First look: Master & Dynamic Lightning to 3.5mm Audio Cable with DAC, mic

Posted:
in iPhone edited April 28
Premium headphone maker Master & Dynamic began offering an in-house way for its customers to plug its gear into Apple's latest iPhones without the need for a Lightning-to-headphone adapter. AppleInsider got its hands on the new cable and offers a first look at the accessory.

Master & Dynamic Lightning to 3.5mm Audio Cable with DAC, mic


After the new Lightning to 3.5mm Audio Cable was announced on Tuesday, Master & Dynamic provided AppleInsider with a sample of the 3.9-foot cord. While it is priced at $69, customers have until April 29 to save 50 percent with the discount code CABLE50.

We were provided a silver Lightning-to-headphone cable, which matches our MH40 wired headphones and MW50 wireless (which can also be connected through a wire).

Master & Dynamic Lightning to 3.5mm Audio Cable with DAC, mic


We tested the cable not only with these Master & Dynamic headphones, but also with a few different brand headphones, and can confirm the cable will work with non-Master & Dynamic accessories. The company says the cable also works with its MW60 wireless and MH30 wired headphones.

As you'd expect, the cable includes a male Lightning connector on one end, while the opposite end has a standard 3.5-millimeter jack to plug into the headphones. Our initial tests resulted in sound as you'd expect -- excellent quality with the premium-priced headphones, but not discernibly different from the standard 3.5mm-to-3.5mm cable used with a device equipped with a headphone jack, like a MacBook Pro or iPad.

Master & Dynamic Lightning to 3.5mm Audio Cable with DAC, mic


The cable includes a digital to analog (DAC) converter, which the manufacturer says provides "acoustic benefits." The DAC is, of course, necessary because the digital audio output by the Lightning port on an iPhone or iPad must be converted to analog.

Newer iPhones without headphone jacks ship with a simple AMP/DAC dongle that converts the Lightning port to a 3.5mm headphone jack, allowing legacy headphones to connect. But the new Master & Dynamic cable allows any headphones with a 3.5mm input to connect without the need for a dongle.

Like other Master & Dynamic cables, the Lightning to 3.5mm Audio Cable is made of woven fabric that makes it less likely to tangle.

It also includes a remote with volume controls, and a play/pause button that can also invoke Siri. And it has an inline microphone for calls, Siri and other voice functions.

Master & Dynamic Lightning to 3.5mm Audio Cable with DAC, mic


In addition to the silver cable we checked out, the accessory also comes in black.

The company also offers a USB-C to 3.5mm Audio Cable that is advertised for "Android devices," but presumably this cable would also work with Apple's latest MacBook models, for those looking to avoid using the headphone jack entirely. Notably, the Lightning adapter carries a $20 premium over the USB-C cable, likely due to Apple's Made for iPhone licensing fees.

  • Master & Dynamic Lightning to 3.5mm Audio Cable with DAC, mic
  • Master & Dynamic Lightning to 3.5mm Audio Cable with DAC, mic
  • Master & Dynamic Lightning to 3.5mm Audio Cable with DAC, mic
  • Master & Dynamic Lightning to 3.5mm Audio Cable with DAC, mic
  • Master & Dynamic Lightning to 3.5mm Audio Cable with DAC, mic
  • Master & Dynamic Lightning to 3.5mm Audio Cable with DAC, mic
  • Master & Dynamic Lightning to 3.5mm Audio Cable with DAC, mic

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    adybadyb Posts: 176member
    I find some of the adverse comments about Apple’s dongle a little strange. I have mine attached to my B&W P5 headphones (when I’m not using my AirPods) and it just lives there, so what’s the difference between that and one of these cables? 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 11
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,289member
    adyb said:
    I find some of the adverse comments about Apple’s dongle a little strange. I have mine attached to my B&W P5 headphones (when I’m not using my AirPods) and it just lives there, so what’s the difference between that and one of these cables? 
    Almost nothing (2 pieces instead of one), but people get all hung up about this.  For some people, the extra connector is an aesthetic disadvantage.  For others, it adds another point of potential failure.   Same as when everyone freaked out because they had to buy $9 USB to USB-C adapters for the recent MBP's, but I just leave them on the USB cables all the time and it's no big deal (with one exception:  if I plug a cable which is a USB cable and has a USB to USB-C adapter on the end into my Mac, it does not actually connect.  If I unplug it between the cable and the adapter and plug it back in again, it does connect, but I have everything going through a USB hub, so maybe that device is the issue somehow). 
    '
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 11
    chasmchasm Posts: 627member
    The fact that the cables are woven is nice, and worth a few extra bucks I guess, but I call BS on the supposition that these are **TWENTY DOLLARS** pricier than USB-C cables due to MfI licensing fees. The licensing fees on this are probably less than a dollar (indeed, probably less than a quarter!). That's just a gouge-y move by M&D because they know Apple buyers tend to make/have more money.

