The organization, which oversees USB, is releasing a new specification to govern audio transmission via the USB Type-C port. A smoother transition than Apple’s Lightning port.
A new specification signals the arrival of audio transmission via the USB Type-C port. This is a standardization of audio broadcasting via this type of port. It should allow manufacturers of electronic devices to free themselves from the 3.5 mm jack.
The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), the organization that aims to promote the Universal Serial Bus (USB), has indeed published the specification “USB Audio Device Class 3.0”.
It eliminates the 3.5 mm jack on the devices and instead uses a USB-C port to connect headphones or other audio equipment.
This allows manufacturers to remove analog and digital components from the device, which is in line with miniaturization with finer devices and lower power consumption (by outsourcing some analog and digital processing).
Initiatives in this direction have already taken place. For example, manufacturers such as Motorola (with Moto Z) or LeCo (Le 2, Le 2 Pro and Le Max 2 smartphones) have already opted for a sound via the USB-C port.
In these cases, however, it was always a question of passing analog signals. Instead of using the 3.5mm jack, these pass through two pins of the USB-C port. Such a possibility allows a smooth transition from the jack to the USB-C for audio.
The need for dedicated microchips called MPU (Multi-Function Processing Units) is therefore essential for converting to analog, active noise cancellation, equalization, automatic gain control for the microphone, volume control … Such chips will also integrate amplifiers and pre-amplifiers.
This will be the prerogative of the manufacturers of headphones and speakers to integrate these chips. JBL (American manufacturer of speakers) has already taken the lead with its Reflect Aware C headphones.
For its part, Apple went much further in its exploitation of the port Lightning instead of the jack 3.5 mm absent from the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Indeed, the audio transits in digital via the Apple proprietary port. This means that its processing (including digital to analog conversion) is offset in the audio device. ADC 3.0 also provides the ability to stream digital audio via USB-C.
So if the post-Jack era is well under way, the issue is now about the impossibility of charging a mobile terminal while using the USB-C or Lightning to listen to music.