Apple Kills Headphone Jacks On iPhone 7; Will DJ Gear Be Next?

This morning Apple announced the iPhone 7, a new version of the mobile device that started the smartphone revolution nine years ago. Unlike every other model of the device, the iPhone 7 does not have a headphone jack on it – just a single Lightning port for charging or attaching other compatible accessories. Why did Apple make this change, and could it ever happen in the DJ/production industry? Read on.

iPhone 7: No More Analog Audio Ports

Just what everyone needs, a new adapter dongle to lose.

The new iPhone 7, which is set to be in stores on September 16th, is completely ditching the analog audio ports on the unit. There will be three ways that you can use external audio devices (input or output) with the new iPhone:

  • With Lighting-compatible audio devices
  • via Bluetooth
  • using an awkward, easily-lost connector dongle (see image above), included with every iPhone 7

But clearly Apple wants everyone to use a completely wireless solution to headphones – because the natural question about charging vs audio quickly comes up:

Amazingly, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller had a way to spin the removal of the headphone jack:

“The reason to move on comes down to one word—courage,” Schiller explained. “This is really important, our smartphones are packed with technologies…it’s all fighting for space. Maintaining an ancient analog connector doesn’t make sense.”

Will DJ Gear Be Next?

Would we ever see this unlikely concept – Bluetooth headphones on a DJ mixer?

Right now, it feels incredibly unlikely that any DJ or production gear manufacturer will make a similar “courage”-driven change to their lineup. Why would a pro audio company drop a standard audio connection unless the market demanded it? Here’s a few reasons why we don’t think you’ll see analog headphone jacks missing on soon-to-launch DJ gear:

  • FireWire all over again? We suspect that many long-time manufacturers learned their lesson when Apple attempted to force similar innovations with FireWire – a technology that initially promised faster transfer speeds and concurrent connections, but then eventually became outclassed with newer versions of USB. USB was able to maintain backwards compatibility – something that is sorely missing for anyone who owns a legacy Firewire audio device.
  • More space than a phone. Most DJ gear doesn’t have a space issue – which if Phil’s “courage” statement is to be believed, is one of the biggest reasons for removing a headphone port.
  • What about wireless technology? Apple today also introduced a W1 chip present in upcoming wireless headphone lines – the AirPods and Beats X. Even with continued improvements in latency, Bluetooth and other wireless protocols are still unacceptably latent for DJ applications – particularly when compared to their analog, no-sync-required predecessors.

What About Headphone Manufacturers?

There’s an assumption that the high-end headphone market is driven by practical users with professional applications. This includes DJs, producers, and other audiophile-leaning users.

But in recent years, high-end headphones have become a fashion statement and luxury item. Look at the success of Beats By Dre, or the introduction of precious metal V-Moda Shield kits (get a set in 14k Rose Gold for just $4,000!). Headphone companies might earn a reputation among critical / practical pro-audio users, but their incremental revenue is likely made up of regular consumers.

It’s this increasing importance that headphone manufacturers are putting on being trendy that could be the path towards wireless-only cans. So far, no company has announced that they’re dropping the audio cable and going wireless-only – and let’s hope it stays that way.  

Think there’s any chance that DJs have to worry about headphone jacks disappearing on DJ gear? 
Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Comments (54)
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    20+ cumulative years of owning apple products happily, I am done. This displays too much arrogance and complete disregard for customer base, on the presupposition that people will accept because, hey, they’re apple and we will like it because they say we will. I read an interview with Tim Cook where he basically called headphone jack a dinosaur and dismissed allegations that apples intentions are to have proprietary control of their eco system and creative content “leased” by them as “crazy conspiracy theorist talk”….The audacity to outright lie and then call critics crazy lol, what a dick.Im convinced it is completely being done for control purposes, control of third party devices, control of creative content, control of monetary transaction options etc. The reason the headphone jack is still around after 50 years is because IT JUST WORKS APPLE C’MON youre down with that, right? When something better comes along it will be replaced, this is not the something better.

  • BlackWhiteX

    These devices are mobile credit card readers which plug into – yes you guessed it – the headphone jack of your smartphone.
    Could this also be one of the reasons why Apple wanted to get rid of the headphone jack, as to “force” the usage of the Apple Pay system?
    Now, I am by no means an expert, I noticed this and thought it might be a reason for the change on the new iPhone.
    But I guess it would still work with the adapter, or not?

    • Envinite

      Quite possibly. Apple keep trying to hard to make their product/feature become a universal thing after all.

  • Fuller

    I had fiber optic internet installed at my house several months ago. When I was discussing with the tech where the equipment should be installed I mentioned that I was concerned that the wifi wouldn’t make it to the back yard if the router was set up downstairs. She told me that because I was changing to fiber, the signal would go “farther and faster” than the wifi from my previous cable modem so I didn’t need to worry about coverage. That is what most of the optimistic suckers who are arguing in favor of this “innovation” sound like to me. Understanding of technology and physics = 0. Courage = 100.

