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Samsung USB-C Headphone Adapter Review

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the USB-C Headphone Jack Adapter DAC and Headphone amplifier for phones and tablets. It was kindly purchased and drop shipped to me for testing. It costs US $14.99 from Samsung website and Amazon with free shipping.

The dongle is a bit more streamlined than its competitor:

Samsung USB-C Headset Jack Adapter DAC Headphone Review.jpg

The Samsung dongle was nicely recognized on my Windows 10 PC allowing me to test it there with full functionality of my Audio Precision analyzer.

I was shocked at the end of the review when I hooked it up to my Samsung S8+ and have it act like Apple USB-C dongle. That is, with Neutron Pro player it had low volume and garbled/staticy sound. With Google Play as with Apple Dongle, it had much reduced level. So much that the native headphone output from my Samsung S8+ blew it away. I looked at the list of compatible devices on Samsung website and was shocked that it is only compatible with their latest generation of portable devices and not the S8 series!

Really Samsung? You couldn't add a driver for S8 series and we are yesterday's girlfriend already? Shame on you. I almost gave you the beheaded pink panther for the first time due to functionality of the device, than its performance.

The similarity to Apple continues in some of the measurements as well and there, it is a good thing. Let's get into that.

Audio Measurements
As is typical of these dongles, maximum output was limited to 1 volt:
Samsung USB-C Headset Jack Adapter DAC Headphone Audio Measurements.png


Distortion performance is quite good though with the highest peak being second harmonic and below -100 dB. The spray of spikes starting at 100 Hz and going through is because the Samsung dongle truncates samples to 16 bits using my ASIO setup. So ignore that. SINAD which is combined measure of noise and distortion is quite respectable, second to only Apple in these small dongles:

Best Audio DACs.png


Frequency response was essentially dead flat:
Samsung USB-C Headset Jack Adapter DAC Headphone Frequency Response Audio Measurements.png


Filter response was a bit choppy but good nevertheless:
Samsung USB-C Headset Jack Adapter DAC Headphone Filter Audio Measurements.png


Intermodulation distortion and noise is not desktop class but is not screwy either:

Samsung USB-C Headset Jack Adapter DAC Headphone IMD Audio Measurements.png


Jitter response shows a spray of spikes which I think are due to data dependency (i.e. lack of isolation between digital and analog stages):

Samsung USB-C Headset Jack Adapter DAC Headphone Jitter Audio Measurements.png


Linearity shows what is to be expected when 24 bit source samples are truncated to 16 bits (which again, could be a driver issue in Windows):
Samsung USB-C Headset Jack Adapter DAC Headphone Linearity Audio Measurements.png


Most important test is power versus distortion and noise. So let's measure that using a 300 ohm load:

Samsung USB-C Headset Jack Adapter DAC Headphone Power into 300 Ohm Audio Measurements.png


We see that the Samsung dongle is neck and neck with Apple dongle. Its noise level is higher but this is a new PC I am using. It is possible that all of these dongles are sensitive to noise from USB bus and my new PC is worse. Or that the dongle is noisier.

Similar story exists for 33 ohm load:

Samsung USB-C Headset Jack Adapter DAC Headphone Power Into 33 Ohm Audio Measurements.png


This is the stacking order then:

Most Powerful USB-C Headphone Dongle 300 Ohm.png


Most Powerful USB-C Headphone Dongle 33 Ohm.png


The Samsung is clearly ahead of its Android competitors such as Google Pixel V2 and HTC.

With respect to noise, here is our dynamic range at full output and with just 50 millivolts simulating driving a sensitive IEM:
Samsung USB-C Headset Jack Adapter DAC Headphone Dynamic Range Audio Measurements.png


Full range is certainly good enough. 50 millivolts though, puts it in the potentially noisy department:
Most hiss free Headphone Amplifier.png


Output impedance is comfortably low and hence, not a concern:

Best Headphone Amplifier Output Impedance.png


Listening Tests
As I noted in the review, trying to use the dongle on my Samsung S8+ was a complete bust. It was too faint to be usable.

With my desktop PC, the Sennheiser HD-650 had good enough volume to be usable and enjoyable to some extent. With Drop Ether CX headphones which are low impedance (25 ohm) and inefficient, the Samsung dongle was usable but nothing to write home about.

Conclusions
As far as I am personally concerned, lack of support for Samsung S8 phone is a total failure. Fortunately that phone has its own headphone output so we don't need the stupid dongle for it.

Measured performance seems to be only second to Apple which is quite good given how bad the current Android dongles have been doing. And the fact that you can't use the Apple dongle on Android devices (but maybe you can now with series 10 Samsung devices?), means there is a real alternative on Android now.

So as long as you have a Samsung compatible device, I can recommend the Samsung USB-C headphone dongle.

--------
As always, questions, comments, corrections, etc. are welcome.

