The new, svelte Lightning connector may require clunky adapters for some hardware – but it’s otherwise not a dealbreaker. Photo (CC-BY-SA) William Hook.

Apple has dropped their own 30-pin standard connector on the iPhone 5 and new iPod touch. In its place is a thinner, lighter, harder-to-plug-the-wrong-way connector called Lightning.

So, what does this mean for those of you who use audio accessories for MIDI and recording? Fortunately, not too much. Obviously, it’s a fair bet that we’ll soon see new accessories with the Lightning connector – and, in turn, new iPads that use the same. But you won’t have to throw out old hardware. IK Multimedia (via a press release) and Line 6 have each told CDM their gear should work; IK even goes as far as saying they can verify that their full line is compatible.

Apple sells a 30-pin adapter for some hardware. Unfortunately, this adapter does add some bulk, but fortunately, it’s at least reasonably compact. (It doesn’t come with an ungainly cable, for instance.) It works with USB audio, analog audio, and basically all accessories minus analog video accessories.

IK Multimedia, for their part, use the headphone jack and not the dock connector in order to connect audio. The upside: compatibility is essentially a non-issue. The downside: you’re restricted to the audio fidelity of that jack. IK has this to say about compatibility:

iRig™, iRig MIC, iRig MIC Cast, iRig MIX, iRig STOMP and iRig PRE have been tested and are fully compatible with Apple’s new iPhone 5 without the need of any additional adapter or hardware. In addition to these audio accessories, IK announced that its iKlip MINI universal mic stand adapter for iPhone is also compatible with the new iPhone 5.

IK is also promising support for the larger screen real estate on iPhone 5 and the new iPod touch, as well as the iPhone 5’s swifter processor.

Line 6 is still testing their accessories with iPhone 5, but founder Marcus Ryle tells CDM, “Based on what’s been announced, for audio products that operate using USB Host mode and follow Apple approved methods such as CoreAudio and CoreMIDI, I would not expect there to be any technical issue.” I asked if they had anything to say about future Lightning support, but Ryle responded, “We continue to be excited about providing music-making devices for iOS devices, but we can’t comment on what additional products might be upcoming.”

Line 6, we’d of course love to see MIDI Mobilizer III with a Lightning adapter. In the meantime, these look workable via the adapter, however (if then very, very tall).

To me, even if the iPad gets more attention, the iPhone remains a significant device for musicians – and still makes Android and other alternatives pale in comparison. A handheld gadget that can connect to MIDI or help you do field recordings has some huge advantages, enough so that considering the iPod touch – without a contract – looks appealing. We’ll follow the compatibility picture as we hear more.

  • miguelmarcos

    I’d like to know about compatibility for digital audio and USB devices like the Apogee Jam, iRig MIDI, keyboards, etc.

    • cnativo

      I think technical compatibility won’t be a problem (exceptions apart). The problem is the hardware connector, chiefly with iPad and accessories like Alesis iDock. How can i insert an adaptor inside an iDock if i want do it? The first generation of several iPad accessories is “lost” in my opinion.

    • cnativo

      Is lost for use with new generation of iPhone and the next generation of iPad, obviously, not with old generations of Apple gadgets. (I repeat, in my opinion).

    • Michelle Wright

      Sonoma’s GuitarJack Model 2 digital audio interface, with 1/4″ instrument input, 1/8″ stereo mic/line input and 1/8″ stereo line output, is compatible with iPad mini and iPhone 5 using Apple’s Lightning to 30-pin Adapter. Sonoma tested Apple’s Lightning to USB Camera Adapter and found it is not compatible with iPhone 5.

  • dyscode

    Peter you mean, “unfortunately the adapter does not come with a cable”, given my experience with iTouch Audio, MIDI gear (since iPod Touch 2G), I can clearly see the pull and tear stress that will be on that tiny Lightning connector. I see lot’s of broken adapters. Not using an extention cable has been a very bad idea ever since and will be even more so with the Lightning connector.

  • goodscool

    The cost is high and related products will not depreciate in a short time.

  • Sarah Beckstead

    I do like the adaptability of the iPhone 5 connector- but not having the extension cable can be quite frustrating. I know If am being nit picky here, but I wish the cord was much longer, especially when the plug is far away from my bed at night, and My phone is about to die, and I NEED to update my facebook status at 12:20am to complain about how lame the last episode of Dirty Little Liars was! Ugh!

  • Brynn Jones

    It is a bit frustrating that I have to buy all new accessories. I just sold my iphone 4 online, and made a few bucks so it’s less money out of pocket for me to purchase new ones for my iPhone 5, which I love btw. I do wish the cord was a bit longer though.

  • Andrew Jones

    My iRig Mic works flawlessly with iPhone 4 and my other iDevices, but not with iPhone 5 on any application. Each application recognizes that the mic has been connected, but it is impossible to get an audio source. My iPhone 5 is still only a month and a half old, has never been dropped, abused or damaged in any way. Anyone else experiencing this problem? With the exception of my iPod Touch 2G, all my devices are running the current version of iOS so it is unlikely that iOS is the issue. Seems to be more of a hardware issue on the iPhone side…

    • Alp Karaosmanoglu

      i have the same problem:( why is that?

  • Cipherphone

    I would like to use a “JAM” like device to inspect telephone lines via either an Android tablet or a PC. All I need to see if there is the signal running on the line using a small as possible device. Any ideas?