hi there youtube music/DAC/mobile amp question.
Aug 22, 2020 at 7:14 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 17

Lazysnakes

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I regularly brows this site, and know a bit about audio, although I know much less than some.

I am curious about portable audio players and DACs for a cell phone, since I seem to have a weakness: using Sure 215 headphones and HD700 Senn. headphones, Ive noticed a serious difference in quality of music between youtube on my Laptop and YouTube on my Android phone; a cheap Galaxy.

the difference is either the stream quality; youtube 720p stream on Laptop is somehow better than 720p on mobile, (unlikely as I can even use a desktop browser to trick youtube into thinking my mobile device is a desktop), or the DAC/amp in my Laptop is better, or there is some other issue.

thoughts on this? there is a qualitative difference. the audio has more clarity, better sound stage ( even with the 215 se Sure), and the bass seems more seperated with of course more power, which doesnt make sense to just be amplifiication (as on the Senn. HD700) since the Sure 215 se IEMs are easily loud enough with the phone.

I should be clear both systems have a background Equalizer in which I EQ the bass up or leave normal, with the exact same tracks on 720p and the Laptop clearly sounds better, somethings have taken 6 months to notice but I can hear lyrics better and everything. How come?

I the anser is having a DAC then what portable system is most recommended, independent source? Special phone that is cheap or phone amp? Rooting the cell phone to remove all EQ basses and then a protable amp? I dont want to try an expensive solution before Knowing all the options.
 
Aug 23, 2020 at 4:40 AM Post #3 of 17

ProtegeManiac

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I am curious about portable audio players and DACs for a cell phone, since I seem to have a weakness: using Sure 215 headphones and HD700 Senn. headphones, Ive noticed a serious difference in quality of music between youtube on my Laptop and YouTube on my Android phone; a cheap Galaxy.

the difference is either the stream quality; youtube 720p stream on Laptop is somehow better than 720p on mobile, (unlikely as I can even use a desktop browser to trick youtube into thinking my mobile device is a desktop)

If YT was mucking around with the data stream it's unlikely that using a browser would have affected it in terms of tricking it as to what device it is since that's on a browser and Google still knows that device that is. Unless the problem is with that browser if you're not using Chrome on both. Or...


or the DAC/amp in my Laptop is better, or there is some other issue.

...more likely this.

Androids especially the lower models and some higher models depending on the carrier (Samsung on T-Mobile doesn't use the Wolfson DACs on the other versions of the same phones, instead using the audio chip in the Snapdragon chipset).

Now it's not totally a problem with that chipset in the sense that the Wolfsons are absolutely better, but in this case you're comparing it to a laptop and there's a handicap to the smartphone: regardless of which chip it uses chances are the firmware hobbles the audio chip, the Qualcomm chip usually worse than the Wolfsons, because most device reviews only really cover "is the sound OK?" and "media playback battery life test." The former just means it should at best not be obviously flawed, the latter means cutting power it can use - like putting a rev limiter and speed limiter on a car - so it does well on the battery life test.

If you don't level match both to a more precise level then the slightly louder one will sound better. Add to that how you're driving a headphone that needs a fair bit more power than what a smartphone that wasn't hobbled by such software will not deliver and a headphone that is in the same brand as the ones more susceptible to noise, and it's like that Gladiator scene in the provincial arena where the big German guy was chained to the dude that pissed in his tunic before they ran out to fight.


thoughts on this? there is a qualitative difference. the audio has more clarity, better sound stage ( even with the 215 se Sure), and the bass seems more seperated with of course more power, which doesnt make sense to just be amplifiication (as on the Senn. HD700) since the Sure 215 se IEMs are easily loud enough with the phone.

Actually that all sounds like it's likely the amplification.

Just because you're hearing roughly the same loudness in dB doesn't mean they're actually the same loudness (you need to equalize each with a sine wave measured by a dB meter first then play something) and hence not necessarily putting out the same amount of power

And even if you do equalize them to the same output level it can be loud enough that while you're only using up 10mW, the laptop might be at 0.01% THD+n, but the phone is already at 0.5% THD+N. Also that's just for the average sound level - any peaks like bass notes suddenly coming in and a fair bit loud might require another 10mW of power, the laptop tops out at 50mW peak power while the phone tops out at 15mW peak power, so that note at that loudness level will clip on the phone.


