One way in which technology appears to be moving forward.

One of the facts which I only posted about a few years ago, was the existence of external sound devices, which effectively acted as an external, USB-connected sound card, and, whether they could be made to work with certain Android software. That particular sound device had as main feature, studio-quality sound (96kHz, 24-bit).

Well, there is a more recent way to accomplish approximately the same thing:

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I should mention in what context this later technology presents itself to the users of mobile devices:

Much as Apple rolled out smart-phones with no traditional, 3.5mm stereo headphone jacks, Samsung has rolled out similar tablets, where the universal connector-type of the latter, is a USB-C port. The ‘Tab S6′ is an example of that. Thus, because some users do want to connect ‘wired’ headphones to this tablet, it’s suggested that users buy a so-called “dongle”, that adapts the USB-C port on the tablet, to a female, 3.5mm stereo phone jack, even the microphone feature of which seems to work. This one cost me CAD 22, including 1-day delivery.

A simple question which some people might have, especially if they are deeply mired in the analog days, and in the technology which existed in the 1970s and 1980s, could be: ‘Does such a dongle just connect the analog pins of the headphone socket, directly to the pins of the USB socket? If not, what exactly does it do?’

The correct answer to that sort of question would be the fact that, as small as that end of the dongle is, on the USB-C side, there is a tiny chip. With that tiny chip, the manufacturers have added a completely unpredictable amount of complexity, to how the dongle might work. Chips exist that have 100,000 transistors. And chips also exist that have 1,000,000 transistors, although that last type of chip is less common, and exists in spectacular cases, such as CPUs, GPUs, etc..

What this means is that, in theory, the chip in this adapter could do everything that the ‘Focusrite 2i2′ external sound card was able to do. But, that’s in theory. There are two important ways, in which it will fail to do so, at least at the time I’m writing this:

  1. The accuracy of that chip is in doubt, And
  2. The protocol with which the adapter communicates with the USB-C port of the mobile device, which is actually referred to as its USB Profile, has not been made backwards-compatible with the older generation of external sound cards…

 

(Updated 6/28/2020, 12h45… )

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USB C Cables / Connectors

The subject may already be familiar to many other people, that there now exists ‘a type of USB connector / plug / jack, with which they do not need to worry, in which direction it’s facing, when they plug it in to a compatible port’. The type of connector I’m referring to is a USB-C connector, which brings with it, USB-C cables, that connect from a Type-A to a Type-C jack.

One fact which I should point out is that even though we live in a relatively modern time, in which we might think that companies can do anything, If it’s also a requirement that they’re supposed to mass-produce equipment cheaply, they can no longer just do anything. The tolerances for a Type-C USB jack are quite small, and manufacturing machines themselves have limits to their precision.

One experience I seem to have made not once but twice, is that when I purchased USB-C cables that were visibly meant for Apple products, they did not seem to snap in to my ‘Google Pixel C’ tablet snugly, the latter of which could also be seen as a kind of Samsung-like, Android product, in direct competition with Apple. I needed to repurchase each time, and then for made-for-Samsung jacks, before those would seem to have a satisfactory fit into my Pixel C.

If we’re forearmed with this observation, we can make sure either to buy USB-C cables made for Apple, or, cables made for Samsung, since there are many suppliers of cables.

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I suppose that a more-nefarious question which some people might have could be: “Did Apple deliberately change their USB-C ports, to make those incompatible with the Android-related ports?’ But my guess at an answer to that question would be ‘No.’

Continue reading USB C Cables / Connectors