Apple’s Lightning to 3.5mm Adapter Affects Sound Quality, Reveal Tests


Earlier today, Apple’s Lightning to 3.5mm adapter received the teardown treatment, which revealed that it includes a small digital-to-analog converter (DAC). Now, a German website, which has run extensive tests on the audio adapter to determine whether or not there is any sound degradation, has confirmed that the iPhone 7 with 3.5mm Lightning adapter does sound worse than iPhone 6s with 3.5mm headphone jack (via BGR).


Below is a computer-generated translation quoted from the source:

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.

However, it must be emphasized that these results aren’t too bad since the difference is going to be completely imperceptible to most people. In fact, even some audiophiles with an incredible ear for sound won’t notice the difference unless they’re listening to high-quality 24-bit audio files.

So if you mostly listen to Spotify or Apple Music on your iPhone, chances are you won’t even notice the difference.

Of course, this is just one set of tests, so don’t take them as a foregone conclusion. One unscientific test by AppleInsider claimed the new Lightning EarPods sound better than the 3.5mm headphone jack, so it’s hard to say if anything is conclusive at this point.


  • LadeeDa

    No sheet Sherlock! It’s common sense.

  • Why is it common sense that they would use a lower-quality DAC in the adapter than they did in the previous iPhone? I would have expected they would have used one of equal quality.

  • Nick La Riviere

    Hah! I called it in a post earlier today!

  • Biggy604

    I wonder if the belkin dual adapter DAC is better?

  • poopchute

    I would really like to hear his explanation of common sense as well.

  • poopchute

    Hahahahaha, the difference in dynamic range is so small it could easily be attributed to test samples. Also, no one will ever hear a difference when the numbers are above 90db anyway.
    Those hipsters and their record players don’t get more than about 30db of dynamic range.
    I guess what matters is that the German website who did the test gets its traffic.

  • chickeee

    for $40 USD it should be

  • definingsound

    There is no DAC in the belkin “adapter”. It’s just a lightning port y-cable. Takes 1 lightning port and turns it into 2 lightning ports so that the Apple headphones can connect to the phone simultaneous to the usb cord.

  • Heisenberg

    I beg to differ. I heard the reduction in sound quality as soon as I plugged my Sennheiser Momentum 2 heardphones in – bass loses impact, does not reach down as deep, and music lost a lot of it’s dynamic drive in comparison to my prior Iphone 6 plus. It was quite apparent and easy to hear if you have quality headphones.

  • poopchute

    I believe you. Not all DAC’s are created the same.And I’m not arguing that they don’t sound different. I haven’t even tested for any difference myself yet.
    I’m just laughing at the way our society is so quick to jump on silly pointless specs to prove a pre-existing bias.
    Oh well.