07-23-2013 09:55 PM
64 123
  1. Reuben Chew's Avatar
    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.
    Hey I got back my phone from the service centre, and yep the same problem still happens. It doesn't seem as apparent this time, however, but I decided to load a 150Hz test tone on the phone, and it crackled ONLY at volume 13. So yes, I can corroborate your findings, though it happens at a different volume level.
    05-11-2013 07:53 AM
  2. NZtechfreak's Avatar
    I already posted this at Head-Fi, but here is my experience with this:

    Did a blind and volume-matched test with the One and S4 (i9505 international version with the same DAC as the one). Listened on 12 and 16ohm IEMs and 32ohm cans.

    First interesting thing was that the Samsung stock player is noticeably louder than PowerAMP (not yet tested other third party players). Around 10dB louder if PowerAMP has direct volume control off and ~5dB louder if PowerAMP is using direct volume control. Since we wanted to use the same player in both devices we had to drop the HTC One volume down three notches for them to match closely (only one step to match with the S4 stock player).

    Turned off Beats on the One.

    Noted with interest that when blinding was removed and we could see which phone we favoured in our notes we both preferred the S4 sound over the One overall, better instrument separation and clarity, less fatiguing and harsh. Generally preferred the bass on the One, although the One was quite boomy. There was one MAJOR problem with the S4 though - crackling with prominent low bass frequencies. This was absent on the T5p at 32ohm, noticeable on the 16ohm IEMs, and very noticeable on the 12ohm IEMs. I ripped the 12ohm ones from my ears after about 5s, the crackling made them unbearable. If this is output impedance related as it appears to be this would put the S4 (i9505) output impedance somewhere in the 4-8ohm range, making it impossible to recommend to anyone using more sensitive IEMs.
    05-11-2013 09:17 AM
  3. Reuben Chew's Avatar
    Hey guys, I have uploaded a YouTube video to better demonstrate the problem:

    If you could approach your local Samsung rep with this video it'd be great.

    Also, if you could re-share my Facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/reubenchew/...51428267560966

    If it goes viral maybe Samsung would be forced to act.
    05-11-2013 12:44 PM
  4. jensigner's Avatar
    I have added more information to this web page, including audio spectral plots showing the problem (for headphone impedances less than ~ 14 ohm). Also I have measured the output impedance of the S4 to be ~ 2.5 ohm, almost identical to that of the S3. The page below also contains a zip archive of a few audio test files for those who want to do their own tests with controlled sine wave tracks:
    Samsung Galaxy S4: Problem With Low-Impedance Headphones

    Included in the web page article is an RMAA measurements summary showing the outstanding audio performance and very low noise of the S4. The tests were performed with 33 ohm pure resistive loads to factor out any specific headphone artifacts. Included here for easier comparison with GSMArena results above. The stereo crosstalk I measure is partially due to the preamp used and will be updated:
    05-11-2013 05:48 PM
  5. jensigner's Avatar

    It turns out that the Snapdragon Galaxy S 4 has the best audio quality of any phone they've tested. I didn't expect that from Qualcomm considering the performance we've seen so far.

    This change makes my decision a lot more difficult. I'm still going to wait for Google I/O and go into a store with a set of earbuds to hear for myself, but this phone just went from "definitely not" to "I'm listening...".
    My independent RMAA audio quality tests on my S4 (SGH-I337) support the really exceptional audio performance of the S4 with headphone impedances of 32 ohm or higher. My RMAA results without a headphone load (open) are almost identical to the GSMArena results above. However under 32 ohm pure resistor load, the THD and crosstalk degrade but are still very low. Details are at the bottom of this page:
    Samsung Galaxy S4: Problem With Low-Impedance Headphones
    05-12-2013 11:24 AM
  6. Reuben Chew's Avatar
    Thanks! Someone over at XDA claims that his UE900 (impedance of 30ohms) experiences the same problem, but only at 60Hz and 250Hz at only volume 11 (1kHz is unaffected). It's very strange since according to innerfidelity the lowest impedance that the UE900 goes is 20 ohms and should not experience this issue by right.
    05-12-2013 11:39 AM
  7. jensigner's Avatar
    An RMAA comparison of the S4 vs S3 audio quality, performed at 33ohm headphone load and at a volume level of 14/15:

    The S3 is very good (except for crosstalk) but the S4 is significantly better in the numbers with an exceptionally low noise level of -100dB.
    Would you actually hear the difference? The very pickiest audiophile listener might hear a very slight difference in tone coloration due to the higher IMD+Noise of the S3.
    Based on my own listening tests (jazz, classical, rock) using the stock 35 ohm buds and my Sennheiser HD598 phones (50ohm), both the S4 and S3 provide a fantastic audio listening experience with headphones in this impedance range.
    05-13-2013 01:04 PM
  8. Patrik_swe's Avatar
    I contacted Samsung several times (one chat and two mail) and got mixed answers about this issue.

    They clearly state that Samsung in-ears work and they do for all people.

    I asked them of advice for impedance when purchasing earphones for Galaxy S4. They answered "choose LOW impedance". What I understand this issue is caused by low impedance earplugs.

    When chatting with one support technician I got advice my 3,5 mm jack is broken or do a factory reset.

