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AudioTrack Output better for Samsung dongle?


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Has anyone else noticed this? I have both the Apple dongle and the Samsung dongle for my Galaxy A54. The Apple dongle seems to sound better with OpenSL ES Output, while the Samsung dongle sounds better with AudioTrack Output. On OpenSL ES the Samsung dongle sounds a bit tinny to me.

The Apple dongle in general seems to sound better overall, but I don't like that my in-line volume controls don't work. And it only has about half the max volume of the Samsung dongle.

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The UK version of Apple's USB DAC dongle produced really low output levels when I tried one on my Galaxy A54 (like around -25dB from where it should be) which I gather is a design defect / intent. The three inline buttons worked fine though, which I wasn't expected from an Apple device.

The official Samsung one was very poor at low levels, lots of digital noise and analogue hiss. I tried a few others from Amazon UK with similarly poor results, and ended up going the Chi-Fi route where you can get devices with much better driver chips at lower prices (look for specs of S/N>125dB and 32-bit/384kHz output).

The Galaxy A54 had issues with one specific CS46L41 based dongle (https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004763520790.html) as the inline buttons did not work; not sure why, but the same dongle worked fine on my older A70 and on all the other recent Samsungs that I tested in a helpful local phone store, it was only the A54 that had button compatibility issues.

I've now ended up with a CX31993 based dongle (https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005006224269385.html) which works well, has a very low noise threshold and great S/R ratio and dynamic range. Far better build quality than most of the stuff you get over here, and cheaper even when being sent from China:

Signal-to-noise ratio/SNR: >128dB
Dynamic range/DNR:>120dB
Distortion/THD+N:95dbTHD+N:0.0003%DSD:64/128 (PCM)

 

This thread gives more info on my trials and tribulations of trying to find a decent but cheap USB-C DAC. Curse you Samsung for removing the perfectly good and reliable 3.5mm socket.

Andre

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@andrewilley Apparently there's a way to increase the max volume of the Apple dongle by using the USB Audio Player Pro app. I wish Poweramp had this feature, as I love Poweramp and I've gotten used to its interface over the years.

The in-line buttons worked for me as well, but the volume buttons didn't work properly. Pressing *volume up* turned the volume all the way up and pressing *volume down* turned the volume all the way down.

I'm definitely not impressed with the sound of the Samsung dongle. The Apple one sounded much better, more rich. I haven't tried the Samsung at low levels yet.

I actually ordered a Moondrop Click from the only website I could find that had it available, as I've heard good things about it, and it's the only one I could find that claimed to support in-line controls and microphone. But I though the site was in the US; it's in Hong Kong. And based on a customer review I read, it looks like I may not be receiving the DAC at all, if even a refund. Do you have any experience with the Moondrop Click?

Does the DAC you recommend have mic support? It seems so difficult to find a quality DAC that also has support for in-line controls and a handsfree mic.

Thank you so much for your detailed reply. I couldn't agree with you more: removing the 3.5mm jack was so stupid... and the people applauding this move... it's just asinine.

The 3.5mm jack was so much more robust and functional. Now with the USB DAC I have to always be cognizant of where the dongle is in my pocket and I feel like I have to move around all gingerly so it doesn't break. And I think twice now every time about plugging in my headphones because I don't want to wear out the USB-C port. It's just a bummer...

But on the bright side maybe now we can have a DAC that's better than the onboard DAC of our previous devices. 

Looks like you found a good solution for us, I'll definitely look into the link you sent.

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Yes, USB Audio Player Pro has direct drive code that works to bypass everything else and connect with the hardware directly. Not sure how universal that is, but it does seem to work (although when configured to do this, it prevents other apps from accessing the output).

The CX31993 and CS46L41 based DACs do support microphone. They also support all three inline buttons for wired headsets. The particular CS46L41 model that I chose did not work with the Galaxy A54 on its original Android 13 ROM. Every other Samsung device was fine, as was an Asus tablet, but I no longer have the dongle so I can't say if the recent Android 14 update may have fixed the issue. The audio quality was streets ahead of any of the ones I could get locally, and the annoying low-level noise that I'd been noticing when listening at low volumes at night was non-existent.

To be honest though, these things are so cheap from China (a lot in the 5€-10€ range) that it's almost worth just sending for one anyway just to try it. Just do a search on AliExpress and find something with these higher quality chips (look for decent S/N and DNR values). Many suppliers on there offer free international delivery, if you don't mind it taking a couple of weeks to arrive.

