Nokia AD-46 Audio Adapter

A review of the Nokia AD-46 Audio Adapter which lets users of Nokia handsets to connect 3.5mm stereo plug through the Nokia Pop Port.

(This review was written initially for the message boards at Techenclave.com).

Visit the Nokia United States’ page for a description of the adapter.
Mobile phone manufacturers world over are actively pushing their products as more than mere communication devices. Nokia is pitching handsets such as the N Series, 3250, 6270, 6681 et al as music phones. Besides the so called music phones, there are number of handsets which, though not labeled as such, are capable of doubling up as music devices for the casual listeners amongst us. But as much as one would like to have a single, integrated device for communication and mobile entertainment, majority of otherwise capable Nokia handsets are cruel jokes on the end users.

A speaker system constitutes one of the most important link in sound reproduction, be it a home theater system or a mobile audio device. But most Nokia handsets provide connectors only for Nokia headsets, through its proprietary pop-port interface; headsets which, howsoever good they are for communication usage, are no match for a headset dedicated for music.

To provide a working solution Nokia produces the audio adapters, the AD-15 and AD-46. Both these adaptors come with a Nokia pop-port connector at one end and a free 3.5mm stereo connector at the other end.

The basic difference between the two is that AD-46 is equipped with a microphone as well. The AD-15 lacks a microphone and making or receiving a call requires that this adapter is unplugged first.

In addition to the stereo connector and the microphone, the AD-46 also comes with volume controls and support for voice tags. The basic features of an AD-46, pop-port to 3.5mm stereo conversion and the call answering function work with a number of Nokia handsets but the volume controls work with a limited range of compatible handsets.

The AD-46 adapter is quite small in size at 43 x 26 x 18 mm (comparable to an ordinary BL-5C battery which measures 53 x 33.8 x 5.6 mm), weighs 20g and can be clipped on or slipped in the pocket, provided the cellphone itself can be! The wire is about 70mm long, which is quite sufficient considering that there would be the headphone wire to take care of as well at the other end. The adapter was tested with a Nokia 6681 (firmware revision 5.37.01) playing 224kbps VBR mp3 files on freeware mp3 and ogg player, Oggplay (version 1.69) through a Sony MDR-CD60 headphone. The output was true stereo (not dual mono, provided of course the handset itself supported a true stereo output). Nokia HS-3 earphones are considered to be one of the decent ones amongst Nokia lineup and yet the Sony headphones expectedly trashed them all over, be it the sound clarity, loudness and the bass response. Ultimately the sound reproduction will depend on the headphones employed but even the MDR-CD60 gave a clear picture of what the handset was capable of and how the HS-3 was holding it back. There is absolutely no doubt that equipped with a good quality third party headphone and a software music player with customizable equalizer settings (such as PowerMP3 or Viking Informatics’ MP3 Player for Series 60), even an otherwise humble 6681 can compete with the dedicated mp3 players in the market today.

In the end the adapter was almost perfect. The effect was spoiled by an erratic behavior, in that if there was no sound generating activity on the phone for about two seconds (no music or key-press) a short, sharp, popping-crackling noise was produced in the headset. Any sound subsequent to this period of silence, like starting a new song, is preceded with another short crackle. The problem has been reported with handsets ranging from 6230 and 6682 to the N90 and independent of the headphones used (Update: Got an N80 since and the problem persists with this handset as well. Also, the adapter is capable of working as antenna for FM radio). Unfortunately, whether a particular combination of handset, firmware version and audio adapter will produce the noise or not is undocumented, Nokia’s compatibility list for the product notwithstanding. In this particular case, Nokia customer support’s response was to deny the compatibility of the adapter with the handset used, contrary to what was clearly claimed on the connector’s packaging. Ultimately, if one intends to purchase the adapter it would be advisable to try it before making a purchase, if possible. On the other hand, if one does end up with this problem, a partial workaround may be creating a distinct profile for headset (under enhancement settings) with the keypad tones off and using a dedicated mp3 player with no gap between the songs in a playlist.

Truly this sours what would otherwise have been a perfect experience, but if you are one for quality output and are prepared to live with this annoyance (should you encounter it at all) the adapter was made for you. Some of the newer Nokia handsets like N91 now provide 3.5mm headphone connectors on the handset itself, but these are few and far between. Whether the general lack of this feature is a technical limitation, a twisted marketing approach or purely an oversight, its high time Nokia takes a fresh look at its midrange phones if it desires them to be accepted as music phones by any self-respecting audiophile.

Official Compatibility List
Basic Functionality (stereo connector and microphone): 3200, 5100, 5140, 6220, 6230, 6230i, 6260, 6610i, 6630, 6680, 6681, 6800, 7200, 7210, 7250, 7250i, 7270, 7600, 9300, 9300i, N70, N90.
Fully Compatible (basic functionality with volume controller support): 3250, 6101, 6111, 6270, 6280, 7360, 7370, N71, N80, N92, E60, E61, E70.

Pros: Must have for music, Nokia headsets don’t even come close to a decent headphone; integrated microphone allows making and receiving calls.

Cons: Compatibility issues with some handsets; overpriced at an MRP of Rs.1080.

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11 Responses to “Nokia AD-46 Audio Adapter”

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for the great review. It was very useful to me.
    wj

  2. Great review of the AD-46…I will go buy one for my N80ie! Great JOB!

  3. Thanks for the review! Very helpful considering the uninformative blurb on Nokia’s website doesn’t even mention the adapter has a mic or that it works with other programs than the standard MP3 Player/Radio.

  4. Excellent review and helpful as well. Great also the compatibility list. Thanks.

  5. Sandeep Mali Says:

    Excellent review, was considering buying a MP3 player, but thought I could use my Nokia 6630 as a MP3 player instead (of course, a dedicated MP3 player can never be beat, I just need one device in my pocket), if I could buy a decent pair of Nokia headsets, instead now I would buy an AD-46 or an AD-15.
    Thanks for the review!

  6. Thanks for a very useful review.

  7. It seems however that adapter is so good that Nokia removes it from sales. Looking at their web-site now – only AD-15 is available. Probably it’s the way Nokia going to push sales of own overpriced headsets.

  8. nice review! i’ve got the AD-15 with my N80 and use a Sennheiser headphones with it and the sound is way better than my iPod (which was stolen from my car).
    The only problem with the AD-15 is that everytime there’s a call i need to pull my headphones out and talk on the phone. the AD-46 seems to fix that problem and i’m definitely going to get that. just wondering if anyone know if its FM reception is better than the AD-15?

    cheers,
    SiD

  9. Many Thanks from Brazil,

    This was the only site that confirm that the AD-46 has a microphone one it, even the Nokia oficial website don´t tell you this information and this was crucial to me buy this accessory..

    Thx
    Eliezer

  10. I like the idea for this device, but my phone, the 6103, only has an FM radio. I use a separate mp3 player with some killer Ultimate Ears ear buds. I wonder how a small switch or splitter would work so the headphones could plug into both the phone and mp3 player. I like the idea of calls with my nice earbuds, because taking them out to answer a call is a hassle. Any ideas?

  11. Nobody talks about nokia N75, did I buy something weird or what? freakin I need audio adapter for that and dint find anywhere to confirm about compatibility.
    None of the adapters has my poor N75 on their compatibility list, that’s driving me nuts.

    any help about which adapter I should choose coz I am planning to attach my seinheisers on them

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