Surprising subjective feeling of iPhone DAC sound quality

For months, as I ride the train into Chicago to work, I marvel at how great Tidal sounds through my iPhone’s internal DAC. I know-audiophile blasphemy!

My references are a two hifi DACs (one Stereophile A and the other a tube based unit). 

Listening to Les McCan and Lou Rawls “Stormy Monday” album from 1962 this am made me finally post this. 

I haven't taken the time to find actual reviews and measurements of my specific phone.  I did however stumble on this assessment of an Apple lightning adapter, which discusses it being state of the art and measurements.
Regardless, I’ve been doing this hobby long enough to trust my ears and I know I like what I hear. 

So, I’m no longer going to say that kids with earbuds or phones are NECESSARILY missing out. It’s more complicated than that. If they have a decent source they can experience great sound through a phone. The choice of music is another story. :)

At any rate, I’m impressed with the clarity, smoothness, and realism of this.  

Give it a try. And to keep it honest, pop in Willow Weep for Me from that les McCan and Lou Rawls album to see if you hear what I’m hearing. 

Disclaimer: many moons ago (1996-2002) I was an apple fanboy. No longer. No hate, just not an all out fan. I try to call balls and strikes as I see them. 
The internal DAC in your iPhone and it’s audio performance is cheap and crummy in both build and audio performance comparatively to what you can get with a couple of add-ons. If it’s HD content your looking for ( .... bye bye MP3 ....)

(1) Plug in the AUDIOQUEST DRAGONFLY USB headphone amp / mini-DAC with the APPLE Camera adapter. This rig bypasses the Uber- cheap internal iPhone DAC . The audio performance step-up is huge.

(2) APPLE does not do hi-Rez . No worries .... because TIDAL has HD music available, so bypass the internal APPLE music player app and download the ONKYO HD PLAYER app. Again. The step up in audio performance is huge again.

(3) Invest in hi-Rez headphones or earphones for your iPhone. I’ve tried contenders and pretenders,  and the best IMO are MASTER & DYNAMIC MH30 headphones or their in-ear monitors. Check out the superior reviews - their superior build quality is unmatched and they have best of breed audio performance. Paul McCartney decked out his whole entourage with them.

If they are using earbuds, trust me, they are missing out.
The audiophiles will catch on like the rest of the world eventually. 
What's everyone's take on the LG V40? 
I am using it and very satisfied. Stereophile had a nice review. Joe
Remember the Dave Wilson iPod hoax written up in stereophile?

We also heard David Wilson's fascinating presentation of his conception of system hierarchy. He compared a pair of Wilson Sophias driven by a Parasound stereo power amplifier with a competitor's flagship speaker and an extremely powerful premium-priced amplifier. Not, as he explained, because he thought the Sophias sounded better, but to prove that meaningful comparisons could be made between systems assembled according to different priorities. This was a demo aimed at his hi-fi dealer clientele, after all (it's a trade show, remember?), but there's a kicker: after we all confirmed that we could hear meaningful differences, Wilson whipped a fake component shell off the digital source and revealed that with the Wilson speakers we weren't listening to the $20,000 CD player that had been used for the competitor's speakers, but an Apple iPod playing uncompressed WAV files!


Blasphemy! Blasphemy! How dare you suggest such things! Terrible ungodly utterings.
Even worse, the DAC from a 2004 iPod ?? What do you mean it was a good year? 

This must all be a nightmare. Surely all those horrid rumours about DAC’s sounding more or less indistinguishable can’t be true.

Or can they?

Naughty Dave Wilson for breaking one of the most fundamental of audio taboos.

Or shouldn’t it be, nice one Dave?
Thanks again for trying to open our eyes and ears!

Heh, yeah.  If there's one comparison area that has been done to death, since much of it can be done online and switching is easy, it is DACs and digital formats.  I've bought a ton of hi-res files, but the evidence is kind of humiliating.  On pop/rock, I can't reliably tell file resolution apart above 312k mp3 (100% below that).  With orchestral music, I seem to be able to distinguish uncompressed files with much better accuracy, but I sort of had to train myself to do it.  

If you look on another thread, you'll see that with a modest Hypex nCore unit I'm waving the surrender flag on Class D as well.
When I traveled constantly for work — long airplane trips — I settled on my I phone with the dragonfly DAC and good noise cancelling earbuds. This set up equaled my Pono with balanced high end Shure ear buds.  But without that dragonfly about 2 hours was all I could take. I preferred the Pono in the hotel room though—sadly I finally left it on a plane somewhere.