Apple Support page outlines what’s new in the MacBook Pro (2021)’s aux jack

The new upgraded headphone jack means audiophiles shouldn't need to carry a DAC with them anymore

One feature that flew under the radar during Apple’s MacBook Pro (2020) event was the upgrade to its headphone jack. With that in mind, if you work with high-res audio, it’s definitely worth paying attention to.

The new headphone jack features “DC load detection and adaptive voltage output [meaning] Your Mac can detect the impedance of the connected device and will adapt its output for low and high-impedance headphones, as well as for line-level audio devices,” reads Apple’s support page.

In terms non-audiophiles can understand, this means that the new MacBook Pro is compatible with higher-end wired headphones over AUX without the need for an external DAC to power headphones. This follows the recurring theme of the new MacBook Pro requiring far fewer dongles.

For example, if you connect a pair of headphones with an impedance of fewer than 150 ohms, the headphone jack provides up to 1.25-volts of power. The port is compatible with any number above this and goes all the way up to 1k ohms gets 3-volts. Apple has also included a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) that can convert signals up to 96 kHz in digital audio to analog.

You can learn more about the new MacBook Pro’s audio jack on Apple’s support page. There’s a separate page for the audio DAC and a third page for setting up your sample rate if you have a specific pair of headphones you want to mix music with.

If like me, you want to test out your headphones with high-quality audio, I was able to find this Apple Music playlist. All of the more modern songs are at the bottom — and by modern, I mean Coldplay. You’ll also need to max out your audio quality in the preferences section of the Apple Music app.

Source: Apple Support