Just ordered a FiiO i1 Dac/Amp dongle. This works like the adapter that Apple supplies with the iPhone 7, 8, X but according to the reviews is much, much better; $39 USD. I will have it next Tuesday. FiiO i1 dongle
One of the nice things about the Apple lighting to 3.5mm cable is that it is only like 1 inch. This doesn’t add very much to your headphone cable, and doesn’t make it bulky. The Fiio i1 you linked looks very long. Interested to see how it sounds, but I don;t know if I would get it just because the cable is so long!
I do think it would have been a better solution if they’d made the FiiO i1 as short as possible and just included an extension cable for those that wanted it. While in my particular case the extra cable length is useful (routing it through the PAN on a ScottEVest jacket), it’s irritating otherwise.
Per @transmaster’s comment that reviews say it is “much, much better” than the standard Apple Lighting to 3.5mm adapter, I’d have to advise some caution. It’s a little better, in qualitative terms, in most areas but it’s not an in-your-face improvement across the board in my opinion.
Also the FiiO i1 seems to offer less power output about 30mw into 16 ohms vs. the 31mw into 32 ohms from the Apple adapter (so, about half). With IEMs this is unlikely to be an issue, but otherwise it might be.
One final comment … don’t try pairing it with the CA Andromeda … turns them into a bass-bloated mess.
Not only is it much smaller, the iPhone dongle already measures very well. Easily audiophile-grade - any improvement is likely to be marginal at best, and indistinguishable when out and about.
The iEMatch can deal with the issue of Andros sounding bloated, but now you’ve attached two dongles to the end of your cable…
Isn’t that what Apple wants? A string of dongles running for miles all for you to listen to some music?
You could use an iEMatch, but in this particular combination while it fixes the bass bloat I found it sucked the life out of the music.
That’s a 50/50 thing, I find, with the iEMatch … sometimes it works wonders, sometimes it’s entitely the opposite.
I have the i1 now. It is indeed much better than the Apple dongle. It includes volume controls and a microphone. Both terminations are metal. The lightning plug end fits in the Otterbox Defender case with room to spare. Below are the particulars on it. It is definitely worth &39.99 and them some. The sound is great with my Shure SE-215, and even better with my Etymotic hf3’s. The only real issue I have is the fact like the Apple adapter it is powered by the iPhone and it does reduce the battery life. I do not expect it to power my AKG 240’s. I have a FiiO E17K (E17) Alpen 2 it powers my 240’s to mind bending volume levels. I wish I could hook to to my iPad, and iPhone using its coaxial input.
The BTR1 is what is very interesting. It is a self contained Bluetooth DAC/Amp that you plug in your earphones. I would purchase it right now but it is Bluetooth 4.2, 5.0 is just now appearing. The iPhone 8, snd X support it. (http://m.fiio.net/en/products/77
Despite initial claims to the contrary, the BTR1 doesn’t support the AAC codec … which means on an iOS device (including iPhone 8 and X) it runs in SBC mode … which is distinctly inferior sounding to either AAC or, better yet, aptX.
And when I say “distinctly inferior”, I actually mean “pretty crummy” … true for SBC regardless of source.
Living in the Apple ecosystem myself, I’m looking at the FiiO Q5 ($350) now – it has balanced output and ‘audiophile grade’ Bluetooth. It’s also Apple certified. Even if not the absolute best audio quality, for everyday listening it might eliminate a lot of player, cabling, and dongle issues. I’d likely use it more as a home pre-amp than as a mobile device (but both).
I decided not to get it. I am upgrading to an iPhone XS Max and it has BT 5.0. The BTR1 just supports 4.2.