I couldn't find a trustworthy source for whether Apple EarPods are digital or analog, but I'm pretty sure it is digital as most teardowns show a chip on it that might be a DAC. Should this make passive converter impossible? Active converters with a ADC are always technically possible, but is there any on the market? Would one also need external power?

Sorry, if the description is unclear. What is described adapter used for is connecting Lightning EarPods to analog sound source that is using 3.5mm socket.

  • \$\begingroup\$ but I'm pretty sure it is digital It does not have to be, there is already an Audio DAC in the iPhone (for the speakers) so they could re-use that. The chip in the Earpiece could be an ID chip that just has to be present to allow the audio signal to be fed to the connector. I'm not saying that it is implemented like this, it probably is not and it probably is a digital connection. I'm saying there does not need to be a digital connection, it is possible to do it by analog as well. \$\endgroup\$ – Bimpelrekkie Nov 22 '18 at 9:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ I found articles claiming that it's digital as well as articles claiming it to be analog. No trustworthy sources, though. \$\endgroup\$ – CYB3R Nov 22 '18 at 9:28

Lightning is a purely digital interface (unlike USB-C which does have the capability to output analog audio directly and is replacing Lighting on new products). So the Lighting connector on the EarPods will need to contain:

  • A DAC to convert the interface to analog audio in order to drive the speakers inside
  • An identification chip of some sort to tell the host device what's been plugged into it and what its capabilities are
  • An amplifier circuit powerful enough to drive the in-ear speakers

For reasons of size, these functions will most likely be combined into a single physical chip.

What travels down the cable from the connector to the in-ear parts will be analog audio - indeed, the alternative version of the EarPods has a 3.5mm stereo jack plug for use with any audio device that has a headphone socket.

The Lighting interface also has power pins that supply the interface circuits in the EarPod connector.

So to achieve your aim of connecting a set of EarPods with a Lightning connector to a 3.5mm analog output on some other piece of equipment, you would need the following:

  • ADC converter to digitise the audio
  • Processor to control the ADC
  • Lighting interface port of some sort to plug the EarPods into
  • Software to run the whole thing
  • Power supply

Is it doable? Yes, given enough knowledge and time. Is it cheaper than buying a set of EarPods with a 3.5mm plug? No. Is anyone ever likely to make such a thing? Probably not as the previous answer shows there would likely be little demand. Can you do it with a passive adaptor? No, as you have to carry out conversion of analog signals into digital signals.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Male Lightning to 3.5mm socket adapters sure exists (for example MMX62ZM/A from Apple). My question is about 3.5mm sound source to female Lightning adapter. Sorry if it's unclear. \$\endgroup\$ – CYB3R Nov 22 '18 at 12:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's extremely unclear. Forget male/female and all that, what is it you're actually trying to achieve? \$\endgroup\$ – Finbarr Nov 22 '18 at 13:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Connect Lightning EarPods to analog sound source that is using 3.5mm socket. \$\endgroup\$ – CYB3R Nov 22 '18 at 14:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Right, answer updated. \$\endgroup\$ – Finbarr Nov 22 '18 at 14:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you very much for your comprehensive answer! It's exactly what I was thinking and the explanation is very intelligible. \$\endgroup\$ – CYB3R Nov 22 '18 at 17:28

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