First DAC/AMP for Android Galaxy S8 (Fiio, HIFIME, and Zorloo)

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  1. SuperNovaGoesPop

    So I'm somewhat fed-up with chasing on-board cell phone audio and just want to settle on the idea of running a separate DAC/AMP with an Android phone as needed...had my heart set on getting a V20/V30, but I ended up having to get a Galaxy S8 to qualify for some XFINITY/Comcast promotions. But I just can't deal with the stock Snapdragon/weak amp of the S8. I want this thing to sound very engaging and make music fun and energetic...I want a fast "toe tapper" sound signature with lots of character and musicality. The S8 is just muffled, jumbled, and sluggish to me. I don't want cold and analytical/sterile either though, I need something very upbeat and punchy with a big sound and maybe just a bit on the "warm" side. I'm also looking to have some headroom for volume instead of having to max everything'd be nice to have my volume level at about 75% of max with some room left over.

    But anyway, I'm leaning towards the USB-C or Android edition of the HIFIME Sabre 9018 at the moment, but I'm still considering the Zorloo Zuperdac and the Fiio BTR1, E10K, and Q1. My questions are pretty simple...1) Any thoughts/feedback on these devices and how they would fit my needs? 2) Is it a given that a wired DAC/AMP should sound better than the little BTR1 and other bluetooth DACs? 3) I've seen that Android compatibility is a bit rough altogether and that the HIFIME is maybe the best solution for wired DACs due to this. Think this is a good call since I just want plug and play without the issues? Any advice or comments from Android/S8 users?

    I'm mostly going to be listening through 16-65ohm IEMs and over ear headphones and linking up to my S8 and potential future Android phones; mostly just listening around the house, but portability is nice. Any and all help/feedback/other suggestions will be appreciated greatly. Just being honest...I have downloaded files, but streaming music over Google Play Music or possibly Spotify at the highest quality settings is what I'm primarily going to be doing with this.

    Thanks a million...


    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
  2. davidland
    also wanna know more
  3. SuperNovaGoesPop
    Something else to toss out much as the e10k looks cool, I'm guessing that its power consumption would be rather out of control compared to the Sabre 9018 and not a good fit for mobile use?
  4. antdroid
    Some external DACs will use your phone's power - actually most all will - even the ones with battery built-in. The Q1 does have a Charge on/off button which is nice, but they did not include that in the Mk II edition. I've seen mixed messages on whether it sucks battery or not when used a DAC.

    I have the Q1 1st Gen and it works well. I use it in Amp mode though, and plug my BTR1 or DAP into it. I had a few of the smaller DACs but they drained battery a bit too much for my liking - I had the Sabaj DA2, SMSL Idol+, and Cambridge Audio. I havent used the hifimediy ones yet.
  5. alterndog
    I use a Dragonfly Black as my dac/amp for my S8 and play my music out of UAPP. It works well as it is fairly small and definitely makes a difference. If you want to step it up you could do the DF Red.
  6. SuperNovaGoesPop
    How does your Dragonfly work for amplifying buds/headphones compared to stock S8? The lack of power is my biggest complaint and I imagine that the Dragonfly is going to be close to the HIFIME model that I' leaning towards in terms of output. I don' have anything over 65ohm that I listen through, so is there really that much more of a volume boost when using the Dragonfly? I just don't want to be disappointed when I could try a more powerful option like a Fiio.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2017
  7. SuperNovaGoesPop
    that's a neat idea. Just curious, but how do you feel about the btr1 all on its own when it comes to driving headphones? I know it won't able as powerful as a q1, but does it provide a lot of extra volume and headroom?
  8. antdroid
    The BTR1 works great for most things. It struggles slightly when I use the Audeze Sines and T50RP Mk3 but those are a bit more power intensive (Audeze suggests 500mW for the headphones! I dont know if I agree with that though) It sound great with earbuds. Sounds even better amped.
  9. Mboom
    S8 can't have lack of power. My Nexus 6 drives my hd600's perfectly even below 50% volume. Muffled ? Can't be. Samsung wouldn't allow ****ty audio. It's 2017 not 2005.
  10. labrat
    How old is your Samsung S8?
    Has it been updated since early summer?
    What Android version does it run?
  11. antdroid
    I dont have an S8 but I have an S7 as my work phone and using Audeze Sine headphones (portable planar magnetics), I have to get to the last step or max volume to get it to sound loud enough and I dont typically listen to my music that loud via headphones. I know the exynous and the snapdragon variants of the galaxy series have had different DACs in it in the past - not sure about how it is currently. I have the snapdragon US variant. It's definitely not on par with my previous HTC 10 phone.
  12. alterndog
    I have never tried the HIFIMESabre. I will say the DC black looks smaller. I also like how I have to use an extra otg cable as it will be bent a lot in my pocket. If it breaks I can just replace it and not the whole dac/Amp.

    As for power it is definitely more power than the internal S8. Plugging in my futuresonic g10 or hifiman he 400i into the jack I have to crank volume up to 3/4 to 5/6. With the dragonfly it's more like 1/2 to 3/4.
  13. SuperNovaGoesPop
    Thanks for the reply. That little thing just looks like such a fun and useful gadget to have...I have a feeling that I'm going to be grabbing one of these down the road.

    yup...output is similar to my old HTC One and matches your description pretty well. Included ear buds(30 ohms?) are either maxed or a click or two away from maxed. And as far as sound quality goes, it sounds like somebody is stuffing a pillow over the music when compared to my old HTC One. The HTC is much clearer and open sounding. Just not a fan of the S8 at all, even after adaptive sound and all the goofy tricks are applied.

    Thanks. That's exactly what I was hoping to hear. Still not sure exactly what I'll get, but I think I'm going to go with something small then since it'll make enough of a difference. I think I'd rather have something attached to a cable vs stacking it to my phone.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017
  14. antdroid
    Yea i think the confusion is that the snapdragon version of the galaxies uses the basic qualcomm onboard dac, while the exyonos one uses wolfson audio dacs. HTC has upgraded the onboard DAC/Amps in the past which is why they sound so much better.
  15. Dulalala
    Have you seen the S7?!

    I couldn't exactly find what DAC the SnapDragon version was using... but for the Exynos model, it seems to be using the Cirrus Logic CS43130 D/A Chip.
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