Apple doesn't care about audio quality my butt, Neil Young

By internet time this story is ages old, I know, but I was reminded again that Apple cares about audio quality and why Neil Young is so.very.wrong. 😉
He made a few waves in the tech sphere in late January by stating something to the effect of the Apple’s MacBook Pro having a shit DAC (Digital Analogue Converter) and Apple generally caring more about consumerism than creating high quality audio equipment for professionals.

Jim Dalrymple thoroughly debunked any of the claims made by Young on The Loop weeks ago but I wanted to offer a different example:
The Apple Lightning/USB-C to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter

Many people make fun of these little dongles and I get it. Apple removed the headphone jack from its iPhone and iPads and replaced it with an easy-to-lose USD 9.— dongle and they called it courage. My feelings about the dongle went from a solid meh (#donglelyfe) to loving these little things, seriously loving them. The reason is simple: they have amazing sound quality.

In more technical terms (source 1, source 2):

  • The output source impedance measures > 1Ω.
  • Frequency response is close to perfectly flat.
  • Harmonic distortion is almost nonexistent across various resistances (Ω).
  • Dynamic range is on par with previous iPhone headphone jacks, which had great audio quality

In less technical terms it means that these little dongles can drive extremely sensitive earphones with no to absolutely minimal changes to the frequency response (their sound signature) on the one hand and can also power full-size headphones on the other hand. To get this kind of flexibility and sound quality, you’d typically have to buy and lug around a dedicated portable DAC.

My earphones of choice are the Campfire Audio Andromeda, great sounding earphones that are very hard to drive properly. Sources with an output resistance of larger than 1Ω will quickly and negatively impact the sound signature, starting with reducing the bass response dramatically.

Using Apple’s dongles, they sound brilliant, same as they do on my MacBook Pro. I even use the USB-C dongle to listen to music on the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 that I use for work a lot. Its 3.5 mm audio jack is … not good, to be polite. With a USB-A to USB-C adapter and the USB-C audio dongle (again #donglelyfe), I get perfect audio quality listening to losslessly compressed music.

So no, Mr. Young, Apple does care about audio quality even on a consumer level. And what I use for proof are these tiny, easy-to-lose, beautifully sounding, flexible dongles.

Alex Hoffmann @mangochutney