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Using Apple dongle as TV DAC?

rsc1

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I have a Hisense U8H (Android) TV. Currently I'm using a WiiM Amp, which is connected using the HDMI ARC input. Speakers are Wharfedale Diamond 225s with an SVS SB-1000 sub. Although I do really like the setup (and love the functionality of the WiiM Amp), my old JBL 308P MKii powered speakers (that were connected to the headphone jack output on the TV) sounded better. I made a thread about this 2 weeks ago, @tmtomh you were right, I was in denial :D. Part of the journey, I guess. The Wharfedales will be sold, the WiiM will be going in the bedroom with some Neumi BS5 speakers.

So, the plan now is to pair the JBLs with the SB-1000, which should hopefully sound fantastic (the SB-1000 has a built-in HPF when you use line out to the speakers). However, this made me realize I'd have to use the headphone jack again, and therefore also the TV's built-in DAC. Now I don't even know if this makes an audible difference (I'd have to A/B it), but in theory it could, since it's probably not fully transparent.

After doing some research, I found out several people have had success in using the USB ports on newer Hisense Android TVs as audio outputs, and are using their DACs in this configuration, even though USB is not an option in the Audio Output menu. Apparently, the driver is already in the OS. This got me thinking.

Let's assume for a moment I can get the USB to output audio. What if I buy a cheap USB-A to USB-C adapter, and then use an Apple USB-C to 3.5mm dongle? Do I then have a functional volume control and a DAC that I can plug the 3.5mm cable into, for about $12?? Or am I missing something?
 

Dunring

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It would take trying it if you don't have confirmation it'll work. I've got that adapter and USB ports on a TV usually won't recognize it. A lot more common to use RCA out or optical to a DAC with RCA plugs on it. A budget DAC like that are really inexpensive. If the Apple USB doesn't show in the TV options, setting it up might be a real hassle since it doesn't have an external volume control.
 

Jimbob54

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I have a Hisense U8H (Android) TV. Currently I'm using a WiiM Amp, which is connected using the HDMI ARC input. Speakers are Wharfedale Diamond 225s with an SVS SB-1000 sub. Although I do really like the setup (and love the functionality of the WiiM Amp), my old JBL 308P MKii powered speakers (that were connected to the headphone jack output on the TV) sounded better. I made a thread about this 2 weeks ago, @tmtomh you were right, I was in denial :D. Part of the journey, I guess. The Wharfedales will be sold, the WiiM will be going in the bedroom with some Neumi BS5 speakers.

So, the plan now is to pair the JBLs with the SB-1000, which should hopefully sound fantastic (the SB-1000 has a built-in HPF when you use line out to the speakers). However, this made me realize I'd have to use the headphone jack again, and therefore also the TV's built-in DAC. Now I don't even know if this makes an audible difference (I'd have to A/B it), but in theory it could, since it's probably not fully transparent.

After doing some research, I found out several people have had success in using the USB ports on newer Hisense Android TVs as audio outputs, and are using their DACs in this configuration, even though USB is not an option in the Audio Output menu. Apparently, the driver is already in the OS. This got me thinking.

Let's assume for a moment I can get the USB to output audio. What if I buy a cheap USB-A to USB-C adapter, and then use an Apple USB-C to 3.5mm dongle? Do I then have a functional volume control and a DAC that I can plug the 3.5mm cable into, for about $12?? Or am I missing something?
If it works, it works.

But just to point out, the US /rest of world dongle tested here has a 1v max output and 0.5v max for the EU version.

Full desktop dacs tend to have 2v max outputs. So depending on what your speakers need to get to your preferred listening level it may need more gain on the speaker amps.

But for that price, it's got to be worth a punt
 
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rsc1

rsc1

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I've got that adapter and USB ports on a TV usually won't recognize it. A lot more common to use RCA out or optical to a DAC with RCA plugs on it. A budget DAC like that are really inexpensive. If the Apple USB doesn't show in the TV options, setting it up might be a real hassle since it doesn't have an external volume control.
You have the USB adapter and it doesn't work? Or the apple dongle doesn't work? I was under the impression that if you used USB audio out, you'd still be able to use the regular TV remote for volume control (but correct me if I'm wrong).
But just to point out, the US /rest of world dongle tested here has a 1v max output and 0.5v max for the EU version.

Full desktop dacs tend to have 2v max outputs. So depending on what your speakers need to get to your preferred listening level it may need more gain on the speaker amps.
I don't really listen to my speakers very loud. The JBLs have an adjustable +4dBu/-10dBV input switch. Their sensitivity is 92dB / 1m (on -10dBV input). Would that work?
 

Jimbob54

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The JBLs have an adjustable +4dBu/-10dBV input switch. Their sensitivity is 92dB / 1m (on -10dBV input). Would that work?
No idea TBH- like I say, you lose very little by trying it for a few $$. If there isnt sufficient output from the Apple dingle you can always look to get some 2v sub $50 dongle DAC from one of the chinese brands instead.
 

MCH

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The AK5358 adc in your sub has a 92dB sinad. Maybe the headphone out or your TV is not that that bad besides. Maybe you can find measurements or take them yourself to see if it makes sense to add dongle DAC.
 
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rsc1

rsc1

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The AK5358 adc in your sub has a 92dB sinad. Maybe the headphone out or your TV is not that that bad besides. Maybe you can find measurements or take them yourself to see if it makes sense to add dongle DAC.
what does that SINAD number mean for my use case? I've never really understood it. Can't find measurements on the headphone out. I thought TV DACs weren't great.
@rsc1 Have you considered the SMSL PS100?
Apart from having the HDMI input in case USB audio out doesn't work, what would be the benefit of using that over the Apple dongle?
 

staticV3

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what does that SINAD number mean for my use case? I've never really understood it. Can't find measurements on the headphone out. I thought TV DACs weren't great.

Apart from having the HDMI input in case USB audio out doesn't work, what would be the benefit of using that over the Apple dongle?
Native RCA out, making it easier to find cables.
Higher output voltage, requiring less gain for the same volume.
Bluetooth built-in, in case you want to play music from your phone.
 
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rsc1

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Native RCA out, making it easier to find cables.
Higher output voltage, requiring less gain for the same volume.
Bluetooth built-in, in case you want to play music from your phone.
Thanks for the suggestion. I have a 3.5mm to RCA cable already, and don't plan on using BT to play music. I just stream it to the TV using AirPlay or Spotify Connect.
I don't know if I'd benefit from the higher output voltage as I don't listen at very high volumes. The PS100 is currently sold out on Amazon. I was just wondering if anyone has tried this configuration before, as it seems like a very cheap solution to add a decent DAC to the chain if you have USB audio out (while using active speakers). Unless I'm missing something.
 
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rsc1

rsc1

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Update - it works! The TV doesn't seem to officially recognize or acknowledge that the USB audio out is being used, but the sound is nice and clean. Might be placebo, but music sounds clearer to me (although I have no proof of that). Plus, now I don't have the stupid "turn your headphones down" message anymore. Big win there. Anyone with a newer Android should try this, if you don't listen at very loud volumes.
No idea TBH- like I say, you lose very little by trying it for a few $$. If there isnt sufficient output from the Apple dingle you can always look to get some 2v sub $50 dongle DAC from one of the chinese brands instead.
Like you said, the output is definitely a lot lower. Is it ok for me to turn the gain on the speakers all the way up, or am I better off leaving those around 70% and turning up the TV? Which way (if any) introduces distortion?
 

staticV3

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Like you said, the output is definitely a lot lower. Is it ok for me to turn the gain on the speakers all the way up, or am I better off leaving those around 70% and turning up the TV? Which way (if any) introduces distortion?
Plugged into an external Amp, the Apple dongle will never introduce distortion.

Therefore, I would recommend you reduce your speakers' volume until the TV at 100% is just loud enough for all occasions, but not uncomfortably loud.
 
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rsc1

rsc1

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Plugged into an external Amp, the Apple dongle will never introduce distortion.

Therefore, I would recommend you reduce your speakers' volume until the TV at 100% is just loud enough for all occasions, but not uncomfortably loud.
70% on the JBLs seems to be perfect. Thanks for your help.

Man, it sounds good now. So much better than the WiiM + Wharfedales, it's not even a comparison. Honestly, if anyone is looking for a budget setup, get yourself some open box 308P MKii's + an old SB-1000 and for about $600-700 you'll have absolutely amazing sound out of the box, without any EQ/room correction.
 

Thelo80

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Hi! @rsc1
I am in a similar situation. How do you control the volume with the Apple dongle?
 
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rsc1

rsc1

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Hi! @rsc1
I am in a similar situation. How do you control the volume with the Apple dongle?
I am using the TV's USB audio out, so I can control the volume with the TV remote. Since making this thread I've upgraded from the Apple dongle to an SMSL SU-1 DAC because there wasn't enough output for my liking (without introducing distortion). Keep in mind my JBLs are powered so I don't have an external amplifier.
 
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Thelo80

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@rsc1 I tried first with the MOTU M4 I already have and it seems my U8G thinks it is a wise speaker. The volume icon is now a W. I can mute it but I have no other control over the volume. Then I switched to a UCA 202 and it worked as expected. I know, I know, the UCA 202 is a cheap and old DAC, and probably the TV headphone jack has a better SQ.
Now I have to think if I try the SMSL SU-1 or just wait to the WiiM ultra and connect the TV with HDMI ARC.
 
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rsc1

rsc1

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@rsc1 I tried first with the MOTU M4 I already have and it seems my U8G thinks it is a wise speaker. The volume icon is now a W. I can mute it but I have no other control over the volume. Then I switched to a UCA 202 and it worked as expected. I know, I know, the UCA 202 is a cheap and old DAC, and probably the TV headphone jack has a better SQ.
Now I have to think if I try the SMSL SU-1 or just wait to the WiiM ultra and connect the TV with HDMI ARC.
Hmm interesting. Mine is a U8H so I'm assuming the OS would be the same. Did you connect both Motu and UCA through USB? Are you in the US? If yes, I'd just get an SU-1 off Amazon and return if it doesn't work (but I think it will).
 
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