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Droid Razr M - nice but beware the audio

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
It's a nice phone especially for the price. Well made, up to date specs, edge-to-edge 4.3" screen, great battery life, fast, ICS, small, light, thin. I got it not because of the price but because currently it's the only Verizon 4G smartphone (except for iPhone5) that meets my requirements - it's pocketable as opposed to the current Android craze of bigger is better and it's a world phone with potentially unlockable SIM card (necessity since I frequently travel to EU).

Moto cut corners on few things that I can live with like PenTile OLED screen (not retina but tolerable), only 8GB of memory (expandable via microSD) and a rather bad camera. But one thing is sacred and it's audio quality!

I dunno what DAC it uses inside but after my prior IP4 listening to M via headphones is painful. I never thought that my crystal clear, spacious and balanced Westones 4 can sound that bad, ditto for my Grados SR-125. Compared to IP4 and even Sansa Clip+ you get a flat, 2D, congested sound with everything seemingly rolled, especially mids which are downright distant. Soundstage suffers tremendously. M sounds like it simply doesn't have enough oomph to drive even the relatively sensitive W4 and Grados. This suspicion is confirmed by the fact that compared to IP4 I have to drive up volume at least 15-20%. Oh, and yeah, the output is also hissy.

EQ'ing (lifting mids mostly) helps somewhat. Switching to Neutron player from ICS stock and doubleTwist also helped but still no cigar. Lugging around portable external DAC isn't my style. So I'll wait when the M gets rooted and will try the kernel with VoodoSound. Until then I've dusted off my trusty Sansa Clip+ with Rockbox (carrying around IP4 as a player is ridiculous).

I dunno, maybe I'm too harsh on the little M. Anybody has similar or opposite opinion? Or maybe there's some other trick to make it sound better?
Edited by albau - 10/1/12 at 5:45pm
post #2 of 19
Thread Starter 
FYI, in another thread somebody mentioned that Razors have high impedance greater than 10 ohm. That basically screws balanced armature headphones like my 4s which may explain my experience. Dynamic phones should be ok. My Panama HJE900 indeed sound quite the same as on iPhone 4.
post #3 of 19

I've just joined to add that the M's Intel powered counterpart, the Razr I, also suffers from audio quality issues in my experience.

I get high levels of hiss / interference when a speaker is connected to 3.5mm jack while audio is not playing. Hard to describe the sound, as it changes, however it's somewhere between hiss, ground loop and EM interference.

There's also an unpleasant thump when audio output turns on (i.e. just prior to playing audio) or off (a few moments after the audio output is stopped).

The hiss/interference noise reduces significantly immediately before and after playing audio i.e. it seems to go down to an acceptable level once the audio chip is taken out of 'sleep' mode and made active. I can only assume that this is because a noise cancellation circuit is removing the interference once the audio chip is activated, but that while it's inactive the unwanted signal is making its way down the cable connected to the 3.5mm jack.

This happens regardless of whether the device is connected to wall socket - and I've tested with a battery powered speaker - so this isn't a ground loop issue as far as I know. It is most noticeable when connected to an external speaker that's turned up to a decent volume, but is also audible through headphones. Of course different headphones will show the issue to a different extent, as the impedance of headphones can vary quite widely. Through small earphones, the sound isn't too offensive, but through an external speaker or decent headphones it's completely unacceptable.

I tried temporarily disabling the MusicFX app and doing a factory reset – no luck with either unfortunately.

I realize this is a slightly different issue than you're describing, however the two together suggest that QC on the 3.5mm outputs needs to be better. On mine, when music is playing, the sound is a little rough, but just about listenable. The interference when a track isn't playing is offensive, and the pops make me worry about my speakers getting damaged!

Such a shame, because the handset is perfect for me other than this problem. I've tested two handsets now after sending the first back for replacement and both had the same problem, so I've been forced me to send it back for a full refund.

post #4 of 19

Can anyone comment on the sound quality of the international/Asian version of the Droid Razr M? (XT905 model) Any better than the US version? Looks like the perfect phone for me if the headphone output quality is OK.

post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
After few months and using Neutron as a player I sorta made peace with Razor M's headphone out. Especially after recent updates Neutron really put a lipstick on a pig to the point where my Westone 4 now sound almost like they used to on iPhone 4. Granted we compare here sound salvaged by heavy processing voodoo, EQ and Neutron wizardry against stock un-EQed iOS player but still. It's enough to switch briefly to PowerAmp to appreciate hugely what Neutron does with lousy Razr M audio.

So if you're willing to put up with Neutron's UI , want Razr M and listen mainly via headphones (not car audio or speakers) I wouldn't categorically pass on it. It also depends upon your headphones. Dynamic driver IEMs like my Pana HJE-900 are affected much less than balanced armature multi-drivers like my W4s.

