07-23-2013 08:55 PM
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  1. jensigner's Avatar
    I finally got a chance to use a HTC One today. While it was unfortunately in kind of a loud environment, my impressions were:

    • The speakers are awesome. They seemed loud, clear, and better than most tablets I've used.
    • Ear buds with Beats enabled sounded awful. Lots of noise, some distortion ... it was distracting.
    • Ear buds without the Beats feature sounded clean and sharp. Much, much better than what I hear with my S III.


    As I mentioned, it was fairly loud, and my observations are far from scientific, but I could definitely see using the HTC One for music. I would have to leave Beats off for my own sanity, but I wonder if that mode may actually be helpful when using poor-quality headphones (perceived volume boost, maybe?).
    Very interesting! Were you using the stock earbuds provided? Would be interesting to know what "Beats Audio" does to the earphone-out sound sonically. I'm still considering The One.
    04-27-2013 04:23 PM
  2. snookasnoo's Avatar
    The iPhone 5 has better call quality. Pretty much every review has said the S 4 quality is average at best.

    Does anyone know if audio is typically better overall on iphone vs galaxy. Right now im an iphone 4 awaiting delivery of my S4, ive read a few articles about the sound quality which is one of the reasons ive decided to make the switch and ive also read about this Wolfson chip, will it be in the UK S4 snapdragon version?
    04-27-2013 06:12 PM
  3. LoganK's Avatar
    Very interesting! Were you using the stock earbuds provided? Would be interesting to know what "Beats Audio" does to the earphone-out sound sonically. I'm still considering The One.
    No, I brought in my own ear buds that I would use if I owned the phone. I'm sure the stock ones are okay, but I'm not familiar with them and having a whole store share ear buds is weird.

    I'd love to know the Beats "secret sauce", too. I'm sure it works in certain situations, but it sure didn't impress me in my short time with it.
    04-28-2013 12:08 AM
  4. jensigner's Avatar
    I'd love to know the Beats "secret sauce", too. I'm sure it works in certain situations, but it sure didn't impress me in my short time with it.
    In the chart posted above by Suda, I assume the results for the HTC One with and without headphones connected are with Beats Audio turned off? I think the "secret sauce" is just some equalization thing and and RMAA test with/without BA turned on would be telling. If I decide to go with the HTC One, that will be one of the first tests I do :-)
    04-28-2013 07:31 AM
  5. qitupx's Avatar
    Hmm, I think I must have a defective phone. Once I hit about 75% volume there is major distortion in the lower frequencies.
    04-28-2013 12:08 PM
  6. LoganK's Avatar
    Hmm, I think I must have a defective phone. Once I hit about 75% volume there is major distortion in the lower frequencies.
    Your problem is only when you have the equalizer enabled, correct? Is this headphones or the speaker?
    04-28-2013 01:59 PM
  7. qitupx's Avatar
    Ok, so this is interesting. My headphones sounded like crap on the S4, not just mine, but I tested out two other display units at the sprint store, sounds the same on all of them. My headphones sound perfectly fine on all the other devices i tested (HTC One, Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S3, and I was sure to enable the equalizer on all of them for a fair test.) I also tested like 6 other pairs of headphones that sound fine on the s4. Seems like it was just some weird combination of my headphones with that phone and my headphones. Very weird. I usually use Noozxoide but it sounds weird as well. I used the built in EQ since i was testing floor models though. I think it might have something to do with the impedance of the buds I had. They are 13 Ohm. Here are the specs and maybe someone else has issues with similar characteristics:

    Ultimate Ears Super.Fi 5 Specs
    Driver: single custom balanced armature, top-firing
    Sensitivity: 115dB @ 1mW
    Impedance: 13 Ohm @ 1kHz
    Frequency range: 15Hz 15kHz
    Cable: 120cm/46 (Y-style), straight 3.5mm gold-plated plug, microphone (optional, on the VI version)
    Accessories: Carrying case, silicon tips (2xS/4xM/2xL), Comply foam tips (4xM), cleaning tool
    04-29-2013 03:55 PM
  8. jensigner's Avatar
    (1) Is the HTC One headphone jack configuration exactly the same as the S3 (i.e. 3 pole with stereo out and a mic-input connection)?
    (2) Who provides the default Music Player app on the S3 and is it the same one on the HTC One?

