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iPhone 7 DAC - best options?


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So the iPhone 7 is out and since there's no headphone jack, we are now sorta forced to get an external DAC. Yes, one is provided with the phone, but I wonder about better options.

 

I would like something like an iPhone-tailored Dragonfly Red (ie with a lightning cable so no extra bulk from the USB adapted etc). There are also the new lightning cables from Audeze.

 

What's out there worth looking into?

 

Thx.

mini+Roon > dCS Rossini DAC + Rossini Master Clock 

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Cheap: DragonFly Red

Not so cheap: Chord Mojo

Adam

 

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I would like something like an iPhone-tailored Dragonfly Red (ie with a lightning cable so no extra bulk from the USB adapted etc). There are also the new lightning cables from Audeze.

 

Is that Audeze cable available separately? I looked at their website earlier today and didn't see it listed under accessories, just as part of a package with their Sine Series and EL-8 Titanium headphones. If it is available as a standalone, it's could be a pretty good option, depending on the cost.

 

--David

Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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Have to wait to see if it's upgraded/compatible but Arcam MusicBoost is reasonable option for an "all in" solution.

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Is that Audeze cable available separately? I looked at their website earlier today and didn't see it listed under accessories, just as part of a package with their Sine Series and EL-8 Titanium headphones. If it is available as a standalone, it's could be a pretty good option, depending on the cost.

I don't think so. But I would consider getting the Audeze planar earbuds.

mini+Roon > dCS Rossini DAC + Rossini Master Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo G2

system pics

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I would assume that any direct Lightning connected device would require Apple approval and therefore would be limited to 44.1 and 48khz. (If you're bothered about such things)

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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I don't think so. But I would consider getting the Audeze planar earbuds.

 

 

I have to say those earbuds look cool. I'd like to hear them. From a comfort standpoint, I'm not sure I could give up my customs, though.

 

--David

Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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I would assume that any direct Lightning connected device would require Apple approval and therefore would be limited to 44.1 and 48khz. (If you're bothered about such things)

 

Don't know any details, but Audeze describes its cable as "[t]he world’s first 24-bit Lightning cable for higher-resolution sound."

 

I'd love to know what that means, exactly. 24/44.1? 24/48? Something else?

 

--David

Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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I would assume that any direct Lightning connected device would require Apple approval and therefore would be limited to 44.1 and 48khz. (If you're bothered about such things)

Ah right... The Dragonfly doesn't bc it goes over USB. Interesting point. The BT solutions max out at 48KHz as well.

mini+Roon > dCS Rossini DAC + Rossini Master Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo G2

system pics

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I have to say those earbuds look cool. I'd like to hear them. From a comfort standpoint, I'm not sure I could give up my customs, though.

Right. I have a pair of great Noble K10 customs. I might try the included adapter. I have liked the sound out of the Noble BTS dongle as well (which I have).

 

For me personally, all the music on my phone is in iTunes+ (256kbps AAC) so frankly the resolution limitations are not a concern. What is a concern is the quality of the headphone amp in the chain.

 

Yet another option is to use the Apple 30pin adapter which has a pretty decent Wolfson DAC in it.

mini+Roon > dCS Rossini DAC + Rossini Master Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo G2

system pics

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The extreme measure is to upgrade to an iPhone 6.

 

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I think there are devices like Oppo HA2 that can directly connect to iPhones via Lightning cable and you can get hi res music off the HA2 if you use say Onkyo's HF Player app. But in order to do that, I think manufacturers have to pay Apple a fee to override the copy protection scheme and Apple has to get a schematic/code of the digital design. Chord DAC designer Rob Watts commented on why this is not a feature of Chord Mojo because he thinks it'll add another $50 to the cost of the unit and he wasn't going to give Apple his FPGA programming for his chord DAC. I'm sure there'll be more direct to Lightning DACs available but there may not be as many as people would like. Most DACs are Sabre chip based so I doubt designers would mind showing Apple the schematics/code.

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I would assume that any direct Lightning connected device would require Apple approval and therefore would be limited to 44.1 and 48khz. (If you're bothered about such things)

 

I have a Shure KSC1500, accordingly, iPhone can play 24/96 files (using third party app) to Shure DAC/Amp

 

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I have a Shure KSC1500, accordingly, iPhone can play 24/96 files (using third party app) to Shure DAC/Amp

 

Shure KSE1500 Electrostatic Earphone System

Looks like I was mistaken ... the Oppo HA2 commented above supports higher direct from lightning too...

 

Thanks for the correction I will file it away to remember :-)

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Dragonfly Black/cck sounds really good with iphone for a total of 130 USD. CeEntrance Hifi Skyn will fit Iphone 7. It adds some bulk but it will rival high end DAPs. Arcam has also a similar case. Lastly the Audeze Sines with cypher sounds really good too.

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I've had stunning results with Dragonfly Red, using Apple's Lightning to USB 3.0 "Camera Adapter". Allows me to charge while listening. Paired with Etymotic ER4SR...brilliant!

Great - that's the already-available answer to listening and charging.

mini+Roon > dCS Rossini DAC + Rossini Master Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo G2

system pics

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I am planning to dump the iPhone ship and cruise over to the LG V20. ESS - 32-bit/192kHz audio

Nice specs... how does it actually sound?

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Share on other sites

I think there are devices like Oppo HA2 that can directly connect to iPhones via Lightning cable and you can get hi res music off the HA2 if you use say Onkyo's HF Player app. But in order to do that, I think manufacturers have to pay Apple a fee to override the copy protection scheme and Apple has to get a schematic/code of the digital design. Chord DAC designer Rob Watts commented on why this is not a feature of Chord Mojo because he thinks it'll add another $50 to the cost of the unit and he wasn't going to give Apple his FPGA programming for his chord DAC. I'm sure there'll be more direct to Lightning DACs available but there may not be as many as people would like. Most DACs are Sabre chip based so I doubt designers would mind showing Apple the schematics/code.

 

Guarantee that ESS will not release the inner schematics of their chips to Apple!

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Guarantee that ESS will not release the inner schematics of their chips to Apple!

 

You're right. I should have found John Franks's exact quote on Head-Fi...

 

"We can't supply the CCK in our cables pack because to be fully licenced by them we'd have to disclose too much sensitive design information. "

 

Whatever that means...

 

But I thought there were other comments on Head-Fi by either John Franks or Rob Watts. If I find them, I'll post further.

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Found another quote from John Franks:

 

I believe a requirement of using the camera kit Apple chip inside your product is complete design disclosure to Apple engineering hardware software the lot. We might be a bit mad but we're not totally crazy. If we had not much technology to hide. Say if we were just using a industry Dac chip we wouldn't have a problem in doing this, but for us today it's a very different story.

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