Despite all the hype, the Essential PH-1 didn't exactly set the world on fire. More than a year on from its release, it still hasn't properly come to the UK (though Essential will ship you one for Many Pounds), and it's even been speculated that the brand was "on its last legs" and up for sale.
However, it seems that's not the case, as Android co-founder Andy Rubin's challenger brand is still busily manufacturing accessories for the PH-1, presumably with a view to licensing them out to other brands, or just proving that Essential still exists while we wait for the bonkers-sounding PH-2.
The long-promised Audio Adapter HD, which attaches to the PH-1's magnetic accessory connector, has just passed its FCC certification in the US. That means we should be seeing pricing and availability any day now.
Like the phone, the accessory is made from titanium and adds a 3.5mm headphone jack and ESS's Sabre DAC with MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) rendering. Basically, all those words mean music should theoretically sound really good with the accessory, providing your headphones are up to par. Essential does offer its own HD earbuds if they aren't.
As a company blog post put it:
"Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) is a new way of unpacking songs that gives a lossless audio experience in a smaller size so you can experience the sound of the original recording.
You hear the richness and depth of every guitar string; every delicate vocal nuance; every piercing vibrato from a horn; and everything else the artist created without losing a single thing. And all without sacrificing your device’s storage or cellular data."
Essential owners also get a three-month subscription to MQA tracks on Tidal, as long as they're new to the streaming service. Which we'd wager most people are.
Admittedly, the Audio Adapter HD passing certification won't matter to very many people, since there aren't many Essential owners to begin with. But it's more important from a proof-of-concept point of view: Essential is showing that after all the production delays on the phone, they can keep their promises, and they're still making interesting accessories that could theoretically be licensed out to other brands, or added to the upcoming second phone.
It's a way to keep them in the news, in any case. We'll report back when we have pricing info on the adapter.