How turn on (and make sense of) the LG V30's Quad DAC


The LG V30 may be quite a departure from its predecessors (where's my ticker screen?), but that doesn't mean LG's abandoned all of its more interesting ideas.

Take, for example, the Quad DAC — it's a feature the masses will most probably never pay much attention to (or even know is there), but can be a godsend to those of us who have been burned by other phones' poor audio quality. And thankfully, LG has once again included the feature in its V-series flagship — but this time it's even better.

Unfortunately, this also means it's even more confusing, thanks to the several newly-added options. But we'll get to them in a second — let's start with the basics first:

How to turn the Hi-Fi Quad DAC on/off



Whether you want to turn the Quad DAC on or off, the solution is pretty simple. One option is to use the menu option inside the Settings app (found under the "Sound & notification" tab), and another is to use the toggle in the notification shade (if you can't find it, try swiping to the second screen of toggles, or using the Edit button to manually add it).

However, do note that both options will be grayed out if you don't currently have an audio device connected to your V30.

And if you're wondering why you'd want all the high-quality sound goodies turned off, the answer most probably lies in battery life — the LG V30's Quad DAC has a small but still significant power footprint, so if you need to squeeze a couple more minutes of screen on time, turning it off is one of your options.

Okay, but what does it do?



In short a DAC (short for digital-to-analog converter) is the chip that takes audio streams and turns them into the electrical signals that power your headphones. Every smartphone has one embedded into its chipset — including the Snapdragon 835 — but LG has equipped its latest flagship phablet with a second one, providing better quality audio.

This is most easily noticeable when you're listening to high-quality audio on more expensive headphones, but the results can still be heard in other conditions, too, depending on what you're listening to and how sensitive your ears are.

The differences are a couple: firstly, there's a reduction in noise making your audio slightly clearer than normal (LG promises "50% cleaner sound"). Also, there's some noticeable differences in how well it handles dynamic range: higher fidelity audio means you can hear more subtle details than usual.

And lastly, the "Quad" part means there are actually four DACs stuffed inside a single chip. This lets you use a pair of high-impedance headphones (>50 Ohms), as the three extra DACs kick in only when connected to such a pair. This is designed with audiophiles in mind, as high-impedance headsets are usually much more expensive than regular ones.

What about all those other settings?


Unlike previous entries in the V series (as well as the Korean version of the G6), the V30's Quad DAC sub-menu features a couple of new extra options: "Sound Preset" and "Digital Filter."

Most of the time, you won't need to touch these options at all, as the default ones already sound good. However, you may want to experiment with all these hot new options (who wouldn't?), so here's the gist of what they do:

If you've used almost any non-LG smartphone in the past few years, you probably already know what Sound Preset is. It's a software equalizer, with several presets designed for different kinds of audio. And while we imagine user-customizable presets would be a good idea, this is still a step in the right direction.

The Digital Filter, on the other hand, is a weird option you won't find on any other phone. In essence, it controls the filter reducing high-frequency audio artifacts — so the results will be barely audible to most, if not all, of the people out there, though it's still nice to have it present.

Related phones

V30
  • Display 6.0" 1440 x 2880 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2450 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3300 mAh(16.5h talk time)

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14 Comments

1. Jono1984

Posts: 2; Member since: Sep 05, 2017

Hi guys, Can you confirm that the "High Impedance" mode doesn't kick in until headphones of 50ohms or more are connected like the G6 and V20? Thanks for your help

2. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

Check our android authority article 4-5 days ago. Very informative writte specifically about LG V30 DAC.

3. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

I meant "out" not "our".

5. Jono1984

Posts: 2; Member since: Sep 05, 2017

Cheers. Had read that but no mention of my query unfortunately. Dropped the same question on there so fingers crossed

12. AlexPop

Posts: 3; Member since: Sep 05, 2017

Jono, it's a lot of misleading on both phone arena and android authority articles, the guys working here/there are not quite into audio tech, so it looks. I suggest you look into the ESS official page of their DAC - esstech.com/index.php/en/products/sabre-digital-an​alog-converters/sabre-hifi-mobile-dacs/es9218p/ It's unsure from either of the articles (and obv, LG's misleading too with their marketing... "quad DAC" wtf they should be sued for false advertising) if the high impedance can automatically be activated when connecting the headphones. From the official page on ESS, they mention that the DAC has "an integrated output switch allows an auxiliary source such as voice to bypass the ES9218P for lowest power consumption in non-HiFi mode" - now, I'm not sure what exactly happens, but I can only guess/suppose that the toggle they state in this article reffers to actually activating this HiFi mode specifically (which allows for 2V output for the stereo headphone amps, thus allowing for high impedance headphones to be driven); this would then mean that in the 'default' mode of V30 (without activating that toggle), it still runs on the ESS DAC, just in the low-power mode (as opposed to articles that suggest the default DAC is the Snapdragon 835 integrated DAC).