Btw, recently I've got a Lenovo A2109 tablet which despite being cheap has a very decent audio path, still not IP4 level but comparable to iPad 3. On Lenovo I can enjoy W4 with PowerAmp or even with stock ICS player with flat or slightly tweaked EQ. Neutron still improves things but not so dramatically as on Razr M.

In any case hail to the Neutron player! smily_headphones1.gif
post #6 of 19
The Droid Razr HD and Razr M are said to have really good audio out: http://www.gsmarena.com/motorola_droid_razr_hd_verizon-review-842p5.php

Tho it's the Maxx HD I was interested in before,...
post #7 of 19

I saw those reviews on GSM Arena - however it's the US version of the Razr M, not the international (XT905) version (that's available in Australia). Also the test on GSM Arena is for the speaker output, not the headphone output which I'm interested in, plus a SNR of 82 decibels doesn't sound good to me. So I'm wondering if the international version is any better?

 

 

Quote:
albau:
FYI, in another thread somebody mentioned that Razors have high impedance greater than 10 ohm. That basically screws balanced armature headphones like my 4s which may explain my experience. Dynamic phones should be ok. My Panama HJE900 indeed sound quite the same as on iPhone 4.

 

My headphones are Shure SE425, dual balanced armatures (I think!). Does this mean I should avoid all RAZR phones? What phones should I be looking for? I'm looking at the HTC One SV. Would this be OK? Anyone tested the sound quality on the SV?

 

Cheers


Edited by asahel - 12/16/12 at 6:00pm
post #8 of 19
No, GSMArena uses the headphone out to do the audio testing. And it's with & without a load,...
post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by tds101 View Post

No, GSMArena uses the headphone out to do the audio testing. And it's with & without a load,...

 

OK that makes more sense, I thought I was missing something there! But GSM Arena still didn't test the Razr M with the headphone load, and it's the US version. Does anyone know if the international Razr M XT905 is any better?

 

And if the Motorolas are unsuitable for dual balanced armature headphones like my Shure SE425s, what phones should I be looking for? (My requirements are small size, decent battery, decent SQ)

post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by asahel View Post

 

OK that makes more sense, I thought I was missing something there! But GSM Arena still didn't test the Razr M with the headphone load, and it's the US version. Does anyone know if the international Razr M XT905 is any better?

 

And if the Motorolas are unsuitable for dual balanced armature headphones like my Shure SE425s, what phones should I be looking for? (My requirements are small size, decent battery, decent SQ)

Probably an iPhone 4S

post #11 of 19

not sure if this has been solved yet but the solution is:

playmusic->(select a song and start playing it)->(upper right hand corner is a drop down menu)->equalizer->off

 

for mine it was automatically selcted to bass punch, which absolutely destroyed the vocals and instruments

 

hope i helped

post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by rizZzo88 View Post

not sure if this has been solved yet but the solution is:

playmusic->(select a song and start playing it)->(upper right hand corner is a drop down menu)->equalizer->off

 

for mine it was automatically selcted to bass punch, which absolutely destroyed the vocals and instruments

 

hope i helped

 

Looking at this phone myself, and I'd love to hear if this helps others, and especially those running Jelly Bean.

post #13 of 19

I've acquired its European sibling Razr i and am happy to report no sound issues of the likes others have reported while using the phone with my Sennheiser HD-25-1 II headphones. Sometimes I do notice a very faint electrical noise before an audio track starts but it is of such low magnitude that it immediately gets drowned in the volume of the ensuing reproduced material. 

 

Compared to what I get from the 3.5 mm output on my HP EliteBook 8460p the reproduced sound has a distinctly higher resolution if a somewhat diminished bass. Overall I am quite content with the sound quality in its present state. 

post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by PetarM View Post

I've acquired its European sibling Razr i and am happy to report no sound issues of the likes others have reported while using the phone with my Sennheiser HD-25-1 II headphones. Sometimes I do notice a very faint electrical noise before an audio track starts but it is of such low magnitude that it immediately gets drowned in the volume of the ensuing reproduced material. 

 

Compared to what I get from the 3.5 mm output on my HP EliteBook 8460p the reproduced sound has a distinctly higher resolution if a somewhat diminished bass. Overall I am quite content with the sound quality in its present state. 

 

Thank you for the reply, I hope we can get even more :)

post #15 of 19

I'm contemplating a defection from AT&T to Verizon, and I may purchase a used Droid Razr Maxx. I think I'll enjoy it's sq quite nicely. Then I may sell my Nokia Lumia 920. And I'm not going to sell it because of a dislike of the device, it's a disgust of AT&T.

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