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Audio DAC chips, does anyone care anymore?

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  • User profile image
    intelman

    I have been an owner for the Samsung Captivate (Galaxy S, Android based) for a while now. The audio quality for music seems pretty damn near the quality of my Zune HD Device. With good reason too, it is equipped with a nice DAC.

     

    http://amot.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/wolfson-audio-wm8994-audio-hub/

     

    There have been many modders who have tweaked to chip to sound even better, a very good effort of the community. I for one have noticed a pretty decent change.

     

    http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?p=7358990 ">http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?p=7358990

     

    I consider the Zune HD to have a high quality audio experience. Music is crisp and clean, overall a very enjoyable experience.

     

    The iPhone's DAC seems pretty decent from what I have heard, a very few select songs (one of my favorite to try is Billy Joel's We didn't start the fire), but definitely not as good as the Samsung Captivate.

     

    What really gets me is the lack of quality on the Windows Mobile Phone devices, as well as every other Android device. What is up with this? Does no one care? I've tried the Samsung Focus (extensively) and the HTC Surround, and the audio seems kind washed out and not as sharp and clean. The Zune software on the device itself is beautiful and easy to us, but the audio is just not enjoyable. The audio quality is also lacking on HTC Android devices I've tried as well as the popular Motorola Droid devices. 

     

    Do people not care anymore? Certainly portable standalone players like the iPod and the Zune HD will HOPEFULLY continue to exist and provide excellent audio, but there is a push to use your phone for almost everything. A Zune Pass on the Windows Mobile 7 platform is quite nice. You have access to all of the music Zune has to offer. This is of course at the cost of audio quality.

     

    Does anyone care? There are very few phone devices out there that offer anything decent. Certainly quality doesn't have everything to do with the DAC, but it is a big part of it. Pretty crappy status quo.

  • User profile image
    magicalclick

    Don't know the comparison but, Surround Sounds good for me. Use the Doldy setting, not the standard and not the surround setting because those two setttings are bad. Dolby setting is much cleaner in quality and heavier in base.

    Leaving WM on 5/2018 if no apps, no dedicated billboards where I drive, no Store name.
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  • User profile image
    spivonious

    @intelman: Does anyone care about DAC quality when listening to Youtube videos and lossy MP3s through a $5 pair of earbuds? Of course not. Save the nice equipment for my home stereo where I actually have a chance of hearing the difference.

  • User profile image
    intelman

    @spivonious: I've invested in a good pair of etymotic er4 earbuds. They sound quite accurate. Kind of a shame that the lowest common denominator is had.

  • User profile image
    JoshRoss

    Perhaps someday a HiFi manufacture will produce a phone. It would come with tube amps, a tiny record player, ISDN quality voice calls, and four figure price tag.

     

    It's hard enough finding ear phones that don't suck for less than $350. After that, try finding good content. I find it difficult to pickup the fine nuances of HiFi audio when I'm distracted; and that's 99.9% of the time. Even if driving wasn't distracting, the road noise is enough to ruin even the best source material. What albums do you like to listen to, and where?

     

    -Josh

  • User profile image
    exoteric

    , spivonious wrote

    @intelman: Does anyone care about DAC quality when listening to Youtube videos and lossy MP3s through a $5 pair of earbuds? Of course not. Save the nice equipment for my home stereo where I actually have a chance of hearing the difference.

    I sometimes listen to YouTube videos over the stereo. Many videos are a horrific experience (SHIFT+DEL ENTER) but some actually have quite decent audio quality. In particular there are some live concert recordings that can be quite enjoyable over a decent "stereo home theater". I wonder when YouTube will have audio quality search filters; a lot of videos that are posted as HD are either just upscaled and/or have horrific audio quality which completely destroys the experience. Where's the "don't even bother playing this file if you treasure your ears" warning label?  Smiley 

  • User profile image
    JoshRoss

    @exoteric: Something like this?

     

  • User profile image
    zian

    @intelman:

     

    I care about sound quality so I use a seperate portable audio player with a pair of either Sennheiser or Koss headphones.

  • User profile image
    intelman

    It seems that Apple might care. If they really do switch to 24bit audio, that might further strengthen the iTunes store.

     

    http://www.neowin.net/news/apple-to-offer-24-bit-audio-in-the-itunes-store

  • User profile image
    Tokter

    They might care because they will charge more for 24bit sound, and clueless people will buy it.

    I went to newegg and picked the most expensive receiver they have:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882115277

    It has a 192khz/24 bit DAC

    Then I looked for some measurements:

    http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/receivers/rx-a3000/rx-a3000-measurements

    It has a signal to noise ratio of 84-86dB. So I'll be fine with 16bit/(96dB) and without iTunes on my machine Smiley

  • User profile image
    PaoloM

    I picked up a Samsung Focus yesterday and the audio quality is roughly 4.7 million times better than my LG WP7 dev device. On par with the Zune 80, I would say. I don't have a Zune HD, so I can't compare the two...

  • User profile image
    dentaku

    It just happens that MaximumPC recently reviewed a ridiculously expensive Benchmark Media Systems' DAC1 HDR is a combo DAC, pre-amp, and headphone amp http://www.maximumpc.com/article/reviews/benchmark_media_systems_dac1_hdr_review_0

     

    It's made for the Paolo's of the world who seem to like buying gadgets Wink

     

  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    @dentaku:The comments on that review reminded me that the only nerds who are more obnoxious than us are audio nerds.

  • User profile image
    intelman

    @PaoloM: Yeah LG phone sets were horrible. The focus isn't that bad either. I just hope manufactures do not engineer down to the level of LG. Glad you noticed a huge difference though. Dollars went to something that doesn't suck.

  • User profile image
    Cream​Filling512

    I don't understand why they're switching to 24-bit audio.  I guess if you want to encode the range of volume between a pin drop and inside of a jet engine.  Actually it's probably way overkill for doing that even.

  • User profile image
    dentaku

    @CreamFilling512: I deal with audio every day and I've never had an urge to mess with DACs and such. I even do eveything in 44100Hz 16bit even though my Echo audio interface can handle much more. The quality of your speakers or headphones is way more important and most people have horrible headphones or even worse, laptop speakers.

     

    I still agree with Paolo that there can be a huge difference in quality of the output of certain phones though. It's just when you get into the realy high end stuff like dedicated DACs that it gets way too obsessive.

  • User profile image
    intelman

    @dentaku:  Certainly the end device, speaker or headphone makes a huge difference, but I think DACs are pretty important. There is a clear difference between two arbitrary soundcards in the PC.

     

    Audio is one of those few things I think spending some money on provides noticable returns (to a certain point then just dimenishes). A 300 dollar set of headphones sound wonderful compared to a 50 dollar set, but a 700 dollar set doesn't sound amazing compared to a 300 dollar set. At least as this point in my life. With age it will probably dimenish and I wont care Sad

     

    Just some interesting notes from BFBC2's audio designer.

     

    http://blogs.battlefield.ea.com/battlefield_bad_company/archive/2010/01/22/an-audiophile-s-guide-to-bf-bc2-full.aspx?PageIndex=5##

     

  • User profile image
    dentaku

    It's the same with soundcards. I can tell the difference between my professional Echo Audio audio interafce and the Soundmax onboard stuff my motherboard came with (which I disabled because without ASIO drivers it's no use to me) but I doubt I'd be able to hear any difference if I bought something that cost $500.

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