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Galaxy Note 5 Audio Quality

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by seesax, Aug 23, 2015.
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  1. SeeSax
    Hi Head-Fi,
    Picked up the Galaxy Note 5 (T-Mobile) on launch day and I must say, I am extremely impressed with the audio. I expected it to sound identical to the Galaxy S6 Edge I was using prior, but it sounds different. While I found the S6 Edge to have somewhat emphasized treble, the Note 5 sounds more warm. While I also though the "UHQ Upscaler" was also a gimmick, it adds a noticeable amount of depth even when streaming things like Tidal. Overall, I'm really impressed and I haven't used my iPhone 6 Plus since I picked this up. 
    Has anyone else snagged this amazing device? Curious if your thoughts match mine as I will still file myself under "noobie" :)
    I'm going to do some more tests against my S6 Edge, Sony Z3+ and iPhone 6 Plus. 
  2. DeadeyeM
    Please compare, will be looking forward on your findings.
  3. SeeSax
    Just had a bit more time to listen to the Note 5, S6 Edge and Xperia Z3+ and I feel the same is still true. The S6 Edge and Note 5 are close, but that "UHQ Upsampler" really gives the sound a noticeable boost in warmth and punch. I really, really like it and of the three phones, I would say it has the most enjoyable sound signature to me. Turning this feature off, it is really hard for me to hear a difference between the S6 Edge and the Note 5, so I guess that is perhaps a good thing. Someone said over on XDA forums that this audio update will hit the S6 line of phones, so perhaps it will include that feature? I also notice that the tube amp setting is now called "Tube Amp Pro" instead of just "Tube Amp." No idea what that is still about, but that makes the sound signature too warm for my tastes. Maybe on a song with piercing treble or IEMs that are harsh, this option would be utilized, but I have tried to rid myself of IEMs that hurt my ears :)
    Comparing the Note 5 to the Z3+ is in a sense easier because they are very different. The Z3+ sounds crystal clear to me and the highs are noticeably more present than on the Note 5 at my current settings with Tidal. I can listen to the Note 5 louder because of the somewhat rolled back highs whereas the Z3+ can become very uncomfortable for me at higher volumes. Speaking of volume levels, they are all roughly similar with maybe the S6 Edge and Note 5 coming out on top. Honestly, I'm not one to just crank everything to the max in order to see how many volts they can send through the headphone jack. All work perfectly fine with my IEMS, sensitive or not. 
    It would be really tough for me to declare a winner based on sound quality alone between the Z3+ and Note 5, but I'm leaning toward the Note 5 for a few reasons. One is that the audio features (or gimmicks) can actually be used with streaming and that's where all my music comes from. On the Sony, enabling or disabling anything like "Clear Bass" or the EQ has absolutely no effect on Tidal. It works on Spotify, but I don't use Spotify. In a nutshell, the Z3+ is crystal clear and sounds awesome, but the Note 5 has a slightly warmer signature that I prefer and this is purely my preference. 
    Will get some more time against the iPhone later tonight. As it is, my wife thinks I'm crazy already for sitting on the bed and juggling phones around like a clown at a circus. 

  4. malifact
    SeeSax thanks for creating this thread. I'm interested in getting the Note 5 (I will have to go through a reseller as it's not coming to Europe. I'm a little concerned that it is described as slightly warm, because I specifically bought CIEMs with a bright sound and treble boost. Which earphones do you use with the Note 5? Does the Note 5 make the sound more smooth and/or affect vocals at all compared to your other devices? Thanks.
  5. SeeSax
    Hi there. I guess I would call it just slightly warm in comparison to my S6 Edge and not in comparison to most Android smart phones. I found the G4, the Droid Turbo and the Nexus 6 to all smooth out the treble way more than the Note 5. For me, the Sony Z3+ still has clearer and more pronounced treble which I didn't deem as a good thing for me, but sounds like it would be more for what you're looking for. These are minimal differences, however, and I still believe the Note 5 is absolutely fantastic. 
    My IEM of choice right now are my Dunu DN-2000Js and Altone200s. I also have the MDR-EX1000 (known for treble) that I would be happy to try this evening to see how that sounds. 
    I can't believe they didn't release this phone in Europe. I have no idea what Samsung was thinking. Can you get the S6 Edge Plus instead?
  6. malifact

    Thanks, to be honest I'm reluctant to get another Sony phone as I've had a lot of problems with my Z1. Also, one of the reasons I'd like the Note 5 is the S Pen. I do translation work in my free time and it would be useful for writing in Japanese.