I should be clear both systems have a background Equalizer in which I EQ the bass up or leave normal, with the exact same tracks on 720p and the Laptop clearly sounds better, somethings have taken 6 months to notice but I can hear lyrics better and everything. How come?

Unless you have the exact same settings this can have something to do with the apps doing something different on each device.

Plus if you have a power output deficiency as above, well, boosting the bass (or any frequency) just means you need even more power.


Special phone that is cheap or phone amp? Rooting the cell phone to remove all EQ basses and then a protable amp?

That's up to you really - like how far would you go and what would you be willing to risk or carry around with you. I mean are you comfortable with rooting the phone? Even then all that will do is remove EQ and any power limits.

You can get a DAC-HPamp but then you'd have to hook it up via USB OTG. Alternately there's the Fiio Q5 Pro - USB OTG at home, BT to the phone when walking around.


I dont want to try an expensive solution before Knowing all the options.

Aside from having a back up for an IEM especially if you have a separate desktop system for the headphone and just need to get around a faulty audio circuit on a phone I wouldn't recommend going really cheap since you'll have to use it for the HD700

Alternately you can use a relatively cheap and compact amp for use with the IEM and phone on the go, especially if it has BT; then blow a bit more on the desktop components that will be driving the HD700.
 
Aug 23, 2020 at 7:34 PM Post #4 of 17

Lazysnakes

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If YT was mucking around with the data stream it's unlikely that using a browser would have affected it in terms of tricking it as to what device it is since that's on a browser and Google still knows that device that is. Unless the problem is with that browser if you're not using Chrome on both. Or...




...more likely this.




You can get a DAC-HPamp but then you'd have to hook it up via USB OTG. Alternately there's the Fiio Q5 Pro - USB OTG at home, BT to the phone when walking around.





Alternately you can use a relatively cheap and compact amp for use with the IEM and phone on the go, especially if it has BT; then blow a bit more on the desktop components that will be driving the HD700.


thanks for the response.
for the browser I used a VPN and desktop browser with a proxy, google thought it was a desktop and the proxy site converted the Javascript video back into a playable wps file for the phone, so google really didnt know, its a valid idea as once upon a time they intentionally capped all audio to 128 for mobile devices, a technique that spotify still uses and when I used the mobile browser to desktop trick with spotify music, the difference is obvious and immediate.

are you suggesting using the bluetooth connection from my phone to the Fiio Q5 and it will act as a DAC that way? I did not know Bluetooth signal could be modified through an external device but I guess that makes sense,

TO BE CLEAR, I am only interested in driving IEMs around town, just mentioned the hd700s for the clout.
 
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Aug 23, 2020 at 7:52 PM Post #5 of 17

buke9

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I regularly brows this site, and know a bit about audio, although I know much less than some.

I am curious about portable audio players and DACs for a cell phone, since I seem to have a weakness: using Sure 215 headphones and HD700 Senn. headphones, Ive noticed a serious difference in quality of music between youtube on my Laptop and YouTube on my Android phone; a cheap Galaxy.

the difference is either the stream quality; youtube 720p stream on Laptop is somehow better than 720p on mobile, (unlikely as I can even use a desktop browser to trick youtube into thinking my mobile device is a desktop), or the DAC/amp in my Laptop is better, or there is some other issue.

thoughts on this? there is a qualitative difference. the audio has more clarity, better sound stage ( even with the 215 se Sure), and the bass seems more seperated with of course more power, which doesnt make sense to just be amplifiication (as on the Senn. HD700) since the Sure 215 se IEMs are easily loud enough with the phone.

I should be clear both systems have a background Equalizer in which I EQ the bass up or leave normal, with the exact same tracks on 720p and the Laptop clearly sounds better, somethings have taken 6 months to notice but I can hear lyrics better and everything. How come?

I the anser is having a DAC then what portable system is most recommended, independent source? Special phone that is cheap or phone amp? Rooting the cell phone to remove all EQ basses and then a protable amp? I dont want to try an expensive solution before Knowing all the options.
The HD-700’s are very different animals than most.
 
