2018 iPad Pro (11" and 12.9") w/ USB-C and External DACs

apple
ipad

#1

Just a quick note for those that are wondering … but the latest iPad Pro models, with the USB-C connector (instead of lightning) will work directly with external DACs. No special “dongle” required, just a USB-C to whatever-USB-connection-your-DAC-uses cable.

Sitting listening to the tia Fourté via a Hugo 2, with just a random USB-C to micro USB cable.

Of course … one step forward, one step back … so these same new iPads do not have a 3.5mm headphone jack on them. So to use my Bose QC20i on a flight now requires either the Apple USB-C to 3.5mm headphone adapter, or some other DAC (e.g. a Dragonfly Red).

Most of my iPod/Phone based listening is very casual and done via AirPods or Sony WH1000XM3 anymore, so those are wireless anyway, but a Bluetooth update to the QC20i or USB-C support there would be nice. I would use the QC30 … but they’re too big and fragile vs. the QC20i and the battery life is too short.

Anyway, if anyone was wondering if you still needed a dongle to use an external DAC with the new iPads, the answer is “no”.


#2

My wallet can only take so much!!! lol…I don’t need this, but good to know for when I do eventually upgrade my old iPad


#3

I completely understand that! :wink:

It was them offering 1TB of storage on the latest models that finally put me over the edge.

That’s enough to have a big enough chunk of my mobile-music library on the device to be useful, still have the movies I want to watch on a flight/games I might want to play, and relegate the rest to TIDAL for when I get where I am going.


#4

Apple had me from their iBook era (which I’ve never owned but always thought looked nifty) all the way up to the iPhone 4. The shine started wearing off around then, though, and individuals such as Louis Rossmann kinda just helped cement my being firmly in the Android camp, admittedly worse UX aside.

All that said, Cupertino’s move to USB-C standards is a blessing! No more weird proprietary connectors to let them charge through the nose for, haha. I’ll always prefer a proper 3.5mm jack, or the new Pentaconn 4.4mm unlikely as it’ll be to find one of those on a phone, but barring that an industry standard is always more than welcome; I don’t think anyone misses the late 90s/early 2000s era when everyone fro Sony Ericsson to Nokia had proprietary connectors, haha.


#5

The big challenge with Android, for audio at least, is that without special apps you get saddled with forced non-integer ASRC (which is implemented with a bias towards power efficiency, not precision).

Sadly that doesn’t just afflict Android-based phones … but it’s the standard behavior for some of the Android-based DAPs as well, which is hard to defend. Even those that do use their own audio-stack, don’t always do it at a system-level, so if you run a streaming client you can wind up stuck with ASRC again.

No perfect solutions as of yet.

Even my very favorite dedicated portable audio device could REALLY use more storage capacity!


#6

iPad Pro 11" (2018) -> Apple USB-C to 3.5mm Headphone Adapter -> MrSpeakers AEON Flow Closed … seems to have enough power to get the job done. Usually the bass falls apart in situations like this, but here it remains coherent and controlled.

Right at the intro to Jean-Michel Jarre’s “Watching You” (3D Extended Remix, “Remix EP (1)”), the sub-bass, and bass, is exhibiting excellent extension, articulation, and rumble. No flabbiness or bloat. Bass impact/slam is on the soft side (think HiFiMan rather than Audeze), but still gets the point across.

For a $9 DAC/amp, that’s pretty damn surprising.

I will have to compare it to the FiiO i1 and Apples Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Adapter, with last years iPad Pro 10.5", but right now I am impressed.

What I am not sure about is whether my praise should go to MrSpeakers or to Apple. Maybe it’s some of both.


#7

We just bought an iPad Pro 12.9 right before the new model released. I think she’s pretty happy with it but nice to see that usb-c is now standard everywhere.

I have the Razer THX usb-c adapter and I think it’s quite good. I had the original Google Pixel one and I thought it was awful and underpowered but I think they’ve upgraded it since then. The one that came with my Essential phone was pretty good but I lost it.

I’m still a big fan of the Radsone ES100. Works as USB or BT device. With android, you can tweak the Build.prop file to force audio to offload to a device but does require system access to do that (root).


#8

Always the second order of business after picking up a new phone and syncing to our future Google overlords, haha. Rooting my first smartphone (the original Galaxy S) and dickering around with custom firmware was what made me a believer in some SW players being superior to others because yeah, the way base Android handled sample rate conversion back then was pretty audibly horrible, even with the stock IEMs.

That’s something I noticed with the DP-X1 I had around for a while, yeah. Stuff in internal storage was great with the TH-X00 but things went to poop as soon as I went on Spotify, which was a shame. Eh, technology moves at a breakneck pace, it’ll get sorted sooner or later. Hopefully.

But that’s all off-topic, haha.


#9

It wasn’t just Spotify … though it was the worst offender … all of the third-party streaming clients exhibited horrible distortion (absolutely unmissable) during fade-in/fade-out and in low-level passages early on.

A couple of months after the official US release of the DP-X1 they had that taken care of. Sadly this did not address the schlocky mounting of the headphone jacks.

DP-X1 was a player I really wanted to like … for a variety of reasons, but it just never got to where it needed to be for what Onkyo we’re asking for it, before it was eclipsed by better options from other sources.


#10

Don’t get me started on the headphone jack! You remember those Monoprice 6.35mm to 3.5mm adapter that come with the TH-X00s (not sure if they include the same with the TRs)? Yeah, just laying it flat on my desk had it popping out, haha. In its defense though, that deadly weapon of a 6.35mm plug with that adapter probably weighed close to a full pound :stuck_out_tongue:

I never really got along with any other streaming services so I couldn’ t say, but yeah Spotify left worlds to be desired. Not that it was absolutely unlistenable, especially on the cruddy rock I love, but when you have a DAP that costs that much you’d expect SQ to be impeccable.

Loved the feel of it in-hand, though, and that volume knob has got to be one of the nicest ones I’ve used in a DAP (not that I’ve loads of experience with portable players); the way the back of the chassis curved to match the movement of your finger made it really nice to use.


#11

Praise MrSpeakers. The AFC are decent on any source I’ve tried.


#12

:wink:

It was pretty obvious to me that it was going to fail in very short order about ten minutes after I unboxed my DP-X1. The idea that it would survive in actual on-the-go use was fairly laughable. If it hadn’t had other issues, I’ve have broken the player down and epoxied the bugger in place, but as it was other issues rendered the point moot.

With the DP-X1 the awful distortion with Spotify, and other audio clients, was a bug … they fixed it eventually, but not before I returned mine.

I have to admit I liked it (beyond the software and headphone sockets). The sound, once you got around the forced ASRC, bettered the A&K flagships of the day in my opinion. And the feature set (dual card slots!) was nice. Though in reality, noise-levels notwithstanding (and excepting a few claimed-but-missing-features on FiiO’s part) the FiiO X5iii did a better job for half the price …


#13

Yes this is me. So much great tech and gear not enough money. :scream: