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V-Moda’s SpeakEasy lightning cable promises better sound — for a price


There are still many out there who bemoan the loss of the headphone jack on their beloved iPhones. Some have been so unhappy, they have resorted to backing crowdfunding projects that promise to restore the missing output, albeit with add-on case. Others have grudgingly accepted that life now includes a mandatory dongle, though they are determined to find ways of stowing this unwanted accessory when not in use. But V-Moda thinks it has a better solution: Why not take advantage of the lightning port, and use your existing wired headphones with its new Speakeasy DAC/Amp lightning cable?

Yes, it’s not exactly a budget-minded solution. At $101, the Speakeasy cable costs more than many decent wireless headphones. But perhaps that’s not the point. One of the benefits of pulling audio through the iPhone’s lightning port is that it’s a digital signal. Which means that sooner or later, a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) is going to have to swap those ones and zeroes for something you can actually hear. You’re also going to need to amplify the resulting signal, otherwise, it will never be powerful enough to drive full-size headphones.

The V-Moda cable claims superiority on both of these elements, according to the company’s press release, with a “high performance” 24-bit DAC, that possesses a signal-to-noise ratio reaching 114 dB. For its part, the amplifier produces 31mW of output power, while only exerting at 5 percent drain on an iPhone’s battery. V-Moda says it put this claim to the test by running the cable for four continuous hours using Apple’s Music app.

Of course, no headphone cable would be complete without inline controls, and a really good mic, for your phone calls and summoning a digital assistant. The Speakeasy has a three-button module, and works with both Siri and Google Assistant, so you’ll have a choice of which artificial intelligence assistant you’ll be bossing around. The cable looks like it should stand up to more than average abuse, with a claimed ability to deal with over 1 million bends, thanks to its Aramid fiber construction.

Though dubbed as a “universal” cable, the Speakeasy won’t necessarily be compatible with all headphones. Its 3.5mm jack will work all V-Moda over-the-ear headphone models (of course), as well as the Beats lineup. Those with smaller (or proprietary) connections will have to look elsewhere.

Available in black or gray, the $101 Speakeasy DAC/Amp is already up for your audio enjoyment on Amazon as well as other retailers. Just don’t get it confused with the significantly cheaper analog-only Speakeasy cable. Will the new model deliver significantly better sound than Apple’s much-maligned dongle? We’ll report back if we get one for a review.

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Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like…
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