USB-C Audio on Smartphones Is a Convoluted Mess

Discussion in '[H]ard|OCP Front Page News' started by cageymaru, Sep 11, 2018.

  1. cageymaru

    cageymaru [H]ard|News

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    Gordon Mah Ung of PCWorld has been trying to find out why the USB-C connection, which is supposed to be universal, doesn't always work for audio on smartphones. It seems that some phones such as the Google Pixel 2 XL require a USB-C audio device has a built in DAC (digital-to-analog converter). Google representatives explain that "although analog audio over USB-C can be done, it's not actually part of the spec for headsets." So their phones stick to the standard and require a DAC to be present which raises the price of the headset. Many other smartphone makers such as Sony or Motorola allow for analog audio to be played over USB-C. Of course this means that users will amass a drawer of USB-C devices that may or may not work with a new device.

    To make it even more maddening, several phones we tried with the Pixel 2 XL digital USB-C dongle did work, but not until you switched on USB storage in the OS. Yeah, totally intuitive. Better still, you have to do this every time you insert the headset or dongle to make it work.
     
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  2. Space_Ranger

    Space_Ranger Gawd

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    And Apple was the one who got it wrong?? Jebus... If this is the future of smartphones, we're all screwed.
     
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  3. dgz

    dgz [H]ardness Supreme

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    Gonna pull a healthy Morty and just drop this here.

    I downgraded to a candy bar phone six years ago. The first few months were kind of hard but it all went away in less than half an year. These days I stay alert of the things around me, read my e-mail when I am on my PC, even get lost in foreign cities. It's fun.
     
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  4. Lakados

    Lakados [H]ard|Gawd

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    This is what happens when you try to be user friendly and you go off spec.... Don’t go off spec!
     
  5. gunbust3r

    gunbust3r Gawd

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    And still no one makes a handy USB-C phone dock with headphone jack for someone to use in an office or at a bedside table.
     
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  6. vegeta535

    vegeta535 2[H]4U

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    Or you know accept that phones are thin enough and put the God damn audio jack back in? Also use the extra 2 mm in space for a bigger user replaceable battery and micro SD card slot.
     
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  7. arnemetis

    arnemetis 2[H]4U

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    Obviously the correct answer is to only own one device & set of accessories for yourself, and when you replace the phone, replace all your accessories too. Just throw all that old stuff out. We need more money!
     
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  8. PenGunn

    PenGunn Limp Gawd

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    I find it funny that mtp is useless for this. ;)
     
  9. The Mad Atheist

    The Mad Atheist Gawd

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    You know you do have this problem with phone the have the 3.5mm jack, it just works.
    Coarse, wasn't saving space and minimizing components the reason to use USB-C audio by getting rid of the 3.5mm and DAC?
     
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  10. SixFootDuo

    SixFootDuo [H]ardness Supreme

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    The problem would go away almost over night if they were to release some affordable high quality Aptx headphones ....... or earbuds. I'm never going to spend $100 on ear buds, ever.

    I see where they want to go with this USB-C .... but until they get really serious and provide worth while earphones / earbuds in many makes and models .... it's not going to be as smooth as a translation as they want.

    I have the Samsung Aptx earbuds but the charging cable is a pain, the rigid plastic neck piece is annoying, suspect construction .... and it sure does make me miss headphone jacks which is the point I'm trying to make
     
  11. SvenBent

    SvenBent 2[H]4U

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    give google a break.
    its not like we have had a welldefined standr for headphones plugs that is open for everyone and works with pretty much any device from hifi amplifiers to car stereos and handheld music devices.


    it seems that technology gets more and more hit with problems we already had a perfect viable solutions for, in the name of form over function.
     
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  12. 1Nocturnal101

    1Nocturnal101 Gawd

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    I think I like what essential is doing with the new add-on that gives you a microjack and a quality DAC, it's a shame the phone didn't take off as well as it could have.
     
  13. Ragenrok

    Ragenrok 2[H]4U

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    For now I'm still happy with my pixel 1 xl and it's headphone jack. I'm using headphones right now while I work and would hate ti lose it, bluetooth headphones are alright but batteries suck and the slight delay kills YouTube/video for me on breaks.
     
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  14. defaultluser

    defaultluser I B Smart

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    I bought a Pixel 2 last month. I'd be a lot more pissed off about this if bluetooth to analog jacks weren't twenty bucks (to use the awesome speakers I already have). Or decent Amazon Basics bluetooth speakers didn't start at $35. OR easily paired with my car stereo.

