ok im no audiophile, but ive had some quality earphones like shure and klipsch driven through good portable so id like to think i know good sound.
when i got my note i was extremely happpy with it, but the moment i plugged my headphones in it was painful, a terrible listening experience. i tried poweramp and others and tweaked the eq but it was still a lot worse than my old htc desire z. i was ready to return it when i decided to root it and install a custom rom based on ice cream sandwich (stunner).
the music transformed into the best ive heard from a mobile device, the clarity and base were so incredibly improved i wondered if there really was a god who answered my prayers. when comparing to my friends new galaxy s3 therr is very little diffrrence, his maybe a tiny bit better balanced, but the note goes noticably louder.
weve compared our phobes using a range of AT headphones and others and the result is always as above.
if your gond to use the note as a pmp but dont want to root it then get the s3 because it comes with great audio out of the box, the note requires a root and custom rom to do that which can be a bit risky if done improperly.
Desire z is not a good match for your ba iems. (Since you mentioned you have good shure and klipsch I presume you use multi ba iems)
It probably dostorted huge amounts of frequency based on the htc's high impedance and you thought it was the correct sound of your iems. And you happened to like that? I don't know.
G note has a low impedance for an android phone and known to have a fairly good sound output. I don't really see how your comparison between gnote and gs3 worked because they output very similar sound. Gs3 will have advantage in its user eq system 'soundalive' but normal eq setting won't be too different beteeen gnote and gs3.
I don't know what your custom rom is but I highly doubt it changed a sound signature since the developers did not made any noticeable mod on gnote yamaha chipset. (I would have thought there was someting if you exampled with woolfson based phones) maybe recent roms include some htc beats software eq systems or other eq related apps maybe you enabled those?
Edited by dsan - 8/4/12 at 11:44pm