By killing the 3.5mm headphone jack, Apple is doing something extraordinary for music sound quality

“Gone, officially, is the headphone jack from Apple’s new iPhone. Retired. Dead. Defunct,” Amy X. Wang writes for Quartz. “As much as users are griping (already) about the disappearance of the 3.5mm jack, which is widely used across many digital devices including Apple’s own laptops, the new options for listening to audio on iPhones — either headphones that plug into the iPhone 7’s Lightning port or wireless ear pieces — are infinite improvements in sound quality.”

“Apple designed its custom Lightning port to supply much more power to headphones than the traditional 3.5mm jack, so the new iPhones are inviting smoother data transference as well as the opportunity for headphone makers to introduce new, innovative features,” Wang writes. “Lightning-connecting headphones and wireless headphones both offer superior quality over what you can get out of the 3.5mm jack.”

“But to the average music listener, does that really make a noticeable difference? The short answer is yes, it does; users who’ve tested high-end Lightning-compatible headphones report a completely reimagined listening experience, with sounds coming through in ‘crystalline,’ ‘tangible,’ and ‘expansive’ form,” Wang writes. “Audio engineers are actually applauding Apple for scrapping the headphone jack, and the decision should delight hardcore music enthusiasts who’ve complained for years about mediocre sound quality coming out of their iPhones.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Good riddance, you 3.5mm anachronism!

Only Apple has the guts to push, push, and push some more.

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

SEE ALSO:
No headphone jack? No problem: How to listen to music while you sync and charge your new iPhone 7/Plus – September 8, 2016
Apple VP calls 3.5mm headphone jack ‘a dinosaur,’ says ‘it’s time to move on’ – September 8, 2016
Apple kills the headphone jack – September 7, 2016
Apple reinvents the wireless headphone with AirPods – September 7, 2016
Apple’s iPhone reveal: Death of antiquated 3.5mm headphone jack heightens anticipation – September 7, 2016

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Arline M.” for the heads up.]

44 Comments

  1. Here’s my concern with this … I spend a lot of time every day in my car for work (outside Sales in the Automotive Industry in SE Michigan). I use my iPhone a lot for work – so almost everyday I have to at some point plug my iPhone into the power outlet in my car – usually while talking on the phone w/ my wired EarPods.

    Without a separate port for headphone and power – I’m not going to be able to talk and charge at the same time.

    I was shocked that Apple didn’t introduce a Y adapter with a port for the EarPods and a port for a charging cable. Here’s hoping the 3rd party suppliers figure out – there is surely a market for that!

      1. I have a car with bluetooth – it just happens to be a Ford (my biggest customer) and their SYNC system sucks. I get nothing but complaints from people while trying to talk on it – too much noise, etc. I use the wired EarPods because it’s a less noisy / disruptive solution.

        1. So, you already have wired EarPods (with 3.5mm plug). For people like you (admittedly, a fairly small group), the Lightning Dock could be a solution. It allows you to charge the phone and and plug in 3.5mm headphones.

            1. In that case, for your scenario, there are only two options, and neither is really great. First one is to get cheap Bluetooth headphones for the car (they start at $15); otherwise, to wait for an after-market solution with the necessary connectivity. I wouldn’t be surprised if such solution appeared on MonoPrice by the time the new iPhone ships. Both options require spending some money. The only one that doesn’t would require using your car’s built-in Bluetooth, which you say is rather poor.

            2. That pretty well summarizes the typical Apple fanboy response:

              “I know Apple used to allow you to do this seamlessly, but we removed that function to be courageous. Just wait for a 3rd party to come up with an expensive accessory that isn’t clunky. The experience will not be seamless, but that’s your problem. You will like Apple’s solution or you must be a troll.”

              With this pervasive attitude, it’s not hard to see why Apple may have a hard time convincing people to pay the premium for the new gadget that offers many people less versatile functionality than what they have now. I predict iPhone 6S sales will be higher than iPhone 7 sales for at least the next year.

            3. I never said it is a good solution. Actually, what I said was quite the opposite. There are no good solutions for him; both require spending extra money, and the alternative is using crappy car bluetooth. For him, iPhone 7 upgrade is no longer a straightforward decision. And whose fault is that?

              So, exactly where did you get the fanboy response here???

            4. I don’t apologize for what Apple does… I just don’t give a shit. It’s great when people run around acting like the sky is falling over something so stupid.

              I am going to need to buy an adapter as well. Guess what? It sucks. But so what? What good is going to come of whining and complaining about something I currently don’t have to deal with?

              How many times has the rest of the industry screwed people over because of the mess USB connectors have become? And now they are moving to get rid of the 3.5mm audio jack and replace it with USB-C. Some companies have already started. Don’t hear too many people in an uproar over that fact.

              If I’m an apologist, you’re a hypocrite.

