Inside Apple's new audio adapter: X-Rays reveal its hidden components


Apple's new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus do not feature a 3.5mm headset jack, and yes, that's annoying many people out there. After all, your home speakers, car stereo, headphones, and so on all seem to rely on it.

However, Apple is not leaving you without a way to connect to those systems: the company provides a handy adapter free in the box with every iPhone that connects to the Lightning port on one end and provides an outlet to a 3.5mm jack on the other. If you lose it, you can buy a new one for $9, the cheapest for an Apple adapter.


All of this suggests that there might not be much to that adapter. However, recently released X-Ray images of it, reveal quite the opposite. A lot of the space right below the actual connecting pins is occupied by an integrated circuit, a chip that obviously is tasked with some important feature.

Officially, there's no explanation by Apple as to what it does, but the most obvious guess is that it contains a digital-to-analog converter, or a DAC, in addition to an amplifier and an analog-to-digital converter. That is needed because Apple's Lightning connector is digital, while headphones require an analog signal. It's the DAC that makes that conversion.


Interestingly, additional testing revealed that while that new DAC inside the adapter delivers a slightly worse audio quality than the built-in solution before, the difference might not even be audible to most people. With this, a lot of the mysterious around the curious adapter are finally unraveled.

source: iFixit

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9 Comments

1. Doakie

Posts: 2478; Member since: May 06, 2009

I can't pick it out, but I know one of those pieces are the maniacal laughter....

2. truthwins unregistered

What a waste of x rays

3. talon95

Posts: 1004; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

Maniacal laughter tends to sound more realistic out of a cheap DAC anyways. :)

4. Macready

Posts: 1830; Member since: Dec 08, 2014

And this is why a digital audio connection doesn't necessarily improve audio quality over the old school analogue jacks. In fact, as seen here, it can easily end up being (measurably at the very least) worse. Simply because you still need a DAC somewhere in the chain to get to that final analogue stage. And depending on the quality of that DAC, a lot can go right, or wrong.

5. dbmcelroy

Posts: 44; Member since: Nov 10, 2015

Such an arrogant, heavy handed move on Apples part to eliminate the analog adapter. Big Brother controlling the feckless masses.

6. combatmedic870

Posts: 986; Member since: Sep 02, 2015

They're going to be some money to be made on after market dac adapters for Apple products

7. PHYCLOPSH

Posts: 654; Member since: Jun 28, 2014

Apple thought this one out with a clever malice, the more to break the more to buy...

8. lyndon420

Posts: 6897; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Ahhh....technology. I love it when OEM's overcomplicate what was once a very simple to use and reliable way to connect to our music. I forget...why were we all asking for the headphone jack to be removed in the first place?

9. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

DAC inside $9 adapter, sounds amazing.... /s

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