USB Audio 3.0 to Pave Way for Better Smartphone Audio


Throughout 2016 we've seen the majority of major players in the Android world jump ship from the ageing microUSB connector to the new kid in town, USB Type-C. LG, HTC and Samsung – albeit not until the Galaxy Note 7 – have all launched flagship devices with the new connector, and while this has been a divisive move for some out there, it's hard to argue with the benefits. A reversible connector means easier charging at night, and fewer broken charging ports, too. Of course, for the wider industry, the connector represents a lot more than just convenience. It's a way for the industry to rally around a single connector and standardize on a lot of things, including audio. The headphone jack is, sadly, going the way of the dodo, which is disappointing for a lot of users, but it can also be seen as exciting.

The idea of taking audio to the next level is something a lot of people do these days through USB DACs attached to their computer and powerful headphone amps attached to those. There are mobile variants of these devices, but by using USB, headphones and earphones can both draw more power as well as provide their own DACs (digital-to-analog converter) which could theoretically lead to a better overall sound. The USB Implementers Forum, often known as the USB-IF, has put forward its suggestion for USB Audio 3.0, a standard that would allow audio to be transferred via USB Type-C as well as used by mobile devices, which means that getting rid of the headphone jack on future Android devices just got a little easier. This is because USB Audio 3.0 would "establish USB Audio over USB Type-C as the primary solution for all digital audio applications, including headsets, mobile devices, docking stations, gaming set-ups and VR solutions". It's clear that the USB-IF is looking to push USB audio further forward, and while this might seem a little annoying to some, the future of USB looks set to become a lot cleaner.

With just one USB port replacing all audio connections in the future, it would be a lot easier to use your headphones with whatever device you wanted, including your tablet, your games console and your smartphone. That future is still a long way away of course, and there's also the question of how one will be able to charge and listen to music on our smartphones.

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Former Editor-in-Chief

For years now I've had a heavy interest in technology, growing up with 8-bit computers and gaming consoles has fed into an addiction to everything that beeps. Android saved me from the boredom of iOS years ago and I love watching the platform grow. As an avid reader and writer nothing pleases me more than to write about the exciting world of Android, Google and mobile technology as a whole.

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