Best Lightning headphones for iPhone & iPad 2017

Best Lightning headphones for iPhone & iPad 2017
Which are the best Lightning headphones? I need some good iPhone X headphones.

A collective groan echoed across the internet when it emerged that Apple was dropping ye olde 3.5mm headphone socket from the iPhone 7 (and from the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus the following year), forcing them to rely on Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector for audio connections instead, or go wireless.

But, really, technology moves on. And Apple bundles Lightning EarPods with the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, as well as an adapter so you can still use your old headphones. The company is helping you cross the bridge to the future. However, it does mean it’s time to start thinking about your audio options for that future.

Why did Apple ditch the headphone port?
This is the sort of thing that tries the patience of even Apple’s most ardent admirers: removing the 3.5mm headphone port means your favourite headphones need to use the bundled adaptor to be plugged directly into the iPhone X.

But switching to the digital Lightning connector does have advantages. Not least is the fact that the digital connector allows you to step up from 16-bit (CD-quality) audio to high-res 24-bit audio that is comparable to the master recordings produced in the studio.

Before you rush out and buy a pair of Lightning headphones, bear in mind that, as mentioned above, the iPhone X comes with a 3.5mm adapter. This allows you to use an existing pair of headphones, potentially saving a lot of money.

If you want a spare adapter, or lose the one that came with your iPhone X, or want an adapter with additional features, then take a look at our article rounding up the best Lighting to 3.5mm adapters.

With the preliminaries out of the way, here’s our guide to the best Lightning headphones. For buying advice related to other types of headphone, see our Best wired headphones and Best Bluetooth wireless headphones.

1More Dual Driver ANC Lightning Headphones

1More Dual Driver ANC Lightning Headphones
RRP: $149.99
We really liked the Triple Driver headphones that 1More released recently (discussed below), so we were definitely interested when we got the chance of a sneak peak at the company’s forthcoming Dual Driver headphones.

As the name suggests, the Dual Driver headphones differ by only containing two drivers in the earpieces – the equivalent of a woofer and a tweeter for speakers – and they can’t match the hi-res 40kHz range of the Triple Driver headphones, opting instead for a more conventional 20Hz-20kHz frequency range.

Even so, they still sound pretty good, with nicely detailed higher frequencies that work a treat with some of Queen’s multi-layered harmonies. The bass works well too, aided by the angled design of the earpieces, which helps them fit nice and snugly inside your ear. I also like the ‘ear secure pieces’, which fit over the main earpiece and help to hold them in place.

There’s one other outstanding feature as well. The Dual Driver headphones are actually slightly more expensive than the Triple Driver, but that’s because they also include active noise cancellation (ANC), which helps to block out background noise.

Admittedly, the noise-cancelling on these little in-ear headphones isn’t quite as effective as you might get from larger over-ear headphones that cover the entire ear, so frequent fliers might prefer to stick with over-ear headphones when they’re jetting across the Atlantic in business class. However, the noise-cancellation works well when you’re out and about in town, or working in a noisy office – and, of course, you can fit them in your pocket, so they’re a lot more portable and convenient than full-size cans.

1More Triple Driver Lightning Headphones

1More Triple Driver Lightning Headphones
The California-based 1More isn’t a well-known name here in the UK, but it’s been getting some good reviews for its Triple Driver in-ear headphones recently.

The original version of the Triple Driver had a standard 3.5mm audio connector, and that version is still on sale at around £100 if you want to use them with Apple’s bundled Lightning adapter. However, the company has also released a second version that has a Lightning connector, as well as its own built-in DAC (digital-to-analogue converter) to provide high-quality sound.

The Triple Driver design could be compared to a set of speakers that uses three drivers – two tweeters and a woofer – to produce sound, and the strength of these headphones is a detailed, well-balanced sound that feels relaxed and natural right across the frequency range.

The headphones have an impressive range too – 20Hz up to 40kHz – so they can handle even lossless and hi-res audio files with no trouble at all. And who knows – maybe one day Apple will finally get around to providing lossless streaming and downloads from iTunes and Apple Music?

The titanium earpieces can feel a little heavy at first, but 1More provides several different sizes of ear-tips to help you get a good fit, and the cable feels sturdy enough to cope with life on the road.

It’s a shame that the Lightning version is so much more expensive than the standard 3.5mm version, but this is still one of the better and more affordable sets of Lightning headphones currently available. You also get a good set of accessories to add value for money, including a leather carrying case, shirt-clip and airline adapter for when you’re travelling.