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News USB-IF announces Audio over USB Type-C standard

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Gareth Halfacree, 28 Sep 2016.

  1. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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  2. theshadow2001

    theshadow2001 [DELETE] means [DELETE]

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    Will they be digital signals or analogue?
     
  3. Corky42

    Corky42 Where's walle?

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    AFAIK it's going to be digital, the DAC and all that guff will end up being housed in the headset.
     
  4. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    'Wot Corky sed: it's all digital.
     
  5. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    I'm not sure how I feel about all of this. I very much like the theory of sound quality being device independent (having just bought a new phone primarily on the basis of its discrete DAC and amp), but worry about the execution.

    I travel a fair bit, and having a compact pair of buds is important. I'm also a bit of an audio-head, so having a high quality pair of buds is also important (even if my current ones are only so-so).

    Can the two coexist if suddenly the DAC and amp is expected to be housed within the buds themselves? Something like the Shure SE846 is already chunky enough just to house the drivers, let alone anything else. In-line electronics could be an answer, but that's not ideal for portability either. For the ultimate answer to the question, a separate portable dac/amp was always there before, but with the electronics integrated into the 'phones, I'm not sure this even works? Do we then have HQ earbuds with digital up to an in-line box and then analogue thereafter to the ears, detachable to use with your own amp should you wish? Seems like this is something that splits the market (more) for the worse - the "i" model with lightning connectors and standards, the "u" model with USB-C and the "a" models with a garden variety 3.5mm.
     
    Last edited: 28 Sep 2016
  6. theshadow2001

    theshadow2001 [DELETE] means [DELETE]

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    Naturally if the headphones end up housing the DAC it's pointless having anything else in the signal chain. I imagine you'll get audiophile headphones with changeable dacs and regular fixed headphones. Of course no one will create a swappable headphone DAC standard and so they will all be propietary.
     
  7. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    I'm half expecting full size headphones over a certain "high end" threshold to stick with the 3.5mm in the expectation that they would be used with a standalone dac/amp.

    This creates a conflict with high end compact earbuds though. USB is the most portable option, but would rely on the electronics being house in-line or in-ear, with their own limitations and compromises (size and quality/cost), neither of which allows for use on a separate portable dac/amp. Continued use of the 3.5mm allows the use of a portable dac/amp, but in time will necessitate its use. There are time when it's palatable to carry around an extra device and time when it may not be - this removes that choice.

    We're talking about a minute sliver of the market at the end of the day, so I guess it kind of is what it is, but that doesn't mean that being in that sliver I can't be annoyed by it. I've been casually considering a SE846/Mojo combo for portable utopia for a while now, but probably best to continue to stall it given the changes afoot.
     
  8. Mr_Mistoffelees

    Mr_Mistoffelees The Lunatic on the Grass.

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    As long as the 6.35mm jack is unaffected by this, I won't care.
     
  9. bawjaws

    bawjaws Well-Known Member

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    This may be a silly question, but I've never actually used a USB-C device so I don't know: how firmly do USB-C connect? I mean, it's relatively easy to dislodge a micro-USB cable from it's device, but it's basically impossible to dislodge a 3.5mm jack once it's plugged in. If USB-C plugs are make a similarly flimsy connection as micro-USB then that's going to be infuriating :D
     
  10. theshadow2001

    theshadow2001 [DELETE] means [DELETE]

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    You can put the electronics on the connector end rather than the headphones.
     
  11. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    It's a pretty sure fit, as firm as 3.5mm I'd say with the same reassuring 'thunk' when it connects.

    True that, but still seems like a compromise of bulk vs. capability.
     
  12. bawjaws

    bawjaws Well-Known Member

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    Personally, 3.5mm jack works just fine for me.
     
  13. theshadow2001

    theshadow2001 [DELETE] means [DELETE]

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    Because it continues the relevance of USB. Once it can do everything the other standards will die off.
     
  14. aramil

    aramil One does not simply upgrade Forums

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    3.5mm for me can't see me spending a lot of money for good/small headphones that I would only use on my phone because everything else is 3.5mm....

    anyway wait for china inc... to come up with some shoddy usb-c headphones with a "cheap/boarderline in spec" connecter that then starts damaging phones, and because it's all run through the usb-c turning peoples phones into chargless or exploding bricks....

    edit: Unservicable by the user "single point of total falure" on a PC I have a USB headset/mic but if I somehow break the usb port I can use another, and my PC will still work either way, on a phone with only one.......
     