The panthers are asking for Halloween costumes. I heard on the radio that the market for dressing your pets is now US $400 million/year! Naturally then it is going to cost me a fortune for my army of panthers to be dressed. As such, I appreciate your generous donation using : https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
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#2
Help me here. Samsung phones have a headphone jack. Are they making this product for other phones and is the performance of the headphone output of samsung phones similar to this?
The chip in this dongle could be easily incorporated in a phone I presume? For samsung phones there might be no need to use it?
 
Joined
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#3
Thanks for a wonderful review as always :) I'd be interested what DAC model is inside.
Any plans for testing more powerful dongles, like Meizu Hifi-Dac (CS43131). 2Vrms according specs: Cirrus logic CS43131
Although I've read somewhere here that is is not implemented without issues..

And one more thing I'd like to see:
Master Index of "Amir's reasons for donations" - list of all in one place, for winter evenings reading ;)
 

amirm

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#4
Help me here. Samsung phones have a headphone jack. Are they making this product for other phones and is the performance of the headphone output of samsung phones similar to this?
They have gotten rid of headphone jack in most of their newer products such as Note 10. And some of their tablets I wanted to buy until I found out the same. That is why they have brought out this dongle.
 

amirm

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#5

amirm

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#6
And one more thing I'd like to see:
Master Index of "Amir's reasons for donations" - list of all in one place, for winter evenings reading ;)
:)
 

amirm

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#7
The chip in this dongle could be easily incorporated in a phone I presume? For samsung phones there might be no need to use it?
Yes. And internal one can be more powerful than the little one in these dongles. Sadly, Apple screwed us all by starting to eliminate the headphone jack and stupid Android vendor blindly started to follow them. This, after Samsung bragging initially that they wouldn't.
 
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#8
Yes. And internal one can be more powerful than the little one in these dongles. Sadly, Apple screwed us all by starting to eliminate the headphone jack and stupid Android vendor blindly started to follow them. This, after Samsung bragging initially that they wouldn't.
It is inevitable evolution as with other electronics.. wireless headphones trend/sleaker design/cost cutting/.. Maybe in the near future we will be left with no phone with 3,5mm jack, or there will be only some exotic models for "audiophile comunity", like Onkyo Granbeat DP-CMX1, that is "DAP with added phone calls function" :).
 
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#10

Veri

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#11
Considering the max output on apple ucb-c and samsung usb-c dongles are the same (disregarding the noisier output on the samsung), and the jitter spectrum is pretty damn similar too, isn't this very likely using the same chip, or made by the same manufacturer?

They are really quite similar, if the truncating didn't happen they would likely align in most measurements.
 

bakker_be

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#12
It is inevitable evolution as with other electronics.. wireless headphones trend/sleaker design/cost cutting/.. Maybe in the near future we will be left with no phone with 3,5mm jack, or there will be only some exotic models for "audiophile comunity", like Onkyo Granbeat DP-CMX1, that is "DAP with added phone calls function" :).
Also be aware that it opens up the door to DRM!
 
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#13

mmicko

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#14
And one more thing I'd like to see:
Master Index of "Amir's reasons for donations" - list of all in one place, for winter evenings reading ;)
Me too :)
 
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#15
It is inevitable evolution as with other electronics.. wireless headphones trend/sleaker design/cost cutting/.. Maybe in the near future we will be left with no phone with 3,5mm jack, or there will be only some exotic models for "audiophile comunity", like Onkyo Granbeat DP-CMX1, that is "DAP with added phone calls function" :).
My view is this is more likely to be aligned with "programed obsolescence" that with any other reason. In this particular case Evolution (wireless) can be perfectly match with high audio quality (3.5mm) as being demostrated by Samsung up to S9/Note 9 (what according with Anandtech the Snapdragon version has one of the best audio quality output en 3.5mm ever).

Changing the way means more sales and lowering the phone costs:
1. A dongle (cheap but a new piece),
2. A new high quality headset (new buy, and if wireless life time dependend on battery whereas my old Sennheiser 650 is being "eternal")
3. Lowering the phone costs (but maintaning or even increasing price as we see in Note 10 or Tab S6)

So: Samsung, Apple, etc WINS, users LOSE.

I think
 

JJB70

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#16
I have just been issued a new company phone to replace the IPhone 8 they issued previously. This time I selected a Samsung S10 primarily because it had a headphone socket.
 

AudioSceptic

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#17
This is a review and detailed measurements of the USB-C Headphone Jack Adapter DAC and Headphone amplifier for phones and tablets. It was kindly purchased and drop shipped to me for testing. It costs US $14.99 from Samsung website and Amazon with free shipping.

The dongle is a bit more streamlined than its competitor:


The Samsung dongle was nicely recognized on my Windows 10 PC allowing me to test it there with full functionality of my Audio Precision analyzer.

I was shocked at the end of the review when I hooked it up to my Samsung S8+ and have it act like Apple USB-C dongle. That is, with Neutron Pro player it had low volume and garbled/staticy sound. With Google Play as with Apple Dongle, it had much reduced level. So much that the native headphone output from my Samsung S8+ blew it away. I looked at the list of compatible devices on Samsung website and was shocked that it is only compatible with their latest generation of portable devices and not the S8 series!

Really Samsung? You couldn't add a driver for S8 series and we are yesterday's girlfriend already? Shame on you. I almost gave you the beheaded pink panther for the first time due to functionality of the device, than its performance.

The similarity to Apple continues in some of the measurements as well and there, it is a good thing. Let's get into that.

Audio Measurements
As is typical of these dongles, maximum output was limited to 1 volt:
View attachment 37407

Distortion performance is quite good though with the highest peak being second harmonic and below -100 dB. The spray of spikes starting at 100 Hz and going through is because the Samsung dongle truncates samples to 16 bits using my ASIO setup. So ignore that. SINAD which is combined measure of noise and distortion is quite respectable, second to only Apple in these small dongles:

View attachment 37408

Frequency response was essentially dead flat:
View attachment 37409

Filter response was a bit choppy but good nevertheless:
View attachment 37410

Intermodulation distortion and noise is not desktop class but is not screwy either:

View attachment 37411

Jitter response shows a spray of spikes which I think are due to data dependency (i.e. lack of isolation between digital and analog stages):

View attachment 37412

Linearity shows what is to be expected when 24 bit source samples are truncated to 16 bits (which again, could be a driver issue in Windows):
View attachment 37413

Most important test is power versus distortion and noise. So let's measure that using a 300 ohm load:

View attachment 37414

We see that the Samsung dongle is neck and neck with Apple dongle. Its noise level is higher but this is a new PC I am using. It is possible that all of these dongles are sensitive to noise from USB bus and my new PC is worse. Or that the dongle is noisier.

Similar story exists for 33 ohm load:

View attachment 37415

This is the stacking order then:

View attachment 37416

View attachment 37417

The Samsung is clearly ahead of its Android competitors such as Google Pixel V2 and HTC.

With respect to noise, here is our dynamic range at full output and with just 50 millivolts simulating driving a sensitive IEM:
View attachment 37418

Full range is certainly good enough. 50 millivolts though, puts it in the potentially noisy department:
View attachment 37419

Output impedance is comfortably low and hence, not a concern:

View attachment 37420

Listening Tests
As I noted in the review, trying to use the dongle on my Samsung S8+ was a complete bust. It was too faint to be usable.

With my desktop PC, the Sennheiser HD-650 had good enough volume to be usable and enjoyable to some extent. With Drop Ether CX headphones which are low impedance (25 ohm) and inefficient, the Samsung dongle was usable but nothing to write home about.

Conclusions
As far as I am personally concerned, lack of support for Samsung S8 phone is a total failure. Fortunately that phone has its own headphone output so we don't need the stupid dongle for it.

Measured performance seems to be only second to Apple which is quite good given how bad the current Android dongles have been doing. And the fact that you can't use the Apple dongle on Android devices (but maybe you can now with series 10 Samsung devices?), means there is a real alternative on Android now.

So as long as you have a Samsung compatible device, I can recommend the Samsung USB-C headphone dongle.

--------
As always, questions, comments, corrections, etc. are welcome.

The panthers are asking for Halloween costumes. I heard on the radio that the market for dressing your pets is now US $400 million/year! Naturally then it is going to cost me a fortune for my army of panthers to be dressed. As such, I appreciate your generous donation using : https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
It's beyond ridiculous that this only works with the most recent Samsung phones. Even if your phone has a headphone socket, it would be good to see if you could better sound with the adaptor, as you can with older Phones and the Apple adaptor (Lightning version).

BTW you still have the Apogee Groove mislabelled as Apogee Grove in your charts.
 

Jim777

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#18
Thanks @amirm for this review, it was a request of mine.

For those wanting to use this on Windows, it might not be bulletproof. Unfortunately, on a NUC I have, I would get periodic blue screens with this in use. Might not be the dongle's fault but just sharing the info.
 

AudioSceptic

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#19
Yes. And internal one can be more powerful than the little one in these dongles. Sadly, Apple screwed us all by starting to eliminate the headphone jack and stupid Android vendor blindly started to follow them. This, after Samsung bragging initially that they wouldn't.
Yes, it's stupid that Apple did that, but even more stupid that others would follow when it would be an obvious advantage to still have a headphone socket.
 

Tks

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#20
Meh, I expected better. But as always, Android and even it's flagship manufacturer of hardware that employs the OS, fails to match up older iPhone doggle.

With budgets like Samsung's this should have been better.
 
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