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Apple Lightning headphone support introduced

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Beats Solo 2
Beats Solo 2

Apple has introduced a new manufacturer specification under its Made for iPhone/iPad (MFi) program for Lightning headphone connections.

This new specification will let headphones connect to iOS devices using a Lightning connection rather than the usual 3.5mm jack.

Apparently Apple will release a software update in the future that will enable audio input support via the Lightning jack for any devices running iOS 7.1 or later.

Potential Lightning headphones would be able to receive lossless stereo 48kHz digital audio output and send mono 38kHz digital audio input.

To put that into perspective, Apple’s own EarPods have a frequency range of 5Hz to 21kHz, meaning the Lightning headphones will sound a lot better and offer better sound quality.

That input would also mean the Lightning headphones would be able to support a microphone and iOS remote controls.

This could extend beyond the standard volume and play/pause controls to buttons to launch specific aps like iTunes Radio or the like.

By connecting to your iOS device via Lightning cable, it would negate the need for headphone manufacturers to equip them with internal power sources for features like noise cancellation, as the headphones would draw power from the iPhone or iPad.

According to 9to5mac, Apple has outlined two specific kinds of Lightning headphone configurations:

  • Standard Lightning Headphones with a digital/analogue convertor supported by the Lightning headphone module
  • Advanced Lightning Headphones with digital audio processing features like active noise cancellation, digital signal processor and digital/analogue converter.

Of course, this news is of particular interest at the moment as Apple has just announced its acquisition of audio company, Beats.

Apple bought Beats Electronics and Beats Music for a total of $3 billion, with a $2.6 billion (£1.55bn) up-front payment and the remaining $400 million (£239m) invested over time.

“Music is such an important part of all of our lives and holds a special place within our hearts at Apple,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook when announcing the acquisition. “That’s why we have kept investing in music and are bringing together these extraordinary teams so we can continue to create the most innovative music products and services in the world.”

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