Apple preps HD audio for iOS 8 plus new Apple In-Ear Headphones and lightning cable

“Apple is said to be introducing high definition audio playback in iOS 8 alongside new versions of its In-Ear Headphones and Lightning connector, according to a report from Mac Otakara,” Richard Padilla reports for MacRumors.

“The post notes that Apple will enable high-quality audio files to be played on iOS 8 compatible devices,” Padilla reports. “Currently, iOS 7’s stock Music app cannot play high quality 24-bit audio files that contain a sampling frequency beyond 48 kHz. Additionally, while third-party apps such as Onkyo’s HF Player and FLAC Player are able to play said audio files, users are still limited to onboard playback at a 16-bit rate.”

“Apple is also said to be preparing an upgraded Lightning cable to accommodate high-definition playback on Made For iPhone (MFi) audio accessories, although it isn’t clear when the company would introduce the updated wire,” Padilla reports. “The report notes that Apple is working on a new version of its In-Ear Headphones to accommodate high-quality audio playback. The premium in-ear headphones have not been updated since 2008, however the product is still officially sold by Apple at its retail locations and in its Online Store for $79.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

42 Comments

    1. NO JOKE! I thought I just had weird-shaped ears but none of the versions have ever stayed securely in my ears. Not sure how they work for other people but they drive me nuts and fall out most of the time! I’ll stick with my 20-year-old pair of MDR-7506.

      1. You want to try B&O headphones, don’t stay on your head (of any size), don’t cover the ears (being rectangular) which is an advantage in a way as when they do, the sound is bland to say the least. And don’t mention the build quality.

      2. I’ve never had a single problem with Apple earbuds falling out of my ears. My suspicion is that you have smaller ear canals and earbuds just won’t work well with your ear. You should probably look at some in-ear or over-the-ear headphones.

        I was always very disappointed with the sound quality of the older models of iPhone/iPod touch ear buds, but the newer EarPods are very good for phone calls and podcasts, and reasonably decent even for music, at least for the “free”/included headphones.

        1. I really like the sound quality of the newer Apple earbuds, but they don’t stay put. For staying put, I prefer the more expensive $79 Apple earbud which fits farther in the ear canal, but they don’t sound as good. So I have a pair of $16 Panasonic earbuds which fit well and the sound is “ok”. The Apple earbuds move around in my son’s ears as well, so he gave up on them. He is bigger than me too, but I haven’t measured his ear canal.

        2. I’m 6’4″ so there’s nothing small about me. They just don’t fit the way I like them to and don’t stay in my ears. Cheapy ones with the foam that used to come with cheapy Walkman’s were fine and never had issues.

        1. I’ve never seen these. I’m getting a few. Thanks for the link.

          What I have been doing is fitting on those foam ear buds. It’s a very tight fit and you may rip a couple in the process, but it does the job once you slip it on. Gives a nice snug fit in there.

    2. Not a fair criticism.

      They fit perfectly in MY ears and stay there at all times until I remove them.

      Meanwhile, there are folks like David Pogue, and apparently you, who have differently shaped ears and Apple’s earphones are not going to fit properly. David Pogue instead uses In-Ear headphones and does just fine. Maybe you can too.

      I LOVE my Apple EarPods. Not kidding. LOVE <3 <3 <3

      1. It is a fair criticism. Apple might as well NOT include headphones in the box if what they offer doesn’t work for people. Other in-ear headphone manufacturers offer multiple silicone tips so at least the user can “size up” the earpiece to get a snug fit. If that’s too expensive for Apple, then Apple should just sell the headphones separately — with multiple fit AND quality options. Just DO NOT make them all “BEATS” branded shit. What a waste those are.

        1. No, it’s a criticism that fits individual people, NEVER everyone. That’s blatantly obvious.

          So run along home and deal with YOUR situation while I enjoy my situation. Spend your time criticizing important UNIVERSAL problems in the future. There are too many to count. That’s an order.

      2. That’s exactly what I do, use in ear buds, but I really like the sound of the newer earbuds, just disappointed they don’t work unless I am sitting still. And I know several people who have trouble with the newer model, and the last model of earbuds worked just fine for them (except the sound quality wasn’t as good). Of course I don’t have the resources to do a scientific study, but just extrapolating from my small sample size, I’m estimating the design of the new buds give more people issues than the last model. Of course I could be wrong, I have been wrong one other time in my life.

            1. I only know his work informally. I have a brother who is an atheist, and I find some of the concept quite useful. Meanwhile, I’m already a train biologist. However, I’ve had extensive experience with synchronicity and know there’s ‘something’ more going on than chemistry and physics. IOW: I have my concept of ‘god’ and don’t entirely comprehend the atheist thing.

        1. You can buy Earskinz, silicon sleeves that fit over EarPods, to make them slightly fatter and stickier, and help them grip.
          I really like EarPods, they sound great, they’re actually comfortable, and easy to hear when people talk to you.
          However, they don’t really block background noise, so I also use Ultimate Ears SuperFi 3 Pro, Shure SE 215, Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10 Studio with triple-flange eartips, and Etymotic ER6i with custom fit eartips.
          The trouble is no earphone will suit every user, without customising by using different eartips, and I’ve spent many hours trying to get various size eartips to fit, until I found triple-flange tips that would fit the different size acoustic tubes on my various phones; they make a world of difference.
          The Eartipz are around $10/pair, so worth trying, I think Amazon do them.

