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Questyle’s NHB12 are Future-Fi earphones with a catch

  • NHB? “Never heard before”. That’s the strapline of a new wired IEM from Questyle called the NHB12 where a ‘high-resolution dynamic driver’ is powered by an inline DAC and amplifier module that connects directly to any iPhone or iPad currently sporting a Lightning socket. In other words, the NHB12 gets its Future-Fi credentials by way of Apple’s ‘Made for iPhone’ (MFi) certification. According to the Chinese manufacturer, the NHB12 is the world’s first earphone to be MFi-certified.

    What’s MFi? Authenticating with the host iOS device, the cable’s inline dongle extracts and decodes digital audio to sidestep the always-lossy behaviour of Bluetooth transmission for true lossless playback of everything up to 24bit/192kHz. The dongle’s IC also powers the earphones, in this case with Queststlye’s take on current-mode amplification. The limitation of MFi is that Android users need not apply. Not unless they swap out the digitally-dongled cable for a 3.5mm terminated variant, which is supplied in the box alongside five sets of silicone ear tips and a leather storage case.

    Now comes the wrinkle. Despite being ‘priced’ by Questyle at US$299, the NHB12 isn’t yet a retail product. It’s coming to market (initially) via a Kickstarter campaign with a US$70 discount. Would-be backers are reminded that a crowdfunding payment is not the same as a retail transaction and comes with few of the latter’s consumer protections.

    We’ve not seen too many MFi-certified headphone products come to market since this commentator’s most recent (and exceedingly positive) experience with Audeze’s Sine way back in 2017. And lastly, we have to ask: what happens if September’s iPhone 15 launch sees Apple cut over to USB-C for legal compliance within the EU?

    Further information: Questyle

    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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