Traditionally, the connection between the iPhone and hi-res music over time has been an advanced one. It’s a disgrace, as a result of we’ve at all times discovered iPhones to be among the many best-sounding smartphones round.
Apple has by no means actually pushed the notion of taking part in high-resolution audio on its smartphones and customers have needed to depend on workarounds to get their iPhones to play properly with hi-res recordsdata.
Nonetheless, occasions, they’re a changin’. Because of the emergence of music streaming services armed with hundreds of thousands of hi-res tracks, it’s truly by no means been simpler to get hi-res music onto your iPhone. In actual fact, Apple is positively encouraging it, because of the recent unveiling of its Apple Music Lossless and Hi-Res Lossless tiers, that are being added to its personal music streaming service.
So the job of getting hi-res music in your iPhone has turn out to be simpler however what about taking part in it? Having the ability to take pleasure in a number of flavours of hi-res audio is feasible, however relying on the standard of your hi-res recordsdata, there is usually a bit of additional work concerned. Permit us to elucidate.
What music recordsdata can your iPhone play?
Let’s begin with what the iPhone can do out of the field. In accordance with Apple’s personal specs, it might probably play MP3, AAC, ALAC, WAV and AIFF audio recordsdata. The iPhone additionally helps FLAC recordsdata, however solely by Apple’s Information app. This was launched as a part of iOS11, which launched in 2017. There isn’t any native assist for DSD.
How do I switch hi-res recordsdata to my iPhone?
Earlier than the appearance of hi-res music streaming providers, hi-res recordsdata would usually be saved on a pc, and also you’d have to make use of a third-party app corresponding to Vox or Onkyo HF participant to play them again in your smartphone. This could contain dragging and dropping recordsdata out of your Mac laptop computer or desktop to those apps in your iPhone.
Nonetheless, the likes of Tidal, Amazon Music HD (and shortly, Apple Music) all supply iOS apps, which let you both stream hi-res music by the iPhone instantly or you’ll be able to obtain and retailer hi-res recordsdata by these apps onto your iPhone. This implies they’re obtainable to hearken to “offline” i.e. once you don’t have any wi-fi or cellular community entry.
Are you able to hearken to hi-res audio on an iPhone over Bluetooth?
The elimination of the three.5mm headphone jack has pushed folks extra in direction of wi-fi headphones such because the AirPods (2019) and AirPods Max. The one downside right here is you could’t transmit full-fat hi-res audio over Bluetooth.
Some codecs corresponding to AptxHD Bluetooth and LDAC permit for hi-res recordsdata to be streamed wirelessly between appropriate units however not with out compression. The previous helps audio at 24-bit/48kHz, however makes use of compression and has a most information charge of 576kbps. The latter helps as much as 32-bit/96kHz over Bluetooth however solely with a knowledge charge of 990kbps. Each of those are decrease than the information charge of CD (1411kbps) which isn’t technically hi-res…
So how can the iPhone play hi-res music?
If you wish to play hi-res music you might be restricted by the DACs inside Apple’s units.
To pay attention through a pair of wired headphones, it is advisable use Apple’s Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter which is proscribed to supporting 24-bit/48kHz.
Technically, 24-bit/48kHz might be classed as hi-res, however some tracks from the aforementioned streaming providers will probably be 24-bit/96kHz and even 24-bit/192kHz. In the event you try to play these recordsdata by the identical adapter, the iPhone will simply downsample them to 24-bit/48kHz.
Equally, you may go down the Lightning headphones route and plug a pair straight into your iPhone, however you’ll have to examine what decision their DAC can deal with. We haven’t come throughout any that may deal with above 24-bit/48kHz.
Actually, if you wish to hearken to something at 24-bit/96kHz or greater, it is advisable join your iPhone to an exterior DAC.
What equipment do it is advisable play hi-res in your iPhone?
First, you’ll have to spend money on Apple’s Lightning-to-USB digital camera adapter (£29) which types a hyperlink between your iPhone and the DAC.
That is simply a place to begin, after all. Don’t be afraid to construct as much as a extra revealing system, although. You possibly can mix the Chord Hugo 2 DAC with a pair of Beyerdynamic T1 (3rd Generation) headphones for a extra premium set-up. That could be a contact overkill and punishingly clear for an iPhone, however these are hi-res recordsdata, in any case.
And keep in mind quite a few these DACs often have methods of indicating what pattern charge is being performed, so you may make positive your headphones are being fed the perfect sound high quality doable out of your recordsdata.
In fact, we’ll be the primary to confess that connecting exterior equipment to your iPhone 12 isn’t essentially the most elegant resolution, however if you wish to hear the complete unique decision of your hi-res recordsdata by your iPhone above and past 24-bit/48kHz, utilizing an exterior DAC together with your iPhone is de facto the one technique to go.