    1. Big *DING* Factor.

      But ANYTHING that gets us past hobbled audio CD quality sound is GREAT with me. Bring on the HD, baby!

      This is new pressure for Apple to increase the flash space on iOS devices. This past week 1 terabyte flash drives were announced! Someone told me that 4 terabyte flash drives on on the agenda! So it’s time Apple jacked up the flash drives for iOS! 128 GBs standard!

      1. The real issue, as I see it, is that Apple does not even sell “hobbled audio CD quality” music. Music for sale in the iTunes store is all lossy compressed. Yes, Apple uses some of the best lossy compression techniques on the planet in order to get what it sells on the iTunes store, but it’s still lossy and thus a poorer quality than the “hobbled audio CD quality” you deride.

        This is the primary reason why I have never bought music from the iTunes store. I buy the physical media (CD or better) and losslessly compress it myself. If it’s from a CD I use Apple’s own lossless compression implementation. If its a higher quality source, e.g., SACD or such, I use one of the open source lossless techniques.

        Apple’s first step has to be going to an option to purchase lossless compression audio on the iTunes store.

        Then, and only then, will such things as “HD Audio” (a near meaningless term if there ever were one) will be worth it. Not before.

        And, Apple does need to offer the option of 128 GB memory as a minimum in all of their iOS devices.

        1. Amen brother!

          Total agreement.

          The most horrendous abuse of ‘HD’ I know of is the scam known as ‘HD Radio’ that is foisted by the utterly clueless and corrupt US FCC, Federal Communications Commission. The ‘HD’ was added for NO reason except as a scam moniker. The crap digital audio quality you get out of ‘HD Radio’ would properly be called ‘LD’ as the compression used is horrifying. FM radio, as is, provides FAR superior sound quality. (#MyStupidGovernment).

          The problem with getting proper HD quality audio is singular: It’s not the dumbasses, as proliferate around here, who say CD audio quality is good enough. No, it’s the media corporate oligarchy who don’t want their customer to ever have the best. They want that reserved for themselves. ALL their audio is recorded (gee I wonder why) in BETTER than CD audio quality. But we’re just their annoying little customers. We can’t have the best.

        2. BTW: I do actually buy a lot of tuneage off the iTunes Store. The current AAC 256 Kb/sec is equivalent to the top end 320 Kb/sec MP3 and sounds great. I did end up stuck, for bizarro reasons too complicated for the crap staff at the iTunes Store to explain, with the old 128 Kb/sec recordings of one Ladytron album I love. So I went and bought the CD and replaced the old crap compressed version. Happy me.

          Meanwhile: I’ll only let go of my 96 samples/sec uncompressed Talking Heads DVDs when they’re pried from my cold dead hands! That’s how ALL recordings should be sold!

          1. I concur Derek. HD audio is 96K/24 bit is clearly better than cd (44.1k/16 bit and can be heard as such by anyone. Those who believe that anything better than cd is inaudible probably have never heard true HD audio.

            I’ve had drummers comment that the master (96k/25 bit) sounds way better than the cd ready mix. Drummers !

            1. Well, apparently, judging from the RANTS around here that hate anyone saying they can hear better quality in 96K/24 bit… Apparently there are people who CANNOT hear it. BFD. I can.

              My family going way back (except for my Granny!) has excellent hearing and pitch perception. My Grandfather had perfect pitch. It’s that diversity thing, as usual.

      1. Well, they could push people into iCloud where they have to pay for storage, processing and bandwidth for iTunes purchased music, or they could let people pay more for larger capacity iOS devices. It seems to me like they see iCloud as a value add while larger capacity devices are higher profit margin configurations.

  1. I’m assuming this new Lightning cable will be backwards compatible and work with all MFi accessories. I’ll be rather displeased if initially it works with only certain hardware like, say, Beats branded accessories.

  2. Does it really require an upgraded Lightning cable and a new version of its In-Ear Headphones to accommodate high-quality audio playback?

    Sound fishy to me.

  3. (Sigh.) Here we go again with the super-duper-high-quality audio. First of all, I’m doubtful of these people who claim to be able to hear an “obvious” difference between uncompressed audio and a 256k AAC file. Secondly, this is a portable device. People are stepping out into noisy environments… where super-duper-high-quality can’t be heard anyway, unless the user cranks the volume way up. In which case, they are destroying their hearing anyway.

        1. chrish, are you just here to argue that Apple should continue to refuse to serve high-end customers?

          professionals definitely can hear the difference between compressed music and high-fidelity files at or better than CD quality. Moreover, audiophiles and pros are willing to pay for it. There’s no reason that Apple can’t support the OPTION of true hi-fi. The only surprise is that Apple hasn’t really leveraged the value of ALAC and its other audio technologies.

  4. There are numerous DAPs (Digital Audio Players) that Apple should be aware of. Most if these players can play “HD” audio, namely 24bit, 192kHz sampling. Perhaps with the acquisition of Beats, Apple may create a decent solution for that market. Although Beats pretty much suck unless you’re listening to their high end ones.

  5. I’d like to see this. I’d still keep 256kbps AAC for most of my library, and certainly on my device, although for processing (custom stuff), it might be nice to get my hands on higher resolution multi-channel sources.

    That said, it would be nice to have anyone who thinks there’s an advantage to higher resolution on their devices being able to do so. I’d imagine Apple could make a higher margin off this as well either by charging more for Match or charging more for purchases.

    Getting the quality above CD level (as an option) simply removes any debate and for those who want it, makes iOS devices and iTunes that much more attractive.

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