  • orig

    Once wireless becomes zero latency, who needs a cable? We already see wireless power chargers. The future is around the corner. Plus, being a DJ is like being part of pushing the boundaries of technology. The more we go wireless, the more modular our equipment will become. Swapping DJs and live interaction with the crowd will be as easy as texting someone. Somewhere in the future, we will be live streaming from another planet.

    • CUSP

      That physically cannot happen. You need to send a signal to the encoder (packing the data for a myriad of reasons), and then to the transmitter, then once received by the headphones, the receiver must process the signal, and then the deincoder must unpack the data. This process can take as little as a few milliseconds, but that’s still a lot of lag, and unless you can dial in delay for your mains, this will be a real problem. Unfortunately, when you’re DJing, you need real-time interfaces and controls.

      • orig

        You’re right. I should have said “low enough latency”

      • orig

        Did you know that there’s latancy between your guitar strum and your ear hearing it coming from the amp?

        • CUSP

          Yes I did, but unlike a musical instrument, DJ moves must be made dependent upon other actions. A guitarist independently generates all of their sound, a DJ does not, which is why low-latency is important.

  • synapticflow


    • Roy Bear

      true dat, nuff said

  • CUSP

    I’m concerned about the reliance on wireless headphone jacks. This means all phone calls can be hacked, but it also means no direct connection to the mixing board while making sure the phone has power.

    Courage should be read as “because we want to, not that you have a choice.”

  • synapticflow

    I’m so happy to be Android and PC. “Maintaining an ancient analog connector doesn’t make sense.” lol “Courage” my azz. Heh.

    I hope the consumer base will silence this nonsense by refusing to buy this product. But we all know I’m wrong. Apple could make a $250 cardboard phone that dissolves into the environment in 10 months and their church would still buy it.

    Was $250 too low?

  • Phillip Cohen

    The iPhone 7 will be a waste of money. I DJ on the weekends. The system I used to entertain hundreds of dancers cost much more then an iPhone. Without the ability to charge and plug the sound system into the iPhone at the same time makes the iPhone worthless.

  • Henry L. Rodríguez Aguirre

    Delay is the real problen

    • CUSP

      It’s the critical problem. Don’t take our word for it, buy this new, expensive technology and be disappointed for yourself.

  • calgarc

    blah blah blah money…. apple just wants proprietary “apple approved” devices/system.

  • Izzy

    It ill never happen. its not reliable.what would happen if your at a gig and for some reason the bluetooth connection just cuts off. ill stick with the handy dandy 1/4 headphone jack on my gear

    • CUSP

      Are you willing to bet your gig on technology that can be disrupted by some jerk with an rf jammer? Some nearby communications array (who has more rights over the bandwidth than you do), or “noisy” equipment that produces enough static that you cannot hear what’s being played? That’s what you’re trading off for the “inconvenience” of being tethered by a wire.

      You’ll run into the same problems if you use a transmitter for “silent raves.”

  • Jeroen Sterke

    Is it so boring that everybody is talking about this headphone connector 😉

    • Chris Wunder

      It is, if we didnt have this to talk about we would be stuck arguing over Trump vs Hillary lol

      • Håkon Søreide

        Perhaps it’s all funded by the Trump campaign to distract us from what he’s really been up to. Bread and circuses…

    • CUSP

      Well, we think it’s not boring. Here’s the thing about choices… you can choose to to read things you don’t like.

  • Paul Quinton

    Question? Would you use the iPhone 7 to play music in a club or to mix down tracks in a studio? Answer – probably not. The best kit for the job will always have a quality analogue jack to take an analogue set of headphones. In the car, I have removed my 3.5″ analogue cord for playing music from my iPhone with a bluetooth solution because the lead was driving me nuts. I even have bluetooth earbuds for the same reason whilst I’m running or cutting the lawn. The lead gets in the way.

    Playing out or in the studio? HD – 25 of course.

    The jack has gone. So what? Not really an issue in my view. It depends on how you as a user are going to use the device

    • No Qualms

      I use my iPhone 6s+ with a splitter cable as my backup rig in case other equipment fails at a gig. So yes it is an issue.

  • jm2c

    This audio quality marketing speak is pure BS. You think that streaming lossy compressed audio will somehow sound better thru this lightning port? Most people will still use utube, spotify, geezer etc for listening to music, and if that’s the case, the sound quality bottleneck will forever lie in the audio source, not the receiver end.

    Apple will reintriduce the headphone jack into iPhone 8. Just wait. This was a terrible design decision and it will become obvious once people start using their iPhone7s.

    There aint nothing wrong with “outdated analog headphone connector”, as long as you dont skimp on the headphone amp department. Apple just trying to save a buck or two here (as well as cash on people for keep on using their existing phones etc). The thought of having a separate headphone connector from the rest of the world is damn foolish on so many levels it aint even funny.

    “Ooh this rare 60s seven inch record (low quality utube vinyl rip) sure sounds SUPERIOR thru this new lightning connector on my new lightning-only headphones! Or I mean, I think it sounds superior cuz I can’t really A/B the diff against any other device cuz, well, you know, lightning connector”

  • Oddie O'Phyle

    I can’t see the professional standard becoming wireless for 2 reasons… connection/interference and latency. A few ms can make a world of difference in your timing.

