Cirrus Logic MFi

Cirrus Logic today announced a new development kit that makes it easy for companies to develop headphones using Apple’s Lightning connector. The announcement comes ahead of Apple’s next-generation iPhone 7 this fall which is expected to remove the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack for the first time.

If Apple does indeed remove the 3.5mm headphone jack on the next iPhone, that means those who purchase the device will be forced to use wireless Bluetooth headphones or ones that connect to the device using Apple’s Lightning connector. And since there are next to no Lightning headphones actually available to purchase, Cirrus Logic is hoping its development will change that in time for iPhone 7:

The MFi Headset Development Kit demonstrates the advantages of Lightning-connected headsets over conventional analog headsets. For example, digital connectivity with an integrated, high-performance DAC and headphone driver delivers high-fidelity audio to the headphone speakers. In addition, Lightning-connected headphones can interact with an iOS app to create a more custom audio experience, such as personalized EQ settings.

Apple controls its propriety Lightning connector through its Made for iPhone (MFi) accessory program, and it introduced specs for accessory makers a couple of years back allowing them to build headphones that use the tech. So far there are a few Lightning-based headphones available on the market, but we’ve yet to see a 3.5mm-to-Lightning adapter that would make using your old headphones possible on the new iPhone 7.

We did see what appeared to be a few prototype 3.5mm-to-Lightning adapters leak late last month, however, but there hasn’t been an official announcement from Apple or any MFi accessory makers that the products are being planned.

The Cirrus Logic development kit includes reference designs for hardware and a companion iOS app:

The MFi Headset Reference Design from Cirrus Logic is a rapid development platform for Lightning® connected digital headsets. It uses the CS42L42 codec to enable a hi-fi audio experience when listening to music or videos or during a phone conversation. The CS42L42 features a 114 db headphone D/A converter that can deliver up to 35mW stereo, and a 114 dB A/D converter with a low noise microphone bias generator and sidetone mixing to generate clear phone calls.

MCU example code shows how to quickly develop a product that complies with MFi requirements. The reference design includes a customer reference design board (CRD) that fits into a compact pendant form factor and a larger customer development board (CDB) with header locations for debug.

You can get the development kit through Apple’s MFi program.

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About the Author

Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & Electrek.co. He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.