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If you haven’t upgraded your iPhone in a long time, you may be faced with a new challenge: Plugging in a pair of wired headphones.
Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone’s design five years ago, and it won’t be coming back. This design decision coincided with the rise of Bluetooth headphones and earbuds, which make listening to music easier when you’re traveling, commuting, or moving around the house.
Bluetooth headphones have come a long way, and some of them sound excellent, but you’re still getting a compromised listening experience compared to using wired headphones. That’s because your music is compressed as its sent wirelessly from your device (phone, tablet, etc) to the headphones. Wired headphones don’t have to add any compression to your tunes.
If you’re an iPhone user who wants to use wired headphones for music listening, here are the two ways you can so it.
1. Get a Pair of Lightning Headphones
The iPhone doesn’t have a headphone jack, but it does have a Lightning port. This port is primarily used for charging, but it can carry data in addition to power. Some companies have developed headphones that connect directly to an iPhone’s Lightning port, the best of which are Pioneer’s Rayz earbuds.
The buds have many of the convenience features you’d expect from wireless headphones: noise cancellation, autopause when you remove a bud, and the ability to customize its EQ to suit your sound preferences. A feature called smart mute will disable the earbuds’ microphone when you’re not speaking on a call, which is also neat.
2. Use An Adapter To Plug In Your Current Headphones
If you’re already happy with the wired headphones you have, you can connect them to your iPhone by using Apple’s Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter, which goes for less than $8 on Amazon.
This adapter plugs into your iPhone’s Lightning port, and terminates into a standard 3.5mm headphone jack (the exact same type that was previously built into the iPhone). This adapter will allow you to connect most pairs of wired headphones directly to your iPhone. If your headphones terminate into a 1/4-inch jack, you’ll need an additional adapter that converts it into the 1/8-jack size.
If you’re listening to music at a desk all day, you could also pick up Belkin’s Rockstar, an adapter that has both a Lightning and 3.5mm audio output on it. The Rockstar allows you to use wired headphones and charge your iPhone at the same time.
3. Use An Adapter To Connect A USB DAC
If you want the best possible listening experience when using wired headphones with your iPhone, you’ll want to pick up Apple’s Lightning Camera Adapter. This dongle connects to your iPhone’s Lightning port and contains a standard USB-A port (for plugging in accessories) and an additional Lightning port (for charging).
Using this adapter, it’s possible to connect AudioQuest’s Dragonfly Cobalt USB DAC (digital analog converter) to your iPhone.The Cobalt is a flash drive-sized DAC that dramatically improves the audio quality of your digital music by presenting it in the purest possible form.
The Cobalt has a 3.5mm headphone jack built into it, so you can plug your headphones directly into the DAC. While this method has the most pieces, it’s absolutely worthwhile if you listen to lossless music from streaming services like Apple Music, TIDAL, and Amazon Music Unlimited.