HTC 10 vs. Xperia XP/XZ - Headphone Sound Quality
Oct 19, 2016 at 3:14 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 12

RockStar2005

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Has anyone reading this ever compared the HTC 10 to either the Sony Xperia X Performance (XP) or the newer Xperia XZ with regards to headphone quality? (Note: The XP & XZ use the SAME audio technology from what I've read/heard). 

If so, please tell me about your experience here. Please provide as many details as possible............like what headphones did you use, what genre of music and type of quality (mp3, CD-Quality, Hi-Res, DSD, etc) was selected. Did you use an amp/DAC device in between them (I'm hoping not only b/c that wouldn't tell me which phone was better lol)? When comparing, which one sounded clearer? Had the wider/more expansive soundstage? Handled instrument separation the best? Won out on bass, mids, and highs/treble rendering?? Etc. 

I know the 10 will get louder than the XP/XZ b/c of what I've seen in comparisons done by professional reviewers, with the 10 showing to have a higher output voltage. But volume is just ONE component. Also, the 10 has a DEDICATED DAC (separate from the 820 processor ((DAC is INTEGRATED into 820 processor)) that runs the phone) on top of having a dedicated headphone amp too. The Sony XP/XZ has a dedicated DAC (with mixed reviews on its sound quality) but the amp is INTEGRATED into that DAC. I think we all know integrated DACs and/or amps are never as good as dedicated ones. Still, I'd like opinions. 

I look forward to hearing from you all!
 
Oct 20, 2016 at 8:03 PM Post #2 of 12

MajesticTwelve

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I have both the HTC 10 and the Xperia XZ so I'll try to compare these phones but remember I'm not an audiophile :D I used a Creative Aurvana Live! headphones and I think the HTC 10 sounds a little bit better. First of all it's louder - with the XZ I had the volume set at about 75%, and with the HTC 10, 50% was enough. The HTC 10 sounded clearer, crisper and there was a little better instrument separation. I listened to hard rock and progressive rock using 320kbps mp3s without any sound enhancements enabled in the audio settings. I have also Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear and Koss Porta Pros if you'd like to know how they sound.
 
BTW how do you know what audio technology is used in the XZ?
 
Oct 21, 2016 at 1:39 AM Post #3 of 12

RockStar2005

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  I have both the HTC 10 and the Xperia XZ so I'll try to compare these phones but remember I'm not an audiophile :D I used a Creative Aurvana Live! headphones and I think the HTC 10 sounds a little bit better. First of all it's louder - with the XZ I had the volume set at about 75%, and with the HTC 10, 50% was enough. The HTC 10 sounded clearer, crisper and there was a little better instrument separation. I listened to hard rock and progressive rock using 320kbps mp3s without any sound enhancements enabled in the audio settings. I have also Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear and Koss Porta Pros if you'd like to know how they sound.
 
BTW how do you know what audio technology is used in the XZ?

 
Hey Twelve, 
 
That's awesome that you have both at the same time! Well you don't have to be an audiophile to offer a good concise review. lol If anything, I consider myself more "audiophile lite" than an audiophile. lol
 
I did a quick check and those headphones seem to have consistently good reviews, so that's a plus! lol 
 
Well, I would've doubted your hearing if you thought the XZ was louder, so I concur with your volume statements. It's a documented fact that the 10 has a higher output voltage there. 
 
Cleaner, crisper..........a little bit better instrument separation...........you SURE you're not an audiophile? lol This is GREAT and VALUABLE info you're giving here. lol As I purchase more Hi-Res music, stuff like this becomes more and more apparent to me. Like I see now how much better it is when the instruments sound separated so that you can hear each one and appreciate them both individually and how it contributes to the overall sound as well. When it's all compressed and "bunched up" sounding, it's hard to appreciate much of anything really. 
 
I also listen mostly to both hard and progressive rock, and some other stuff too (country, soul, R&B, pop, etc). Though I still mostly have mp3s that I listen to, my collection of Hi-Res and CD-Quality music has grown substantially since I got into the Hi-Fi World about 2 years ago this or last month. It really revitalized my love for music (as well as buying premium headphones and a solid amp/DAC device did). Albums that I'd grown tired of YEARS ago suddenly sounded better than ever............fresh & new. Examples would be Fleetwood Mac's self-titled '75 album and also Rumours from '77 (as well as both Tusk and Live, '79 & '80), and also Lenny Kravitz's "Are You Gonna Go My Way" album from '93 (amongst MANY MANY others). 
 
I'm glad to hear you didn't use any sound enhancements. I tend to keep all that stuff off, with exception to Bass Boost on my Oppo amp/DAC (which I probably wouldn't even need if I had the 10 lol), which I've found in recent months to be useful when listening to certain hard rock music (i.e. Foghat, Garbage, etc.). I prefer over-ear headphones over on-ear and in-ear ones, so your Aurvana statements are more than adequate to me! I used to have the Sennheiser HD 598 and 598 SE headphones. They were great, but I prefer closed-back over open-back b/c I sometimes travel and open-back spills noise out (and in) where closed-back keeps it sealed in. 
 
A friend of mine on XDA confirmed that the XZ and XP use the same audio technology just this week. So that's how I found out. I myself did a comparison of the XP & 10 based solely on reviews, but never ones that pitted the two together. That is why I started this thread. I wanted to dig deeper as there wasn't much on the XP/XZ to go on. 
 
I appreciate all the information you've posted here. You seem pretty aware and astute when it comes to knowing what to look for in your sound comparisons, so I think your overall opinion will be very helpful to any and all who read this. I for one will be keeping a close eye on the HTC 11 next year. lol (Maybe also the LG G6??) 
 
