Phones for audiophiles: 5 Android handsets with quality sound processors

Phones for audiophiles: 5 Android handsets with quality sound processors
Audio quality is starting to get more and more attention by phone makers, as for the majority of people their smartphone has become their main listening device. We are seeing more and more handsets outfitted with stereo speakers, directional microphones, and quality DACs, amplifiers and various other sound processing paraphernalia. 

Granted, with the thin and confined chassis of today's smartphones you can never get a top-notch audio experience that would satisfy the true audio geeks, but then again they can never be satisfied by anything, while these audio improvements are certainly appreciated by the average user.

Samsung signed a partnership agreement with Wolfson, the Scottish sound processing chip masters, while Vivo, for instance, prides itself in outfitting its flagships with DAC and amp chips typically reserved for decked hi-fi systems. After rounding up the handsets that don stereo speakers, we are now listing some of the current ones that have more upscale audio chips in them, breaking away from whatever standard DAC comes bundled with Snapdragon or the other SoC brands.

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63 Comments

1. Gawain

Posts: 438; Member since: Apr 15, 2010

I'm surprised the Oppo Find 7 didn't make the list. The sound out of those speakers surprises me every time. Better than the Note 4 I think.

5. TyrionLannister unregistered

Well we're not talking about loudspeakers here are we. The proper sound comes from phones coupled by quality headphones. If we were taking loudspeakers only, then note 4 wouldn't make the list by far.

25. thorudk

Posts: 7; Member since: Oct 28, 2014

GSM Arena and PhoneArena disagree. Both sites found that the Note 4 has one of the loudest speakers .

30. TyrionLannister unregistered

We're talking about quality here, not loudness.

28. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

I disagree completely. The Note 4 has loud and CLEAR sound from that speaker. Its actually not bad at all for a phone speaker.

31. TyrionLannister unregistered

Well the point is WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT LOUDSPEAKERS HERE. BUT THE QUALITY OF SOUND THROUGH EARPHONES. Note 4 may have good and loud speaker, but it's mono and tinny. M7/M8 have better ones and also nexus 6. The note 4 wouldn't make the list for loudspeaker. That's sure.

38. marcski07

Posts: 600; Member since: Apr 25, 2014

and i'm imagining you're saying that with tyrion lannister's voice lol. so note 4 has great earphone out put? how about connecting it to 5.1 surround speakers are they great also? i not saying i'm audiophile but i like quality sound where i can hear bass and different instruments clearly and really feel the bass thumping my ear and my head, that results to eargasm.. :D built in loud speakers is not important to me, but earphone and connecting to speakers out-put matters to me. :)

39. TyrionLannister unregistered

Yep. It'll be the same great with an external speaker as it is with the earphones. Those are all due to the Wolfson DAC.

43. marcski07

Posts: 600; Member since: Apr 25, 2014

now i'm really confused, i'm waiting for xperia z4, but i guess i wait also for note 5. :D any idea about xperia z audio quality? i do really like sony coz of their IP cert.

44. TyrionLannister unregistered

Xperia Z series has the worst DACs and audio quality in smartphones. You can see GSMArena reviews. They have a good section on audio quality. Sad they don't check wolfson DACs but xperias have pretty bad sound and low volume. For IPXX certification you can go with Exynos galaxy S series. You'd get a great audio out put and IP certification.

53. Arcaddiction

Posts: 1; Member since: Apr 22, 2015

Sony doesn't provide free goodies to reviewers and probably that seems to be the case you're against Xperia. Nobody on a large scale would agree with your point. Moreover your baseless support for other website's rating on Xperia shows your little or no knowledge over music like audiophiles. Also to let you know, I have nothing against Samsung and other players. I keep changing brands but as far as music is concerned, I personally feel Sony is right on top!

56. juangbo23

Posts: 6; Member since: Apr 09, 2015

lol as if you own and xperia device .. i got xperia tx and xperia z3 and all of them are top notch when i comes to audio quality using hi-res headphone .. i tried g3 and iphone 6 but non of them came close the xperia z3

55. juangbo23

Posts: 6; Member since: Apr 09, 2015

xperia audio quality is the best for me ... i dished out my g3 and i even tried iphone 6 and test the audio quality using same audio file and non of them came close to xperia z3... xperia z3 quality are by far the best ... details .. details .. details ...

50. sram145

Posts: 127; Member since: Dec 18, 2014

Can you tell me a smartphone with great audio quality for headphones under 300 dollars. Thanks.

59. Simona unregistered

man u talking buls**t .. i checking u longer time.. proper sound comes from quality HPs ONLY ?? do u even know where that sound ACTUALLY comes from ?? please stop talking CRAP here .. u have no knowledge about sound AT ALL!

60. Simona unregistered

Vivo X5Max is the winner

34. torr310

Posts: 1659; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

Pick up either HTC One (M8) or Samsung Note 4 is the best bet here in the United States.

41. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

HTC One M8 and Apple iPhone are the only phones sold in the US with high quality headphone output, i.e. good output voltage, impedance, current, etc. The US Note 4 uses a Qualcomm DAC which is mediocre at best with headphones.

47. poptart

Posts: 49; Member since: Nov 28, 2014

Bbk saves the best for their best brand and oppo's big brother, vivo!

2. DeusExCellula

Posts: 1390; Member since: Oct 05, 2014

HTC but that big ass black strip tho.. give back that extra screen space

3. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

Erm...iPhone also has dedicated amplifier.

8. Gawain

Posts: 438; Member since: Apr 15, 2010

Except an iOS device wouldn't fit on a list "5 Android handsets..."

10. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

My bad, I have to read more carefully :) I would buy one of these just to use it as portable player but they are not that portable, every one is too big for pockets and IUNI U2 doesn't have SD slot which surely stops many people from buying it. I would buy HTC One Mini 2 but it's same size like 4.7 iPhone...and Galaxy Alpha with awesome audio performance also doesn't have SD slot... I guess best way is to get iPod :P

19. TyrionLannister unregistered

But even the iPod doesn't have micro SD slot!

21. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

But there are 64GB versions with nice prices and classics have even 160GB memory.

27. oister85

Posts: 512; Member since: Apr 27, 2012

Yeah...... but with the big prize tag

35. kbakker

Posts: 16; Member since: Dec 16, 2014

Z3 Compact FTW. Flagship specs in a small frame. It's a very impressive device. My only con with it is the poor implementation of the camera (the optics are fantastic and it shows when used in manual, but their auto mode is not up to par with many of the other flagships). I don't know how the Z3 didn't make this list. It's the real deal for audiophiles (FLAC capability, etc.).

40. TyrionLannister unregistered

LOOOOOL. FLAC compatibility doesn't make it audiophile deal. Even my s4 supports FLAC. Z3 has a very poor audio output. It's volume is low and sound is distorted. It's worse than even the usual snapdragon phones like s5, g3 etc. How can it compare with these phones with proper audio chips. The note 4 here is not the snapdragon, but the exynos.

57. juangbo23

Posts: 6; Member since: Apr 09, 2015

do you have z3? z3 is the best smartphone when it comes to audio quality, i've been using xperia tx and z3 and tried other phones like iphone 6 and g3 using same audio file .. non of them came close to z3 using hi-res headphone .. details are the best with z3...

42. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

Sony plays a lot of games with fake buzzwords. The audio quality they deliver with the Z3/Z3 Compact is basically bottom of the barrel, and, for the most part, equivalent or worse vs a cheap $100 phone.

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