I understand that Apple’s iPhone Lightning Dock has a headphone jack that I can use:
Connect the dock to powered speakers or a stereo system using a 3.5mm cable (sold separately) to play music and podcasts from your iPhone
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I actually have a similar dock (third party) that I used with an iPhone 4s. However, (a) it obviously has an old-fashioned 20-pin connector, and (b) the sound quality was poor.
Clearly Apple’s new dock would have the right connector, and I hope the sound quality would be better, but I worry about that dock’s negative reviews, which means that stress on the connector can cause the phone’s lightning socket to be lost and eventually fail.
I don’t care about having a “stand” for the phone, and I don’t really care about the charge… is there a cable solution I could use? (In other words, something I just plugged a cable into rather than putting the phone on a twisted stand).
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Or, is wireless more appropriate? I see there are Bluetooth receivers out there that seem to be designed to do this, but again there are a lot of negative reviews, especially about the reliability of the Bluetooth connection. The only device I found that got a lot of positive reviews was the Arcam rMini Blink, and this is quite expensive.
Doesn’t Apple offer something in this space? (Not that it would be any less expensive!).
I did it in 4 different ways (from low to high cost). The sound quality largely depends on the quality of the audio file on the iPhone and the quality of the stereo. The quality degradation due to any of these 4 connection mechanisms seems relatively low – unless you are an audiophile or Neill Young. 😉
You can use a suitable cable to connect the headphone jack to your stereo system. Note that the input to the stereo must accept headphone levels or it doesn’t sound right.
Airplay may be a better approach however depending on how you prefer to do it.
You need Wifi and the Airplay device connected to the stereo.
The AppleTV is certainly capable of doing this with the sound of what is shown on the HDMI cable and may be able to do this with sound alone (I haven’t tried). This is a standard optical cable.
Also, you can use the Express Express Express devices, if they are set up to connect to Wifi (or wired). I have successfully used a 1st generation Express Express device for this, where the headphone jack supports both a regular cable and an optical.
Apple’s dock is their only entry in the iPhone hardware game for Stereo.
You could start with whatever metal cable you like and plug it into the headphone jack and plug the lightning cable into a charger (if that’s one of your requirements).
From the observations and the text – poor quality is due to a bad cable or the amplifier’s inability to take the signal from the line level / 50% volume and not a limitation of the iPhone in almost all cases.
A custom DAC for the iPhone should be required for audiophile-critical needs if you have the source material in high-quality, high-speed encoding. For random use – modest cables and not absolute volume should let the iPhone send consumer sounds to digital quality sound over a short metal cable.
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