Aug 23, 2020 at 7:54 PM Post #6 of 17

buke9

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thanks for the response.
for the browser I used a VPN and desktop browser with a proxy, google thought it was a desktop and the proxy site converted the Javascript video back into a playable wps file for the phone, so google really didnt know, its a valid idea as once upon a time they intentionally capped all audio to 128 for mobile devices, a technique that spotify still uses and when I used the mobile browser to desktop trick with spotify music, the difference is obvious and immediate.

are you suggesting using the bluetooth connection from my phone to the Fiio Q5 and it will act as a DAC that way? I did not know Bluetooth signal could be modified through an external device but I guess that makes sense,

TO BE CLEAR, I am only interested in driving IEMs around town, just mentioned the hd700s for the clout.
Ok just saw that after my first post.
 
Aug 24, 2020 at 12:57 AM Post #7 of 17

ProtegeManiac

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thanks for the response.
for the browser I used a VPN and desktop browser with a proxy, google thought it was a desktop and the proxy site converted the Javascript video back into a playable wps file for the phone, so google really didnt know, its a valid idea as once upon a time they intentionally capped all audio to 128 for mobile devices, a technique that spotify still uses and when I used the mobile browser to desktop trick with spotify music, the difference is obvious and immediate.

Regardless I still doubt the signal would actually be modified either way, even if YT somehow knew you're not using a phone. And in terms of app smoothness I'd take the app any day over a browser if I'm on a screen that small and no touchpad/mouse.


are you suggesting using the bluetooth connection from my phone to the Fiio Q5 and it will act as a DAC that way? I did not know Bluetooth signal could be modified through an external device but I guess that makes sense

I'm not sure what you mean here.

BT Audio transmits digital audio.

Your transmitter in a phone or a laptop or a dongle on a computer that doesn't have this built into the board will transmit audio in digital via BT. The device receiving the BT signal whether it's a purpose-built BT transceiver or any other device like a smartphone, DAP, or a DAC/DAC-HPamp with a built in BT transceiver (though it only functions as a receiver) or even wireless headphones/earphones with BT will receive digital audio via BT. Since Elon Musk's direct brain wired portable audio system doesn't exist yet and The Matrix is so far fiction (so you can't sit on the Nebuchadnezzar looking at a binary stream telling Neo you hear drum hits and guitar riffs just looking at that), you can't really hear digital audio. That means after the BT transceiver it goes into a DAC, which converts the digital audio stream into an analogue signal, which then gets amplified so it can move transducers that will move air so you can hear sound.


TO BE CLEAR, I am only interested in driving IEMs around town, just mentioned the hd700s for the clout.

OK...then get a BTR1.
 
Aug 24, 2020 at 3:34 AM Post #8 of 17

Lazysnakes

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what I meant to say was I didnt really think the signal would not be after any dac the device has, I thought the audio processing and its shortcommings would be represented throughout the device and any software/firmware /hardware issue couldnt be bybassed with bluetooth out because it would be behind the bluetooth chip, but I suppose if I test it with a bluetooth speaker (if I can even find one with an output) or just use a "borroughed" device with a solid return policy, I could confirm the issue is the ability to play music through the phones hardware out not deeper in; that the DAC and all audio processing happens after the bluetooth capabilities before the headphone jack output.

although I understand that bluetooth is digital, it is absolutely possible to run it out in a way that changes. My JBL speakers proved it once with their EQ design. Different mother speakers conected to other speakers change the EQ of the audio BEFORE they transmit it. this way, using the boombox I get deeper bass out of the boombox than using the Charge 4 as the mother speaker, which with testing I found capped all bass to roughly 47 htz and changed the coloring of the audio, even through the Boombox, which I thought was weird until I read about bluetooth chips being placed after DACs in some audio equipment.

the bluetooth signal is 1sand zerros, but that doesnt mean it isnt colored.

I.E. my phone can still adjust the EQ for the bluetooth speakers.
 