            5. Personally I’m all for the death of the 3.5 jack, I haven’t used it in years. If you really have a need to charge your phone and talk you have 3 readily available options non of which you have to wait to be developed. A bluetooth headset, a better bluetooth system for your car or an extended battery case so you don’t have to charge it while your driving. This is really one of those let me concoct a scenario where this change will be a problem, even though there are a myriad of solutions already available. If it was left up to these people your computer would still have a 3.5 floppy drive because 1 person still uses them.

            6. Just like before, Apple removes ports, leaving people screaming, most of them with a good reason.

              Unfortunately (for them), that won’t matter to the bottom line. Please feel free to iCal me if you wish, but I predict the iPhone 7 sales will break prior iPhone records (and that includes the runaway success, iPhone 6).

              People like us, who congregate around MDN, have a particular set o needs; we also tend to be power users, with deep knowledge of the technology. And we represent minuscule percentage of iPhone users. The rest? They will upgrade their phone as soon as their contract expires (or they pay off their current one), oblivious to the fact that there is no headphone jack. If they like to listen to music on their phone, they’ll plug in the bundled EarPods into the lightning port and that will be it.

              If Apple were to build devices that are versatile, iPhones would have had ten different ports (SD card, external antenna, USB, 3.5mm, 2.5mm headset (remember, those are still in use by many Nokia devices), dual SIM card slot, audio IN, etc, etc, etc.

              It is all about pristine, uninterrupted, beautiful design lines and curves. The ultimate goal for all Apple devices is to eliminate ALL ports and connectors, and to do everything wirelessly, from charging, to audio, to video, to data. They just might even get there eventually. For now, it is 3.5mm that is set to go.

              We may hate it, we may love it, but that’s how it has always been.

        2. Yes you are right the SYNC system Ford put in their autos is horrible I have a 2011 Ford Explorer and it’s back in the shop for at least the 10th time and my wife has been without her car for 10 days and counting. The worst part is Fords engineers say they can’t figure out what’s wrong with it, this is the one time in my life paying the extra money for the warranty has actually saved me money.

        3. I find that although made by Microsoft, the Sync system in my Lincoln works exceptionally well with my iOS devices. Occasionally the Phone Directory will glitch and ask for more details about a call I’ve been clear about who I am calling, but that is it.

          It was worse in my top of the line 2009 Ford Taurus. There it could be very frustrating, asking me to use a non-existent key pad to make selections to complete a call, or to press other non-existent controls to do the same. It did this on a random basis. At other times it would completely lose rationality in the phone directory and when I would say “Call John Smith” it would ask me to “Say press 1 on the key pad or say 1 to call Ronald Roe at home, Press the left arrow key or say 2 to call George Doakes at work, Press the down button or say 3 to call Alice Baker on other, Press end or say 4 to make a fax now.” There are no Left arrow, down button, or key pads, or end button anywhere to be found! . . . and sometimes the names were not even in my iPhone’s contacts list! I’d have to make an appointment with the Ford dealer to have them reset the Sync computer before it would read the iPhone’s contact list again. They did not charge me because they said it was a known problem. . . and Ford was working on it with Microsoft. But when it worked, it worked well and was clear and loud without interference or noise.

    1. The adapter they included filled an immediate need for people to connect any analog headphones to the new iPhone. That’s it. That is going to be the biggest issue with getting rid of the 3.5mm – just getting connected.

      People who need to also charge their phone at the same time is a secondary issue and Apple usually leaves those for 3rd parties to fill.

      There’s no reason for concern, by the time you get your new iPhone, there will be a solution to your problem. If not, simply wait until there is one.

    2. You can bet a third party manufacturer somewhere is scrambling to fill your need. Always happens with a paradigm shift like this.

      But I highly recommend a car Bluetooth system for calling. I don’t think it’s legal anywhere to make calls in a moving car anymore anyways.

        1. “most states” would mean substantially over 50%.
          Say around 75%. The 15 or so states that prohibit
          headphones do not constitute “most states”. Do
          not disseminate facts without checking first or
          citing your sources.

    3. You’re absurd, but hilarious.

      Cook is not an engineer or a designer, this we all know. So how you’ve determined that is was ONLY his idea to remove the audio jack is completely dumbfounding… Do you think he stood there and threatened to fire everyone who didn’t listen to him?

      Please do us all a favor and move on to your non-iPhone, where in a year or so you’ll be going through this again when they start replacing the audio jack with USB-C.

    1. I saw that adapter – how would I use my wired EarPods (either 3.5 mm or Lightning connector) AND charge my iPhone at the same time with that adapter?

      There is only 1 lightning port on the iPhone so it can either be used for EarPods (3.5mm or Lightning connector) OR charging. II’m looking for a Y adapter with 2 Lighting connectors so 1 could be used for wired EarPods and the other for charging at the same time.

      1. Actually what you really need is an adapter with a 3.5mm jack and a Lightning port. Apple currently makes several adapters that also include a Lightning port for charging, but they’re mainly for video out; HDMI, VGA.

  2. The 3.5mm jack has never been a limiting factor for audio quality for headphones. The quality is entirely governed by the DAC, the amplifier and the headphones. Merely placing the electronics outside of the iPhone will not make any difference unless the electronics are improved at the same time.

