Headphone Jack Crisis Episode II: The Google Menace

Episode I of the “Headphone Jack Crisis” was triggered by Apple when they removed the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 models in the Fall 2016. I never got around to writing about that contemporaneously, but I am writing about Episode II: The Google Menace! About a year after Apple, Google is removing the headphone jack for their new PIXEL 2 flagship smartphones!

LATEST UPDATE: 10/17/17 – this post is presented “diary style”. The latest updates are on top…

THIS IS GOOGLE’S VERSION OF APPLE’S MFI?

Apple has its famous MFI (Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad) program with certified products. Google is now implementing their own [apparently forgetting that they are not an iOS monopoly like Apple], and they now have an official list of “Made for Google” headphones whose common thread so far is supporting “Google Assistant”. The wired headphones on the list have USB-C input, and in addition to the PixelBuds, they have these models so far:

  • Libratone QAdapt In-Ear USB-C
  • TMA-2 Modular Presets
  • upcoming Master & Dynamic earphones? (because the models listed there are all 3.5mm plugs)

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Smartphones with Bluetooth 5

LATEST UPDATE: October 4, 2017 – the Pixel 2 phones are here, and they support Bluetooth 5, but not just that, they also support LDAC, apt-X and apt-X HD…

Bluetooth is a tug of war between convenience and compression. Some vow never to use it on the grounds of the additional compression step. Others will under certain circumstances. Certainly, after one ruins enough headphones and earphones during specific tasks and activities, one may be more inclined to give bluetooth a chance, at least during those activities.

Which brings us to Bluetooth 5, a point of hope and hype that you can listen over bluetooth without noticeably sacrificing audio quality. It is too early to tell as of June 2017, as we only have a couple of smartphones and no headphones supporting Bluetooth 5. But IFA is just around the corner, and so is CES 2018, so we should expect more action on this front in the next few months.

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List of Smartphones Without a 3.5mm Headphone Jack

LATEST UPDATE: October 4 in 2017 ~ the big Google day, the Pixel 2 ditching the headphone jack with Google releasing $159 wireless but not truly wireless “Pixel Buds”. The War for the Headphone Jack got real!

Even the best of futurists sometimes have a hard time beating a coin toss with their predictions, so I have no way of knowing where the headphone jack will be in five or ten or twenty or thirty years from now. At the moment however, it reigns supreme in smartphones, despite some high profile defectors to the Lightning cable (Apple) and USB-C (a few Android models).

Given the situation today, it is a lot easier to keep track of the smartphones that do not have a 3.5mm headphone jack, rather than keep track of all the ones that do (the vast majority of them). There is only a handful of defectors so far. 2016 created a mini panic, but as of mid 2017, the existential crisis that was predicted did not materialize.

Samsung’s Galaxy 8 co-flagships along with the LG G6 and Sony XZ*, Huawei P10 flagships continued to embrace the headphone jack. Heck, even the brand new iPad Pro 10.5″ has a headphone jack 🙂 But the year is not over yet, we are still waiting for the new Note 8, LG V30, Pixel 2, iPhone 8, Moto Z flagships.

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New Headphones at IFA 2017

LATEST UPDATE on 9/30/17: I fell behind by a few weeks, but now I’m adding more of the IFA 2017 era new headphones 🙂

Another year has flown by, and here we are, it’s time for a new wave of products ushered out in Berlin at IFA 2017 and all around the world at the same time period. CES in Vegas typically brings us a lot of new headphones, but IFA in Berlin too gives us new gear as well!

