In the age of wireless audio, where Bluetooth headphones have become the norm, there are still moments when you need the reliability of wired headphones. Whether it's for reducing latency in electronic music production or enhancing the gaming experience, having a trustworthy wired audio connection is invaluable. Apple's USB-C to headphone jack adapter has emerged as a versatile solution for various devices, including the 2018 iPad Pro and a range of Windows 10 PCs. In this comprehensive review, we'll explore the capabilities of the Apple USB-C adapter, compare it to the competition, and discuss its performance with different headphones and devices.
Compatibility with Windows 10 and Android Devices
The Apple USB-C adapter is a testament to its versatility. It's not limited to Apple devices but extends its functionality to Windows 10 PCs and Android phones. Our tests were conducted on a 2016 Lenovo Thinkpad Carbon X1 and a Microsoft Surface Go, running Windows 10, revealing the adapter's broad compatibility.
Upon plugging in the adapter, Windows won't recognize it until a 3.5mm jack is connected. However, once engaged, it seamlessly integrates with the system. It's worth noting that its compatibility extends beyond Windows 10, as users have reported successful usage with Android phones, such as the Google Pixel 2. This adaptability makes the Apple USB-C adapter a valuable accessory for those looking to enhance their audio experience on various platforms.
Audio Performance and Measurements
To determine the quality of the audio output provided by the Apple USB-C adapter, we conducted a series of audio measurements. These tests were carried out with a Lenovo Thinkpad Carbon X1, with the Windows volume set at 100, and the output directed into the line inputs of a Focusrite Forte audio interface.
Frequency Response: The adapter displayed an impressive frequency response, delivering a balanced and clear audio output.
Spectrum Analysis: Testing with a 1 kHz sine wave at -3 dBFS and harmonic distortion revealed minimal distortion, ensuring high-quality sound output.
SMPTE Intermodulation Distortion: The Apple USB-C adapter performed well in suppressing intermodulation distortion, which is crucial for maintaining audio fidelity.
Stereo Crosstalk: The stereo crosstalk was well within acceptable limits, contributing to the adapter's reliable audio performance.
Impulse Response: While the square wave analysis showed minor overshoot, it's unlikely to have any audible impact as such waveforms are rare in typical music.
J-Test Analysis: The adapter's performance in J-Test spectrum analysis was slightly inferior to the Lightning adapter but still provided excellent results, ensuring clear audio playback.
Playback into Various Loads
We assessed the adapter's performance when playing audio into a 16-ohm load, analyzing its output impedance and distortion levels. The results revealed that the Apple USB-C adapter can handle a wide range of headphones, from low-impedance IEMs to high-impedance headphones like the HD600. The adapter's ability to deliver consistent sound quality across different loads is a testament to its versatility.
Comparison with the Google Headphone Adapter
In a head-to-head comparison with the Google USB-C audio adapter, the Apple adapter held its ground. While the Google adapter offers a slightly higher maximum output, the Apple USB-C adapter impressively matches its audio quality. Both adapters exhibit low output impedance, ensuring a flat response across various headphones and IEMs.
Microphone Input for Measurement Enthusiasts
The Apple USB-C adapter also stands out for its microphone input, which Windows 10 recognizes. This feature allows users to pair the adapter with microphones compatible with iPhones, such as the Dayton Audio iMM-6 measurement mic. This capability is particularly valuable for audio enthusiasts and hobbyists who want to conduct precise frequency response measurements.
Build Quality and Accessibility
While the Apple USB-C adapter offers exceptional audio quality and functionality, some concerns have been raised about its build quality. It's reminiscent of the Lightning adapter, which is known for its fragility. However, given the adapter's affordability and widespread availability in Apple stores, Best Buy, Walmart, and Target, it's a convenient and accessible solution for those seeking reliable wired audio connections.
In a world where wireless audio prevails, the Apple USB-C to headphone jack adapter emerges as a versatile and high-performing solution for those who still value wired audio connections. Its compatibility with a range of devices, exceptional audio quality, and microphone input make it a valuable accessory for a variety of applications. While concerns about its build quality persist, its affordability and accessibility make it a practical choice for enhancing your audio experience.
In summary, the Apple USB-C adapter offers a seamless transition to wired audio without compromising on quality, making it a reliable choice for music enthusiasts, gamers, and measurement hobbyists alike. Get the best of both worlds with this versatile audio accessory.