Andre

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@andrewilley Hi, sorry to bother you again, but I just ordered the DAC you recommended, and I was wondering if it's powerful enough for my handsfree, which is at 32 Ohms. I don't really know anything about this technical stuff. With the Samsung dongle, I don't typically go over the default volume limit that Samsung sets, I usually stay right around there - but occasionally I might go a notch or two above that into the red zone. I'm curious to see how this new one performs at higher volumes.

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@andrewilley I'm curious, what has your experience been with wear and tear on the USB-C port?

One of the advantages I've noticed of the Samsung dongle is that it's made of a silicone-like material which has some flex, some give, so not as much torsion is transferred to the USB-C port when it is in your jeans pocket for example and lateral forces are applied.

The Chinese dongles seem to have a hard plastic connector, which would seem to transfer more torque to the USB-C port.

I'm thinking of using the Samsung dongle for when I'm out and about, and the Chinese one for when I want better audio.

I feel like I'm officially descending down the seven levels of "Dongle Hell," or "Dongle's Inferno" if you will. Curse you Samsung! The audio jack is not a floppy drive! The audio jack is not a floppy drive!

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I agree, it's been a terrible move discontinuing the 3.5mm on the false logic that phones can then be lighter and slimmer (my A54 is much thicker and heavier than my old A70, despite the screen itself being smaller). And how do you power the phone during a long listening session without further pointless adapters to lose.

So far, my USB-C socket is holding up, but as it now has to be used for charging, audio, and Android Auto connection, I have my reservations too. The better quality DACs have metal cases for better screening, so they are not at all flexible (although the cable is both flexible and durable).

For walking around, I use a 90-degree DAC dongle, which lets the cable exit sideways rather than lengthways.

Andre

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@andrewilley Do you have a 90-degree DAC dongle you would recommend? I'm looking through Ali Express but I can't seem to find any.

I've had the same experience going from the A51 to the A54. The A51 was much slimmer and lighter. I'm hoping that the A54 has better cooling due to its larger frame. My A51's CPU eventually died due to overheating, and it's hard, if not impossible as I discovered, to find someone willing to do a CPU reball on an A51, let alone for a reasonable price.

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5 hours ago, Andrew Lovely said:

I'm curious, what has your experience been with wear and tear on the USB-C port?

With or without the 3.5mm headphone jack I think this is not relevant to the manufacturers. Many have moved to wireless charging to avoid any physical connection at all. And whether you connect headphones via 3.5mm or USB-C, there is likely a similar amount of wear and tear.

To me, the frustration is dealing with an external dongle to handle what should have been a basic function of the phone in the first place. There are millions of users with traditional headphones, but let's make a design choice to eliminate those. How intelligent. Plus, as @andrewilley has documented in his journey to find a dongle that does what should have been straight-forward, it is a crap-shoot to find a dongle that works in all applications. For a devices that cost as much as most premium phones do, I hardly think the headphone jack is the cost at production level that makes or breaks their bottom line. It was just a BS move by all of the majors.

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Even if the wear on 3.5mm is similar to USB-C, breaking the 3.5mm port is far less serious than breaking the USB-C connector due to doubled use - especially when there's no wireless charging option (which is the case for Samsung A-series). Without wireless charging, there should definitely be a 3.5mm socket.

Andre

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34 minutes ago, andrewilley said:

Even if the wear on 3.5mm is similar to USB-C, breaking the 3.5mm port is far less serious than breaking the USB-C connector due to doubled use - especially when there's no wireless charging option (which is the case for Samsung A-series). Without wireless charging, there should definitely be a 3.5mm socket.

Andre

Motorola has yet to remove the 3.5mm jack from their G Series of phones. I think there are very few others left. Maybe I'll have another look with them.

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@andrewilley @MotleyG Exactly, the 3.5mm jack provides a redundancy. In any case, just intuitively I don't feel like the USB-C port is nearly as robust as a 3.5mm jack. I used to have disconnects and accidental hard tugs on the jack all the time with my previous phones, and the jack still worked fine. I don't feel like this port could take that kind of abuse. But that's just my gut feeling.

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@MotleyG The only new phones I found that had both expandable storage and a 3.5mm jack were the Sony Xperia 10 V and the Samsung Galaxy Xcover 6 Pro. I tried out the Sony Xperia 10 V but I didn't like it; it had a weird form factor and a cheap, plastic feel to it. Any sound made the whole device vibrate like in cheap electronics. And the Sony Xcover 6 Pro is a comically big and heavy phone with an LCD screen meant for construction workers.

I imagine next time I'm in the market for a new phone, there won't be any ports at all. Seems like that's where it's headed, as you alluded to.

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