Best Smartphone for audiophile Part II (Updated: Jan 2020)
May 13, 2021 at 6:10 AM Post #4,037 of 4,536

vver

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Unfortunate, zenfone8 will only use qualcomm dac, the phone looks good tho

Audio Output:
Hi-Res Audio 384 kHz / 32-bit standard for 3.5mm output
Qualcomm Audio CODEC (WCD9385)
AudioWizard with multiple listening profiles
Wouldn't write it off yet..HTC 10 used this in 2016 to great effect and Asus has absorbed many ex HTC engineers..

https://www.qualcomm.com/products/wcd9385

We need a few real world tests..I would be very happy with HTC 10 level audio via 3.5 mm from a 2021 flagship..

Though if they goofed it up I would reluctantly be looking at an ROG 5.
 
May 13, 2021 at 9:47 AM Post #4,038 of 4,536

garysohn

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Wouldn't write it off yet..HTC 10 used this in 2016 to great effect and Asus has absorbed many ex HTC engineers..

https://www.qualcomm.com/products/wcd9385

We need a few real world tests..I would be very happy with HTC 10 level audio via 3.5 mm from a 2021 flagship..

Though if they goofed it up I would reluctantly be looking at an ROG 5.
I had the HTC 10 and I agree.
 
May 13, 2021 at 10:05 AM Post #4,039 of 4,536

RishiGuru

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Wouldn't write it off yet..HTC 10 used this in 2016 to great effect and Asus has absorbed many ex HTC engineers..

https://www.qualcomm.com/products/wcd9385

We need a few real world tests..I would be very happy with HTC 10 level audio via 3.5 mm from a 2021 flagship..

Though if they goofed it up I would reluctantly be looking at an ROG 5.

As I told you before ... the same happened. Asus are going to keep ESS for their ROG series only.

The WCD9385 is no slouch, but it remains to be seen how Asus have implemented it at hardware level. If implemented in power saving mode, saves battery and delivers anemic audio. If implemented in high power mode, consumes more battery delivers max performance. In the later case WCD9385 is a true killer, not in respect to headphone driving power but in terms of audio quality.

In the end at-least in the smartphone space ESS & Cirrus Logic still rules. Be it quality or drive power. My experience says so.
 
May 13, 2021 at 11:52 AM Post #4,040 of 4,536

vver

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As I told you before ... the same happened. Asus are going to keep ESS for their ROG series only.

The WCD9385 is no slouch, but it remains to be seen how Asus have implemented it at hardware level. If implemented in power saving mode, saves battery and delivers anemic audio. If implemented in high power mode, consumes more battery delivers max performance. In the later case WCD9385 is a true killer, not in respect to headphone driving power but in terms of audio quality.

In the end at-least in the smartphone space ESS & Cirrus Logic still rules. Be it quality or drive power. My experience says so.
I am hopeful it is the former.If Asus didn't want to exploit the full potential of the Aqistic DAC why pay Snapdragon for that instead of using the free non Aquistic DAC for the 3.5mm.As per industry sources the license to use Aqistic costs MORE than a Cirius Logic DAC chip.

I really just want the Zenfone 8 to match the audio performance of my S9 Plus or my previous HTC 10.
 
May 13, 2021 at 12:28 PM Post #4,041 of 4,536

Barusu Lamperouge

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I am hopeful it is the former.If Asus didn't want to exploit the full potential of the Aqistic DAC why pay Snapdragon for that instead of using the free non Aquistic DAC for the 3.5mm.As per industry sources the license to use Aqistic costs MORE than a Cirius Logic DAC chip.

I really just want the Zenfone 8 to match the audio performance of my S9 Plus or my previous HTC 10.
Asus will most probably use software tweaks like DTS and/or ICESound to maximise output instead of unlocking hardware potential which leads to performance handicap. Software optimisation is more than effective for casual listeners/consumers
 
May 14, 2021 at 10:32 AM Post #4,042 of 4,536

vver

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Asus will most probably use software tweaks like DTS and/or ICESound to maximise output instead of unlocking hardware potential which leads to performance handicap. Software optimisation is more than effective for casual listeners/consumers
Ok so Asus has made our choice simple.There is only one if you want a quality 3.5 mm jack in 2021..The Asus ROG 5..Learn to like it.Honestly its not a bad phone..great screen,battery,performance etc..
 
May 14, 2021 at 11:30 AM Post #4,043 of 4,536

RishiGuru

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I am hopeful it is the former.If Asus didn't want to exploit the full potential of the Aqistic DAC why pay Snapdragon for that instead of using the free non Aquistic DAC for the 3.5mm.As per industry sources the license to use Aqistic costs MORE than a Cirius Logic DAC chip.

I really just want the Zenfone 8 to match the audio performance of my S9 Plus or my previous HTC 10.

Let me clear your doubts and throw away some misconceptions:

The ESS & Cirrus logic audio chips used in smartphones are just discrete stereo DACs with an integrated headphone amplifier stage. It has to handle just two audio channels for audio playback only and does so superbly. They are just related to the 3.5 mm audio jack.

Whereas a WCD9385 or WCD9341 are discrete audio codecs from Qualcomm. Functionality wise they have to deliver every audio related requirement of the phone. It has to support:

1) Audio Playback (DAC)
2) Audio recording (ADC)
3) Has headphone amplification stage
3) Audio output through receiver during calls
4) Audio input through microphone during calls
5) Support voice service integration with say Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, ....

