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Coping with the loss of 3.5mm jack from future iOS devices Studio Monitors
Old 17th September 2016
Gear Nut

Thread Starter
Coping with the loss of 3.5mm jack from future iOS devices

Starting with iPhone 7 it appears Apple is killing the 3.5mm jack. I wrote an angry letter to Tim Cook about this, and I'm opposed to it, but it looks like it is happening.

So we have to deal with this.

One problem I have is, how do I hook up a MIDI keyboard to my iPhone 7 and also connect it to a PA system or amp? Because presently I use the Camera Connection Kit's USB port for MIDI and the 3.5mm jack for audio out.

One approach to free up the Lightning port to be used as the audio port, is to use a BTLE MIDI adapter. I found that Yamaha makes a really cool adapter for just $50 that is powered by the MIDI port itself! The MD-BT01. This works if your controller has a MIDI port. One down side is that it is designed for a controller that has MIDI in and out ports. If your controller just has MIDI out, then you will have half of the MD-BT01 hanging off of your controller, which could be really bad if you wear your controller, keytar-style. Another downside with BTLE MIDI is that, judging from my experience with the Korg MicroKey Air, it may introduce more latency than a wired connection. I would like to see some actual testing done to see if that latency is influenced by some factors, or if it varies based on the keyboard or adapter being used.

Now with the Lightning port freed up by using BTLE MIDI, you could just use the Lightning to 3.5mm adapter for audio output.

Another option is to go with something like a Korg plugKey. This gives two 1/4" outputs, 3.5mm out, MIDI in, and a MicroUSB port for charging the iOS device. Since this thing has not come out yet, it's not known how decent the DAC is compared to what we normally have built into the device. It is also strange that all we have is a MIDI in, but no MIDI out or THRU, should you want forward the MIDI on to a computer-based DAW for capture. Another thing that's unknown is whether it is a MicroUSB 3 port. This is relevant because the iPad Pro 12" needs 35w of power to charge and be used at the same time; even the 12W adapter Apple includes with it is not good enough to charge it while it is being used. I note that neither iPad Pro model nor the iPhone 7 is included in the device compatibility list for the plugKey. The main thing I can tell is bad just from looking at the pictures of the plugKey, is that its cable is only about 3 or 4 inches long. That means if you wear your iPhone in an arm case or keep it in your pocket during a performance, or if your ipad is on a stand with no desk or table below it, then the plugKey is going to be awkwardly hanging off the device, especially awkward if you wear it. Since there are no Apple-MFI-certified that are capable of extending the length of that cable (likely due to impedence issues, much like USB has), I wonder how practical this thing is for all situations.

Yet another solution is to use a USB MIDI controller that has an integrated audio interface. For example I have an Alesis Photon X25 controller that I modified to be wearable. It can connect using the Apple Camera Connection Kit's USB port adapter. This keyboard has two 1/4'' analog audio outputs, and also, two 1/4" analog audio inputs. On top of that it has MIDI in and out (maybe also thru, can't remember). So with such a keyboard hooked up via Lightning to USB, you don't need any additional adapters to rock and roll. To me, this seems like the ideal scenario because the USB cable can be plenty long, and MIDI can also be sent to a DAW on a computer via the MIDI ports on the keyboard (while USB sends the MIDI to the iOS device simultaneously).

The big question mark that remains is Apple's new W1 chip, which appears to be a replacement for BlueTooth audio. So far it's just in their new wireless AirPods headphones and some Beats Audio headphones. But how will it be for musicians that want a latency free, uncompressed audio output? No specs on the W1 have been released. We have seen Nintendo and Fat Shark and other companies put wireless, lag-free HDMI-quality video out there, for gaming and drone piloting. Could the W1 be capable of the same feat, but for audio? Maybe Apple will have some surprises at NAMM? I reckon we'll disappointedly learn that W1 is a laggy piece of crap just like BlueTooth audio, useless for a keyboard or guitar player to send sound to any PA or amp. I greatly wish Apple got my letter awhile back and actually W1 can not only do latency-free wireless audio but also it can do MIDI on top of that, and also, it can do more than just two cannels of audio... one can still dream right?!
Old 18th September 2016
Lives for gear
turtlejon's Avatar

The easy solution is to just not upgrade your phone until the aftermarket sorts through all of this. Before iPhone 8 comes out, there will be tons of different solutions. No need to worry, panic or be angry.
Everyone flipped out when apple switched from 30 pin to lightening, etc.
the fact that apple include a headphones adapter in the box means they understand that people use that plug.
Also, the quality of audio through a 3.5 mm plug has never been flawless, and the connection through the lightening plug seems very tight...
Old 19th September 2016
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RTR's Avatar
I am just not going to upgrade right away. Then again, I never been the "stand in a line for the newest thing" kind of guy. Not saying you are.. I am sure someone will come up with all kinds of adaptors
Old 19th September 2016
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PES's Avatar
I guess more stuff like this will come:

Only DIN MIDI on that one though.
Old 20th September 2016
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bimbom's Avatar
I think it might be worth remembering that it's just a socket on an electrical device , there's a lot of more important things to be concerned about
Personally I use an iodock 2 / iconnect midi thing.
No one needs to update.
Old 10th November 2016
Lives for gear

Originally Posted by bimbom View Post
I think it might be worth remembering that it's just a socket on an electrical device , there's a lot of more important things to be concerned about.
I have never read such a rational and down to earth perspective about a headphone jack, especially an Apple headphone jack. I actually bought the Lightning to 3.5mm adapter when it came out to compare the 3.5mm headphone jack on my iPhone 5 with the adapter. I thought they sounded more or less the same. When I came back to it, 3 pages had gone by and the topic had changed to how horrible Apple is and how difficult it is to keep track of dongles. I do not start threads about Apple anymore.
Old 18th November 2016
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mintaka007's Avatar
The only way to make them change their products to reflect what we want is to make them feel it in their bank account. Don't buy their products. I stopped buying apple years ago when they got real into all the proprietary stuff to make extra coin with peripherals.

My wife has an ipad and I hate how they shut you out of being able to get under the hood of their devices so you can optimize it for your task. They dumb it down so the average user doesnt get confused.

Buy a different product and teach them a lesson. I love my android phones and surface pro.
Old 20th November 2016
Lives for gear
I walked into a Five Below store yesterday and saw Lightening to 1/8" audio adapters for only $5. All my iOS devices are older (Ipad Air 1 and iPhone 5s) so I don't need an adapter, but at that price I just had to try one.

Works perfectly and will come in handy really. My iPad stays in a heavy-duty otterbox-type case and the headphone jack is recessed. Very few of my headphones fit in the port, but now I have another option that works. With that and bluetooth midi...I'm not that sore.
Old 17th June 2017
I am struggling with this issue for the first time. I have an iPad Pro running 10.3.2, and I'm looking for an OTG dealie like Android has, so I can use a keyboard/pad controller. However, I'm finding out that most OTG adapters are compatible with 10.2 and older. So it's a crapshoot (albeit inexpensive at around $3 per adapter) to land the right one. There's no way in Fort Hell that I'm dropping more than $10 for this thing, so OEM (HAH!) is out. What's an iOS music producer newbie to do?

Old 18th June 2017
Gear Guru
Easiest way to cope is to stop buying their sh1t.
Old 19th June 2017
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s.d.finley's Avatar
Coping? Jeez just buy the $5 adapter!!
Old 19th June 2017
Gear Guru
Originally Posted by s.d.finley View Post
Coping? Jeez just buy the $5 adapter!!
Seriously? In a world of 1/8" audio devices like headphones etc, we are supposed to use ugly adapters?

I'm still coming to terms with the replacement of 1/4" with 1/8" ...
Old 19th June 2017
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s.d.finley's Avatar
Originally Posted by Kiwi View Post
Seriously? In a world of 1/8" audio devices like headphones etc, we are supposed to use ugly adapters?

I'm still coming to terms with the replacement of 1/4" with 1/8" ...
All kinds of adapters are used in studios all the time. *GASP* Ugly adapters lol!
Old 20th June 2017
Gear Addict

Originally Posted by s.d.finley View Post
All kinds of adapters are used in studios all the time. *GASP* Ugly adapters lol!
Dude na fact that they removed it, only to be able to introduce and sell adapter to do same task is kinda like moron move. If that does not make you feel bad then fine. As you can see plenty of people are upset. If you want to live and carry bag with adapters only to use somethig which was there natively for decades then so be it. I do not want to do that.
Old 20th June 2017
Lives for gear
Originally Posted by s.d.finley View Post
All kinds of adapters are used in studios all the time. *GASP* Ugly adapters lol!
On the contrary, it appeared to me the OP is using his iOS device live sometimes, in which case adaptors are well know for being unreliable.

I think his concerns are completely valid.
Old 26th June 2017
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DirkP's Avatar

Old 26th June 2017
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s.d.finley's Avatar
Old 17th July 2017
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BarcelonaMusic's Avatar

I just got new devices. The old iRig MIDI works fine, but you need the Apple brand adapter($40?) or it wont work.The latest iRig is the best yet. 96k, lightning ready(obviously). Works great without the noise of the crappy old ones.
Old 21st July 2017
If they remove the jack, I'll stop using the device for music. Might be money better spent on hardware or software.
Old 3rd August 2017
Gear Head

This is all well and good, but I'm sure I'm not alone at disliking the need to drop another +/- $50 and keep track of an adapter just so I can use Animoog in m preferred workflow.

When their ecosystem and apps were head and shoulders above alternatives, Apple could 'charge a premium' by insisting you do it their way. Now I just avoid IOS like the plague, which isn't always my preference (see: Animoog, above).

One wonders if Apple has run into a cul de sac with their approach.
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