    No one I contacted never heard of this problem with crackling audio but in the last mail response I got they wrote that they should check it up.
    05-22-2013 06:07 AM
  9. jensigner's Avatar
    I'd like to bring you up to date on this issue:
    Based on quite a few i9505 owners, there is a problem with the headphone audio output FOR LOW IMPEDANCE HEADPHONES <~ 16 OHM. The problem doesn't appear to occur for the i9500. There is a very long discussion at XDA describing experiences. Those who contacted Samsung support on this have reported no progress. I have contacted Samsung Mobile support several times but have received no useful response. They apparently are aware of my measurements but haven't acknowledged the problem.
    GSMArena have published a comparison of i9500 and i9505 showing almost identical and superb headphone audio performance. However those tests were performed using headphones with > 30 ohm impedance where the problem doesn't occur. My independent tests for 33 ohm resistive headphone loads support this outstanding audio result.
    FURTHER, objective comments posted to GSMArena on that article by myself and others, which didn't seem to violate any of the posting guidelines there, have been quickly removed for no obvious reason without any explanation. Form your own conclusions. So what does this all mean?
    If you are planning on getting an S4 i9505 version and intend to use good headphones with low impedance, you will have a problem. If you are happy with the stock (35ohm) earbuds or use headphones with impedance > ~ 20 ohm, you will likely be very very happy with the headphone audio. My Senn HD598 (~50 ohm) are just outstanding with my SGH-I337 (similar to i9505).

    imo this looks like a Samsung design problem in implementation of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 audio. Since other smartphone use the same processor, I'd say that it isn't an intrinsic problem with the audio associated with that processor.
    You can read about this problem also Samsung Galaxy S4: Problem With Low-Impedance Headphones
    Also, if you are considering any forthcoming Samsung smartphones that use that Snapdragon 600+ platform and you really care about headphone audio quality, do your homework ... and test it in-store with low-impedance phones.
    int_architect likes this.
    05-30-2013 10:35 AM
  10. Patrik_swe's Avatar
    I'm very happy with S4 audio. The Adapt sound feature is worth a try for different results with your specific earbuds.

    The only problem is crackling audio but this issue should be solved with latest firmware. I had terrible crackling with Yamaha EPH-100 but after firmware upgrade I can't hear any faults.

    Read more here:


    Good work "jensigner"!
    06-21-2013 07:48 AM
  11. Kenny008's Avatar
    Guys, I'm sure you are all aware that RMAA measurements do not correlate well with the real listening experience. Many HiFi reviewers have long de-emphasized RMAA measurements in favour of subjective listening tests. You can have excellent measurements with mediocre sound and vice versa.The upshot is that we don't know how to measure parameters which really affect the listening experience while those parameters we do know how to measure bear little relationship to how well it sounds. For example valve amps have high distortion but they still sound beautiful.

    The Snapdragon S4 with Qualcomm DAC has excellent RMAA as measured by GSMArena but subjective listening test by What HiFi paints a different picture. To quote the relevant parts:

    Whichever headphones you use, though, the Samsung Galaxy S4 sound quality still fails to excite.

    Play Paradise Circus by Massive Attack and while the individual instruments and vocals are direct and sound strong, the overall rhythm lacks precision and drive, with bass and drum beats sounding flat and rather dull. Notes dont quite gel cohesively either, and timing is short of being snappy, which isnt conducive to foot-tappage.

    The Galaxy S4s poor audio performance is all the more apparent when its compared with its rivals. Apple still wins in the sound stakes, with the iPhone 5 delivering subtle detail, tight and snappy rhythms, and notes that start and stop with precision. Its definitely the most entertaining experience of the current crop of smartphones.

    Sonys Xperia Z and Googles Nexus 4 join Apple on the podium with clear and sharp detail, while the HTC One offers a warmer sound without robbing the music of its vibrancy.

    But ultimately on sound quality, placed next to its competition, the S4 sounds rather uninspiring and were surprised at how low it comes on the scale of smartphone sound experience.
    But bear in mind this is the Snapdragon quad core S4 which uses the built-in Qualcomm DAC. The Exynos octa core S4 uses a Wolfson DAC which may give better performance.
    07-17-2013 10:46 PM
  12. jensigner's Avatar
    I have confirmed that the recent S4 Samsung system update has completely fixed the "crackle" problem that many owners have reported with the S4 i9505 and SGH-I337 for low-impedance headphones. The problem is therefore not a hardware design limitation nor an intrinsic issue with the Qualcomm DAC/Audio. I have also verified that the really great audio performance has not changed in any way (same very very low noise floor, low distortion and identical frequency response and output level). See more comments here at xda:
    S4 Crackle/Instability is Fixed!
    I listen to a lot of jazz and classical with the S4 and of course the actual listening experience is the most important thing. The "crackle" is something that I have merely quantified and it definitely correlates with the horrible sound folks hear. With my SennHD598 the S4 sound has great depth, clarify and detail, so the distortion levels as measured by RMAA or otherwise are academic. I don't really care much for descriptions which remind me somewhat of experienced wine-tasters and might tend to lure you into thinking you need really expensive gear or imagine artifacts that are in fact pure imaginary. But one thing is for sure .... the S4/Qualcomm to my ears with HD598 phones is a superb listening experience for any type of music I have auditioned.
    07-23-2013 01:07 PM
  13. Cool Jeff's Avatar
    Could it match now htc One sound quality with earphones?
    07-23-2013 03:24 PM
  14. jensigner's Avatar
    Could it match now htc One sound quality with earphones?
    I almost got an HTC One instead of an S4. I'm sure the One via good headphones sounds fabulous. Different than the S4? I don't know ...maybe. I'm setting up a "quick switching system" between 2 smartphones and the same headphones so I can quickly toggle back/forth to see if I can hear a difference in sound with the same track playback. I don't have particularly golden-ears and believe that different people can really perceive different "things" in the same audio playback path. I'm not zealous about any particular manufacturer (including Wolfson :-) . I'd love to have both an HTC One and an S4 but I tend to be a "one smartphone" guy (as I am also a one guitar-at-a-time guy) :-)
    07-23-2013 09:55 PM
64 123

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