted to adjust the EQ to +10 bass and +2 treble for Atmos, compared to the +7 bass +0 treble settings I use on this particular sound system that I find usually bring out a clean, powerful bass-line. (The treble is already tuned to be slightly hot.) Bass can seem slightly subdued on Atmos tracks, and due to the even better separation I think this works well without muddying the track. I’m finding the same observation I had on headphones, no matter how I have the EQ set, that tracks can sound amazing when there are just instruments then a poorly-mixed lead vocal can ruin the illusion of natural space.

Also on basically everything I’ve listened to it on The Weeknd’s “From Stereo to Spatial” track Apple is using definitely doesn’t have the wow effect that they’re intending. It boggles the mind how they could say that this isn’t hype and do an excellent job hyping and describing spatial audio, then they say “check this out” and the example isn’t exactly compelling. It should be almost exaggerated like being in the theater seeing/hearing the Dolby presentation for the first time.

Keep in mind this is a 12-speaker sound system that already separates the bass, mid range, and treble beautifully. I’m a big proponent for how factory audio systems in vehicles can be excellent and among the best place to listen to audio if they’re designed for the vehicle’s cabin by a company such as Harman/Kardon.

I’ve been enjoying Atmos the more I listen to it, including on my Powerbeats Pro, and I think I’m probably correct that hardware needs to catch up to it. I’m already quite fond of the Powerbeats Pro/Solo3/AirPods as audio products, but I don’t think they’re maximizing the potential of Dolby Atmos. I’d expect AirPods Max to take it another step, but I think right now we’re basically dealing with a first-generation product when it comes to Dolby Atmos. It is promising and I think there’s potential here for sure. It will blur lines in the future.
 
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