Smartphones have become the main portable device that many people rely on to listen to music on the go. However, just like most smartphone cameras lack the high-end functionality of good standalone cameras, smartphones also tend to not offer the best audio quality either.
Cobble is a battery-free, plug-and-play device for iPhones that combines a headphone amplifier with a digital-to-analog (DAC) converter to significantly improve smartphone music quality. It also works with iPods and iPads, although its compatibility is limited to only those iOS devices with Lightning connectors, from which it draws power.
Its integrated, Apple-certified audio chip gives Cobble the ability to playback audio at 24 bits, or 48 kHz to 192 kHz sound. Cobble ships in July at $89, although early bird Kickstarter backers can get one for pledges starting at $45. Its makers in Taiwan hope to raise $18,000 by April 15.
Cobble can tap into a fertile market of iPhone users seeking to improve their audio experience and it’s ability to work without a battery offers a significant convenience. That said, its name (which was changed from Pebble no doubt to avoid trademark confusion) offers no hint as to what the device actually does and prior devices, including the bulkier Fulla, do much the same thing.
There are other caveats. Cobble can’t work with Android or older iOS devices. And while it is compatible with most headphones, it doesn’t – for now anyway – work with their volume controls. That function is still under development. Cobble also can’t be used at the same time that the iOS device is being charged.