    Last edited: 28 Sep 2016
  15. schmidtbag

    schmidtbag New Member

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    I am not fond of this idea...

    First of all, the 3.5mm (or even other variants such as the 2.5mm) jacks are one of very few "ancient" electronic interfaces that hasn't been obsoleted. Speakers are an inherently analog technology. Doing what is effectively an external DAC is not going to improve anything to any degree. If anything, it might make battery life worse, since there is more wiring involved.

    Second, waterproofing isn't that big of a concern to most people. It's merely a preference for those with butterfingers, or those who are overly paranoid. Though I'm sure they exist, I have never seen a pair of headphones marketed as waterproof. If someone cares enough about a headphone jack AND waterproofing, that's a very niche market. Besides, why not just do Bluetooth? That way you can conceivably make an entirely water-proof phone while still getting acceptable audio quality and no cords.

    Thirdly, adding audio to USB is adding complexity, not reducing it. This would require new headphones to be purchased, and just like mentioned in my last point, this does not imply the headphones will be waterproof either. But let's say you can use your own headphones via a converter - that already obsoletes the idea of USB-IF. Why not just use a USB-based "sound card"? Or, why not use USB-based headphones?

    Lastly, this will be disastrous in terms of physical maintenance. People already get pissy over tattered 3.5mm cords, but at least if you break or wear-out the headphone jack, you can still use your phone. If your AUDIO source is a thick, rigid, [relatively] expensive, fragile connector+cable, people are going to lose their minds that they broke their connector and can no longer charge their phones anymore. Not to mention, USB is digital - if the cable gets tattered, they're not just going to get a choppy signal, it's going to drop out entirely.


    Seriously, whoever thought of this idea needs a firm back-handed slap in the face.
     
  16. wolfticket

    wolfticket Downwind from the bloodhounds

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    I don't have an issue with removing the headphone jack if it's an analogue passthrough that can use a dumb adaptor, but requiring a DAC in every single headphone/headset/speaker you use would be a pain.
     
  17. DBA

    DBA I do my modding with a spoon

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    Are you sure?

    What is the news then? "USB standard now able to transfer digital signal as it has always be able to"?

    It would make a hell of a lot more sense, if the standard would allow an analog signal to be send, as audio is per se analog.
     
  18. schmidtbag

    schmidtbag New Member

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    I think the problem is doing that would involve more wires. Maybe I'm wrong, but I get the impression doing this digital-only method would allow the current connector to remain the same. If I'm wrong, then this idea is even more stupid than I thought.
     
  19. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    Yes, quite sure. S'kinda my job to be sure about that, really.
    The new is as the article says the news is. It's a new standard specifically for digital audio. Currently, USB-connected headphones and speakers work by having a soundcard in them: digital data - at this point not audio - is sent to them, turned into audio, fed to the DAC, then blasted out of the woofers and tweeters and what have you. It's a system that works, but one which is dashed inefficient for a variety of reasons: it requires that you run a dedicated USB soundcard on top of any sound hardware within your system, drawing more power; it introduces the potential for lag and AV desynchronisation; and, worst of all, it requires drivers to have been written for your target OS. Take a USB headset you use on your desktop, plug it into your smartphone via a USB OTG adapter. Does it work? Does it chuff as like, 'cos nobody's written Linux/Android drivers for it.

    The Audio over USB Type-C standard fixes these: the data sent is already audio and only audio so only needs to be fed into a DAC, reducing the power draw of the target device; it is lower latency; and it doesn't need fancy drivers. If Device A and Device B both claim to support Audio over USB Type-C, then your Audio over USB Type-C headset will work with both devices regardless of whether one's a Windows PC and t'other's an Android smartphone or what have you.

    S'all there in the article, y'know.
     
  20. aramil

    aramil One does not simply upgrade Forums

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    Expecting people to read articles associated to the OP.....

    how very dare you, sir....

    :thumb:
     

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