So technically speaking audio codec's are more complex and thus costs more than ESS or Cirrus Logic DACs. All LG QuadDAC phones have an Qualcomm audio codec working at the background which takes care of all these other activities. This audio codec even does playback and sends signal to phone's audio jack when HiFi setting is turned off on LG phones. Same goes for Vivo. When HiFi setting it turned on, LG phones just redirects the digital audio signal to QuadDAC which only takes care of the playback part, while the audio codec chip takes care of the rest.

Not only Aqstic WCD9385 is way superior in terms of fabrication process used, the transistor technology is leagues ahead that of ESS & Cirrus Logic chips currently used in phones. All this adds up cost to the codec.

It may sound absurd, Qualcomm have the money and the technological might to obliterate ESS, Cirrus Logic, AKM from the audio scene... if they want. Its just that they do not see a business scope where they get returns of their investment. We the audio lovers are a small group.
 
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May 14, 2021 at 1:01 PM Post #4,044 of 4,536

Barusu Lamperouge

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Ok so Asus has made our choice simple.There is only one if you want a quality 3.5 mm jack in 2021..The Asus ROG 5..Learn to like it.Honestly its not a bad phone..great screen,battery,performance etc..
If only one can live with that bulk. It will be a performance beast as well if one is a non-gamer.
 
May 14, 2021 at 1:04 PM Post #4,045 of 4,536

Barusu Lamperouge

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Let me clear your doubts the throw out some misconceptions:

The ESS & Cirrus logic audio chips used in smartphones are just discrete stereo DACs with an integrated headphone amplifier stage. It has to handle just two audio channels for audio playback only and does so superbly. They are just related to the 3.5 mm audio jack.

Whereas a WCD9385 or WCD9341 are discrete audio codecs from Qualcomm. Functionality wise they have to deliver every audio related requirement of the phone. It has to support:

1) Audio Playback (DAC)
2) Audio recording (ADC)
3) Has headphone amplification stage
3) Audio output through receiver during calls
4) Audio input through microphone during calls
5) Support voice service integration with say Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, ....

So technically speaking audio codec's are more complex and thus costs more than ESS or Cirrus Logic DACs. All LG QuadDAC phones have an Qualcomm audio codec working at the background which takes care of all these other activities. This audio codec even does playback and sends signal to phone's audio jack when HiFi setting is turned off on LG phones. Same goes for Vivo. When HiFi setting it turned on, LG phones just redirects the digital audio signal to QuadDAC which only takes care of the playback part, while the audio codec chip takes care of the rest.

Not only Aqstic WCD9385 is way superior in terms of fabrication, the transistor technology is way ahead than that of ESS & Cirrus Logic chips currently used on phones. All this adds up cost to the codec.

It may sound absurd, but Qualcomm have the money and the technological might to obliterate ESS, Cirrus Logic ... if they want from the audio scene. Its just that they do not see a business scope where they can get returns of their investment. We the audio lovers are a small group.
+1 to this. Qualcomm is competing with Apple's bionic chips all others are just not worth their time for them to enter into a niche segment like audio. Although, they're very dominant in BT audio space with their QCXXX series. And they're focusing on that aspect of audio as opposed to wired medium.
 
May 14, 2021 at 6:36 PM Post #4,046 of 4,536

vver

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If only one can live with that bulk. It will be a performance beast as well if one is a non-gamer.
I have a Samsung S9 plus so its about 20-25% bulkier..But I'm in no hurry. Will buy a new phone when 5G launches in India, probably in the first half of next year.

In the mean time I'm also contemplating getting a quality dongle like the THX Onyx along with the Zenfone 8..i.e. Okayishly decent audio performance and ability to avoid using irritating bluetooth ear buds on the go + stellar superior to LG V series performance at home when listening to bulkier headphones like M40X..
 
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May 14, 2021 at 6:40 PM Post #4,047 of 4,536

Barusu Lamperouge

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I have a Samsung S9 plus so its only about 10-15% bulkier..but I'm in no hurry. Will buy a new phone when 5G launches in India, probably in the first half of next year.
Yeah. For all you know, smartphone trends may change next and you might get a good phone. This year so far has been underwhelming as far as Android smartphones are concerned.
 
May 14, 2021 at 6:47 PM Post #4,048 of 4,536

vver

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Yeah. For all you know, smartphone trends may change next and you might get a good phone. This year so far has been underwhelming as far as Android smartphones are concerned.
I think the only companies that make money off Bluetooth accessories which their customers are now forced to buy are Samsung and Apple.Everyone else doesn't make any money on this scam so one by one they are reintroducing 3.5 mm first Sony now Asus..who knows maybe Nokia will be next..
 
May 20, 2021 at 9:05 PM Post #4,050 of 4,536

Nace

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AKM's factory caught fire a few months ago. They are out of the game for at least a year. More if no one trusts them to supply consistently again.

Pity. They had some great Hi-Fi/Pro Audio products
As of now their chips specifically AK4497EQ are still being used in new DAP's such as A&K SE180 and the new Fiio M11 Pro, not sure how long that'll last though
 

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