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Best Smartphone for audiophile Part II (Updated: Mar 2019)

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by artpiggo, Jun 19, 2017.
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  1. gazzington
    Is there a small reasonably cheap phone I can use as a transport for a dac/amp. I find phones better for me than daps especially when at work
  2. nimanchev
    Hello! After reading the last 250 pages in 2 days, and about 1500 pages in a month or so, I must stop, or my head might explode. I want to share more info about the HTC M8s and HTC 10, that I have been using and comparing extensively. The M8s is a legend for me - one night, I was using it for navigation in the dark, somewhere on unknown French highways, and a pothole has caused it to fly off the handlebars at 20 kph and I ran over it with my road bike...that is a total of 100kg!!! The camera and calls stopped working, but the navigation did not stop, and I managed to get home. Otherwise I would have spend the night on unknown roads... I payed a bunch of money to restore it with little success, and now I keep it in a drawer - it is a veteran. Audio-wise, I had compared it for days with the latest Dragonfly Black, using Focal Spirit Classic headphones. At first, I thought the sound signature was similar, but I still gave the edge to the M8s - literally everything was a step up. One year later, I auditioned Oppo HA-2 with the same setup, and the Oppo sounded digital, artificial, and very different. I tried all gain options, I tried everything I could think of - I just did not find it musical at all. The treble was detailed, yet thin, but not bright. So, when I bought HTC 10, I auditioned it for one year with FLAC up to 24/192, and Focal Spirit Classic, Focal Spirit One S, and Sennheiser Momentum M2 G Ivory, and the el cheapo Beyerdynamic Byron (all wired). I confirm most of the praise this phone gets. For more serious listening, I have compared it to the Yulong D200 with all above headphones. I use Furutech USB cable and a $ 30 power cord.
    The D200 is jaw-droppingly detailed and neutral, as one can expect. Even playing 20-year old games gives stunning detail. Bass is just not there... The player is Foobar, with either WASAPI or ASIO, Windows 7. One strange thing is that the Momentum M2 sound awful with the D200, but fantastic with the HTC 10 and the paid Poweramp full version, 2.0.10 build 588. THE TRICK IS TO LISTEN AT UNUSUALLY LOW VOLUMES, otherwise, the M2 sounds aggressive and unbalanced, like if you listen underwater. D200 sounds way more musical than Oppo HA-2, but still...it is ESS-based, after all.
    I visited Cobra.fr stores quite a few times and auditioned dozens of high-end headphones. I tried them all on the M8s, and later repeated everything with HTC 10, and I cared to make a Personal Audio Profile with it for each headphone. I also tried each one with, and without the profile. TLDR: Beyerdynamics and Sennheisers were all a joke - thin, not musical, unbalanced. I had high hopes for Amiron and HD800s, but... Then, I tried Focal Elear, and later, Focal Clear. The latter was a dream. Many people claim that one must hear for himself just how better it is than the HD800s, and I confirm that. The Clear clear-ly deserves a higher end source, but the HTC 10 drove everything perfectly. Then, I had the rare chance to audition Focal Utopia with the HTC 10. It was quite a step up from the Clear, and this is where I wish I had a higher end source like my D200. The HTC 10 is musical and balanced, and detailed, but it has sufficient bass, and the D200 does not. Same can be said for Focal Listen wired. If I want critical, analytical listening, I just plug it in the D200. Having auditioned Samsung Galaxy S6 and S7, and some Xperias, I am was not impressed with them.
    A local big chain of stores was selling out the HTC 10 with multiple discounts. I managed to buy 2 brand new ones with 24M warranty for just 170 EUR each!!! Is not that a heck of a deal...And for a similar price, I can get a few more, brand new imported, no warranty, to stock my supplies for a long time. I do not care about cameras, as I am a pro photographer and I always cary a Sony A6000 with some premium lenses. There is no smartphone on Earth with even a decent camera, just a bunch of lies from manufacturers that use photos from pro cameras as marketing and claim they were taken with smartphones. LMAO...
    Reinhold and jhoffmann like this.
  3. adlevision
    Somewhere back in this thread, though I can't find it now, someone was complaining about unreliability of Android with USB DACs and wondering if IPhone was more reliable. I certainly am having a similar experience.