    I like that default Music Player because it has built in support for streaming to "Nearby Devices", which Poweramp doesn't currently support, and is the default music player app different on the S4?
    04-30-2013 07:50 AM
  9. rushmore's Avatar
    The S3 sounds as good to me as my iPod5, so will be happy if S4 is the same.
    04-30-2013 09:40 AM
  10. jensigner's Avatar
    .. The supplied S3 earbuds sound horrible but the Creative ones are very good!
    Well what I said her about the S3 buds is nonsense! I just didn't have the plastic tips in far enough (not used to those type of earbuds) so the S3 buds are very nice. Tons of volume at 10/15 with no sign of noise (with audio on pause) at 15/15.
    04-30-2013 10:49 AM
  11. Reuben Chew's Avatar
    Ok, so this is interesting. My headphones sounded like crap on the S4, not just mine, but I tested out two other display units at the sprint store, sounds the same on all of them. My headphones sound perfectly fine on all the other devices i tested (HTC One, Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S3, and I was sure to enable the equalizer on all of them for a fair test.) I also tested like 6 other pairs of headphones that sound fine on the s4. Seems like it was just some weird combination of my headphones with that phone and my headphones. Very weird. I usually use Noozxoide but it sounds weird as well. I used the built in EQ since i was testing floor models though. I think it might have something to do with the impedance of the buds I had. They are 13 Ohm. Here are the specs and maybe someone else has issues with similar characteristics:

    Ultimate Ears Super.Fi 5 Specs
    Driver: single custom balanced armature, top-firing
    Sensitivity: 115dB @ 1mW
    Impedance: 13 Ohm @ 1kHz
    Frequency range: 15Hz 15kHz
    Cable: 120cm/46 (Y-style), straight 3.5mm gold-plated plug, microphone (optional, on the VI version)
    Accessories: Carrying case, silicon tips (2xS/4xM/2xL), Comply foam tips (4xM), cleaning tool
    I have the same issue with the UE600 (which is identical to the SF5). Other people have reported the same thing w other low impedance headphones. However, it's not a uniform problem. Someone I heard managed to do a 1-1 and the new set had no problem.
    05-06-2013 06:11 AM
  12. jensigner's Avatar
    I measured the stock earbuds that come with the S3 and S4. At 1 kHz, the earbud impedances are both 32-35 ohm which is very similar to my other Creative earbuds.
    After some repeated careful listening to music on my S4 and switching between the S3 and S4 earbuds I can say that there is a HUGE difference in sound quality between these earbuds. The S3 buds have much better bass response! I read tin a review that the S3 and S4 earbuds are different but I'm wondering if there is something wrong with my S4 buds. They sound rather tinny to me. I switched plastic tips to see if there was any weird ear-resonance but they still sound "poor" imo. Can someone else veryify this difference?
    05-08-2013 03:37 PM
  13. Reuben Chew's Avatar
    I measured the stock earbuds that come with the S3 and S4. At 1 kHz, the earbud impedances are both 32-35 ohm which is very similar to my other Creative earbuds.
    After some repeated careful listening to music on my S4 and switching between the S3 and S4 earbuds I can say that there is a HUGE difference in sound quality between these earbuds. The S3 buds have much better bass response! I read tin a review that the S3 and S4 earbuds are different but I'm wondering if there is something wrong with my S4 buds. They sound rather tinny to me. I switched plastic tips to see if there was any weird ear-resonance but they still sound "poor" imo. Can someone else veryify this difference?
    I can't verify the 'difference' as I don't have an S3, but yes it feels tinny to me too. BTW how do you measure the earbud impedance?
    05-09-2013 08:41 AM
  14. jensigner's Avatar
    I can't verify the 'difference' as I don't have an S3, but yes it feels tinny to me too. BTW how do you measure the earbud impedance?
    It turns out that it was the plastic tip on my S4 buds that was the problem. They weren't making a good resonant "seal" in my ear which leads to a lack of bass response. I know this by switching the plastic tip between S3 and S4 buds and they sound identical with the same plastic tip. For some reason, the plastic tips in my S4 are not the same material as my partners S3 tips. (I posted a comment on this issue separately). Will comment on the impedance measurement shortly.
    05-09-2013 09:03 AM
  15. jensigner's Avatar
    ... So I was pretty disappointed when the GSMArena tests showed that the Galaxy S 4 suffered from lower quality audio, as well. (And happy as it meant my decision to not buy a phone was pretty much made for me.)

