3.5mm audio interface: It’s time to say goodbye

On September 8, 2016, Apple’s iPhone 7 was officially released – as a “retrofit” that looked at the appearance and the previous generation did not change much, the phone made some considerable subversion in the details. For example, cancel the mechanical Home button to change the vibration feedback button, and, for example, cancel the 3.5mm headphone jack.



Yes, if you are searching the Internet for various reports, spit, discussions, you can still see a lot of jealousy and accusations about this matter – for example, high-end audio players question the quality of the Lighting to 3.5mm adapter. Good, it will cause loss to the sound quality; for example, the average consumer thinks this is Apple’s conspiracy, the purpose is to force the promotion of expensive Lightning interface digital headphones and wireless headphones…


However, in any case, Apple persisted – after the iPhone 8, iPhone X and Xs, XR, 3.5mm headphone jacks have not returned. And not just Apple, after that, more and more Android phone manufacturers have gradually joined the “go to 3.5mm interface” lineup. Today, more than two years later, including LeTV (we still have to admit its leading role), HTC, Xiaomi, Nubia, OPPO and other domestic brands, have canceled 3.5mm headphones in its high-end product line interface.



On the current one plus six, the 3.5mm audio interface is still reserved.


Moreover, just in the days of this article, there is further news that one plus co-founder Carl Pei confirmed that the upcoming one plus 6T will cancel the 3.5mm headphone jack, and even Samsung has plans to do it in the second half of next year. Galaxy Note 10 (tentative name) bid farewell to this classic interface.


Why is the 3.5mm interface finally abandoned? In fact, it is really “old”


Two years ago, we could criticize Apple for taking the world by storm, but two years later, when a large number of mainstream manufacturers chose to follow up, the situation has clearly changed. At this time, the wrong one is really not Apple, but the world… Ah no, it is a 3.5mm interface.



3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter cable, the latter history is older than the 3.5mm interface


First of all, the author thinks it is necessary to have one thing with everyone, that is 3.5mm interface, its “age” is really much older than you think – according to the wiki, the original audio jack technology can even Back in 1877, the corresponding “miniature” 3.5mm headphone jack appeared in the 1950s – much earlier than personal computers and mobile phones.


For at least 70 years, the appearance and workings of the 3.5mm jack have not changed – this aspect does illustrate how forward-looking the companies that invented it were. On the other hand, it has gradually made it incompatible with today’s small electronic devices.



When the camera sensor can be improved with the technology, the volume is getting smaller and smaller, the performance is also greatly improved; when the screen of the mobile phone is thinner and thinner for better display effect and compatible screen fingerprint; when the high-performance master needs to be bigger The heat dissipation area, when the mobile phone battery is getting bigger and bigger, the energy density is getting higher and higher – only the 3.5mm interface can not be shortened or thinned, it occupies a huge space in the body of the inch of gold . In this case, in order to achieve a better design, the abandonment of this “old antique” has become the only solution.


Maybe not two years ago, but the conditions are ripe now.


Of course, some friends may think of the original mp3 player to replace the CD, MD Walkman example – at that time, the new technology seems to be advanced, but in fact, the sound quality is retrogressive, the user’s interests have been damaged.


However, if the iPhone 7 cancels the 3.5mm interface two years ago, there is still reason to complain about the lack of alternative products and the poor sound quality of the patch cord. So now, for smartphone users, the 3.5mm audio jack really has a lot more “successors” than it is.



Its ugly extension cable, in fact, has a mystery


For example, for those enthusiasts who insist on using their own top-level HiFi headsets on their mobile phones, HTC has already given a sincere solution when launching its own 3.5mm jack-free mobile phone – based on USB Type-C The interface’s “external sound card”, since then, some professional audio brands have been inspired by this, launched a similar product.