    In the rare occasions I use headphones, I've just permanently attached the usb-C adapter to the end of them, so it doesn't get lost.

    The battery life is fucking awesome. Why do you need to hook this up to anything at all?
     
  15. STEvil

    STEvil 2[H]4U

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    Reminds me of the stupidity behind bluetooth
     
  16. Kardonxt

    Kardonxt 2[H]4U

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    It's a USB port. Treat it like one. Of course you should need a DAC in your dongle if you want to create audio.

    This is what happens when you adopt a standard and de-standardize it.
     
  17. [21CW]killerofall

    [21CW]killerofall Aliens...

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    The USB-C spec doesn't support audio over the connection. Every implementation of audio over USB-C that I am aware of is simply using the wires to connect the headphones, which has no standard for pin-outs (as far as I know). They are using a physical standard but not an electrical standard. That is why.
     
  18. Mohonri

    Mohonri [H]ardness Supreme

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    Given that "making the phone thinner" isn't a valid reason for removing it in the first place...
     
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  19. umeng2002

    umeng2002 Gawd

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  20. TangledThornz

    TangledThornz Gawd

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    Just use bluetooth headphones you filthy animal!!
     
  21. N4CR

    N4CR 2[H]4U

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    That's why 30 years+ ago they invented this 3.5mm jack thing that lacks in courage. No 3.5mm, no sale for me.
     
  22. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Apple is going USB-C ;)
     
  23. Ryoohki360

    Ryoohki360 Gawd

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    Meh i switched to BLuetooth earphone years ago. Thanks to Amazon cheap ones. Most of my corded headphone broke at the connecting point after a couple of months so that's not a big deal to me and i only listen to music in the bus, while running i'am not looking for quality since i don't care that much..
     
  24. Nolan7689

    Nolan7689 [H]ard|Gawd

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    Realistically you can argue they already have gone USB-C. The high-speed charger uses USB-C to Lightning cable.
     
  25. xmadror

    xmadror Gawd

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    At this rate, with all the hate I'd expect a crash in the smartphone market in a few years.
     
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  26. Jagger100

    Jagger100 [H]ardness Supreme

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    Translation, we couldn't fit a DAC to achieve some ridiculous dimensional requirement so we're going to make you buy one with every audio device you plan to use with the phone including throw away earbuds. And if we create a security risk by enabling USB storage, meh.
     
  27. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    And Lightning is Thunderbolt, in a smaller (potentially more fragile?) port, and USB-C supports Thunderbolt, and...

    :D

    [Honestly, I don't disagree with Apple using Lightning when they did; it's a far superior bus and connector next to what other systems were using at the time, but USB-C provides a direct transition that will be both compatible and scalable]


    For the OP: I'm just standing by. My Pixel has USB-C, but it also has a headphone jack. With Samsung carrying that torch, I'm wondering if Google will put the headphone jack back in, but generally speaking, it doesn't make much of a difference to me. I'd use Bluetooth when convenience trumps absolute quality anyway, and since I drive everywhere (yay Texas), 'absolute quality' is never what I demand from my phone.

    But if I did a lot of walking and riding public transit? I'd want to keep my headphone jack!
     
  28. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I don't mind the DAC requirement; they're cheap, and it means that they can be matched with an amp for the headphone as well.

    But having to turn on USB storage is a definite no-no.
     
  29. jnemesh

    jnemesh [H]ard|Gawd

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    Gee, imagine that. Trying to replace an establish standard for audio, which has been used for DECADES, is now a charlie-foxtrot because companies can't agree on standards. This is a completely unimaginable scenario that no one could have predicted, right?
     
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  30. Bawjaws

    Bawjaws Limp Gawd

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    Actually, the 3.5mm jack was invented over 50 years ago (and is just a miniaturised version of the 1/4" jack that was invented in 1878).
     
  31. Space_Ranger

    Space_Ranger Gawd

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    Everyone has their own standards that they follow. It's called "TheirOwn(tm)".. And theirs is the BEST! *eyeroll*
     
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  32. N4CR

    N4CR 2[H]4U

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    Thanks for that, wasn't 100% sure but knew they'd been around for longer than I could remember ;)
    Those 1/4" jacks are something else indeed. Sturdy... but I wouldn't sacrifice that much room on a phone.
    The 3.5mm jack on the other hand is around half the width of most phones. They lose about as much internal space as that jack with stupid single layer add-in card designs, but you don't see them scrambling to fix that in a hurry.