    I found out today that they screwed up their test (and they received the final firmware update): Samsung Galaxy S4 review: Supernova - GSMArena.com
    ...".
    As promised, I am starting to make independent RMAA measurements on my S4 (Canadian) and S3. Still checking the configuration (you need a post-amp after the earphone output to raise the level). Any idea what the nature of the problems mentioned above were in the early tests? I'm getting fairly poor crosstalk under 32 ohm headset load. Frequency response, noise and THD are all very good but not quite as good as the GSMArena results. I'll publish the results when my setup is fully characterized but this RMAA measurement with my soundcard shows my measurement capability: RMAA Blu-ray Player Measurement
    05-09-2013 09:18 AM
  16. jensigner's Avatar
    BTW how do you measure the earbud impedance?
    For most common earbuds and phones which are mainly resistive at the standard test frequency of 1 kHz, it is pretty simple: Set up a simple voltage divider circuit (one for each channel if you want) with a single extra resistor Rs in series with the buds R_hs, drive the series circuit with a SMALL SIGNAL sine wave at 1 kHz, say ~ 50mV for buds, using a function generator and measure the output voltage compared to the input voltage and apply simple voltage-divider Kirchoff law. The series resistor value is not critical ... just pick a value in the general area of the headphone impedance for a more accurate calculation. I use a USB scope (Digilent Discovery) for this and just measure the peak voltages but you could also just use a DVM (since most DVMs have a reasonable response at 1 kHz). A scope lets you monitor the signal quality (to make sure you aren't clipping or causing other distortion) and also allows you to see any non-resistive components of the earbuds which shows as a phase-shift in the two scope signals V3 and V2. Note that the internal resistance (Rint) of the function generator doesn't enter into the calculation:
    05-09-2013 09:48 AM
  17. jensigner's Avatar
    Here are some preliminary RMAA measurements on my (Canadian) S4. Firstly I should say that irrespective of any technical measurements, I think the S4 headphone-out sounds amazing and I am very pleased with it. I'm showing my measurements for discussion purposes and to try to understand why there are significant differences to those published at GSMArena as noted near the start of this thread. My results below show (a) the RMAA results for the entire measurement chain without the S4 but using a test-signal generated by the sound-card line-out (left column) and (b) the RMAA results (right column) using the S4 to playback the same 16bit/44.1 kHz test wav content . The stereo crosstalk with the S4 is of concern. Also my RMAA result for THD with the S4 is 0.033% or 10 times higher than the GSM results assuming those are % figures. The IMD+Noise and frequency response is comparable. To compare with the GSM results it would be useful to know the S4 Play level that was used (I used 7/15). I noticed that during idle (no playback) the overall spectral noise floor as measured by the RMAA spectrum analyzer is considerably lower ... but when a pure tone is played, the entire spectral noise floor is raised by close to 10 dB. It appears that the playback process raises the noise floor!
    05-09-2013 07:24 PM
  18. Reuben Chew's Avatar
    Here are some preliminary RMAA measurements on my (Canadian) S4. Firstly I should say that irrespective of any technical measurements, I think the S4 headphone-out sounds amazing and I am very pleased with it. I'm showing my measurements for discussion purposes and to try to understand why there are significant differences to those published at GSMArena as noted near the start of this thread. My results below show (a) the RMAA results for the entire measurement chain without the S4 but using a test-signal generated by the sound-card line-out (left column) and (b) the RMAA results (right column) using the S4 to playback the same 16bit/44.1 kHz test wav content . The stereo crosstalk with the S4 is of concern. Also my RMAA result for THD with the S4 is 0.033% or 10 times higher than the GSM results assuming those are % figures. The IMD+Noise and frequency response is comparable. To compare with the GSM results it would be useful to know the S4 Play level that was used (I used 7/15). I noticed that during idle (no playback) the overall spectral noise floor as measured by the RMAA spectrum analyzer is considerably lower ... but when a pure tone is played, the entire spectral noise floor is raised by close to 10 dB. It appears that the playback process raises the noise floor!
    http://www.jensign.com/GalaxyS4/RMAA_S4.jpg
    Thanks for the analysis! I was wondering if you could do a test with low-impedance earphones? It seems that there's a known audio clipping/distortion issue that low-impedance earphones users are facing, at the bass range. More info could be found here: Sound crackling/distortion with certain headphones? - xda-developers

