USB Audio Answers

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USB Audio answers for connecting digital music applications are needed for listenening to music via headphones via computer as the music source. We answer USB audio questions how to connect headphones, amplifiers, daps & dacs to your computer daily.  

USB connections spread beyond computers and the peripherals from the mid 1990s (external drives, printers) living on to influence smartphones and a new generation of portable musical devices. The USB Moon-Audio.com category shares how to connect musical devices from smartphones to DACs, DAPs, earphones and In-Ear-Monitors (IEMs) via the miracle of the Universal Serial Bus (USB) cable. 

USB Audio Answers – Apple iPhones

Android is “open source.” Code is freely shared with a large app developer and phone manufacturer community. Apple has a developer community too, but Apple’s business model is more proprietary than Android.

Apple’s proprietary lightning bus and power connection along with their requirement of an Apple specific chip means downloading high resolution music files requires use of special cable (the Apple CCK) and apps such as ONKYO’s HF Player or the FLAC Player app.  

Learn More about How to Connect your Music to Apple iphones.

Apple iphone connections to Dragon USB Cables
Apple iphone connections to Dragon USB Cables

USB Audio Answers – Android

Android, acquired by Google in 2005, launched their first SDK (Software Development Kit) in late 2007. Support for USB audio wasn’t included until Android’s 4.1 Jelly Bean release in July 2012. Like with all things open source and Android revisions and enhancements take time to evolve through the Android developer community.

Android Lollipop

Until the release of Android LolliPop 5.0 OS update in 2014, the only easy way an Android tablet or smartphone could output digital audio (music) required use of an USB On-The-Go (OTG) adapter and use of an App such as USB Audio Player.

Android OTG USB Cables

On-The-Go (OTG) USB cables have different internal conductors than standard USB cables. OTG cables are capable of telling Android devices whether the Android device will be “host” or “slave” to devices such as Digital Analog Converters (DACs) or amplifiers on the other end of the cable.  Learn more: How to Connect your Android to Music via USB

Android with silver dragon usb cable & iqube
Android with Silver Dragon USB cable & iQube

USB Music – Connecting Popular DACs & Amps

Dragon Audio Cables

The USB Music section explains how to connect popular DACs, Amps and DAPs featuring Moon Audio Dragon Cables. A brief summary of our cable goals should prove helpful so we’ve added this below. Sound signatures vary by brand, product and supporting equipment.

Matching equipment strengths and compensating for challenges requires the art and science of headphones hacking – Moon-Audio.com’s founder Drew Baird’s specialty. How our cables match with your equipment, musical preferences and budget is worth a chat (email info(at)Moon-Audio.com with Dragon Question as the subject and your question for Drew).

Learn more about our Dragon USB Audio Cables.

Dragon USB Cable Sound Signature Options

Silver Dragon Adds Clarity

Silver Dragon Audio Cables

Silver Dragon audio cables are made with the highest grade silver wire (99.99998% silver) to clarify instrument separation, increase soundstage and find previously lost high and mid frequency sounds (music). Customers share feelings of being “in” the music, hearing beloved tracks anew and astonishment at the clarity and beauty our Silver Dragon cables reveal.

Black Dragon Adds Warmth

Black Dragon Audio Cables

Black Dragon audio cables are made with the highest grade copper wire (99.99998% copper) to enhance music’s body, shape, warmth and immediacy. Black Dragon’s copper cables provide warmth, body and soul. Customers marvel at how Black Dragon cables can solve headphones sound signature and musical challenges.

Blue Dragon Neutral Upgrade

Blue Dragon Audio Cables

We designed our Blue Dragon audio cables to perform a bit like Silver and Black Dragon audio cables, but at a value price to help those new to cable upgrades realize and hear sound benefits before further commitment on a budget. Some Blue Dragon customers never “level up” to Silver or Black Dragons while many become “hooked” on how much better the music they love sounds.

Dragon USB Cable Connection Options
Dragon USB Cable Connection Options

Apple, Digital Music Connections and the Future

Until now all Apple iDevices utilizing the Lightning connector to USB A performed in USB Device Mode Audio. In this connection type below, the DAC works as a USB Host and the iOS device works as a USB slave. Apple calls this mode ‘USB Device Mode Audio’.

USB Device Mode Audio

USB Device Mode Audio

USB Device Mode supports Full Speed (12Mbps), 16bit/32,44.1 and 48kHz PCM audio. A DAC can send a USB Switch request like a USB On The Go command. Such a request could switch the iOS device from slave to USB Host.

This switching problem is similar to what happens with Android’s OTG cable. After negotiation USB Role Switching confuses which devices should be in control. After this USB Role Switching, ONKYO HF Player App, for example, can recognize and send 24/192kHz PCM or DSD(DoP) data thus correcting the host vs slave switching problem.

Apple’s Future Connection Challenges

Apple changes connections on their devices often. Their move from the 30pin Dock connection to Apple Lightning connection on their 5th generation of iDevices created a host of backward compatibility issues.

Evolution of Apple Connectors

Apple Connectors Evolution

Apple’s MFi team is putting USB Role Switching into maintenance and may not support role switching with future iOS versions. We will check iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus to see if role switching has been eliminated.

If Apple drops role switching in future iOS updates devices such as the Oppo HA-2 DAC  currently able to connect 24/192 and DSD via the ONKYO HF Player App may not be able to connect with future iOS updates if role switching isn’t included in future iOS upgrades. 

Learn more about Apple’s Future USB Connections.

Please post below about USB connection questions you have.  We’d love to help you with your USB audio answers.

Thank you for reading our blog post.

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