Cirrus Logic unveils Apple-authorized Lightning headphone development kit

Posted:
in iPhone
With rumors strongly suggesting Apple's next-generation iPhone will lack a traditional headphone jack, supplier Cirrus Logic this week announced the release of a new development kit that will enable companies to make Made for iPhone-certified Lightning headphones.




The new development kit by the AV-focused semiconductor designer aims to allow quick transition away from the legacy 3.5-millimeter headphone jack toward Apple's digital Lightning connector. Using the kit, manufacturers will have an easier path to migrating existing products to deliver audio over Lightning.

The Cirrus Logic MFi Headset Development Kit can be adapted to any form factor, including earbuds and over-the-ear designs.

The new reference design from the company uses the new Cirrus Logic CS42L42 assembly, which contains a 114-decibel headphone digital to analog converter that can deliver up to 35 milliwatts. It also has a 114-dB analog to digital converter with a low noise microphone bias generator and sidetone mixing for phone calls made through a headset utilizing the circuit.

Included in the package from the company are code samples, an example iOS application, and two reference design boards.

One board design is intended for implementation in consumer goods and is about the size of a USB flash drive. The larger second board utilizes an analog headphone jack and discrete microphone port for debugging software and hardware developed with the kit.




"New digital connectivity in mobile devices, including the Lightning-based interface, is creating opportunities for OEMs to innovate in product design and is accelerating the transition from analog- to digital-connected products within today's billion-unit headset and headphone market," said Carl Alberty, vice president of audio products marketing at Cirrus Logic. "Our MFi reference design provides a complete high-performance, digital-headset solution and a reference iOS application to support the rapid development of these emerging consumer products."

In the build up to the release of Apple's next iPhone, known colloquially as the "iPhone 7," leaks have routinely reiterated that the device will eschew the 3.5-millimeter headphone jack, allowing for the thinnest design yet. It's believed that Apple will offer its own Lightning-connected EarPods, and will push headphone makers to offer their own accessories with Lightning or Bluetooth compatibility.

As those rumors have built, accessory makers have responded by preparing their own Lightning headphones, as well as aftermarket adapters that allow traditional headphones to be connected to a Lightning jack.

In addition, Apple is said to be working on its own truly wireless Bluetooth earbuds to supplement the product line, which would allegedly be sold separately. It's been suggested that the accessory could feature completely separate left and right earpieces, and would sync and charge via the iPhone's Lightning connector, much like the Apple Pencil.

Apple is expected to launch its next-generation iPhone in September, its usual annual timeframe.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    Fantastic idea. And expected.
    cyberzombielolliver
  • Reply 2 of 14
    williamhwilliamh Posts: 677member
    An even greater idea would be to make the iPhone slightly thicker and give us a battery that lasts a full day.  By not making the phone thinner, we could be spared having another addition to our bags of dongles, cables, and adapters.

    I'm sure Apple conducts usability studies with lighter, thinner phones but I'm not going to concede that will be better just now.
    cnocbui
  • Reply 3 of 14
    williamh said:
    An even greater idea would be to make the iPhone slightly thicker and give us a battery that lasts a full day.  By not making the phone thinner, we could be spared having another addition to our bags of dongles, cables, and adapters.

    I'm sure Apple conducts usability studies with lighter, thinner phones but I'm not going to concede that will be better just now.
    Removing the jack has nothing to do with thickness, so stop whining. 
    nolamacguyTurboPGTlolliver
  • Reply 4 of 14
    toddzrxtoddzrx Posts: 199member
    The new development kit by the AV-focused semiconductor designer aims to allow quick transition away from the legacy 3.5-millimeter headphone jack toward Apple's digital Lightning connector. Using the kit, manufacturers will have an easier path to migrating existing products to deliver audio over Lightning.
    Sure, easy for manufacturers to develop and add another product on the shelf.  That by no means gives any incentive for customers to buy it.