These digital patch cords look similar to the original audio patch cords offered by Apple or other brands, but they all work intrinsically differently: many original patch cords are essentially a cheap wire plus a 3.5mm interface. At this time, the mobile phone outputs an analog audio signal through the USB interface, and is easily affected by wireless interference and poor contact in the patch cord, so the sound quality is not good. However, when the digital adapter cable is connected to the mobile phone, the mobile phone outputs a digital source code that has not been digital-to-analog converted and is not afraid of interference. After that, the signal conversion and amplification are performed in the audio processing unit inside the patch cord, and then directly Output to headphones.



In fact, this “digital audio cable” is essentially equivalent to “transferring” the HiFi circuit that was originally built into the phone to the outside of the phone. And it directly brings two major benefits. One is to divide the digital decoding (mobile phone) and analog amplification (the built-in processor of the extension cable) in the distance to directly reduce the interference; the second is not subject to the size of the mobile phone. With better components, the sound quality is directly improved.


Of course, the above is a relatively “hard core” gameplay. In fact, most manufacturers, including Apple, still want everyone to use Bluetooth headsets – no doubt, it is also specifically for the lack of 3.5mm jacks. Developed a new technology for lossless Bluetooth.



As early as a few years ago, Sony has developed the LDAC Bluetooth protocol that can achieve high-bandwidth transmission of 990Kbps for its own players and mobile phones. With the special codec algorithm, it can realize the lossless transmission of 24bit 96KHz high-resolution audio. – Be aware that the 3.5mm interface of most low-end and mid-range phones does not even support such high-profile audio output. What’s more, Sony doesn’t have “hidden”, but provides this technology. Starting with Android 8.0, all Android phones have LDAC codec built into the system, as long as they have qualified Bluetooth hardware. Module, you can open support for “lossless Bluetooth.”



HiFi headset “Bluetooth upgrade line”


Of course, since it is the audio standard dominated by “Sodom Dafa”, it is not difficult to gain recognition in the industry. So far, there have been a number of headphones that support LDAC lossless Bluetooth technology, and even manufacturers have introduced support for the standard. Bluetooth adapter – as long as the wired headset is plugged in, it can be used as a lossless Bluetooth headset immediately, adapting to high-end mobile phones with 3.5mm interface removed.



In addition, as the main theme of the “no 3.5mm headphone jack” era, wireless headset technology in the past two years is certainly not just a non-destructive agreement: it is light and cheap, Qualcomm has just released a new generation of all Wireless Bluetooth headset chips, such as OPPO O-Free, do not need to distinguish between the main and sub-units and the delay is smaller, the full wireless headset will be more and more in the future. And if the sound quality requirements are higher, then Sony also has a “Bluetooth upgrade line” for the top earphones that can be changed – whether it is a few thousand yuan HiFi headphones, or tens of thousands of custom monitor earplugs, as long as the usual line change Put it on, you can change the Bluetooth device in seconds, and easily adapt to the smartphone…


The experience is no problem, but don’t expect it to be popular.


It is not difficult to see that in the past two years, the two major industries, including mobile phones and audio, have gradually accepted the fact that the 3.5mm audio interface will be made on high-end mobile phones. And unlike Apple two years ago, today’s consumers have already had enough high-quality alternatives, so that after they say goodbye to the 3.5mm interface, the audio experience on the smartphone will not be regressed, or even There can be further improvements.



Of course, the advancement of technology and the improvement of experience are definitely not without cost. At least so far, although the industry has basically solved the problem of the sound quality of the user listening after removing the 3.5mm headphone jack, it is directly The related costs have risen sharply. Whether it’s an external DAC, a lossless Bluetooth adapter or a high-quality wireless headset, the price can’t be cheap: if it’s hundreds or low, it’s more expensive than the “fruit XS”.


Some people may say that there is something good about this. The one I used was originally a thousand yuan machine, and it was also equipped with earphones for 20 yuan. Is it going to spend hundreds of dollars to buy adapters in the future?



Don’t think too much, cancel the 3.5mm headphone jack, and the resulting waterproof design, HiFi wireless, originally not for entry-level products. Therefore, the price is more expensive, and there is no relationship with the low-end mobile phone. Of course, this also means that such products will not cancel the 3.5mm interface – that is destined to be the “privilege” of the flagship.

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