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  • Writer's pictureNick Anderson

Cheer & dance music problem SOLVED on the iPhone with audio from lightning port

We call it the "big dipper" iPhone music problem. Cheer and dance competition companies have been struggling with an audio "dipping" problem since the Apple Gods decided to cut the headphone jack from the iPhone 7, 8, X, and all future iPhones.

PROBLEM: Starting with the iPhone 7, Apple products no longer have an analog audio 1/8 inch headphone jack, relying instead on audio output from the digital lightning port. In order to convert this digital audio signal to an analog audio signal, one must use an Apple lightning "dongle" like the one pictured below.

However, there is an audio problem we call the "big dipper" when playing cheer and dance music via the lightning adapter. The audio "dips" at the beginning of the music, which can seriously affect the team's performance at a cheer or dance competition. See the problem video below:

Thankfully we found the solution. See the solution video below:

SOLUTION: The answer is the iPhone Lightning Dock.

The Apple Lightning Dock is $49.00 in Apple stores or online at

Nick Anderson's technical accreditation

Nick Anderson of the Cheer AV Group presents his solution. Nick holds an electronics degree and has previously worked as a broadcast engineer for Cumulus Media, one of the nation's largest radio station groups. He also worked as a field technician for Nielsen Media Research which produces the Nielsen TV Ratings. He's currently President of the Fun Event Group Inc. which produces 400 events nationwide.

His company has built sound systems for JAMfest and The JAM Brands that travel across the country performing at cheer competitions every week. His company also produces events for Varsity Brands, the largest cheer and dance competition company in the world. He was the DJ and sound tech for the first ever U.S. Finals national tour and the first ever MAJORS cheerleading competition, the most selective all-star competition in the world. He still manages audio at The MAJORS and JAMfest Cheer Super Nationals each year and tours the country running sound for cheer and dance competitions nationwide.

Nick explains his theory behind the Lightning Dock solution

This problem was popping up at competitions all over the country so I decided to get to the bottom of it. My calls to Apple tech support went unanswered, so I read all the change logs of all the iOS operating systems dating back to the launch of the iPhone 7, which shipped with iOS 10. Nothing in the change logs mentioned this audio issue.

Then I found that the Apple Lightning Dock can produce analog audio from the base of the dock. I picked up a dock at an Apple store and tried it at a cheer competition. I waited until I found an iPhone 7 with the "big dipper" problem from the dongle and sure enough, a coach walked up with one. I swapped the dongle with the dock and it worked. I continued using the dock for the rest of the day and it played audio flawlessly for the rest of the event.

Plus there's a bonus: The dock also charges the iPhone while it's playing the music. This keeps an iPhone playing and charges the battery if it happens to be low. We have seen iPhones die in the middle of a cheerleading routine from low batteries before. When an iPhone hits the 20% battery level, it can stop the music from playing and displays a pop-up message saying the battery is low.

Why does the dock work and the dongle NOT work? (NERD ALERT below)

My theory is this. Both the dongle and dock are DACs. That is, they are digital-to-analog audio converters. The dongle is powered by the lightning port of the iPhone and the dock is powered by the external power of the iPhone charger.

I believe the dongle sees a "dip" in the beginning of the audio because it cannot manage the initial surge of electrical current from the lightning port when audio is applied, therefore causing audio to dip briefly at the beginning of an audio file.

I believe the dock solves this problem because it's DAC is powered by the iPhone charger that is applied to the dock. This "levels out" the supply voltage of the DAC and provides stable audio at the analog headphone output jack.

In our testing, we used the official Apple-certified dongle on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8. We re-created the problem in our video at an actual cheerleading competition with an iPhone 7 Plus running iOS 11.2.2. We later had the same problem on an iPhone 8 with iOS 11.2.2.

This proves that Apple's latest hardware (iPhone 8) and latest iOS (11.2.2 as of today 12.11.2017) still have this bug. In our testing and experience, only the official Apple dock solves this problem. This is the only external DAC we've tested and verified to work at an actual cheerleading competition.

So spread the word to cheer DJs and spirit industry competition companies and get your dock today! The Apple Lightning Dock is $49.00 in Apple stores or online at

Inquiries: Contact Nick Anderson at 888-468-6425 or

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