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German computer mag: iPhone 7 w/ adapter sounds worse than iPhone 6 w/ 3.5mm jack

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Irminsul

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Aug 14, 2012
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Sadly there is no English version, but here's the German article with the important bits translated:

http://www.heise.de/ct/artikel/iPhone-7-nachgemessen-Audio-Adapter-liefert-schlechteren-Sound-3325932.html

The results are clear: with an iPhone 6S, the dynamic range worsens by 4.5 dB(A) for 24-bit music files. For the iPad Air, it worsens by 3.8 dB(A). The signal also gets worse for 16-bit music files, even if they aren't that drastic: the dynamic range worsens by 1.8 dB(A) and 3.1 dB(A) for the iPhone and iPad, respectively.
The differences should be discernable with headphones costing 100 € upwards, especially with uncompressed music files at 24 bits. For lossy compressed files (MP3, AAC), most users probably won't hear a big difference.
Curiously, while all iPhones (including the 7) sound the same, iPads get a better result with the same adapter. The magazine speculates that the DAC therefore isn't inside the adapter, but the device and the analog signal is transported via Lightning. Which contradicts what I thought I read somewhere, namely that Lightning can't do analog signals. Also, it's a bit weird that an iPhone 6S can do better audio via the 3.5 mm jack than the Lightning adapter if the DA conversion happens on the iPhone.

And of course, this is only the case if you want to use existing "analog" headphones, not Lightning or Bluetooth ones.
 

JustenP88

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Heed this warning, samsung.
 

Abstrusity

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Yeah, but who actually listens to music that lossy? At that point you might as well just listen to radio static! :^)

seriously though, does the thunderbolt connection function as well as 3.5 jack without the adapter, or are there no thunderbolt headphones, yet?
 

NOLA_Gaffer

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Jun 15, 2015
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I'm sure Monster or some other high-end hi-fi maker will make a $200 adapter that puts out audiophile-quality sound.
 

-Plasma Reus-

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Other phone manufacturers have an opportunity on their hands. If they all choose to steer away from this change, they can make apple look bad. Long term, it would affect apples prestige branding when it comes to phones.

You can already see it, the masses have not been so kind on apple since Steve jobs' passing.
I firmly believe more people would have brought this than already have, if Steve jobs was involves in it.
 

valkillmore

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People are willing to deal w shitty-in-general audio quality of actual voice calls on cell phones, makes me think that generally speaking, people who decide to buy an iPhone 7 won't care about this difference. They already implicitly approve of the removal of the jack. Will probably rationalize this too.
 

muu

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What do they really mean by "worse dynamic range?" I was expecting some graphs where they show a significantly worse noise ceiling, but that's nowhere to be found. The only thing they do show are existing limitations to Apple's hardware which defeats the purpose of encoding music at 96KHz.

If we're talking about reduced overall output that's not going to affect anyone but those trying to power large cans straight off the phone, which never worked anyway.
 

blly155

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if people cared about audio quality i don't think they'd be streaming and listening to music on their smartphone with earphones. nobody will care.
 

Hindl

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That second quote leads me to believe this is mostly meaningless. Most users aren't going to have headphones that expensive, and most will be listening to MP3s. I feel like the people who this would be important to were probably already turned off by the lack of a 3.5mm jack anyway.
 

captive

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Feb 14, 2007
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you mean apple would take something away and then put in a cheap component as a replacement? Well i never!
 

BocoDragon

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I don't even want a headphone jack. It's good that Bart did that.
 

samn

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I don't see anything wrong with this. The vast majority of customers don't care about the quality of the analogue output. Half of iPhone users use the inbox earphones, and I'll bet that a good chunk of the other half use wireless earphones. Of the remaining 30% (or whatever) how many of them are only using non-included 3.5mm earphones because their original pair broke/they didn't feel comfortable/they liked the way Beats looked? The number of people who care about audio quality on their iPhone (and who aren't willing to buy an external DAC or Lightning headphones) is probably very small - and Apple have no obligation to serve them.

(Also not really convinced these, or any other audiophiley measurements mean anything without a double blind test)
 

KHarvey16

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Lossless 24bit music files are a waste and that loss of dynamic range is completely meaningless. It's like bathing in the ocean and complaining when someone removes a gallon. There's still more water than you need. That dynamic range loss at 16bit would be almost certainly indistinguishable to anyone using any hardware.

This isn't intended to defend any particular decision, but the audiophile stuff is widespread and hugely misunderstood and abused.
 

oti

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Gee! Could it be that Apple is pushing the removal of the headphone jack for other reasons than audio quality? No way!
 

NH Apache

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I don't see anything wrong with this. The vast majority of customers don't care about the quality of the analogue output. Half of iPhone users use the inbox earphones, and I'll bet that a good chunk of the other half use wireless earphones. Of the remaining 30% (or whatever) how many of them are only using non-included 3.5mm earphones because their original pair broke/they didn't feel comfortable/they liked the way Beats looked? The number of people who care about audio quality on their iPhone (and who aren't willing to buy an external DAC or Lightning headphones) is probably very small - and Apple have no obligation to serve them.

(Also not really convinced these, or any other audiophiley measurements mean anything without a double blind test)
Do you have any stats on the above?
 

samn

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Gee! Could it be that Apple is pushing the removal of the headphone jack for other reasons than audio quality? No way!
What, like more room to put stuff inside the phone that everyone can use, and not just the minority of customers that use aftermarket 3.5mm earphones?
 