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

  • Schiit Loki Mini hardware equalizer
  • Shure launches bluetooth versions of SE series
  • Bose QC35 II falls in love with Google Assistant
  • Bose joins the Truly Wireless craze
  • Monoprice M565 Open-Back Over-Ear Planars
  • KOSS Two New Gaming Over-Ear Headphones: Open or Closed
  • Sennheiser IE 80 S earphones
  • Beats Studio 3 Wireless Over-Ears
  • Pioneer HDJ-X DJ headphone trio
  • Sony expands 1000X line with WH-1000X M2 ANC/BT Over-Ears, WI-1000X Neckband Bluetooth Earphones, and WF-1000X Truly Wireless
  • Monoprice Monolith M300 planar IEMs
  • Beyerdynamic Aventho Bluetooth headphones
  • Audio Technica $2K ATH-ADX5000 open-back flagship
  • various RHA earphones
  • various gaming headsets

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Unboxing the M-Audio Bass Traveler Portable DAC/amp

We now have another long delayed unboxing post. This was a review sample of the portable M-Audio Bass Traveler DAC/amp combo. It takes one 3.5mm input and has two 3.5mm outputs, a Bass Boost selector, and a volume control knob. Perhaps its main differentiation from other budget portable DAC/amps is the two outputs, essentially a powered splitter.

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Unboxing the B&O Play Form 2i On-Ears

This, the B&O Play Form 2i Lightweight On-Ears, was a review sample that I had forgotten I took “unboxing pictures” of 🙂 So here it is, a useful unassuming text and pictures unboxing (no audio, no video) that is customary of our unboxing posts here 🙂

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This Week In Headphoolia #26 (up to 8/19/17): Viet-Fi, Schiit-y Tour, SBC vs apt-X, MythBusters, Monster Assistant, Etc

Today’s priorities, first mountain of dishes, next, a new installment of This Week in Headphoolia, a semi-humorous attempt to round up some of the action in the world of headphones. Just like the last few weeks, things are grouped by product type instead of medium. But videos will be easily pointed out for those reading at work or prefer text…

NEWS NOISE

Because Siri and Cortana and Bixby and Alexa and Google Assistant are not enough, Monster decided to give their headphones a Voice Assistant. None of the above of course, it had to be something else, a thing called Melody from a third party.

We survived the iPhone dropping the headphone jack. Can we survive the Google Pixel doing this? One of the leaks for the upcoming 2017 Pixel phones at GSM Arena suggests that there’s no headphone jack in the 2017 Pixel. Crisis time? Google often signals big changes with their Nexus/Pixel phones, will other Android manufacturers follow? So far, Apple’s impact has been fairly minimal as you can see from the fairly short list of smartphones without a headphone jack.

How USB-C audio is implemented is also a factor. Apple and HTC prefer digital-out only [the HTC 10 is the last major HTC release with a headphone jack], while some of the other Android manufacturers support both USB-C digital out and analog out. What will Google do?

And will Android users accept it like iPhone users or will there be a rebellion against Google? Some hardcore Android fans are already sore on Google for the untimely demise of the Nexus line.

TOUR GUIDE

AudioHead gives the internet a 2 minute video tour of the new Schiit Audio customer-facing store in Southern California. They also have an accompanying blog-post of their adventures. Video YouTube-embedded below…

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This Week In Headphoolia #25 (up to 8/12/17)

Time flew again, and we have a new edition of This Week in Headphoolia, a semi-humorous attempt to round up some of the action in the world of headphones. Just like the last few weeks, things are grouped by product type instead of medium. But videos will be easily pointed out for those reading at work or prefer text…

NEW PRODUCT LAUNCH VIDEO:: FIIO

Fiio is taking product launches to the masses with a 2-hour video of their latest product launch event. The audio is in Chinese with english subtitles. This is human-edited translation, not YouTube’s helter skelter automated one. The launch features a number of products including the F9 triple-driver IEMs along with Q and X series products. You can also find the video YouTube-embedded below:

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This Week In Headphoolia #24 (up to 8/5/17)

With IFA looming large on the horizon now, we have a new edition of This Week in Headphoolia, a semi-humorous attempt to round up some of the action in the world of headphones…

Just like the last few weeks, things are grouped by product type instead of medium. But videos will be easily pointed out for those reading at work or prefer text…

AMPS, DACs, DAPs, DUCKS

Archimago is back with Part #2 of their measurements post on the SMSL A6 running as a DAC. [as a refresher, here is Part #1]

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