Apple Supplier Cirrus Logic Releases Kit for Creating Lightning-Based Headphones Ahead of iPhone 7

Philips-LightningApple supplier Cirrus Logic has announced a new MFi Headset Development Kit, a reference platform that is designed to help "Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod" accessory makers quickly develop Lightning-based headphones.

The development kit, available through Apple's MFi Program, includes a form factor reference design and other resources to help MFi licensees create Lightning-based headphones. A reference iOS app is also available.

The MFi Headset Development Kit demonstrates the advantages of Lightning-connected headsets over conventional analog headsets. For example, digital connectivity with an integrated, high-performance DAC and headphone driver delivers high-fidelity audio to the headphone speakers. In addition, Lightning-connected headphones can interact with an iOS app to create a more custom audio experience, such as personalized EQ settings.

Multiple credible sources have confirmed that Apple plans to remove the 3.5mm headphone plug on the iPhone 7 series in favor of an all-in-one Lightning connector for audio output, charging, and connectivity, but only a handful of Lightning-equipped headphones are available today.

Cirrus Logic MFi
Apple introduced new MFi Program specifications in June 2014 that allow third-party manufacturers to create headphones that connect to iOS devices via a Lightning cable, but the rollout has been slow. Philips has unveiled Lightning-equipped Fidelio M2L and Fidelio NC1L headphones, pictured above, over the past two years.

Apple may also release Lightning-equipped EarPods, but a more recent conflicting rumor said the iPhone 7 will ship with standard 3.5mm EarPods and a 3.5mm-to-Lightning adapter. Apple is also believed to be exploring Bragi Dash-like wireless headphones (AirPods?), but it may hold off on adopting the technology until 2017 or later.

Those interested in learning more about Lightning-equipped headphones can watch our video: Lightning Headphones: Are They Better or Just an Inconvenience? We also shared a video showing what an aftermarket 3.5mm-to-Lightning adapter looks like as they begin to reach the market.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
57 months ago
If Apple had started with a lightning connector headphone and then the industry came along with a headphone jack, everyone would be singing praises along the lines of

* No external DAC or amp required - it's built into the phone!
* No external battery or charging - it works off the phone!
* Uses a small, inexpensive standardized plug/jack, requiring only a small round hole in cases, etc.
* So cheap that earplugs can be disposable - especially handy around wet or sweaty environments
* So cheap that if you lose your device, this isn't a factor
* No dongles!
* Can charge my phone and use external headphones or speakers at the same time!

Sigh.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
57 months ago
Are they gonna put a female Lightning port on Macs?? How else do they expect us to use Lightning headphones across devices?
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
57 months ago
The day Apple gets rid of the headphone jack is the day I stop buying iPhones.

No way I want some pathetic lightning cable that frays even when stuck in one place and isn't moved.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
57 months ago
This will not convince me to buy an iPhone that does not have a headphone jack. We need a packet no headphone jack no buy. Let Tim stew on a few million useless iPhones that no one wants. That will teach apple to be more consumer aware
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
57 months ago
For the love of God, I pray Apple does not remove the 3.5mm headphone jack from the whole line of phones.

Reasons

I am a musician. Bluetooth audio is too laggy to play live so I use a 1/4" audio cable to jack into the iPhone.

On stage I keep a portable battery plugged into the lightning port to keep the device charged while I perform. Losing the ability to charge the phone and play music at the same time would be catastrophic for me.

At festivals I wear a small portable amp on my belt and wear the iPhone on my arm or around my neck. I wander through crowds, synth-bombing bluegrass circles etc. At every event, I lose one or two cables to the general chaos of everyone being drunk etc. I use a long cable 3.5mm extender cable so I can wrap it around my arm a few times to where if it gets pulled on, it won't get unplugged out of the phone. I use the kind with a special, thin connector so that they work even if my iPhone is in a hefty case.

Fortunately, 3.5mm to RCA cables are cheap and ubiquitous at stores. I always bring three so I have a backup if one stops working, and/or one gets lost. If all three vanish I can always find one a nearby Walmart or Radio Shack etc. Sometimes I have to settle for ones with a thicker end on them, but I have never had a problem finding something that works for just a few bucks.

However, Lightning-to-1/4" adapters that support charging and audio will be:
• overpriced
• difficult to find at stores
• short and stubby
• poorly made unless you buy the even more overpriced Apple brand ones
• easy to lose
• you won't have any way to know in advance if audio quality or latency (lag) will vary between models of these
• cheap knock-off ones could be rendered inoperable by iOS updates

A lot of them will be made solely with the purpose of headphones in mind, so they'll have volume and mute controls on them which will actually be a huge disadvantage for me due to the fact those buttons could get pressed accidentally whether the dongle is in my pocket or hanging out where the chaos of crowds can affect it.

Conclusion

I sincerely hope Apple does not remove the 3.5mm jack from the whole line of phones. At least leave it on the "Plus"-sized model. I could understand removing it from the smallest of the models, but removing the 3.5mm jack from the whole line is just nuts.

If this turns out to be true, then I will surely know that Apple has completely lost its soul as a company and, instead of increasing profits by innovating and creating exciting new products in new categories, they are resorting to forcing everyone to buy even more expensive proprietary stuff even at the cost of making their products far less useful. They are standing on the sidelines of VR, AR, and gaming; they waved goodbye to many of the niche pro markets they once dominated; and they don't even make a decent monitor anymore.

I may just be done with technology all together. Screw it.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
57 months ago
The earphone output is more than that. It is also a line output. I connect that jack to line inputs far more than I connect it to earphones. It would be a hassle to work around if omitted.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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