The next iPhone, the iPhone 7 will remove the 3.5mm headphone jack. Instead it will rely on either bluetooth audio or routing the sound out via the lightning connector. Any headphone utilising the lightning connector will need a DAC (Digital to Analogue Convertor) to convert the digital sound outputted via the lightning connection.
So what is Apple asking manufacturers behind the scenes? What ground rules are Apple requesting or expecting? And what are the pros and cons?
In a thread on Head-Fi, the founder of Fiio audio products created a thread to let everyone know that the company finally after many years of applying for Apple’s MFI Certification got approved. This then revealed some interesting extra bits of information:-
– Each and every potential product has to have the manufacturing and technical information sent across to Apple, thereby revealing any company secrets as to how they made a product sound so good. Chord Audio decided not to get their awarding winning DAC, the Chord Mojo MFI approved for this reason.
– Apple have not even decided what type of product Fiio can manufacture yet.
– Apple are courting headphone manufacturers to make headphones with a lightning connector. Apple are not asking these manufacturers to make an external DAC to connect traditional headphones with a 3.5mm jack.
– Whilst DACS sold by Fiio are at the budget pricing end of the market. Fiio have confirmed that going forward their pricing will increase as they will be forced to purchase lightning connectors and related chips from Apple.
– Fiio are hoping the can work with Apple creating a Lightning DAC as per photo above. This is a slimline DAC with a 3.5mm headphone jack.
– Apple are stipulating the type of product they would like to see. Apple have now asked that all MFi products must includes a LAM ( lightning audio module ) , remote control keys and microphone if the product has headphone out jack. This means that there will not be similar products like the SONY PHA-1/2/3 in the future. This is sad news.
What is frustrating here is Apple have only approved Fiio once they needed them due to the removal of the headphone jack in the next iPhone. Then there are stipulation the type of DAC that is allowed to be manufactured. Next is the higher costs created due to Apple’s MFI program.
So whilst the sound quality should sound better via the lightning port, I am not sure people will be too impressed if the costs of a lightning audio adapter or module becomes at a too higher a price point.
But as they say, better to be in the team than relegated to the side lines.