Philips bests Beats at its own game, announces Lightning-connected headphones

philips beats game announces lightning connected headphones fidelio m2l
While Apple’s iPhone 6/ Watch event did indirectly dispel the rumor that Apple might kill off the ubiquitous 3.5mm headphone jack on its devices entirely (the photos show it’s still there), it did nothing to address the idea that a Lightning-connected headphone might be in the works, Beats or otherwise. Fortunately, we don’t have to rely on Apple for that, because Philips has now confirmed it has produced the first Lightning-connected headphones, and that means we can expect to see many more of them surfacing in the near future.

Apple sneaked in a few Beats mentions at the end of its iPhone 6/ Apple Watch presentation yesterday, but only in passing, and that shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Apple wants to keep the focus on its newest iPhone and Watch products, and besides, the ink on its acquisition is barely dry, leaving little time to mess with its new hardware. But clearly the company isn’t holding its brand partners back, and it appears Philips was only too eager to pull back the curtain on what’s in store for the future.

Related: iPhone 6 may come with Lightning headphones

According to Philips (link uses Google’s translation tool), its new Lightning-connected headphones will be marketed as the Fidelio M2L, and will make their debut in Europe this December for €250 (roughly $320 US). No US release date or pricing has yet been announced. The announcement does clear up a few questions about how Lightning-connected headphones will work, however. 

In a nutshell, connecting to the Lightning port on an iOS device means audio is delivered digitally, bypassing the device’s own internal DAC (digital to analog converter) and amplification. That means that a Lightning-connected headphone has to either include its own DAC and amplifier, or rely on some external device. In the case of the Fidelio M2L, all the necessary tech is baked right in, and it appears that it’s ready to take on high-resolution audio.

Related: Everything you need to know about high-res audio

According to Philips, the M2L will come packing a 24-bit DAC, so it should be able to convert any number of high-resolution audio files. And since the audio signal is delivered in the digital domain, it will be less susceptible to noise generated by the iOS device’s innards, and crosstalk between channels. Philips also touts the cans’ 40mm neodymium drivers, supple leather pads, and superior noise isolation thanks to a closed-back design.

What Philips doesn’t address is whether the M2L will get the power they need from the iOS device they are connected to, or will operate on their own rechargeable battery. We’ll have to wait and see, but if power is sourced from the Lightning port, it would mean diminished battery life for the iPad or iPhone to which it’s connected, though how diminished is tough to gauge. Since the M2L don’t appear to offer active noise cancelling, it’s likely the draw would be minimal.

Regardless, it’s clear Lightning-connected headphones are a real thing now, and though we don’t know much about whether Apple intends to support high-res audio with iTunes, it appears there’s a map to high-res support being charted outside of Apple anyway.

Product Review

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds are a brilliant combination of value and comfort

With six hours of battery life, an extremely comfortable fit, sweatproofing, and a very palatable price tag, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds are putting all other true wireless earbuds on notice.

Amazon delivers a sale on Sony wireless noise-canceling headphones

Among the most popular noise-canceling wireless headphone brands are Sony, Beats by Dre, Sennheiser, and Bose, but they can all be expensive. Amazon is discounting Sony's WH-CH700N wireless headphones now. Pick up a great pair of…
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

Apple may be making noise-canceling headphones safer to use on the streets

Over-the-ear headphones are massively popular, but they block a lot of outside sounds, which increases the risk of accidents. A new Apple invention hints at a way to have great sound, and great safety, and it might be coming soon.

The 5 best Apple AirPods alternatives for Android, Windows, and iOS devices

Apple AirPods, nice as they are, aren't the only game in town. Other makers are offering their own truly wireless earbuds, and if you're looking to buy a pair of high-end in-ear headphones, we've got the best AirPod alternatives on the…

Great PC speakers don't need to break the bank. These are our favorites

Not sure which PC speakers work best with your computer? Here are the best computer speakers on the market, whether you're working with a tight budget or looking to rattle your workstation with top-of-the-line audio components.
Home Theater

Apple is arming up to redefine TV just like it did the phone

Curious about what Apple's answer to Netflix will be? Us too. So we combed through some patents, and looked at the landscape, to come up with a bold prediction: Apple's streaming service will be way bigger than anyone thinks.
Movies & TV

LeBron James’ Space Jam 2 gets an official release date

LeBron James has brought on Black Panther director Ryan Coogler to produce his upcoming Space Jam sequel, with Terence Nance attached to direct the film. Space Jam 2 is expected to hit theaters in July 2021.
Movies & TV

Battle of the movie ticket sites: How to make sense of the fledgling industry

MoviePass may be the industry leader in subscription-based movie ticket sales, but the company's troubles have opened the door for competitors AMC Stubs A-List, Sinemia, and Cinemark Movie Club. Here's how the services compare.
Home Theater

Bask in the glory of your home theater with these 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray movies

What good is a 4K TV if you don't have the means of pushing it to its limits? Here are our favorite 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays, all of which are nothing short of stunning. It'll make you wonder why you haven't always watched movies this way.
Home Theater

Get the most boom for your buck with the best headphones under $100

Everybody wants a bargain, and this list has a bunch. For those looking for a solid set of headphones without spending a big stack of cash, this list is is your starting point. Check out our picks for the best headphones under $100.
Home Theater

The best noise-canceling headphones paint your music on a cleaner canvas

Drowning out the sound of babies, jet engines, and the outside world isn't as difficult as it seems. Here are the best noise-canceling headphones, whether you're concerned with style, comfort, or sound.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (February 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

Sony slowly rolls out its 2019 lineup of enormous TVs, with pricing to match

Like the slowly retreating glacier that is the winter of 2019, new TV prices are beginning to be uncovered. Sony is the latest company to reveal what we'll have to pay, but so far, only one model has shown up.