4. mrochester

Posts: 997; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

How does this benefit users who have already upgraded to Bluetooth headphones?

6. timeflies

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 05, 2017

Then you will not get any benefit of the Quad DAC and need to upgrade to wired phone... :) Seriously... None of Bluetooth phone could compete with good DAC + amp + wired headphones... Yet... Maybe in the future... But not today.. Most of the Bluetooth headphones, they only rely on CSR (the Bluetooth chip) built-in DAC.. which is actually very good already in their latest incarnations.. People also need to know that inside Bluetooth headphones actually there's receiver + mini DAC + mini amp + short wire to the headphone drivers...This construction would be hard to compete with LG serious approach with ESS DACs + dedicated headphone amp... Provided you have a decent wired headphones..

7. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Fancy DAC, yet they boxed the phone with cheap headphones. What good is a feature if you can't use it out the box without buying something else?

9. liteon163

Posts: 45; Member since: Jan 24, 2017

If you rely on pack-in headphones, this feature is not for you.

11. AlexPop

Posts: 3; Member since: Sep 05, 2017

Not sure if you're trolling or not. That high HiFi DAC (this model - ES9218P SABRE HiFi) is for those big, over the ear HiFI ('audiophile') headphones. Those cost more than the phone, it seems you're not quite aware of this and you are obviously not the audience of this feature.

8. liteon163

Posts: 45; Member since: Jan 24, 2017

This will not benefit people who use Bluetooth audio devices, as they bypass the analog (as in Digital To Analog) headphone jack. As for whether Bluetooth headphones are an "upgrade," that's highly debatable.

10. AlexPop

Posts: 3; Member since: Sep 05, 2017

Guys come on, so many inacuracies in this article. There's NO 4x DACs inside, this is really misleading (if not, a lie). As is LGs marketing, too. "Quad DAC" but there's just one DAC, isn't this funny? The actual DAC is the "ES9218P SABRE HiFi", manufactured by ESS, official page here with all the tech specs - esstech.com/index.php/en/products/sabre-digital-an​alog-converters/sabre-hifi-mobile-dacs/es9218p/ and you can see the official specs there, the main features and even the diagram. There's no 4x DACs inside, it's just one DAC, with dual headphone amps (one for each chanell, ofcourse). These 2 amps have variable output (up to max 2V RMS) and these are what allow high-impedance headphones.

13. Phukinhell

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 26, 2017

I can honestly tell you after spending a few days with the v30 I am a little underwhelmed by the DAC (and yes I turned it on...first thing in fact). I held out so much hope for this phone, I even passed on the galaxy note 8 because sound/music is very important to me and I can tell you while it doesnt sound bad, this ESS sabre DAC is pretty weak. I did a comparrison between this phone and my samsung Galaxy tab E from 2015 (not a powerful tablet by any means) on four songs at 50% volume: Chet Bakers my funny valentine, Vivaldi's Sping Allegro, Kaki King' s Zamzam well, and Beck's Colors (all files were MP3 320 kbps yes I know its a lossy format). I used two pairs of headphones: Senheisser Momentum on ear (18 ohm impedence) and Fostex T50RP's with modded pads (50 Ohm impedence not terribly high impedence but difficult to drive). The difference between the two at 50 % volume is enormous. The sound reproduction on both was very good with the v 30 MAYBE being slightly clearer but not by much and certainly not noticeable for the average consumer. The amount of "noise" on both devices was the same. But the level of sound, wow did the older samsung tablet put out more sound. I have ordered a pair of Fostex tr 90's semi open at 250 Ohm for my final test but I am not holding out hope. If you are buying this hoping for a truly amazing audiophile grade experience, you're going to be very disapointed, ESPECIALLY with tough to drive headphones.

14. royce770

Posts: 1; Member since: Dec 29, 2017

Hi, Can anyone tell me why does my v-20 sound better when playing low- rez files ? I mean it sounds good playing regular flacs, worse when playing 24bit/96.0khz and even worse when playing dsd files. Makes no sense... Thanx.

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