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A smartphone with low noise floor?

  1. RetroDanceFreak
    I'm looking for a new phone that would, hopefully, pair well with my Shure SE535s. To me that means no audible hiss first, low distortion second, and detail, soundstage, etc. third. Needless to say, the one thing that gets most on my nerves is the hissing.

    I know the bar is high, because these IEMs hiss with almost anything. They even just barely hiss for a couple of seconds with two different Fiio X5 II units after they turn on, but after that it becomes inaudible.

    The phones I'm considering the most are any with LG's (technically ESS') quad DAC on board. The G6+ (H870DSU), G7, v30s are available in my country, but I can't demo them without purchasing (dumb, I know), so I must rely on recommendations here.

    I also hear the Galaxy S8 has a HiFi ESS DAC and that it shouldn't be that much different compared to LG's Quad DAC with low-impedance gear, since the rest of the DACs only fire up with high-impedance gear. The problem is, I think I listened to a friend of mine's S8 it and it hissed audibly.

    I also plan to switch to CIEMs at some point in the future and I'm currently interested in UE Reference Remastered, and some 6-8 driver models by 64 Audio and JH. I don't know how sensitive these are, but I'm betting they'll be very sensitive. So in the long run, I'm looking for a phone that's just a match for high-end IEMs.

    Finally, if I eventually don't find such a phone, would I be able to achieve a satisfactory audio experience with some 20-75 ohm resistance adapters and a phone with a 24/32-bit DAC?
  2. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    Did you run a music player app or just rip it off your ears hearing hiss? Because a number of Samsung phones I've had or tried hiss a lot until you open any media player app. Only exceptions so far have been the Note4 and S7 (this one has a different problem - horrible distortion and noise if you listen while charging).
  3. RetroDanceFreak
    I heard hiss during playback. I chose a song with a quiet intro.

    Actually, the Galaxy didn't hiss until playback started, which is something I experienced with a couple of my own, older Galaxy phones.
  4. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    That's kind of weird; SGS, SGS3, SGS5, Note3, and J7 Pro that I had/tried all had the hiss until you launch any media player app (Neutron, Spotify, YouTube, etc). Although it's only on the SGS3 that it's really audible. they all go quiet once the player app loads. if the problem is with the SE535 theoretically the noise should be there even before loading any media player app.
  5. RetroDanceFreak
    Both phones had custom firmware, so that could play a role. The way I interpret it is that the DAC was turned off until playback started.

    But either way, they hiss during playback, so that's the important bit.
  6. Tsukuyomi
    I have the new Samsung Note 9 and when i tried to play some FLAC music using Foobar2000 it seemed fine to me. granted, i dont use phones to listen to music, i have a dedicated DAP for going out and a setup for home. but from what i could tell from testing, it seemed fine to me, no hiss before, during or after playing any music with an app or not.
  7. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    If that's a T-Mobile using the Snapdragon embedded audio chip that rooting unlocks for full power output, that's the likely problem. That DAC is fine if considerably underpowered for lower sensitivity IEMs (let alone headphones) but once unlocked the noise floor goes up. I got to try a Snapdragon SGS7 and decided not to root my SGS7Edge. Not that it was that bad, but it's not like my ASG-1 (125dB/1mW) or even my ZST (105dB/1mW) needed to get louder (ie all I can hear was the added noise floor).
  8. RetroDanceFreak
    I think I should post my findings after a few months of owning and listening to the LG G7.

    The Quad DAC is indeed quite good, but it does hiss, unless you use either USB Audio Player Pro or PowerAmp. The reason is that Android up-samples 44.1 kHz audio to 48 kHz, introducing noticeable distortion. To get around this, one must use either UAPP's internal audio driver or PowerAmp's Direct Volume Control. Eliminates distortion and hiss completely - tested with the SE535 and JH Angie.

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