    Got the appropriate OTG cable, plugged the TEAC HA-P5 (not P50) into my LG V30, worked fine with USB Audio Player Pro. Stopped the music, plugged the cans directly into the V30 and unplugged the DAC to compare. Sounded fine, but maybe a little flatter in the presentation of trebble? Stopped the music, plugged the DAC back in, phone grabbed it and stopped putting out sound, but also no sound from the DAC.

    Power cycled the DAC, unplugged/replugged, still nothing. Plugged the DAC into my IPhone SE to make sure it still worked, which it did. But still nothing from Android. So, yeah, I see what the guy meant about finicky Android and reliability problems with DACs. I expect it to magically work again once I power cycle the phone (I hope), but I think this'll be an IPhone/PC accessory. External mobile DACs are a PITA anyway, so luckily I like the SQ straight from the hi-fi DAC in the V30 just fine with my Focal Clears.

    Although I have in the past had an occasional issue with, I think, an HRT Microstreamer with old firmware when connected to the "camera kit" IPhone adaptor, IPhone has otherwise been 100% reliable with USB DACs, and I like the direct connection (no camera kit adapter) on the HA-P5. I prefer the IPhone SE for size and standard usage, but keep the V30 by the bedside as a DAP and "hey Google" smarthome controller.
  4. spinrite
    I have an option right now togive up my Lg v30 and switch to a Exynos Note 9 for my all in one device and a replacement for my audiophile music needs. To let everyone I value pure sound quality over all the features that the note 9 currently has. Am I making a mistake? Someone please talk me out of it if it's abackwards move. Thanks
  5. artpiggo
    Get note9 and add ES100 for ldac.
  6. spinrite
    I should also add that i'm also using low impedence IEMs flare audio Golds. So the exynos DAC in this note 9 version should be enough to drive these iems properly? I don't want carry extra devices around though. Are you saying that gong Bluetooth with the ES100 will match or surpass my wired setup with the Lg v30?
  7. EpicEric6
    Both phone will give you enough loudness. However the quality of sound is much better on LG. For ES100, it would be a step back too compared to V30.
  8. artpiggo
    What I mean is you will miss the V30 sound quality when you turn to SS even if the loudness is enough.

    Bluetooth dac is needed for suffice some good audio.
  9. AndrewJ
    Deleted. Misunderstood that ES100 receives.

    Do I understand that the ES100 is also an amp. I have been considering a portable dac / amp, ldac headphones, or the Shure usb c to iem cable. The is capable of 24bit/96.

    I dont need anything better than 24/96 so ES100 interests me for my note 9
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2018
  10. waynes world
    Its good enough for me, such that I'm never going to worry about how good a phones SQ is ever again. But as usual, ymmv.
  11. nimanchev
    I wonder if I need anything more than my HTC 10 + Poweramp... I have two wired heaphones, Focal Listen and the on-ear Sennheiser Momentum M2 G Ivory. My flacs are mostly 16/44.1 and some 24/192 ones. Plugging those headphones into my Yulong D200 with good cables reveals everything better, neutral and non-fatiguing - layers, subtlety, even more detail... But maybe my headphones are low-end, and I cannot appreciate the striking difference I should be hearing? I guess the newer LG phones should have a similar sound signature, since they are ESS-based too, like the D200. For a moment, I was thinking about the likes of Shanling M5 / M5s...
  12. Pakalini
    Got my lg v30+ few days back for 411€. such a beast audiophile phone. Wondering if Vivo Nex S has any similarity in audio department.
  13. EpicEric6
    I have G7 and Nex S on hand at the moment and am planning to sell the Nex S. Regarding audio (in aux or high impedance mode for G7), Nex has a warmer sound which may lead to some added musicality, but not as energetic / punchy. On the other hand, G7 is just very balanced, neutral and precise sound. Currently Nex S have a bit of issue with LDAC support which it stutters when listening with Sony WH1000XM3 headphone. I'm not sure if Nex S has the similar impedance check mechanism though. Don't get me wrong, they both are beast when it comes to portable audio, I just prefer the sound of LG.
    Pakalini and andrewski like this.
  14. artpiggo
    Nex S has similar impedance check. You can use adapter trick aux mode just like LG. And Yes LG is balanced and neutral sound while vivo are warmer and more musical. Depend mostly on the matching. Both brands are great as a audiophile phone.

    I recommend you try DSD Mode in Nex S prior to selling it. It is the only one of two phones that can do native DSD apart from xplay6.
    andrewski likes this.
  15. wwyjoe
    Can share how to use aux mode or high impedence with the Nex S? Thanks
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