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Listening to lossless music on your iPhone is actually quite hard. If you have AirPods, for example, you can listen to nearly lossless audio which ranges from 16-bit/44.1 kHz. To listen to Hi-Res Lossless, which streams at up to 24-bit/192kHz. The quality difference is, to be clear, staggering.

Here’s the trick: the iPhone can’t stream lossless to Bluetooth devices. It can stream acceptable quality and anyone who has listened to AirPods with their lossless music can attest to this. But the real quality comes when you’re wired directly into the headphone jack.

While you can get lossless audio out of Apple’s own dongle, to a degree. However, using the right kind of digital audio adapter will definitely get you better sound. To that end, I tried out the ddHiFi Tc35i, a super small $35 dongle that, in the end, added a level to my listening that was unparalleled.

The dongle doesn’t do much. It offers a 32-bit / 384 kHz sampling rate, on par with any other wired adapter, and lets you connect standard headphones to your iPhone. That said, when I connected this to my iPhone 12 and played hi-res lossless over a pair of Grado SR60 headphones, I was blown away. The audio quality, even without a headphone pre-amp, was more than impressive and I could see myself using this thing, in conjunction with a pair of nicer earbuds, as my daily driver when it comes to listening to music.

Again, this thing is nothing special. It’s an adapter that can wring just a touch more out of your streaming music. Again, this is not a powerful DAC. It’s a dongle. But it works.

If you’ve actually ever wondered what your music might sound like using a good quality pair of headphones at lossless quality, this tiny guy has you covered. It’s not an audiophile quality product by any stretch – there are plenty of ridiculous breakout boxes you can buy to amp up the sound and generally make your music sound like you’re inside John Bohnham’s bass drum. You use this dongle to connect your good headphones to your good phone and you get superior quality audio out of the whole kit without breaking the bank.

The ddHiFi is currently available on Drop and I picked up during a pre-order session. I’d definitely recommend it if you want to explore Apple’s version of lossless which, for better or worse, is probably the best offering available online these days. It’s cheap, it works, and it makes your music sound great.


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By John Biggs

John Biggs is an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and maker. He spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and TechCrunch and has a deep background in hardware startups, 3D printing, and blockchain. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, Wired, and the New York Times.