Achieve listen to high-resolution audio on iPhone and iPad it can become complicated. Technically speaking, we should be able to listen to high-res audio thanks to an Apple Lightning 3.2mm headphone adapter, although it’s pretty limited. Instead, we’re going to need an external digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and a high-resolution streaming service.

What we are going to need to listen to high-resolution audio on iPhone and iPad

High-Resolution Audio is music with a higher bit depth and sample rate than standard CD-quality audio. So the first thing we are going to need is high-resolution music to listen to and not just any kind of file.

In the case of Apple Music, we find that it offers a wide variety of high-resolution music in its catalog. Although we don’t need to limit ourselves to this app as the only audio source either.

Something else to consider is that there is currently no way to listen to true high-resolution audio through Bluetooth headphones. Although Amazon Echo Studio almost succeeds.

In order to listen to high-resolution music with headphones, we are going to need to use wired ones. This is somewhat complicated due to Apple’s decision to remove the headphone jack from newer iPhone models. Although we also find the possibility of purchasing a Lightning to 3.5mm headphone adapter that allows us to connect headphones, although it has its limitations.

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Technically, this adapter will allow us to connect headphones that should allow us to listen to music in high resolution, although it is limited to 24-bit / 48 kHz. We can listen to files with a higher resolution, but it will always be reduced to 48 kHz, so we will not be able to enjoy a higher quality.

To get true Hi-Res audio on iPhone or iPad, we’ll have to bypass the internal digital-to-analog converter (DAC) by using an external converter.

External DAC on iPhone or iPad

External DAC on iPhone and iPad

Let’s agree that connecting an external DAC to our iPhone is not the Apple way of doing things. However, even in one’s own company documentationassure that we will need an external DAC to listen in high resolution.

One positive thing is that most of the DACs we buy will work on all phones and computers, not just our Apple device. So we can listen to music in high resolution on different devices.

The problem is that DACs can be a bit expensive. For example, we can buy the FiiO NEWK3, this retails for €87 and features a headphone amplifier with converters capable of playing files and streams up to 384 kHz/32-bit. It even supports other types of Hi-Res Audio up to DSD256.

In the vast majority of DACs we will find that they use USB inputs, something complicated considering that our iPhone has a Lightning input. So we may need a dongle to connect it. In this sense, both the Apple Lightning to USB Camera Adapter and the Apple Lightning to USB3 Adapter will work.

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This will work for those small DACs that are powered through a USB connection: in case we buy a bigger one with a transformer, we will have to have a socket nearby. Then we will connect the adapter to the device and the USB cable from the DAC to the adapter.

Using an external DAC on iPad

If we are using an iPad with a Lightning port, the iPhone method works the same way. If you have an iPad with a USB-C connection, then it will be even easier.

As long as we have a USB-C cable or USB-C adapter for the DAC, we shouldn’t have too many problems. Again, to clarify, most of these devices use class-compliant USB audio, so basically all we would have to do is plug in and turn on the DAC.

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