The ramifications over Apple's removal of the iPhone's 3.5mm headphone jack rumble on...

Apple has ditched the analogue 3.5mm headphone jack in favour of pushing punters towards Lightning headphones, using an adapter or buying wireless headphones - and this has thrown-up more than a few questions.

One such query was how Apple would manage the business of converting your digital music into an analogue signal. Could the iPhone 7 Lightning connection now take analogue audio? Or was there instead a DAC inside the new Apple Lightning EarPods? And what about the £9 Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter for standard headphones?

And now it has been confirmed, as we figured must be the case, that both the EarPods and the adapter do have their own DAC. Vietnamese website Tinthe as done a thorough 'teardown' of both bits of kit and revealed two different DACs, most likely made by Cirrus Logic.

MORE: iPhone 7 hands-on review

MORE: Everything you need to know about the iPhone 7 and Lightning headphones

More after the break

The DAC in the EarPods was labeled "338S00140 / A0QK1623 / TW", while the adapter was marked "338S00140 / A0MU1621 / TW". It's perhaps no surprise that the cheap adapter has a different, potentially less sophisticated DAC chip.

Apple has also today confirmed to What Hi-Fi? that the adapter does indeed have a DAC. How well other headphones will work with the Apple adapter remains to be seen, from sound quality to any in-line controls, not to mention how good the Lightning EarPods will sound in their own right.

Look out for our in-depth reviews coming soon.

MORE: iPhone 7 Plus hands-on review

[via 9to5mac]


Graham Luke's picture


Loved the video; I've always been curious about what's inside these lightning we know!

Sliced Bread's picture

So from this point onwards

So from this point onwards the iphone will only sound as good as the dac you plug into it.  Hmm.  

It'll be interesting to find out if the DAC in the adapter wil sound as good as an iphone 6s.  If it doesn't then the only way you'll be able to use decent headphones is by spending an additional fortune on a good external DAC or a pair of wireless headphones with a good external DAC.

Maybe a FAIL, but will reserve judgement until I've compared the adapter with my iphone 6s.

Graham Luke's picture

A fortune...?

You needn't spend a fortune, Sliced Bread; an Audioquest Dragonfly Black will cost about as much a couple of pints, a curry on Clapham High Street and a minicab home.

Go on, treat yourself...

Sliced Bread's picture

The  Audioquest Dragonfly

The  Audioquest Dragonfly Black us a USB DAC and even though it is good value, it does still cost £90.  If I've spent £600+ on a phone then I expect it to have a DAC.
I have stuck with iphones as they have good sound quality, however now that quality will depend upon the DAC you use and may vary.  Does that mean the end of apples "signature sound"?  

The way I see it is that sound quelity is now one less reason to buy an Iphone as you can use an external DAC on any phone.