Dongle DACs. We’ve seen plenty come to market with USB-C terminations to helps us extract better sound quality from our Macbooks and Android smartphones but connecting them to an iPhone’s Lightning port demands we introduce an adapter – sometimes two – to void proper portability. This begs the question: why don’t we see more dongle DACs that interface directly with Apple’s Lightning port? The answer snaps back: MFi (Made for iPhone) — any product shipping with a Lightning connector should (in theory) have gone through Apple’s MFi certification program.
One such product is the new AS2000 from Japan’s Acoustune. It’s an 11cm, 30g MFi-certified dongle DAC with a Lightning connector that hooks directly into an iPad or iPhone. The promise is an elevation of sound quality above Apple’s own Lightning-to-3.5mm DAC adapter. MFI means the AS2000 has a sufficiently low power draw to be hosted by the iPhone/iPad itself and without the intervention of a slipstreamed power feed. MFI also means that the DAC inside the AS2000 (knee-)caps any hi-res audio intent at PCM 24bit/48kHz (no DSD, no MQA).
Acoustune’s own product listing tells us that the cable that joins the AS2000’s Lightning plug input to its headphone socket output is made from OFC copper and has a Kevlar coating. It additionally features (something they call) a ‘dual metal jacket’ for better noise immunisation.
The AS2000’s party trick / USP is its interchangeable headphone sockets. Shipping in the box are heads for 3.5mm, 6.4mm and – for those demanding a balanced output – 4.4mm Pentaconn.
The Acoustune AS2000 is selling now via Japanese retailers for ¥14,000 (€100) which makes it a suitable candidate for international shipping.
Japan’s largest headphone retailer e-earphone has more in this video:
Fujiya-Avic‘s video take relies less on the spoken word:
Further information: Acoustune