We Apple users have had to contend with a problem with the iPhone since the mini jack was removed from its design. Specifically, we’re talking about an adapter problem. Simply connecting isn’t all that much of a hassle, admittedly. We just need to shell out for a Lightning adapter to continue using our beloved cable headphones. Alternatively, we can upgrade to Bluetooth options or turn to headphones with Lightning ports. Apple at least makes active use of the latter option, putting out their stylish white EarPods in their iPhone packaging for years now, in lieu of a mini jack with Lightning compatibility.
- Ear couplingAdapter cable
- Cable length10,5 cm
What's in the box
- No accessories included
This is good news for us and our iPhones and iPads, but beyond that level of connectivity, there’s a brick wall. Should we wish to connect to something as simple as our desktop computer or laptop device, for example, we have to resort to other sound delivery options due to a lack of a Lightning socket with the output device. The fact that Apple offers headphones that can be used on the go, but not for when we might want to use our MacBook Air for all manner of applications, almost seems like a bad joke. So what to do when the next video conference comes calling? Settle for partaking in a video pitch using your iPhone? Sounds a little awkward and not at all workable and this is just one example of where the absent tech functionality has been yearned for.
A simple solution might be to always ensure you’ve got a second pair of computer-compatible headphones always to hand. It’s a solution for sure, yet it’s a required fix that many a Bluetooth headphone user need never worry about. However, those who aren’t upgraded to the world of wireless transmission or simply the traditionalist reluctant to make the leap, have to find other solutions.
Apple was once an exclusive entity in terms of its special plug format, but it today finds itself in an increasingly crowded club of fellow manufacturers. Beats, Pioneer, Audeze, Sennheiser, RHA, Radius and more all utilise Lightning with many of their headphone models. For example, Pioneer Rayz can’t be utilised in everyday office situations for their great noise reduction capabilities. And let’s not forget, the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart, with its superb 3D recording technology can’t be used for field recording with your trusty laptop. It all seems such a shame, doesn’t it?
A Lightning Lifeline from Anker
Those behind the scenes at established manufacturer Anker must have found themselves lamenting this very question. Why? Because the brand has now unveiled a suitable solution to these connectivity woes with a USB-C to Lightning audio adapter.
The small and inconspicuous cable comes in classic white and is easily removed from its packaging and ready to connect. Just to add, for this test, we used two pairs of headphones from Sennheiser and Pioneer. The test scenario was simple enough. We connected an iMac to the Anker adapter via USB-C which, in theory, should allow both test headphone models to enjoy full functionality over the likes of listening to music, making Skype communications, as well as more advanced applications such as playback of HiRes material and music production sessions.
However, we must first select the new cable within the operating system or recording software as the main audio device. Since the USB-C to Lightning adapter is registered with Windows 10 (there’s sadly no guarantee of compatibility with earlier Windows versions) as well as macOS as a new sound card, we simply select this option as the output and input device.
It’s as simple as that. Everything should now be working as intended. A quick check indicates that it indeed does, thanks to MFi certification. A minor gripe here, however, is that things aren’t as smooth as expected. While our Spotify and iTunes playlists are playing along nicely thanks to the 24 bit / 48 kHz specs, there is, unfortunately, a slight hitch when it comes to device control itself. Both the remote of the Pioneer Rayz and the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart headphones we used for the test react a little too sensitively. If we simply press Play/Pause for a brief moment, the song selected will play on or be paused, however, it will only remain so for as long as the button remains pressed. After approximately two seconds, this command is then properly executed. It’s not a particularly distressing drawback, but these fiddly levels of sensitivity will take some getting used to. What also doesn’t work: Fast forward and rewind tracks and, related to the anchor hardware itself, charge your device. However, skip forward and backward commands prove reliable, as does the volume control of this adapter.
By the way, if you’ve already placed specific functions on remote buttons within iOS apps, these settings will be retained for use when connected to a computer.
Within audio production software suites like Studio One and Ableton Live, headphones worked as intended. Those lucky enough to have the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart in their collection can now record binaural recordings directly onto their favourite software without having to go through the iCloud first, or add another link in the chain with dealings with Dropbox and the like. The fact the mobile musician who primarily utilises a laptop doesn’t have to change the specifics of their setup with this Anker adapter is very nifty indeed!
The Anker USB-C to Lightning Audio Adapter is worth looking into, not least because it allows for the use of Lightning headphones with Macs, Windows 10 PCs and iPad Pro devices. It even works with Android devices, even if such compatibility hasn’t been gifted a guarantee yet by Anker. The connectivity solution Anker have provided here for a princely sum of 30 euros isn’t a bargain option by any means, but there’s plenty to applaud here. In view of the MFi certification, not to mention a transmission range in 24 bit and 48 kHz, this handy audio adapter is more than just a cable and an enticing enrichment for anyone looking to use their Lightning headphones on all manner of devices.