    The treble with the Hidition NT6 I've purchased is supposed to be boosted a lot and so the slight warm of the Note 5 may balance well. I would appreciate it if you could test the Note 5 with the EX1000.
  7. SeeSax
    I agree with you on the Sony - I find myself asking if the juice was worth the squeeze since after all, I have to use it as a phone as well. 
    Will-do on the EX1000s tongiht. 
  8. Chevalierr
    Just some quick impressions on audio quality for music.
    In short ,its fantastic. Read on for long story

    Moving away from a dedicated audio rig to a minimalist setup, I depend on my phone now for audio playback and hope it's got quality.

    Previously I enjoyed the galaxy s2 with its wolfson DAC and it was pretty good.
    Then Samsung started using the snapdragon chipset and it just sounded bad, so I switched to a dedicated DAP but still craved the convenience of a minimalist setup.

    Using the noble audio BTS Bluetooth adapter hooked to my noble audio K10 and flac played via power amp is my current setup.

    Streaming through the 6plus was good ,it used a cirrus logic DAC....but I just didn't like the it's platform and went for the G4 and once again, the snapdragon DAC shows its clear inferiority, hollow mids and bass lost its punch.

    No back on the note 5 with its exynos chipsets and wolfson DAC, I'm very very happy. The Wolfson DAC is comparable or I daresay even better than then 6plus and the the G4 is not even comparable at all.

    Sounds is much fuller, tones across the board are presented nicely. Next thing I'll try is the native app with the UHQ sample turned on. My best minimalist setup to date

    -cowon j3, z2
    -Sony 1060
    -Sony zx1

    -iPhone 6plus
    -honor 6 (work phone)
  9. wirefriend
    Would you be able to tell how does it compare to the ZX1?
  10. Chevalierr

    The zx1 is definitely better overall in terms of resolution and overall details of the audio. It still remains my favorite overall DAP.

    I have to say the note 5 is no slouch, when ur just listening to the music and you don't analyse it comes in pretty close to the Sony. I'm really surprised. Will post my findings later when I try UHQ output.
  11. Paran01dAndr01d
    So I've picked up a Note 5 as well, but for me it seems to have issues playing back VBR audio. Every so often (can be a few seconds to a few minutes), you can hear these sudden spikes, much like a scratched up CD skipping. I've tested out numerous playback apps, songs, a factory reset; I've even exchanged the phone for a new one thinking it might be an issue with the phone itself. No luck.
    I'm pretty sure it's not the audio itself, since they play just fine on other devices, including a Galaxy S3, S5, and even an old Zune.
    Can anyone else confirm? Carrier is Verizon by the way.
    EDIT: So far I've only tested mp3 v0, I'll try converting to some other VBR formats to test out those as well.
  12. Chevalierr

    Tried a differ app to play like power amp?
  13. ShyamS
    I been using Samsung Edge Plus similar hardware as Note5 and I love this song signature. We have  feature called Adapt sound. It basically calibrate the sound based on our listening ability. First it will play different frequencies and adjust the sound according to our ears which is pretty neat. I have HTC M8 before and I prefer Edge plus for listening through earphone. It's fairly warm sound. Plays well with good source like FLAC instead of MP3's. I use Tidal service and it plays pretty well. Overall I love the sound quality. oh I am using Dunu DN2000 IEM. 
  14. malifact
    This is not a sound related question, but does anybody have the black or silver Note 5? I've been offered a good deal on a black Note 5, but was kind of holding out for the silver one. But I'm now thinking the silver one might be too reflective. Unfortunately, they don't sell the Note 5 in my country and so I can't see it in-person.
  15. MongTT
    I got the silver one. Love love the color!
    Sometimes it appears bright reflective, sometimes dark silver and. Sometimes even a bit blue. All depend on the angle u looking at. Goes really well with Samsung blue protective case. It looks even more 3D on the back.
    My old phone was HTC One M7 and I feel that Note5 doesn't sound as clear & detail as The M7. Maybe because note5 is warmer. I will listen and test more. [​IMG][/IMG]
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