The headphones jack is dying a slow and painful death, and while the standard is likely to continue to be used for audiophiles and non-mobile applications, for the foreseeable future it seems like mobile users will be limited to Lightning and USB-C headphones. Thankfully, since companies began removing the headphone jack from their headphones, a number of Lightning headphones have been released — and the best Lightning headphones may be worlds better than anything else out there.
There are a few reasons why you might want Lightning headphones over wireless ones. For starters, wireless standards still aren’t quite as high-quality as wired ones, so using Lightning headphones is likely to yield better sound quality. On top of that, because Lightning connectors deliver power too, your headphones could have a headphone amplifier built in to them — which could lead to higher quality audio than you’d find on traditional wired headphones.
No matter what you’re looking for from a pair of Lightning headphones, we’re sure there’s something for you. Here are the best Lightning headphones out there.
Best Lightning headphones
If you have an iPhone and simply want some of the best-sounding headphones out there, then the Audeze Sine headphones may well be the way to go. The headphones are pricey, coming in at $450, but if you have the cash to spend, then we think they’re well worth the price.
There are a few things that make the Audeze Sine headphones special. For starters, they boast planar magnetic drivers, which are generally hailed for offering very accurate and detailed frequency response. That’s good news for the audiophiles out there that want to hear their music in all its glory. The headphones also come with Audeze’s Cipher cable, which has a built-in DAC and DSP. In other words, Audeze is taking full advantage of the power that the iPhone can supply through its Lightning connector.
Best on-ear Lightning headphones
Perhaps you’re looking for something a little more compact and a little cheaper. If you want a pair of great on-ear Lightning headphones, then we think the Philips Fidelio ML2 headphones are a great way to go.
Like the Audeze Sine headphones, these headphones have an integrated DAC and amplifier for great-quality playback, which is good news for those that want the highest audio quality possible. On top of that, the Philips Fidelio ML2 headphones offer a great design, and they’re relatively comfortable too — which is always helpful. The main downsides include the fact that the headset doesn’t have a microphone, and that they’re a little tight at times.
Best in-ear Lightning headphones
Perhaps you want a pair of in-ear headphones that you can plug into that Lightning port. In that case, then we recommend the Beats UrBeats 3 with Lightning Connector headphones. The headphones are relatively well-designed, and, as you would expect from a pair of Beats headphones, are able to deliver a punchy bass sound with decently tuned high-end.
Also as you would expect from Beats, the Beats UrBeats 3 headphones come in a range of colors, including coral, matte gold, and more. Style aside, we quite like the sound quality of the headphones, and while they’re probably not great for audiophiles who want a super natural sound, for most everyone else they’re an excellent choice.
Best high-end Lightning headphones
The Audeze Sine headphones are expensive and sound great, but if you really have the cash to spend, then perhaps you should look into the Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature headphones instead. These headphones take quality and turn it into luxury. They look great, are super comfortable, and they sound incredible.
Now, to be clear, these headphones are tuned. That’s to say, if you’re an average consumer looking for a pair of great-sounding headphones, these are a great choice — but if you’re an audiophile on the hunt for accurate sound, then these may not be the best choice. Still, we think Bowers & Wilkins has hit a home run with these headphones — if you have $900 to spare. Keep in mind, you may have to buy the Lightning cable separately — the headphones don’t come with one out of the box, but Bowers & Wilkins does offer one for the headphones.
Best noise canceling Lightning headphones
There aren’t a ton of noise canceling Lightning headphones just yet, but there are some — like, for example, the Libratone Q-Adapt in-ear headphones. These headphones have a lot to offer, including a great design, good sound-quality, and nice build quality.
The headphones sound great, but they’re not necessarily totally natural-sounding — which is something to keep in mind for those looking for an accurate sound quality. There’s a nice bass boost, which many will appreciate. The noise cancelation on the headphones is relatively good, but it doesn’t match up to the quality of noise cancelation on offer by the likes of Bose.