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Aug 24, 2020 at 11:29 AM Post #9 of 17

ProtegeManiac

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what I meant to say was I didnt really think the signal would not be after any dac the device has, I thought the audio processing and its shortcommings would be represented throughout the device and any software/firmware /hardware issue couldnt be bybassed with bluetooth out because it would be behind the bluetooth chip, but I suppose if I test it with a bluetooth speaker (if I can even find one with an output) or just use a "borroughed" device with a solid return policy, I could confirm the issue is the ability to play music through the phones hardware out not deeper in; that the DAC and all audio processing happens after the bluetooth capabilities before the headphone jack output.

although I understand that bluetooth is digital, it is absolutely possible to run it out in a way that changes. My JBL speakers proved it once with their EQ design. Different mother speakers conected to other speakers change the EQ of the audio BEFORE they transmit it. this way, using the boombox I get deeper bass out of the boombox than using the Charge 4 as the mother speaker, which with testing I found capped all bass to roughly 47 htz and changed the coloring of the audio, even through the Boombox, which I thought was weird until I read about bluetooth chips being placed after DACs in some audio equipment.


That's not a DAC, that's the DSP.

And you can have a DSP somewhere as long as it's before whatever DAC is used in a chain. For example:

1. Optical disc player >> DSP in HT receiver/car audio processor > DAC in HT receiver/car audio processor >> amplifier >> speakers

2. DSP software run by smartphone CPU > DAC elsewhere on the phone motherboard >> earphones

3. DSP software run by smartphone CPU > BT chip >> BT speaker/earphone/headphone > DAC in speaker/earphone/headphone > amplifier circuit in speaker/earphone/headphone > speaker/earphone/headphone driver

4. DSP software run by smartphone CPU > BT chip >> BT speaker/earphone/headphone > DAC in speaker/earphone/headphone > amplifier circuit in speaker/earphone/headphone > speaker/earphone/headphone driver

5. Phone BT chip >> BT speaker/earphone/headphone > DSP on speaker/earphone/headphone > DAC in speaker/earphone/headphone > amplifier circuit in speaker/earphone/headphone > speaker/earphone/headphone driver



the bluetooth signal is 1sand zerros, but that doesnt mean it isnt colored.

I didn't say it wasn't colored or that it can't be.

You've been saying "DAC" so I'm explaining a DAC and what a DAC does and yet despite the explanation as to what a DAC actually does it's only now you've made it slightly clearer what you're actually talking about is a DSP.
 
Aug 24, 2020 at 12:00 PM Post #10 of 17

Lazysnakes

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That's not a DAC, that's the DSP.

And you can have a DSP somewhere as long as it's before whatever DAC is used in a chain. For example:

1. Optical disc player >> DSP in HT receiver/car audio processor > DAC in HT receiver/car audio processor >> amplifier >> speakers

2. DSP software run by smartphone CPU > DAC elsewhere on the phone motherboard >> earphones

3. DSP software run by smartphone CPU > BT chip >> BT speaker/earphone/headphone > DAC in speaker/earphone/headphone > amplifier circuit in speaker/earphone/headphone > speaker/earphone/headphone driver

4. DSP software run by smartphone CPU > BT chip >> BT speaker/earphone/headphone > DAC in speaker/earphone/headphone > amplifier circuit in speaker/earphone/headphone > speaker/earphone/headphone driver

5. Phone BT chip >> BT speaker/earphone/headphone > DSP on speaker/earphone/headphone > DAC in speaker/earphone/headphone > amplifier circuit in speaker/earphone/headphone > speaker/earphone/headphone driver





I didn't say it wasn't colored or that it can't be.

You've been saying "DAC" so I'm explaining a DAC and what a DAC does and yet despite the explanation as to what a DAC actually does it's only now you've made it slightly clearer what you're actually talking about is a DSP.

Actually well, it could be either.
It is possible the DSP is hurting the music quality, and although my 0.1mw driven Sure 215se iems are probably not driven too shabby by the phone's DAC, it could still be that the phones DAC is the cause for the lack of good music.
Maybe the DSP when neutral is raw enough that the DAC must be the problem.

I will only know after getting that Q5s Fiio and I can use it on my computer too to level the playing field. I just want to get the same sound from my phone out.

