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Apple Dongle (USB-C to 3.5 mm) ADC quality with EarPods/free headsets

Saidera

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I read somewhere years ago that perhaps crinacle used the apple dongle's ADC via an adapter to measure equipment because apple dongle's ADC is the best of all USB-C dongles. I think this is true. It is not studio quality, but it does support 24/48 PCM recording in mono and does not have as much noise or "unreal sound" (as all other dongles tend to exhibit). Even headsets with TRRS jacks (with big, wide mics), which you get for free when you buy a cell phone, will work if the mic sounds good (Apple Earpods, Oppo Earpods copies, Samsung headsets, etc.) Apple and Cirrus got it right. Probably a good bias supply, good preamp, good ADC, and good mini-microphone capsules in headsets.

People online praise the EarPods headset for its mic quality – actually your average headset that is included with a new android phone is likely to match that mic quality (just as any phone or laptop does). So there is no need to make that mic seem so special. Apple designed it so that the mic is on one of the split cables (most headsets these days have a larger, wider module (not thin and long like Apple) placed before the L/R split which is probably a better design). What is crucial is the ADC quality, which in the case of apple dongle, is clearly the best of all dongles. The ADC is the thing that deserves the praise, and not the Earpods, which are just meant to be free included headsets but are now paid for because of the lack of jacks on iPhones. There is no point pairing a bad overly miniaturised mic with this Cirrus/Apple ADC nor is it any good to use the Apple headset with a laptop Realtek ADC chip (some are ok but most are not) or one of many hi-fi dongles which neglect the ADC for some insane reason. It’s an audible difference! If you try it out on your voice, you’ll find that a bad ADC (especially a lack of level/gain) and/or overly small mic capsule degrades the recorded sound, sometimes to a quality worse than Bluetooth transmission. They just don’t care about the ADC other than ensuring it ‘works’. The ASUS dongle does not even work (!), thanks to its so-called ‘AI mic’ , as seen on ASR.

So, if you’re just interested in recording voice memos or teleconferencing, grab a headset included with your phone for free, check to see that the microphone module is sufficiently large and wide (unless it’s Apple’s narrow module with volume buttons and no mic hole, which still records good sound), then plug it into the apple USB-C dongle/ADC. It can be used for voice overs while editing videos, it (the ADC) is that good. Nothing special, yet the dearth of good ADCs (let alone good mics) is a serious problem in today’s age. Good mics for a cheap cost = grab a (good) headset from your phone packaging!

For recording ambient sound, one might need a dedicated mic or phone/laptop inbuilt mics or a portable recorder. For consumer voice applications, anything beyond Apple ADC and a decent headset microphone is unlikely to provide a huge difference unless a price many times that of ‘free’ is paid. Of course, it works best for phone calls or VoIP, and is not highly suitable for professional podcasting, singing, reading or voice overs – yet it is a fact that this mono ADC is about as good as CXD9872 included with VAIOs back in the 2007s. Good ADC is more than just chip specs. It’s definitely implementation. Decades later we still can’t take for granted good ADC implementation – every now and then some product is outrageously noise-filled or so badly designed as to be unusable.

Just wanted to post this because very little of Apple dongle's ADC functionality has been praised on the internet, and most of it is wrong - they think it is the EarPods that are special, when in fact it's the Apple dongle's ADC. Any good headset mic can deliver clear voice recording, so long as the module is large enough. When Realtek's ADC isn't good enough, use Apple dongle's ADC. Those headphone headsets with extended mics that come near your mouth are not that much better. If there were a way to clip the earphone headset mic to a bar and wear that bar on the ear, it'd be even better. Anyway, hopefully better ADCs will start coming out, along with even better designed headset mic modules and zoom/Teams calls get clearer and better sound.
 

jae

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The thought never even occured to me that apple dongle had an adc, but obviously it makes sense since a bunch of apple headphones have mics for handsfree. When he takes the measurements, is he using two individual dongles or the same one for both output and input with a splitter?
 
OP
Saidera

Saidera

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Unfortunately the source of the info regarding crinacle is hearsay from another thread of mine. Crinacle's site has no mention of apple dongle for measurements anyway. Perhaps he did it at some point in the past. I assume a splitter is involved.
 

jae

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Unfortunately the source of the info regarding crinacle is hearsay from another thread of mine. Crinacle's site has no mention of apple dongle for measurements anyway. Perhaps he did it at some point in the past. I assume a splitter is involved.
https://www.headphonesty.com/2020/10/how-to-measure-iems/

Guess this is what most of what most of people measuring iems are doing these days with various dongles. Need to check if my ugreen one as an adc...
 
OP
Saidera

Saidera

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Awesome! Thanks for finding the source! So it seems the dongle, along with a splitter and some apps and other items can measure IEMs without overdoing the investment. Great dongle. The best thing Apple has ever done might be this dongle.
 

AudioManNewb

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I love the Apple Dongle but can not figure out why it worked flawlessly with my headset I upgraded and it does not work at all with the new headset. It can see it plugged into my windows PC but can not see the mic input. New headset is the VZR model one.
 

staticV3

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I love the Apple Dongle but can not figure out why it worked flawlessly with my headset I upgraded and it does not work at all with the new headset. It can see it plugged into my windows PC but can not see the mic input. New headset is the VZR model one.
The VZR Model One has a bit of a funky mic setup. There's headphone jacks in both ear cups, but only the left ear cup connects to the boom mic. The right connects to just the drivers.
Additionally, it seems like there's a cable with in-line remote included as well, so you can choose between two different mic styles.

Depending you which cable you connect to which ear cup, I'm not surprised you can make the Apple dongle (any dongle really) not see a microphone at all.
VZR-F-SPEC-B_4500x.png

Edit: I'm a bit confused about the stock cable
Screenshot 2022-09-05 001838.png
TRRRS on the left plug tells me that you only need that one side for both the drivers and the boom mic, but the cable being y-split with plugs for both sides says otherwise.
At this point I'd honestly probe the jacks in both ear cups, figure out the wiring, and make my own cable.
I bet you could fix your issue by doing that, though I'm aware that it's not a super common skill.
 
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nickdino

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Does anyone know where i can buy the US lightning to 3.5 dongle? I live in the Netherlands.
Or is there a better budget friendly dongle available in Europe/Netherlands?
 

staticV3

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@nickdino Search for "Apple a1749" or "Apple MMX62AM/A" on eBay and choose any one of the offers from a US seller.
Also, stop spamming threads.
 

nickdino

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Ok, thx and sorry about spamming. I will be paying shipping then too right? Is there a better option in Europe?
 

staticV3

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Correct. You'll have to pay to get them shipped to the EU.
From what I can tell you'll be paying about €26 in total.

When the Meizu HiFi was still in production, the Apple dongle would've been poor value at that price.
Now that the Meizu dongle isn't available anymore, this is the best that you can get for €26 as far as I know.

Edit: on second thought, the Meizu is Type-C and you need Lightning, so it wouldn't've been an option anyway.

Etymotic make a Lightning to 3.5mm dongle DAC as well, though afaik they only sell it bundled with the 2XR, 3SE etc.

ddHiFi also make a bunch of stubby Lightning adapters:
-TC25i
-TC35i 2021
-TC35i 2022
-TC35B
-TC35C
-TC44A
 
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