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Looking for dongle recommendation for low volume listening

KaitouX

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So here's my issue, currently I have 3 different sources that I usually connect my headphones/IEMs to, those being a PC, a Sony smartphone and a Lenovo Tablet. And while with the headphones I have no issues, but the IEMs have 2 main issues, the first one is noise which makes IEMs unusable with the tablet and a somewhat bad experience with the phone, and the second being that the volume is too loud even on minimum on both the smartphone and tablet.

So I was thinking about getting a dongle to fix the noise issue with the tablet and phone, but there's the issue with volume, which I would think would be made worse by using a AMP/DAC dongle. Is there a proper solution for under $25 for this? Or should I just get some dongle and hope the volume goes low enough? Or maybe there's something that I could add between the dongle and IEM to lower/control the volume?
Just to add the Apple dongle is available locally to me for $20 directly from Apple, other options would be bought from AliExpress.
 

Dunring

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I'd get the Apple dongle, but only the U.S. version, the Europe one has half the power. I have one and on IEMs and headphones it works really well, no hiss or anything. Also low enough impedance it doesn't change the sound profile on IEMs. The volume on it is very adjustable, even on 10 ohm IEMs it was easy to control. It's got enough power for my Hifiman He5xx at 95 percent volume. Just depends on location, or the U.S. version is available on Aliexpress.
 
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KaitouX

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Thanks for the input, I don't think lack of volume would be an issue for me. Even the headphones I own a HD518 and XM3, i use at about 30% volume on my phone, and under 20% on the PC. With IEMs i usually use at about 5% on windows and usually around 50% on the application(mpv, spotify, etc), with my phone being too loud even at the lowest volume.
The IEM I'm currently using is a 7Hz Salnotes Zero, forgot to add it.
I'm in Brazil, so it might be the US version, but I'm not sure.
 

staticV3

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I'm in Brazil, so it might be the US version, but I'm not sure.
Brazil has its own version of the Apple dongle with to me unknown output voltage.

Here's a map showing the different versions:

Red is the unlocked version, Blue is the EU limited version, every other color is unknown WRT output voltage.

On Android, the Apple dongle has another volume quirk in that, on top of any potential volume limit like what the EU versions have, volume is limited to an additional 25% of max by default.

That means that when plugged into Android, the 1V US dongle will only output 85mV max and the 0.5V EU dongle will only output 42mV max.

This may be a blessing in disguise though as you may be able to max out the volume on Android without it being too loud, giving you very fine control over low level listening.

However, if 85/42mV end up being too quiet, then it's possible to disable this limiter to get the full 1V/0.5V, even on Android:
 
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KaitouX

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Brazil has its own version of the Apple dongle with to me unknown output voltage.

Here's a map showing the different versions:

Red is the unlocked version, Blue is the EU limited version, every other color is unknown WRT output voltage.
Unfortunate that it is unknown, but thanks for the information.

On Android, the Apple dongle has another volume quirk in that, on top of any potential volume limit like what the EU versions have, volume is limited to an additional 25% of max by default.

That means that when plugged into Android, the 1V US dongle will only output 85mV max and the 0.5V EU dongle will only output 42mV max.

This may be a blessing in disguise though as you may be able to max out the volume on Android without it being too loud, giving you very fine control over low level listening.

However, if 85/42mV end up being too quiet, then it's possible to disable this limiter to get the full 1V/0.5V, even on Android:
This might be a interesting solution, and on top of that even if the dongle doesn't work I should be able to easily return it if I get it locally, so I don't have much to lose by trying it.
I might go with the Apple dongle and try to see if it works well for me.
 

ZolaIII

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You never said which IEM's you are using? I mean 5% on windows logometric volume controls and future cut to 50% in what ever player you use is very very low and from impotent Realtek codec to being with. So it would be good that we can see their sensitivity and it would be also nice to know what you consider as low volume listening (SPL). Also what headphones are those you use to try to find you a combo.
 
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KaitouX

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Maybe you should also look at the Fiio KA11.
It's quite a decent bit over my budget but I will keep it in mind.

You never said which IEM's you are using? I mean 5% on windows logometric volume controls and future cut to 50% in what ever player you use is very very low and from impotent Realtek codec to being with. So it would be good that we can see their sensitivity and it would be also nice to know what you consider as low volume listening (SPL). Also what headphones are those you use to try to find you a combo.
I added the models on the second post, but the headphones are a Sony WH1000XM3 and Sennheiser HD518, the IEM is a 7Hz Salnotes Zero.
I never properly measured, but when I use speakers it's at below conversation level, so I would guess around 50~55dB.

Also I forgot but I have PeaceAPO configured at -3dB PreAmp, I usually use it to EQ the XM3 and HD518, but the profile with no EQ I kept with the same Pre Amp.
 

Timcognito

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Upper left click Review Index > click Electronics > Search (Dongle) > Price (click column head) > Recommended (click column head). Cull in down with unanswered questions come back. @staticV3 is a wiki on this stuff.
Edit: don't forget to read comments on the ones you like.
 

ZolaIII

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Well those IEM's nead about 10 mV for about 61 dB, Sonys even are 46.7 Ohms are even more sensitive 121.7 dB/V and even Sennheisers have deacent sensitivity 113.3 dB/V, 93.1 Ohms.
Anemic version of Apple USB C dongle (A2155) will retain about 80 dB SINAD at - 54 dB load (from 1V) on 30.5 Ohms load for those IEM's or about 53 dB SPL. It's cheap but won't last very long. A bit lazy to count for the rest, maybe someone else won't be.
Try to find it by part number which is the same on all markets.

Edit: this is hilarious, I will probably buy cuple of those to use with Denon AH-D5200 that I just bought.
 
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KaitouX

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Upper left click Review Index > click Electronics > Search (Dongle) > Price (click column head) > Recommended (click column head). Cull in down with unanswered questions come back. @staticV3 is a wiki on this stuff.
Edit: don't forget to read comments on the ones you like.
I checked it before, and I believe only the Apple one was available, which is why I mentioned it in the first post, I also did check prices of some CS43131 and CX31993 dongles, the first one I believe was recommended on a post by @staticV3, the second one mainly because I saw it on sale for like $8 on Ali. But again my biggest concern is being able to use it on low volume, because when my phone and tablet are already too loud on minimum volume, I would assume a DAC/AMP would be even louder.
 
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KaitouX

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I received the Apple dongle so here are my first impressions:
First the dongle looks really fragile, the cable is really thin and looks like it's going to break easily, so I will probably add something to protect it.
Now about the sound, the volume is perfect, I now have about 5 steps to achieve the same volume as the minimum in my tablet, which is a great improvement, as I can listen to music in lower volumes, naturally the maximum volume is also lower, but even with the dongle it's already too loud for me even below 50% while using the Sony WH1000XM3.
The noise is gone when using the Salnotes Zero and I can use it at more comfortable volume, which was the main goal.
At the moment I'm satisfied with everything except the apparent fragility of the dongle.
Thanks for everyone that helped, and @staticV3 also for the indication that the apple dongle could help with lower volume.
 

staticV3

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Thanks for everyone that helped, and @staticV3 also for the indication that the apple dongle could help with lower volume.
You can improve volume granuality even further by launching USB Audio Player Pro, reducing the dongle's hardware volume below the default value, then closing UAPP to continue using whatever App you want.

That way, you can make it so that 100% volume on your smartphone or tablet is exactly as loud as you'd ever want to play, making every volume step from Min to Max usable.

However, this configuration will not be stored on the dongle, so whenever you plug it into an Android device, you'd have to launch UAPP real quick for it to overwrite the hardware volume again.
 
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