From what I can tell when flat the DSP is completely off, one way I can tell this, is if I change any one of the 10 band EQ settings the minimum characteristic of about 0.5db, the entire audio gets colored quite a bit, like it is getting reset. Possibly this activates the Dolby Atmos in some way, but when set to normal or to level it changes drastically and the change there is somewhat positive.
This is why I'm curious to find out if it is just the phone's DAC or amp limitations, as when set to unaltered the eq flat, it seems significantly worse than my laptop.

Also I should note this is with months of experimenting and being unsure, then selecting individual tracks, setting the volume to random levels with a third party and having bling tests too, the volume on the computer often being much lower than phone and vice versa, error in those regards I frankly refute.

I will take the abundant suggestion to get a portable dacamp like the Q5s Fiio and see what happens. I can also use the Q5s at home and get balanced headphone cables some day for the fun of having a balanced output, not necessity.

I'm looking into Moondrop s8 and Westone B50 IEMs, and do not wish to spend over 500 on IEMs with my current cell phone, which has much better SQ than previous phones I've had, and at 1/4 to 3/4 volume gives plenty of power, I only just realized the ridiculous difference from my Laptop which I rarely played music in until recently, and now I take a leap backwards noticing the error of putting stock in my cheap android device.
 
Aug 25, 2020 at 10:50 AM Post #11 of 17

ProtegeManiac

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Actually well, it could be either.
It is possible the DSP is hurting the music quality, and although my 0.1mw driven Sure 215se iems are probably not driven too shabby by the phone's DAC, it could still be that the phones DAC is the cause for the lack of good music.

I'm not saying the DSP is the sole problem, as in my first post on this thread.

I'm just saying in my last reply that you're already referring to the DSP, which is not the same thing as a DAC, which clarifies the prior post, but does not change the first.


Maybe the DSP when neutral is raw enough that the DAC must be the problem.

Not sure what you mean by 'raw' here with regards to audio and DSP since a DSP can't be "raw enough" when "raw" in audio lingo typically means "unaltered," and altering it is "cooking" similar to saying "cook(ing) the books."

Regardless, again, I tackled the comparison between the phone and the laptop audio chips. Despite both having design limitations there are still more severe limitations to the phone, it just so happens that since you can get phones for $800 or more some of those phones end up with a decent audio chip like those from Sabre. Even some Chinese smartphones are using Cirrus Logic and Wolfson audio chips that have a DAC stage similar to what you'd find on some DAPs, but with an output stage designed to drive earphones. And even some T-Mobile Samsungs have decent Qualcomm built-in audio chips but with battery life being more of a thing than on laptops then inevitably the phone will be "OK" if I'm driving an IEM with high sensitivity (and some did indeed have a problem with low impedance dynamic drivers, like the T-Mobile S and S3 sounding bloated).


I will only know after getting that Q5s Fiio and I can use it on my computer too to level the playing field. I just want to get the same sound from my phone out.

Only two things can affect that: software on the host device or if the DAC requires USB power that one host device can't deliver. With the Q5, the latter isn't a problem.


From what I can tell when flat the DSP is completely off, one way I can tell this, is if I change any one of the 10 band EQ settings the minimum characteristic of about 0.5db, the entire audio gets colored quite a bit, like it is getting reset. Possibly this activates the Dolby Atmos in some way, but when set to normal or to level it changes drastically and the change there is somewhat positive.
This is why I'm curious to find out if it is just the phone's DAC or amp limitations, as when set to unaltered the eq flat, it seems significantly worse than my laptop.

Are you assuming that +XdB to all frequency bands ie all those 10bands should sound the same as 0dB? It won't be, because that's not how peak EQ works. At a Q factor of 1.0, the slope on either side of each center frequency would have a similar effect as to half that frequency and up to double the frequency. In short, instead of a flat line elevated by 0.5dB or any amplitude, the EQ would would look more like the spikes on the back of a crocodilian, or a stegosaur, with spikes/fins getting wider towards the right (higher freq). And you only have 10bands - you can't smooth this out to totally flat even if you had 100bands.

The closest thing is to use a low shelf-high shelf EQ but even that isn't going to flat, because that only applies the same uniform boost or cut to all frequencies above or below, but then progressively lower below or above, respectively,ie on the other side of the center frequency, so no matter how you plan the center frequencies, it won't be symmetrical at the range between them, even with an overlap.