    Aside from that, why would I expect these cables to be any better or worse in functionality than any other MfI-certified cable?
    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 11
    I hope you plan on following this up with a review of the sound quality of this cable.

    For example, how does it compare to a standard 3.5mm cable plugged into an iPhone with a headphone jack. Does it play just as loud (or louder)? Are there any differences in sound quality? How is the bass output (which requires the majority of the power)? How does it compare to the dongle Apple gives you (which is OK, but nothing extraordinary)?
    Solirepressthis
  • Reply 5 of 11
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,630member
    I hope you plan on following this up with a review of the sound quality of this cable.

    For example, how does it compare to a standard 3.5mm cable plugged into an iPhone with a headphone jack. Does it play just as loud (or louder)? Are there any differences in sound quality? How is the bass output (which requires the majority of the power)? How does it compare to the dongle Apple gives you (which is OK, but nothing extraordinary)?
    Lots of good questions. 👍
  • Reply 6 of 11
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,695member
     ericthehalfbee said:
    I hope you plan on following this up with a review of the sound quality of this cable.

    For example, how does it compare to a standard 3.5mm cable plugged into an iPhone with a headphone jack. Does it play just as loud (or louder)? Are there any differences in sound quality? How is the bass output (which requires the majority of the power)? How does it compare to the dongle Apple gives you (which is OK, but nothing extraordinary)?
    I have a set of B&O Play's that should be a good test for it. I'll toss in my 2 cents first of the week as compared to a standard dongle. 
    edited April 28
  • Reply 7 of 11
    gatorguy said:
     ericthehalfbee said:
    I hope you plan on following this up with a review of the sound quality of this cable.

    For example, how does it compare to a standard 3.5mm cable plugged into an iPhone with a headphone jack. Does it play just as loud (or louder)? Are there any differences in sound quality? How is the bass output (which requires the majority of the power)? How does it compare to the dongle Apple gives you (which is OK, but nothing extraordinary)?
    I have a set of B&O Play's that should be a good test for it. I'll toss in my 2 cents first of the week as compared to a standard dongle. 
    If you can find someone to help you, do the comparison blind. The results will be less influenced by unconscious bias if you don't know which one you're hearing at any given moment.
    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 11
    For the folks that "buy" this cable solution over Apple's included HP adaptor....I have some swampland down in Florida for sale?
    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 11
    macguimacgui Posts: 769member
    Audio quality yet to be determined, it represents some value that the more obtuse readers are missing.

    When using quality headphones or earbuds, the ability to respond to or make a phone is almost always lost because higher-end headphones are just that, not headsets.

    Higher end headsets also lack controls such as those mentioned in the article— volume up/down and play/pause. The cable's included mic also allows the use of Siri.

    The braided cable probably (as has other braided headphone cables, in my experience) reduces 'microphonics' transmitted via the cable to the ear cups, which are generally pretty annoying to my ears. I didn't see any comment from AI regarding this or the general build quality of the cable, which appears to be quite good, if only in the pics.

    Whether the M&D DAC is better or worse (or equal to) Apple's DAC remains to be seen. But I'd wager that most people would gain more from the cables added features than would be potentially lost by M&D's DAC. 

    So this cable allows vastly superior headsets (and even earbuds) to be used with the lighting port and have the same functionality as the Apple included earbuds.

    To some, that would be worth every penny of $70, and a bargain at half the price.
  • Reply 10 of 11
    macguimacgui Posts: 769member
    For the folks that "buy" this cable solution over Apple's included HP adaptor....I have some swampland down in Florida for sale?
    Given your shortsightedness, you ought not to quit your day job.
  • Reply 11 of 11
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 573editor
    chasm said:
    The fact that the cables are woven is nice, and worth a few extra bucks I guess, but I call BS on the supposition that these are **TWENTY DOLLARS** pricier than USB-C cables due to MfI licensing fees. The licensing fees on this are probably less than a dollar (indeed, probably less than a quarter!). That's just a gouge-y move by M&D because they know Apple buyers tend to make/have more money.

    Aside from that, why would I expect these cables to be any better or worse in functionality than any other MfI-certified cable?
    You do know that there's a little arm chip in the lightning connector - a computer. The MFI cost is two-fold, the cost of the connector from avnet with the arm chip inside, and the royalty fee on top of that. All told, it's not less than a dollar. https://appleinsider.com/articles/14/02/07/apple-lowers-mfi-lightening-licensing-fees-paving-way-for-more-affordable-ios-accessories- indicates that it's a $4 fee per connector. Then you add that in with the cost of goods in the bill of materials, run it through the cost calculation (how much margin is in the product for retailers, distributors, getting it landed from the mfr freight on board, and profit for the brand) and that 4 dollars becomes 16-20 bucks at retail.
    edited April 29 repressthiswatto_cobra
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