Originally Posted by Nil
The proprietary nature of the lightning port is what really bothers me about it. If they nixed the headphone port and the lightning port and just changed to a USB-C, I'd be more inclined to be okay with it. But now having to buy headphones that are incompatible with every other piece of hardware in existence bothers me greatly.
Me too. The Lightning headphones won't work with a MacBook which is very inconsistent for a company that tries to make things as seamless as possible between devices.
The more I think about it, there just has to be some sort of teeny tiny DAC in the $9 Lightning to 3.5mm adapter. Virtually every headphone with a Lightning cable currently on the market (Audeze, Sony, Philips, Brightech, etc.) either advertises their built-in DAC or mentions 24-bit audio. The DAC built into the iPhone 6 doesn't support 24-bit, so these headphones must have their own DAC as well. The adapter is compatible with any iOS 10 device, including the iPhone 5, so there isn't any sort of new technology at play here. As I don't see how a digital port like Lightning could possibly be transmitting analog, all current headphones have their own DAC, and the adapter works with previous versions, it seems like there must be a DAC in the adapter. I'm sure some blog will have a tear-down once they are available and then we'll know for sure.
Apple seems to be punting on the higher end audio market. It doesn't make a lot of sense to plug $500 headphones into a $2 DAC. I wonder if the cable is a sort of after-the-fact design decision, and that's why it is so cheap without the usual Apple mark-up. Just speculating, but I could easily see Jony Ive wanting the iPhone 7 to go completely wireless out of the box, but somebody realized the backlash they would face if no one could use their existing headphones so they stuck the adapter in there too.