Compromises

I grabbed an iPhone X last week, a noticeable upgrade from my previous iPhone 5S. So the iPhone 7, 8, and X don't have 3.5mm mini plug audio jacks. As a practical audiophile I don't feel like carrying around an amp and full-sized headphones, but there's no way on Earth that I'm going to use Apple earbuds. I prefer silence over low quality music. It's unpleasant for me and I feel like it's disrespectful to the artists. So for a few days I carried around the Apple lightning-headphone adapter and plugged my Etymotic ER4SR earbuds into that, but it gets annoying fast. The cable used in the adapter is barely thick enough to support its own weight, much less the weight of attached headphones. On top of that, heavy right-angle plugs combined with too-thin wiring means twists, tangles, and snags everywhere. Bad cables are making an otherwise good combination unpleasant to use. My Etymotic earbuds stay in my backpack and, as far as I can remember, have only ever been plugged into my phone. I don't even use them with my laptop. So why not just make this easy and remove the unnecessary parts?


When you cut open Apple's lightning-3.5mm adapter, the lightning plug actually contains a DAC and amplifier. Coming out of that we have five extremely fine wire bundles that provide redundant connections to the 3.5mm headphone plug.


When you cut the end off of Etymotic ER4SR earbuds, you have four wires inside, two Vcc and two GND. With a multimeter it's pretty easy to figure out what goes where, and I managed to wire everything up correctly without any problems.


After desoldering/resoldering (neatly this time) and wrapping everything, I have high-end earbuds without adapters.


The current plug isn't very flexible, so I'll have to remake that, probably pot it with silicone or urethane. That'll have to do until Etymotic comes out with some new wireless buds. Preferably ones that don't look like this.

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