    Sorry to all those who maintain that this is just another version of Apple deleting old tech, but I have my doubts that this won't be nearly as welcomed in this fall's iPhone as Apple wants it to be.  It makes a lot more sense to me that the redesigned 2017 iPhone would be a much better time to delete the headphone jack.  Just IMHO.
  • Reply 5 of 14
    romanmarromanmar Posts: 32member
    Fantastic idea. And expected.
    If they switch lightning to usb-c port, it would be better than you could use the same headphones on a laptop as well.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 6 of 14
    bigmikebigmike Posts: 254member
    So for all of us who have invested in expensive headphones, etc that use the standard jack, that means we'll have to buy yet another expensive adapter, if it even will be created. Great. Apple, how about make replaceable jack modules that the user can actually choose for themselves what they want? At least for a few years during a "transition phase" rather than abruptly. It could be designed cleanly and might even get more customers. Just a thought. Anyway, I smell a new computer manufacturer over the horizon that lets the user completely customize their computer/phones/whatever via switchable modules. Not everyone wants the same thing.
  • Reply 7 of 14
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    toddzrx said:
    The new development kit by the AV-focused semiconductor designer aims to allow quick transition away from the legacy 3.5-millimeter headphone jack toward Apple's digital Lightning connector. Using the kit, manufacturers will have an easier path to migrating existing products to deliver audio over Lightning.
    It makes a lot more sense to me that the redesigned 2017 iPhone would be a much better time to delete the headphone jack.  Just IMHO.
    oh? and what makes you believe the hating whiners wouldnt put on the same exact show next year, if thats when it were/does come to pass?
    lolliverwilliamlondon
  • Reply 8 of 14
    TurboPGTTurboPGT Posts: 355member
    bigmike said:
    So for all of us who have invested in expensive headphones, etc that use the standard jack, that means we'll have to buy yet another expensive adapter, if it even will be created. Great. Apple, how about make replaceable jack modules that the user can actually choose for themselves what they want? At least for a few years during a "transition phase" rather than abruptly. It could be designed cleanly and might even get more customers. Just a thought. Anyway, I smell a new computer manufacturer over the horizon that lets the user completely customize their computer/phones/whatever via switchable modules. Not everyone wants the same thing.
    If you bought expensive headphones, you must care about sound quality, which means you'll be happy to buy expensive new Lightning headphones that will deliver much higher quality with onboard DACs and the potential for lossless 24 bit audio.
    edited June 2016 ericthehalfbeelolliverwilliamlondon
  • Reply 9 of 14
    bigmike said:
    So for all of us who have invested in expensive headphones, etc that use the standard jack, that means we'll have to buy yet another expensive adapter, if it even will be created. Great. Apple, how about make replaceable jack modules that the user can actually choose for themselves what they want? At least for a few years during a "transition phase" rather than abruptly. It could be designed cleanly and might even get more customers. Just a thought. Anyway, I smell a new computer manufacturer over the horizon that lets the user completely customize their computer/phones/whatever via switchable modules. Not everyone wants the same thing.

    Who would use high-end headphones with the tiny little amplifier built into your smartphone? Anyone with truly high-end headphones probably already uses an outboard DAC. So what's the difference between using an outboard DAC and a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter?

    And the price for these adapters is going to be cheap compared to the price you paid for your "high-end" headphones. Audeze charges $50 for their Cipher Lightning cable which includes the DAC, AMP (custom matched to the headphone drivers) and DSP module (which can have its firmware updated, presumably for different headphones or to add features later on). Once these are mass-produced you're going to be able to get an adapter for your headphones for $25 that will actually sound BETTER than plugging them directly into the 3.5mm jack.
    lolliverroundaboutnowwilliamlondon
  • Reply 10 of 14
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,149member
    How long till we see a lightening to valve amp adapter?
  • Reply 11 of 14
    toddzrxtoddzrx Posts: 199member
    toddzrx said:
    It makes a lot more sense to me that the redesigned 2017 iPhone would be a much better time to delete the headphone jack.  Just IMHO.
    oh? and what makes you believe the hating whiners wouldnt put on the same exact show next year, if thats when it were/does come to pass?
    What's that got to do with my opinion?  I said nothing about "hating whiners" doing anything.  Although now that I read your comment, you qualify.
  • Reply 12 of 14
    yojimbo007yojimbo007 Posts: 996member
    williamh said:
    An even greater idea would be to make the iPhone slightly thicker and give us a battery that lasts a full day.  By not making the phone thinner, we could be spared having another addition to our bags of dongles, cables, and adapters.

    I'm sure Apple conducts usability studies with lighter, thinner phones but I'm not going to concede that will be better just now.
    Removing the jack has nothing to do with thickness, so stop whining. 
    It does.. It will allow for another 1.5 to 2 mm reduction in thickness.
  • Reply 13 of 14
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    TurboPGT said:
    bigmike said:
    So for all of us who have invested in expensive headphones, etc that use the standard jack, that means we'll have to buy yet another expensive adapter, if it even will be created. Great. Apple, how about make replaceable jack modules that the user can actually choose for themselves what they want? At least for a few years during a "transition phase" rather than abruptly. It could be designed cleanly and might even get more customers. Just a thought. Anyway, I smell a new computer manufacturer over the horizon that lets the user completely customize their computer/phones/whatever via switchable modules. Not everyone wants the same thing.
    If you bought expensive headphones, you must care about sound quality, which means you'll be happy to buy expensive new Lightning headphones that will deliver much higher quality with onboard DACs and the potential for lossless 24 bit audio.
    What a load of BS.  Show me the technically competent reviews of  iPhones that say their audio quality could do with serious improvement - the equivalent of your 'much higer quality'.

    For much higher quality to be possible, the existing quality has to be average or bad compared to what is possible.

    Modern DACs, even those in mobile devices, are sonically excellent and have been for at least a decade.  Until I can come upon an audible differences between DACs, I will hold the opinion that there isn't any.  It's the whole  audible difference between speaker cables and interconnects nonsense, all over again.

    I recall that there have been several recording studio engineers post here, from time to time.  If any of them happen to read this post, could they please reply, I have a small favour to ask.
  • Reply 14 of 14
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    Removing the jack has nothing to do with thickness, so stop whining. 
    It does.. It will allow for another 1.5 to 2 mm reduction in thickness.
    More nonsense.  The Gionee Elief S7 is 5.5 mm thin and still has a headphone jack and a battery with 57% higher capacity and 11% less physical volume than the 6S, which is 7.1mm thick.


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