    The perception of quality is a much more variable thing. One reviewer may believe that a particular arrangement sounds better to them than another, but that doesn’t mean that a trained ear will agree that it’s better when using double blind tests. Just because something sounds different, that doesn’t make it higher quality, even though a particular listener might prefer it.

    Wang might enthuse about “the sounds coming through in ‘crystalline,’ ‘tangible,’ and ‘expansive’ form”. Others may be somewhat unimpressed with that sort of language and have heard it all before.

    1. And rather than put a whacking great top quality DAB in the phone that we all have to pay for, those who want it can buy expensive headphones which also (I assume) have the room for it, the rest of us need not. It would be daft to put top of the range DAC’s in a phone but not in high end headphones.

  3. I am confused. Lightning is the future for incredible audio. And in the very next breath – cables are bad and I need $159 airpods. That’s also incredible sound! Which incredible is more credible?

    Or, you could just ignore the hyperbole and buy a decent set of mid-range 3.5mm and/or Bluetooth on-ear phones. you will get very decent sound quality, much better than any in-ear bud can ever produce.

    1. Again, it depends what the individual wants. If they want sound quality over all else, use high end headphones with Lighting cables and high quality DAC’s. That’s incredible sound. If you value having no wires, the earbuds are incredible for the lack of snagging and tangling.

      You, me, Apple, none of us can have everything. You have to select the compromise that best, overall, suits your purpose. Choose your incredible.

      1. Yeah, it is down to each user. But let’s do a quick risk assessment airpods.
        Likelihood of loss/theft, much greater. Not tethered to device or user, and a very quick profit for a thief. Let’s say up x10
        Impact of loss – for a typical user it may be x3, x10 or even x100 you Use the very cheapest buds.

        Hence the risk of using Airbus is typically a negative x100
        What’s the benefit? Er, minor convenience, arguable quality. Maybe x2 at best. Not a compelling case to upgrade.

        Courage? More like stupidity.

  4. This is the fourth 3.5mm story on MDN in the last two hours. I think MDN found the mother lode of click-baits for their fan base.

    I have to admit, this debate is significantly better than the click-baits that mention American presidential candidates (or presidents)…

    1. This is the what Apple does best though… piss off a certain segment of their user base to move the needle forward. The whining and complaining is entertaining, especially since it’s mostly about a need to carry a dongle around. It’s such a silly reason to be so upset.

      I can understand the need to charge and listen at the same time and not have a realistic solution at the moment could be worrisome. But at the same time, when hasn’t a 3rd party stepped up and filled a niche Apple didn’t?

      And yes, there is the Apple Dock as mentioned in another article, but that’s not practical for people who charge on the go. Something like that makes sense at a destination – it’s a dock.

  5. ScamScum has more innovative cellular products? Apple NEVER had removable batteries for iPhone devices. SameScam has no removable batteries for their top tier phones. Why?

    Also, on another note: How the FCK can any Analist complain about how EXPENSIVE Apple iPhones cost? Riiiiiiight.

    http://www.droid-life.com/2016/08/02/buy-galaxy-note-7/

    How much does the Note 7 cost? Retail $880.00 …… gmafb

    Such BullShite. You get what you pay for. An explosive RECALLED piece of JUNK! @ over $800.00. WHAT A DEAL!!

  6. If you are listening to iTunes 224 AAC on your device or the lower quality 128 streaming I doubt the difference will be that great. If you have Apple Lossless on your device there might be.

    Is Apple passing a digital signal through the Lightning port with a DA converter in the headphones or just passing an analog signal through? If the answer is digital, the quality would further be limited by the quality of the DA converter.

  7. Headine: “By killing the 3.5mm headphone jack, Apple is doing something extraordinary for music sound quality”

    Maybe for cheap, crappy earpods and mobile headphones, but high-end vendors such as Shure, Etymotic, Denon, Grado, AKG, Sony or Sennheiser have been doing very well with both the 3.5mm and 6.3mm headphone jacks for quite some time without a DRM capable digital connector.

  8. “By scrapping your antiquated headphones, Apple is doing something extraordinary for music…”

    As an audio professional, this is nothing but complete, and utter bullshit.

    All Apple has done is to move the Digital to Analog converter. That’s it. Whether those converters are in the phone, in the wire of a Lightning connector, or in the headphones themselves, matters not one iota.

  9. I wonder whether Ludwig van Beethoven would have joined this debate, scratching out angry rejoinders with his nib pen; or rather would have used it in a swoon of existential anger to motivate a tenth and eleventh symphony, rewarding us listeners even as he faced personal sonic destitution.

  10. If apple removed something isheeps be like wow what a innovation.haha 😆 lol.apple removed 3.5 jack for another fucking speaker.who the hell in this world listening music by phone’s speakers.apple is trying to make money from accessories.what a cheap try from great company.iphones are expensive but apple is cheap company.thats why they never add sd card function to iphone.100$ for few gigabytes what a joke.so dear isheeps. Please don’t think apple is god.if you can afford it simply buy it and shut the fuck up.

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