For all you lazy people: (this comparison is not even that long anyway)
The cirrus chip is noticeably a better chip with better overall clarity and more detail.
First things first, source:
Galaxy S2 International Version/iPad 4th Gen > FiiO E11 > ATH-M50/JVC HA S500
Since all the latest apple products including the iPod, iPhone, and iPad are using the same chip, i will be comparing them to the Galaxy S2's Yamaha chip.
As far as quantity goes, the Yamaha chip is a bit more bassy. The difference is very slight that you will not notice it unless you do an A/B test like I did. However, the bass on the Cirrus chip is more controlled with more texture and detail. Sub-bass on both is very good, but the Cirrus chip can go *slightly* deeper. When listening to techno/trance/house/electro the Yamaha is admittedly more enjoyable because of the mini V shaped SS, but comes in the cost of the mids and overall clarity which I'll get to in a second.
Here is where Apple products shine. The midrange on the Cirrus chip is more forward with more detail to it. The midrange on the S2's Yamaha chip sounds very slightly pushed back, the bass can also bleed into it. Although vocals will sound good on the Yamaha chip, the iPad's cirrus chip will outperform it in this area. The midrange on both is very smooth, i can't detect any harshness in vocalist's voices. When going from an iPad to GS2, you will notice that male vocalists lack some authority/weight. Female vocalists, on the other hand, sound wonderful on both sources. Stringed instruments sound more upfront and lively on the Cirrus chip.
Treble on both extends all the way up without adding any sibilance/harshness. Again, the Cirrus does seem to take the edge in terms of detail retrieval. There's not much difference here apart from detail.
The iPad's cirrus chip is noticeably more detailed. Micro-details retrieved are much more audible. The Yamaha has all the detail of the Cirrus, but its just not that obvious. On some tracks, you'll have to listen a bit more closely to hear those details on the Yamaha whereas the details are that much easier to hear on the Cirrus.
In terms of width and height, there's no difference i can detect.
Imaging on both is great, but the edge goes to the Cirrus. Exact places are easier to pick out rather than pointing in a direction. I guess the easiest way to explain it is that with the cirrus you can pick up northeast, southwest. On the Yamaha, its more east, west, north etc..
Yamaha chip lets instruments blend in together which is nice for particular genres but not every genre. There's a little more space on the Cirrus chip for instruments, it never feels like they have been mixed together. This also has to do with the superior imaging on the Cirrus chip.
Winner and Overall thoughts:
Overall clarity seems to be better on the Cirrus chip. I'm an android fanboy, but i must admit, Apple outperformed Samsung in this one. Please note that this is the Galaxy S2, i don't know about the chip on the S3 or Note 2, but i heard its a Wolfson chip which is supposed to be excellent.
Edited by xkonfuzed - 8/18/13 at 11:29am