Just so everyone is up to date, Apple removed the 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone 7 lineup. In order to listen to audio with your iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus you need Bluetooth headphones/speakers or the included Lightning to 3.5mm Adaptor.
Some people on the internet have vociferously expressed their discontent over this development and how Apple is using their proprietory technology to scam people out of….
I decided to buy the $9 Lightning to 3.5mm Adaptor and compare it with a built in 3.5mm headphone jack and audio over Bluetooth. I used my iPhone 5, a Belkin 3.5mm Male to Male TRS cable, and a Bose SoundLink II Bluetooth speaker with a 3.5mm Aux. Input. Here is what I heard and what I learned:
I hate cables. They get all tangled and they are always too long or too short. They make everything look unorganized and chaotic. Good cables are expensive, cheap cables are not good and the list goes on and on. I hate cables…..but I love the way they sound.
The audio from my iPhone 5 sounded significantly better when it was wired to the Bose Speaker through the Aux. Input than when it was streaming wirelessly over Bluetooth. I was actually quite surprised at the difference because I had never compared the two forms of audio signal transference back to back. In the end, I learned what I already knew, "short, high quality cables sound better than magic." The iPhone 7 has a very different (meaning much better) audio system than my iPhone 5 so your results may vary.
The differences between the built-in headphone jack and the Lightning to 3.5mm Adaptor were minimal to the point I am not totally confident in them:
- Built in headphone jack - Less output, more low end
- Lightning to 3.5mm Adaptor - More output, less low end
I did use my Sennheiser HD600's for this part of the experiment. Do I normally do this? No. With the volume maxed out, my iPhone 5 was actually driving my HD600's pretty well in terms of volume, but it was losing in terms of sound quality and battery life.
However, the iPhone 5 was never designed to do any of this. Realistically, I think a pair of Shure SE215's, or the Sennheiser equivalent, with the Lightning adaptor will give you the best results. If you want higher sound quality, listen to music on something other than your phone.
Lightning to 3.5mm Adaptor Addendum
This adaptor is rather impressive for several reasons. First, it is $9. Nothing in the Apple store is $9. USB to USB cables are $19. Second, for $9 you get a Lightning Connector that goes directly into a DAC, which sends the audio signal to a FEMALE 3.5mm jack. Third, when it comes to cables/jacks/electrical engineering people use MALE and FEMALE connectors. That is just what they do. I hope the reason why they are called MALE and FEMALE is obvious.
When the TRS FEMALE connector is exposed, you throw in the word "dongle," and plug your headphones into the "dongle," somewhere there will be a kid with a question that the parents will not be happy about and they will blame Apple. Fortunately, a "headphone jack" is just a "headphone jack" and that is as complex as Apple's marketing department feels they need to be on that subject. In other words, "Ignorance is bliss."