Do these new headphones confirm Apple’s plans to kill the headphone jack?

If the name Audeze doesn’t ring any bells, that’s ok. The high-end headphone maker isn’t exactly as popular as Beats. But Audeze just made a move that could be a bellwether for a potentially radical turn for the headphone world — a turn rumored to be led by Apple — and it might just give the company a serious boost in recognition. Say hello to the new EL-8 Titanium, an exciting new iteration on the company’s already revered planar magnetic headphones which includes a new Apple Lightning connected headphone cable, with a digital audio converter (DAC) and headphone amplifier built right in.

Audeze made some big waves last year when its EL-8 headphones lured high-end planar magnetic designs away from the hi-fi and closer to mobile devices. The EL-8 quickly became one of our favorite headphones of the year. Now, with the EL-8 Titanium and their new Lightning cable system, users will be able to bypass an iPhone’s limited internal components for  high-res 24-bit digital audio playback, and better overall sound, supercharging the iPhone’s street cred as a quality music player.

For those unfamiliar with planar magnetic headphones, the design uses a thin membrane excited by a magnet to create sound (as opposed to the cone and coil design of most headphones), making them notorious power hounds. As such, the original EL-8 were designed with a new kind of “Fluxor” magnet technology that focuses voltage towards the drivers in order to allow the cans to work better with smaller amplifiers — such as those inside mobile devices.

With the new Titanium, Audeze aims to innovate mobile listening even further, bypassing an iPhone’s internal DAC and amplifier entirely by building all the critical electronics right into the cable itself. When plugging in digitally, users even have the ability to adjust the EQ and sound presets through the Audeze app.

By relying only on your phone’s digital output, the EL-8 Titanium are also compatible with audio files at 24-bit resolution, the starting point for high-resolution audio files. It should be noted, however, that the resolution for current iPhone models tops out at 24bit/48kHz, which is higher than CD-quality files, but lower than the 24bit/96kHz resolution commonly accepted as hi-res quality. 

While most folks listen to lossy MP3s and streaming services for convenience while on the go, both the DAC and headphone amplifier inside Audeze’s new Lightning-connected cable should still provide a considerable improvement in sound quality for Titanium users.

The Titanium’s new Lightning-based system is perhaps more intriguing given the long-whispered rumors that Apple is considering doing away with the conventional 3.5mm headphone jack altogether for future iPhones, ostensibly to make them the thinnest phones in the world. Is it possible that Audeze has inside Apple info we don’t have access to? The Apple-approved logos on the box certainly seem to point that direction

Either way, given the fact that the cans allow for higher resolution playback from current iPhones, and also come with a standard headphone cable for the same brilliant audio experience you’ll get from the original EL-8 from any input, this a pretty low-risk investment for Apple fans. Design elements were also upgraded for the Titanium, courtesy of BMW DesignWorksUSA, which used sleek aluminum components to create the “Titanium” look.  Unfortunately, they only come in the closed-back design (we prefer the open-back).

The EL-8 Titanium will be sold directly online and through select Apple retail stores. At an MSRP of $800 — $100 more than the original EL-8 — users are essentially paying for the Lightning cable and components as part of the package, which aren’t currently sold separately. Whether that’s worth the money may just depend upon what kind of tracks/storage capacity you have on your iPhone.

Regardless, this design move by Audeze could be a sign of future events. Ditching the convention headphone jack wouldn’t necessarily mean instantly making millions of headphones obsolete. The solution could be as simple as a new kind of headphone cable, such as the one seen here.

We hope to get some hands-on time with the EL-8 Titanium’s new digital setup soon, so stay tuned.

Home Theater

Leave the charger behind: Wireless headphones will get epic battery life in 2019

From wireless in-ears to noise-canceling over-ears, virtually every headphone manufacturer has seriously improved wireless headphone battery capacity, making fears about charging up for long listening sessions a thing of the past.
Deals

Bose QuietComfort wireless headphones are more than $80 off for a limited time

The Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II is one of our favorite wireless headphones. Its noise-canceling and Bluetooth capabilities make it an excellent pair of over-ear headphones. If you've been wanting the high-quality headphones, it is now…
Home Theater

Wireless headphones are finally awesome, and these are our favorites

With sleek form factors, prime audio quality, and the freedom of untethered listening, there has never been a better time to pick up a pair of wireless headphones. These are the best ones currently available.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our 10 favorites.
Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Home Theater

Roku adds automatic sign-out mode, for those with regular houseguests

Being able to use a Roku device while staying at a hotel or Airbnb is awesome. What is less awesome is leaving yourself signed in after you leave. With a new automatic sign-out feature, Roku is making it easier to relax.
Apple

Apple may be developing a new iPod Touch to woo younger users

Apple may be developing its first new iPod touch model since 2015 as it aims to capture younger users who are not yet ready for their own smartphone, and expand its overall listening base in the future.
Home Theater

These awesome A/V receivers will swarm you with surround sound at any budget

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to shopping for a receiver, so we assembled our favorites for 2018, at multiple price points and all loaded with features, from Dolby Atmos to 4K HDR, and much more.
Home Theater

Cord-cutting has grown by 48 percent in 8 years, according to Nielsen

People are continuing to ditch cable but not all cord-cutters are the same. In fact, there are two distinct groups within the cord-cutting universe, with a very small, yet growing third group that's worth paying attention to.
Home Theater

All of the TVs getting Apple’s AirPlay 2 in 2019

This year, Apple made it clear it was done keeping its AirPlay wireless streaming technology to itself. With an open API, the way is clear for a plethora of third-party devices, including this growing list of TVs.
Home Theater

New TV? Here's where to go to watch the best 4K content available

Searching for content for your new 4K UHD TV? Look no further. We have every major source of the best 4K content, along with the cost, hardware requirements, and features that make each service worth a look.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.
Movies & TV

New trailer for 'The Punisher' season 2 teases a bloody showdown

The Punisher is getting a second season on Netflix, with Jon Bernthal returning to play Marvel Comics' gun-toting antihero Frank Castle. Here's everything we know about season 2 of The Punisher so far.
Buying Guides

Block the outside world, tune into your own with the best in-ear headphones

Over-the-ear headphones offer top-flight sound, but they're not so easy to take along with you. If you're looking to upgrade your portable sound, check out our favorite in-ear headphones -- there's a model for every user and every budget.