Got a plug for that?
As any mobile audio enthusiast will tell you, plugging your wired IEMs into a phone or DAP isn’t necessarily a plug-and-play affair. Nevermind all the hoo-ha about headphone jacks (or lack thereof) in modern phones; if you want the very best audio quality, nothing beats a good pair of wired headphones or IEMs.
If you happen to have a phone with a headphone jack, good for you (I bought my LG phone for that very reason). But even then, there’s no guarantee that your headphone cable will fit, especially if, like me, you use balanced cables with your IEMs. Generally speaking, if you listen with balanced IEMs, you need a dedicated music player or DAP that supports balanced output. But even then, there’s no guarantee your DAP will have the correct balanced output for your cable, what with their being three different balanced ‘standards’.
You can get any number of adapters to convert your cables from one format to another, but most of these add extra bulk, and are made with varying degrees of quality cables that link their female and male bits. Adapters that don’t rely on cables generally stick out obtrusively from the device, adding both length and a weak point in the chain, especially for thinner and more fragile 2.5mm TRRS connectors.
DD has designed what I consider to be the most interesting and unique pair of adapters of their kind. Shunning extra cables for an all-in-one design, they are a cross between straight up and angled adapters, using gold contact tracers bent at 90 degrees to create a hybrid T-shaped connector head that sits fairly low and close to the DAP or phone without adding unnecessary bulk, while remaining very rigid and stable. In this way you can connect a 2.5mm balanced cable to either adapter, converting it to a 3.5mm single-ended or 4.4mm balanced connector to fit your device.
All of this is done with zero loss of sound quality. In fact, doing a quick blind test with my IEMs being connected directly and via the DD adapters to various devices, I couldn’t discern any difference in sound quality whatsoever. Instead, you get a well-made, gold-plated adapter that not only looks the part but does the job economically and with the smallest possible footprint.
Downsides? None that I can think of really. I wouldn’t change a thing about the DD adapters themselves, though a small pouch to store the adapters would have been more useful than the shaving-filled wooden boxes they ship in. Impressive presentation, no doubt, but an unnecessary waste of money (and wood).
As an aside, for those of you with ‘angled’ connectors on your cables, the combination of DD’s T-shaped plug and an angled connector potentially lets you rotate your cable 180 degrees, depending on the type of plug, size, and so on. The added flexibility could either be very useful or it could get in your way, so try picture what your cable chain will look like ahead of time.