Oveja Negra

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It would be great if a reputable tech site does a similar test and confirm this, but regardless of that, I think it will have zero impact.

People who care about this represent 1%, all the rest aka average joe, doesn't give a rat ass about quality, otherwise, craps like Beat headphones shouldn't even exist, yet they not only exist, but sell well and are super popular.
 

KingBroly

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I, for one, am shocked Apple would remove a superior method of listening to the audio for the sake of trying to get more revenue from their consumers.


Next you'll be telling me they'll have a Watch that links up to an iPhone after years of telling me I don't need a watch since I can just look at my phone.
 

Lothars

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I don't see anything wrong with this. The vast majority of customers don't care about the quality of the analogue output. Half of iPhone users use the inbox earphones, and I'll bet that a good chunk of the other half use wireless earphones. Of the remaining 30% (or whatever) how many of them are only using non-included 3.5mm earphones because their original pair broke/they didn't feel comfortable/they liked the way Beats looked? The number of people who care about audio quality on their iPhone (and who aren't willing to buy an external DAC or Lightning headphones) is probably very small - and Apple have no obligation to serve them.

(Also not really convinced these, or any other audiophiley measurements mean anything without a double blind test)
do you have an actual source? or are you just trying to feed people bullshit since you've convinced yourself.
 

oti

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What, like more room to put stuff inside the phone that everyone can use, and not just the minority of customers that use aftermarket 3.5mm earphones?
Since we're throwing anecdotal evidence at each other over here, I don't know a single iPhone user who uses Apple's earphones. Their cables all broke at some point so they bought dirt cheap replacements. 3,5mm replacements.
 

sc0la

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Jun 7, 2004
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Lossless 24bit music files are a waste and that loss of dynamic range is completely meaningless. It's like bathing in the ocean and complaining when someone removes a gallon. There's still more water than you need. That dynamic range loss at 16bit would be almost certainly indistinguishable to anyone using any hardware.

This isn't intended to defend any particular decision, but the audiophile stuff is widespread and hugely misunderstood and abused.
but it uses numbers and one is bigger than the other. That means it's science not opinion /s
 

EatinOlives

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Ah, in comes the carnival of "the average consumer doesn't care!" posts. Anything to absolve Apple of any and all criticism.
 

Irminsul

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(Also not really convinced these, or any other audiophiley measurements mean anything without a double blind test)
Well, the basis of that tests are actual quantiative measurements, it's just the conclusion that's subjective. And yes, most people probably won't hear the difference.

It would be great if a reputable tech site does a similar test and confirm this, but regardless of that, I think it will have zero impact.
Well, for what it's worth, it's easily the most reputable computer mag in Germany.
 

MrGerbils

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I have a nice pair of grados that I use on my laptop at work and on my system at home, but I've never plugged them in to my phone because they're huge to carry around. All I ever hook up to my phone is the included cheap ass earbuds that I use to stream Spotify over cellular, so not a huge deal to me. Hopefully sound quality w the airpods is good.

I should also add that I have no interest in buying the 7 though as my 6 still works great, haha. Think I'll get either airpods or beatsx to pair with my 6 though.
 

KHarvey16

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but it uses numbers and one is bigger than the other. That means it's science not opinion /s
Obviously!

Well, the basis of that tests are actual quantiative measurements, it's just the conclusion that's subjective. And yes, most people probably won't hear the difference.
It's likely outside a human's ability to hear regardless of equipment.
 

Mendrox

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Jan 4, 2012
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I don't see anything wrong with this. The vast majority of customers don't care about the quality of the analogue output. Half of iPhone users use the inbox earphones, and I'll bet that a good chunk of the other half use wireless earphones. Of the remaining 30% (or whatever) how many of them are only using non-included 3.5mm earphones because their original pair broke/they didn't feel comfortable/they liked the way Beats looked? The number of people who care about audio quality on their iPhone (and who aren't willing to buy an external DAC or Lightning headphones) is probably very small - and Apple have no obligation to serve them.

(Also not really convinced these, or any other audiophiley measurements mean anything without a double blind test)
This is bullshit. At my work people that had iPhones the past 5 years don't want to get the iPhone 7 now because of the adapter and them knowing that quality would take a dive. Many people care about sound quality on their smartphones...
 

oti

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Ah, in comes the carnival of "the average consumer doesn't care!" posts. Anything to absolve Apple of any and all criticism.
TBH it's quite an achievement to build up your brand in a way that enables you to throw annoyances at your customers and they still support you. Of course marketing plays a huge part but the quality is here too. Just the ease of use of iOS is fascinating. My mom who never used a PC really learned her way around iOS in a week.
 

Fliesen

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Well, the basis of that tests are actual quantiative measurements, it's just the conclusion that's subjective. And yes, most people probably won't hear the difference.
And of those who would hear the difference, how many of those people would actually use the cheap $9 adapter? Don't some of these kinds of people actually go so far as to use an external, battery powered DAC/AMP?

The adapter is meant as a convenience so you can use those old buds or cans of yours, i don't think there's a huge overlap of "Audiophiles who would notice / care" vs. "People who use a cheap adapter"

It's a $9 Apple adapter, so it's the quality of a $2 third party adapter.
 

BlackGoku03

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Forget the "nobody will care" and "nobody listens to the iPhones with such expensive headphones" comments. Bottom line is that they got rid of something that had no real need to be removed. Fuck losing options.
 
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