    I was wondering if you could shed any light on the issue and why there may such a problem with the S4!
    05-10-2013 04:16 AM
  19. jensigner's Avatar
    Thanks for the analysis! I was wondering if you could do a test with low-impedance earphones? It seems that there's a known audio clipping/distortion issue that low-impedance earphones users are facing, at the bass range. More info could be found here: Sound crackling/distortion with certain headphones? - xda-developers

    I was wondering if you could shed any light on the issue and why there may such a problem with the S4!
    For reference, my S4 is a SGH-I337M (Canadian model ... same setup as US model I believe) with Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 Soc and Qualcomm Krait 300 CPU.
    After quickly scanning that xda discussion, I have just posted there to see if anyone has made quantitative measurements.
    It looks like the issues are all related to low-impedance (< 14ohm?) headphones and drive level particularly at lower frequencies but sure, I can check that using a dummy resistor load of say 12 ohm. I don't have really low impedance headphones, so I could just place a 12 ohm shunt resistor across my 32 ohm (stock) earbuds and just listen which is subjective. Since I also have access to an S3, I can do swap/compare tests. Note that earlier in this posting I reported measurements of the S3 output impedance as ~ 3ohm. Also I tested the output of the S3 WITH 10 ohm loads at 440 Hz and distortion only occurred at the really high level of 14/15. (Haven't tested the S4 yet).
    To quantify things, I would just look at the headphone output on a scope and playback some pure sine wave tracks at various frequencies (say 60Hz, 1kHz, etc.). I could also do a more complete RMAA analysis as above, but first I need to understand why my RMAA measurements differ from GSMArena results (they use full audio volume for their tests) and what the problem referred to in the review below under "Update 11 April ..." means (I have also sent this question to GSMArena directly):
    Samsung Galaxy S4 review: Supernova - GSMArena.com
    05-10-2013 07:58 AM
  20. Reuben Chew's Avatar
    For reference, my S4 is a SGH-I337M (Canadian model ... same setup as US model I believe) with Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 Soc and Qualcomm Krait 300 CPU.
    After quickly scanning that xda discussion, I have just posted there to see if anyone has made quantitative measurements.
    It looks like the issues are all related to low-impedance (< 14ohm?) headphones and drive level particularly at lower frequencies but sure, I can check that using a dummy resistor load of say 12 ohm. I don't have really low impedance headphones, so I could just place a 12 ohm shunt resistor across my 32 ohm (stock) earbuds and just listen which is subjective. Since I also have access to an S3, I can do swap/compare tests. Note that earlier in this posting I reported measurements of the S3 output impedance as ~ 3ohm. Also I tested the output of the S3 WITH 10 ohm loads at 440 Hz and distortion only occurred at the really high level of 14/15. (Haven't tested the S4 yet).
    To quantify things, I would just look at the headphone output on a scope and playback some pure sine wave tracks at various frequencies (say 60Hz, 1kHz, etc.). I could also do a more complete RMAA analysis as above, but first I need to understand why my RMAA measurements differ from GSMArena results (they use full audio volume for their tests) and what the problem referred to in the review below under "Update 11 April ..." means (I have also sent this question to GSMArena directly):
    Samsung Galaxy S4 review: Supernova - GSMArena.com
    Hey I'm actually 'trenzterra' on xda-developers, but I thought I'd reply you here instead...

