There has been a growing trend in smartphone manufacturers to get rid of the
3.5mm audio jack, which has been the standard audio connector since the early
Although the size of the connector has differed over time, it has existed
relatively in the same form
since the late 1800s. With advances in digital audio quality occurring daily, and devices growing
smaller and thinner; it’s about time for an update.
Micro USB has been making the conversion to
USB Type-C, which was initially given mild disapproval from users due to it not being
the “regular connector.” Today, it has been more or less
accepted as the new standard due to the fact that most of the flagship
companies have followed suit.
Now, for a bit of background on the audio jack connector as well as the USB
Type-C proposals. The key characteristic that separates the two connectors is
that the audio jack translates sound through stereo analog inside the socket.
The significance here is that the digital conversion and speaker components
need to be contained within devices such as
smartphones, tablets and computers.
Interestingly, when the USB Type-C connector was being designed, the idea that
digital audio should be transmitted over connection lines to save space inside
smaller devices was adopted. Earphones or similar devices would instead be the
analog converter, and fortunately, USB Type-C is capable of providing power to
the devices on the same line.
USB Type-C can also support analog devices, meaning old headphones
won’t become obsolete, at least not yet. New components were developed
and included into the
USB Type-C cable
called sideband unit pins. Each USB Type-C connector has two of these pins
that are both able to carry analog audio channels. It would be as simple as
connecting an adapter to a device in order to enable analog use.
Most people listen to 44.1 kHz 16-bit stereo sound. When we listen to high
definition sound, we adjust those numbers to 96 kHz 24-bit on multiple
channels which delivers a much higher sound quality. High definition can be
hosted through lines no larger than our current cables with the help of
digital analog chips, which convert high-resolution data to sound generated in
speakers. This technology is the hosting method for USB Type-C audio
delivering increased sound quality.
Now you may be asking: Well if there isn’t a headphone jack on my
device, and the same port for charging is used for audio, will we be able to
use charge our phones while listening through a wired headset? Yes, we will be
able to charge a device through the same port. The official USB Type-C
standard allows for an adapter cable to be split into a charging port and a
3.5mm audio port, granting the ability to listen to music and charge a device
at the same time. This cable also happens to be passive, making it cheap to
As many of us know, USB is capable of transferring more than digital audio.
Using USB Type-C directly opens up development areas for advanced
communication between devices. We have seen headphones incorporate things such
as volume and play/pause buttons, but this can be further augmented on the
communication lines. Digital processing could easily be joined and operated
from apps or software on devices, allowing users to control headphone
characteristics from their devices, even adding auxiliary components such as
heart rate monitors. Another perk of using USB Type-C is that it can provide
power to noise-cancelling headphones, as well as allowing headphones to
process signals internally.
Overall, it appears to be pretty advantageous to opt into USB Type-C ports.
Several companies have already produced products eliminating the audio jacks
entirely such as Intel, LeEco, Lenovo and Motorola.