Apple iDevice dock port to drive wireless streaming
Analog audio out, AirPlay in
Will Apple's new dock connector, expected to debut on the iPhone 5, signal the end of low-cost audio docks? The makers of such kit seem to think so.
They say the new nine-pin port lacks the dedicated analog audio lines found on its 30-pin predecessor, according to an interesting piece on Hardware.info.
Rather a lot of docks rely on these lines, fed by the connected iPhone, iPod or iPad's own digital-to-analog converter to save on the price of a DAC themselves. With no analog lines in the new connector, there'll be no simple port converter product either.
Some high-end docks, most notably Philips' fine Fidelio range and the lauded Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin series, already bypass the iDevice's DAC by pulling the audio off as digital data then decoding it themselves. That's one of the reasons they sound rather the better than their rivals.
Hardware.info's discussions at IFA with dock makers suggests they will all need to take such an approach - if, of course, they choose to implement dock connectors at all.
Ditching analog out will have not only helped Apple slim down the iDevice dock connector, but it will also drive speaker manufacturers and users toward wireless streaming using Apple's own AirPlay tech, or over Bluetooth.
Many dock makers we've spoken to are keenly pushing wireless speakers, as much to help sell upgrades and to appeal to all those Android device owners out there. Android devices have no standard connector, unless you count micro USB, and that's not analog-enabled either.
Apple's exercise in dock slimming can only hasten the process of converting device linkage for syncing and streaming to wireless, with the connector used almost exclusively for power.
Which, I'd say, gives Apple even less of an excuse not to adopt micro USB in place of its proprietary connector. ®
But isn't the rumour that the headphone socker will be moving to the bottom of the iDevice ? In which case, it'll be trivial to add a 3.5mm jack to your speaker dock.
Or use the other port, the round 3.5mm one that's always been there.
A point that this article seems to have completely missed - GUESS WHY THEY ARE MOVING THE 3.5" JACK TO THE BOTTOM ?????
Count the pins - 9 is fine.
Go have a look at the pinout for the 30 pin connector.
There are 8 pins devoted to the now deleted Firewire connection.
There are four more ground pins - so up to three are redundant.
There are three pins for video (composite and s-video) output
There are two pins of either reserved or unknown function
There are two pins for audio input
There are two pins for serial IO
There are two pins used for primitive control of iPod functions (one to click sound output, one to control charging)
Pretty much none of the above are needed. USB control subsumes the serial IO, Firewire is dead (sadly). Noone is recording with their iDevice. That is 23 pins that could be deleted without affecting the provision of audio output.
We only need to find 21.
Pins that will be needed are USB, signal and power (4 pins), 3.3 volt power output pin, to power things like the camera adaptor, maybe a separate ground from the USB one - which is six pins, so add two for audio out, and you still have a pin left. Whihc I suspect will be a new in-dock mode control pin that signals the iDevice what sort of dock it is connect to. It may be actually be a upgrade of the accessory indicator (pin 21) function.
Don't worry they have already shown off adapters that plug into the new connector and the 3.5" jack.