    Okay the thing is I don't have the necessary equipment (and I'm not an engineer by any means so...) to do such an analysis. The only thing I have is a Sound Blaster Z sound card and a line-in cable, but I think the sound card itself adds some distortion so my RMAA analysis wouldn't be that relevant (though there doesn't seem to be any noticeable distortion in the test wave generated). I've no idea how to test it with earphones attached with the current equipment I have.

    I guess it would be really great if you could try to replicate the performance with low impedance earphones. Maybe then will Samsung be convinced to do something. The affected frequencies are mostly in the below 1kHz range. If I EQ the bass range down there's no more distortion.

    P.S. BTW I won't be too hopeful of GSMArena replying. I emailed them one week ago on their opinion of this problem and I haven't received even a single acknowledgement from them.
    05-10-2013 11:48 AM
  21. jensigner's Avatar
    I have completed some initial tests of the S4 and S3 using different resistive loads (10ohm-33ohm) and checking the output for different frequencies and different Player volume levels. My results CLEARLY demonstrate an oscillation "artifact" for headphone loads less than ~ 14 ohm. Direct comparison with the S3 SHOWED NO SUCH PROBLEMS. The details of my measurements (which anyone can repeat) are given below. Feel free to pass on to Samsung folks :-)
    Samsung Galaxy S4: Problem With Low-Impedance Headphones
    Reuben Chew likes this.
    05-10-2013 03:22 PM
  22. jensigner's Avatar
    P.S. BTW I won't be too hopeful of GSMArena replying. I emailed them one week ago on their opinion of this problem and I haven't received even a single acknowledgement from them.
    I haven't received feedback either. I have done quite a few RMAA tests over the past several years so I have some experience. If I can't reproduce the GSMArena RMAA results for the S4 them i'm inclined to not believe their results, or that their testing configuration doesn't really reflect the audio quality heard when using standard earphones. If they can't provide the details of the problem that should be viewed as suspicious :-)
    05-10-2013 04:13 PM
  23. Reuben Chew's Avatar
    I have completed some initial tests of the S4 and S3 using different resistive loads (10ohm-33ohm) and checking the output for different frequencies and different Player volume levels. My results CLEARLY demonstrate an oscillation "artifact" for headphone loads less than ~ 14 ohm. Direct comparison with the S3 SHOWED NO SUCH PROBLEMS. The details of my measurements (which anyone can repeat) are given below. Feel free to pass on to Samsung folks :-)
    Samsung Galaxy S4: Problem With Low-Impedance Headphones
    Wow, thank you so much for your in-depth analysis! The strange thing, however, is that most of us experience something slightly different: There is distortion starting from a certain volume level, which gets more severe as the volume increases. For my case, at volume 15/15, the problem is most noticeable while at 11/15, the problem is much less noticeable.

    Also, the problem seems to manifest itself more when playing a real audio track rather than a test tone. When playing a test tone, I get a 'noise' at the start of the track, but that's about it. I wonder if the sudden change in frequencies could be a contributing factor in this?

