When you buy a new iPhone, the box includes a set of earbuds that Apple calls EarPods. There are far worse sounding earbuds out there, but the EarPods aren’t exactly flawless when it comes to audio quality.
Unfortunately, if you have a new iPhone, you can’t exactly plug in any old set of headphones, since the headphone jack is gone. You can use Bluetooth headphones, but what if you’re looking to plug in your favorite set of wired headphones?
No Headphone Jack? No Problem
If you just want to plug in any old pair of earbuds so you don’t have to buy another pair, you’ll be glad to know there’s an affordable option. The only downside is that you have to pay for it at all, considering it used to be included with iPhone for free.
The Apple Lightning to 3.5 mm adapter isn’t revered among audiophiles, but it gets the job done. Even better, it will only cost you $9.
Users leaving reviews on the Apple website complain about the longevity of the adapter, but considering the price, it could be a lot worse.
Heartier Headphones? Time for an Upgrade
Apple’s option might be good for earbuds and other easy to drive headphones, but it’s not perfect. If you have higher-end headphones, they might need more power than the adapter can provide. For this, you’ll need a proper Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) with an integrated headphone amplifier.
Low-End to Midrange Options
If you’re looking for a bump in audio quality but don’t need much power, the FiiO Q1 Mark II might suit your needs. The AudioQuest Dragonfly Black is another option in this price range. The FiiO is Apple MFi certified, while the AudioQuest is a good option if you’d like to use it with your computer as well.
The above options are great if you want to minimize the size, but they’re not the only option. The Schiit Fulla 2 supports most headphones and also features a second USB port for power. This keeps it from draining your iPhone’s battery.
Higher End Options
What if you’re using some serious studio headphones? Then you’ll need a DAC with a more powerful amp like the Chord Mojo. This is far from cheap, but if you want excellent quality out of any set of headphones, this is one way to get it.
For slightly less money, you can get the iFi xDSD Portable Bluetooth aptX DAC and Headphone Amplifier. This offers many of the same features but also supports MQA and optional Bluetooth connections. It also features an analog volume control, so you have more precise control over volume.
Not Sure Which Music Format You Need?
If you have a collection of MP3s, you can import them into iTunes to put on your iPhone just fine. You can also easily sync any music you’ve bought via iTunes. You can’t say the same for different formats.
What if you’re a fan of uncompressed audio formats? If you have a bunch of FLAC files, you won’t be able to plop them on your iPhone and play them back easily. There are apps to play back FLAC on the iPhone, but there’s also a simpler route. Take a look at our guide to converting your music from FLAC to Apple Lossless.
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