In short it doesn't matter what settings you put in, so long as the EQ isn't disabled or flat, it will sound different. And can be drastically different between both devices if the center frequencies or even just the Q factor are not the same on the different apps you use to set the 10 band +0.5 on both.
 
Aug 25, 2020 at 6:00 PM Post #12 of 17

Lazysnakes

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Thanks.

"In short it doesn't matter what settings you put in, so long as the EQ isn't disabled or flat, it will sound different. And can be drastically different between both devices if the center frequencies or even just the Q factor are not the same on the different apps you use to set the 10 band +0.5 on both."


That's not what I mean.
I mean when I change just 1 of the 10 bands on the phone its minimum it seems to enter into a different world, suggesting that the DSP is turned of when I set it to normal or to custom and put all 10 bands on flat. The change after .5db has been applied to one of the 10 bands, including 4 or 8 db change on multiple bands is less than the change of going to flat than the minimum modifications, all on the phone. This was not referring to the computer, but just the phone

Which means, it might return to a totally raw output with normal selecting on the DSP, rather than running a flat DSP setting still affecting the audio in a negative way.

Even so, there is traumatic difference from the Laptop. And when the laptop DSP is applied from flat there is less change.
Now that I think of it, I never thoroughly tested the Laptop to remove its DSP completely. I'm assuming that it doesn't color the sound when flat , but you have made me really think, it's possible, again, might have to see after I get the ampdac Q5. At this point I probably prefer to get one regardless. All help here is appreciated sometimes talking out my problems helps me to think a deeper way. After the Q5s and my results I will then invest in more expensive IEMs like said.
 
Aug 26, 2020 at 3:21 AM Post #13 of 17

ProtegeManiac

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That's not what I mean.
I mean when I change just 1 of the 10 bands on the phone its minimum it seems to enter into a different world, suggesting that the DSP is turned of when I set it to normal or to custom and put all 10 bands on flat. The change after .5db has been applied to one of the 10 bands, including 4 or 8 db change on multiple bands is less than the change of going to flat than the minimum modifications, all on the phone. This was not referring to the computer, but just the phone

One other thing to clear up: the DSP isn't separate from EQ. EQ is part of the DSP. So yes, the DSP will always be enabled by enabling EQ...because you can't run EQ without the DSP software/chip and software/device running.

FB_56.jpg


With that out of the way, there might be some other effect that are automatically enabled along with that particular software. Or it's just so bad it affects everything else, or has some error that does. For example Neutron Music Player used to have noise when any of its sound shaping features are enabled.


Which means, it might return to a totally raw output with normal selecting on the DSP, rather than running a flat DSP setting still affecting the audio in a negative way.

OK...what is "normal" vis a vis "flat?" Because "normal" ie "default" ie no sound shaping features. Did I get that right?

And then if you enable EQ feature but you're on the "flat" setting for default before tweaking the sound changes even before any tweaking, then that means that the DSP kicks in and either some other feature is enabled, which you may or may not manually disable depending on software controller.

If you don't like how the sound works then just skip the DSP completely.


Even so, there is traumatic difference from the Laptop.

Don't you mean "drastic?" I mean I don't think I'll need to go to therapy because of EQ.


And when the laptop DSP is applied from flat there is less change.

Likely noise on the laptop but on the phone there's some other DSP feature that runs alongside it. Look into all the other soundshaping tools and disable anything you find. If there's nothing then that's tied to running the DSP as it allows for at least one other thing to run.


Now that I think of it, I never thoroughly tested the Laptop to remove its DSP completely. I'm assuming that it doesn't color the sound when flat , but you have made me really think, it's possible, again, might have to see after I get the ampdac Q5. At this point I probably prefer to get one regardless. All help here is appreciated sometimes talking out my problems helps me to think a deeper way. After the Q5s and my results I will then invest in more expensive IEMs like said.

Just note that if it does work that way ie the DSP automatically activates something else that youcan't disable using a DAC will not change that. It will still run whatever other feature it is so long as you use that same EQ app. You'll have to find some other app if you really want to use EQ.
 

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