    EDIT: I just re-read your article again. So could it be that in songs, where the volume in certain parts of the track varies, when it drops down to the magical 11/15 it experiences this problem?

    In this case, do you think this problem could be suitably addressed via software? By the way, it would be great if you could forward your test results to prominent tech sites so that Samsung will be pressured to do anything. I've contacted some over the past few days, but not one of them even bothered to give me a reply. Kinda makes me think Samsung paid them off or something! With your objective test results I am more hopeful though.


    EDIT2: Also, with even lower impedance earphones (Sony XBA series for example, which are generally 8ohms and below), some have reported the distortion at even lower volumes, such as at the 30% level. I was wondering if you had the ability to conduct tests with an even lower impedance load, and see if the volume level where this happens changes. Thank you!
    05-10-2013 07:55 PM
  24. jensigner's Avatar
    EDIT: I just re-read your article again. So could it be that in songs, where the volume in certain parts of the track varies, when it drops down to the magical 11/15 it experiences this problem?
    That is what I'm thinking. Perhaps the problems noted are not the same but they may well be related. I can offer to post one of the test-tones I use and others can verify what I observe. Any music will of course be complex and have varying frequency components at time-varying amplitudes which will cause the oscillation above to manifest it in a fairly complex manner. So for example a typical sound track played at full volume (15/15) would have a LOT of components in the 11/15 amplitude range so you'd expect a lot of that oscillation . A music track played back at amplitude 11/15 would have most of its amplitude component at lower effective amplitudes so would show little oscillation. I can check the problem at lower resistances say at 4 and 8 ohm load.
    05-10-2013 10:05 PM
  25. Patrik_swe's Avatar
    I have S4 and tried stock earbuds with eartips from Yamaha EPH-100. With these eartips (double flange) the Samsung earbuds sound much better.

    EPH-100 - Headphones/Earphones - Audio & Visual - Products - Yamaha United States

    I lost the small plastic bag with original eartips and I only have the pair mounted from factory. With these sound is thin with no bass, low volume even at max 15.

    In my opinion Samsung earbuds sounds good sound if you get good seal.

    When using Yamaha EPH-100 earbuds with S4 I have problem with crackling audio at higher volumes, over 10. I usually never listen higher than 7-9 and this issue does not affect me so much with Yamaha EPH-100.

    EDIT: I have tested Yamaha EPH-100 more and I hear crackling now and then at volume 7-9 depending which song I play.

    I have a pair of SoungMagic E10 and they work at higher volume. Other earphones "A-Jays One+" have crackling audio at higher volume.

    EDIT:

    I have tested SoundMagic E10 again and they also have problem with crackling but only at highest volume 14-15. Since they are senistive I never play that loud, more like max 10.

    I mailed Samsung support in Sweden and they replied like this (translated through Google translate):

    "Hi Patrik

    Thank you for your e-mail with Samsung Electronics Nordic.


    Sorry to hear that you have problems with your headphones. However, the fact is that it really is only Samsung Original which we can guarantee will work, but in most cases, it works with almost all headphones. There has recently been a minor update to the Galaxy S4.
    Unfortunately, so as long as your original headphones works so there is nothing wrong with the phone itself. Should you have other headphones, you get partial experiment and see which ones work, as there is no general rule for what works / does not work.

    Please contact us again if you have more questions.

    Sincerely

    Samsung Support"

    They write about update but I have installed it but this will not fix audio issue.

    They also write "but in most cases, it works with almost all headphones". Strange, of my three pair none works 100%. One of them can be described as "high- end" (Yamaha EPH-100) but the rest are low cost that common people might buy and have issues with.

    I have mailed them again and asked them if they know why this crackling occurs and several other questions but didn't got answer (as I thought).

    I don't think Samsung support understand this problem.
    05-11-2013 06:10 AM
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