  • Nexing

    This conversation about one digital-only audio connector has been held at HiFi, ProAudio and engineering circles and after reviewing the arguments, the MAIN REASON boils down to the progressive attempt to force the adoption of restrictive digital protocols to CONTROL the user source of music, being it streaming, itunes or the respective closed ecosystem big Corporations want to control.
    The alleged reasons, like hardware thickness, wireless transmission, etc are just smoke screens.
    Like Windows10, the main effort behind those is just corporate obsession with control, an illness from late XX century, that has no real future in the transparent, connected, open source, collaborative world we are evolving into.

    • synapticflow

      BOOM! Amen!

  • Gregory

    aren’t headphone companies making theses with the lighting cable so you won’t need a dongle and I could be wrong but I thought the sound is better ’cause its digital or can be made better some how ,lets not smack down this new technology just yet you must start somewhere lets give it a decent chance I’m truly happy to see this move and to watch it grow !!!!

    • Wookie

      I’m completely with you there. If lightning cable gives better quality, why not put a lightning port in dj mixers

      • Oddie O'Phyle

        Because it’s proprietary technology…

      • A Friend

        Because I don’t feel like breaking my lighting connector every time I go play a show lmfao

      • CUSP

        … because the hassle isn’t worth whatever nominal gain? The sound problem isn’t with the headphones but rather the (MP3) audio files.

    • gigglekey

      They’re saving a fair bit of $ by not having to put a DAC on the audio output, and also selling you another marked up piece of equipment (airpods), that does have a DAC in it. It’s not courage, it’s pure profit taking.

      • Lamar LeRoy

        No matter what, there is a DAC. The electro-mechanical function of a speaker driver, or headphone capsule is always driven by an analog signal. The quality of said DAC is more in question.

        • CUSP

          … and latency, and security. If your wireless stream is disrupted, you can’t use your wireless headphones for monitoring.

    • CUSP

      You understand that headphones themselves are analog, right? This is not what the people are asking for, and that dongle is certainly not doing anything to help the transition.

      For our community, all it does is make things harder on us, as the headphone port is the charging port. If you use your phone to DJ with, wireless headphones makes them a target for hacking, and let’s just call it “interference.” I’m sorry, that’s the world we live in, it will happen. As DJs we already live in a chaotic enough world, why invite more opportunity for failure to your sets? Haven’t we already learned that streaming audio is dangerous enough?

      The safer bet is to have your files local, and your headphones wired-in… because who knows what else will happen?

      • Gregory

        At this point,We’ve stepped into the NEXT ,lets move on and see how it works out,I do believe it will be a good thing,better headphones will come,like we never seen or heard,Really, It’s that NEXT Shit ! it’s the way innovation Happens ,and its on !

        • CUSP

          It’s all well and good that you believe that, but this tech still works, it has no lag, and cannot be interfered with. I am very familiar with this technology (I use it in my day job) and because of that, I see lots of stuff like this. This isn’t new to the people in pro a/v, we’ve tried it, think it’s OK, but it does have lag, and the wireless parts can get lost easily.

          Next isn’t always better, and sometimes, it’s worse. But go ahead, prove it for yourself. I’m a HAM Radio licensed operator, and I just want no part of wireless communications in this fashion. I know the dangers all too well.

  • Dan Rosenstark

    But the AirPods are NOT using Bluetooth, right? My impression is that it’s not. Doesn’t change the discussion by much, but might improve latency, distance, etc…

  • Thomas Davis

    Probably won’t happen for decades, there will always be those few people who will NEVER give up the headphone jack due to latency in wireless headphones. Even if they are perfected. Personally, if the technology was perfected, I would be fine with it, although wireless earbuds would be even more easier to lose than earbuds with a wire . XD

    • CUSP

      Well, part of the appeal of earbuds is the wire… they’re tethered to each other and they’re a lot easier to find when you try to find them after you take them off.

  • ithinkmynameismoose

    It will absolutely happen, but not for quite a long time. It’ll be one of the last ‘industries’ to switch and likely just as a result of the technology being perfected AND the rest of the world switching to a new standard.

    • Oddie O'Phyle

      Lightning port on standard equipment will happen just like Beta Max, ATRAC and IEEE 1394. Great technologies, too proprietary to become a standard.

    • CUSP

      Why do you think it should happen?

  • DjKenny Sb

    No, thanks.

  • Homicide Monkey

    Maybe in 20 years the 3.5mm jack will disappear, but I doubt that Apple’s “courage” will proliferate anywhere other than their ecosystem right now. We’ll see how courageous they are when they revamp their laptop lineup. If they don’t drop the 3.5mm jack on the MacBook that means they aren’t really convinced themselves.

    • A friend

      If they drop the headphone jack out of the MacBook Pro or even the MagSafe charger I will never buy a new MacBook

      • Roy Bear

        not sure if sarkazm or not up to date