Typical HiFi Audio System
3.5mm Analog Earphone
Apple Lightning Earpods
LAM based Lightning Earphone
Limitation - Even with very good earphone, you are still confined by the performance limitation of the DAC and amplifier inside the phone. Unfortunately, due to space and cost consideration, this 2 functions inside the phone are not optimized for HiFi grade audio result.
Disappointment - By using the lightning interface, it moves the DAC and amplifier functions outside the phone. However, Apple Lightning Earpods didn’t take advantage of this architectural change and uses a similar DAC and amplifier inside the connector with similar performance.
Potential - The LAM module acts as the interface between the phone and the other audio components. You have the option to use a HiFi grade DAC and output circuitry to improve the overall sound quality.
Lightning earphone opens the door for manufacturers to replace the DAC and HP amplifier subsystem inside the phone. For Apple Lightning Earpods, it is a neat and cost effectively solution to convert 3.5mm earphones to lightning earphones but it didn't provide any audio quality improvement. The LAM based solution with optimized HiFi DAC and amplifier design is the key to deliver an improved audio experience. Aero lightning earphone is an example using LAM with ESS Sabre 9018 HiFi DAC architecture.