Note: Since you already have a premium sounding player in the HTC 10, I'd like to suggest my former closed-back AKG K550 headphones. I've tested out like 8-9 premium headphones extensively, and aside from my current Bang & Olufsen 2nd Generation H6 (which is only SLIGHTLY better than the K550, but like double the price lol), the K550 beat out some of the headphones I'd tried out that cost up to $400! This review by What Hi-Fi (who I trust more than any other reviewer) says it all. The prices (under $200) for the K550 or K550 MK II (they sound and look EXACTLY the same, just the model # is written differently on each) are pretty affordable vs. the pricier stuff, they're more comfortable, premium looking, and their clarity and wide/expansive soundstage is ridiculous!! For the 10 phone you have, you should at least consider it. I owned the K550/K550 MK II/K553 (all 3 sound the same lol) for a total of like 6-9 mos, and I definitely can say AKG had a MAJOR influence on me going from being a casual music listener to a full-on audiophile (lite). lol 
 
Oct 21, 2016 at 10:15 PM Post #4 of 12

MajesticTwelve

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Thanks for the suggestions, I'm even thinking about buying new headphones now :D I own these Aurvana Live for 5 or 6 years (I change the earbuds more often :D) and with my new phone and DAC I think buying better headphones make sense. I'll get the Sony MDR-XB950BT headphones in a few days or weeks (as an Xperia XZ pre-order bonus). Their price is similar to the K550 you mentioned but maybe that's because they have bluetooth (and of course an optional cable connection with much better sound quality). I don't think they're better than these K550 so I'll probably sell them - it's not my choice anyway and I can buy better headphones with that cash :D
 
BTW after reading what you wrote, maybe I'm also an "audiophile lite" :D The main reason I bought the HTC 10 was the sound quality and almost a year ago I bought a good external DAC/amp for my PC (Aune X1S). I also care about the sound quality of my music (only 320kbps mp3s or flacs). I can hear when the sound quality is good but I just don't like describing it like on this forum :D
 
Oct 22, 2016 at 2:57 AM Post #5 of 12

RockStar2005

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  Thanks for the suggestions, I'm even thinking about buying new headphones now :D I own these Aurvana Live for 5 or 6 years (I change the earbuds more often :D) and with my new phone and DAC I think buying better headphones make sense. I'll get the Sony MDR-XB950BT headphones in a few days or weeks (as an Xperia XZ pre-order bonus). Their price is similar to the K550 you mentioned but maybe that's because they have bluetooth (and of course an optional cable connection with much better sound quality). I don't think they're better than these K550 so I'll probably sell them - it's not my choice anyway and I can buy better headphones with that cash :D
 
BTW after reading what you wrote, maybe I'm also an "audiophile lite" :D The main reason I bought the HTC 10 was the sound quality and almost a year ago I bought a good external DAC/amp for my PC (Aune X1S). I also care about the sound quality of my music (only 320kbps mp3s or flacs). I can hear when the sound quality is good but I just don't like describing it like on this forum :D

 
Twelve, 
 
YW. That's cool that you're getting the $200 Sony headphones for free. You must NOT live in the U.S. then b/c I know we never get any free s*it here from Sony Mobile. lol (I see from your profile you live in Poland. Cool.) Well I'm glad you're open to the idea of new headphones! You definitely won't regret it, that's for sure!
 
I used to own the ($299) Sony MDR-1As, and they were great! My issue with them and even some of the $400 headphones I've had or tried out extensively (i.e. Master & Dynamic MH40, Oppo PM-3, Bowers & Wilkins P7, etc) is that even though all look and sound great overall, they all either have a bit TOO much bass, or else they don't offer the same HUGE soundstage (i.e., that wide "expansive" sound that's the complete opposite of "compressed sounding") that the K550's offer. AKG makes a great selling point on that fact by calling the K550s "closed-back headphones with an open-back sound". That statement couldn't BE more true. lol 
 
My advice........and of course you don't have to take it..............but if I were in your shoes, I'd do EXACTLY what you just said and get those Sony MDR-XB950BT "extra bass" headphones, sell them off as new on eBay, and then take that money and get the K550 or K550 MK II headphones using the link I provided in my last post. Unless Bluetooth is important to you (and you don't want the BEST quality sound), there's no way in hell the XB950BTs are gonna outdo the K550. I'd bet my life on it Twelve. lol 
 
Yes........you can definitely buy better headphones with that cash. But yeah..........sometimes the best pair of headphones are the ones you spend LESS not more on. This is one of those times. lol
 
Haha maybe you are "Audiophile Lite"? I'd never heard of the Aune X1S, but for what you paid ($289 on Amazon right now), I'm guessing it probably sounds great! $289 is about what I paid for my Oppo HA-2 ($299). If you wanted Audiophile or Hi-Fi sound, the 10 was the way to go, so I commend your choice. 
 
Well aside from those albums, let me offer you this post of mine from a thread I started for the Sony Walkman A17. Just focus on the middle (taking Hi-Res files and downsizing them w/o losing quality) and last half (where to buy CD-Quality, Hi-Res, and DSD Hi-Res albums/singles) of it. Read it (carefully).........bookmark it...........live it. lol Take it like I'm giving you the red pill...........lol. Do you dare take it, or stay where you're at? That's up to you. Just understand that Hi-Res DOES NOT sound better b/c of the higher resolution. It's b/c the studios use a SUPERIOR master/remaster on those releases than they do on the CD and especially mp3 releases. And anything above an mp3 (DSD, FLAC, ALAC, and EVEN lossy 320+ AAC) will sound the same (which is why downsizing doesn't matter). The key is to go above mp3, which even AAC (aka mp4.....or the "next gen mp3") is, and STAY there. It's ALL about that source. Once you have that better source, the sky's the limit! (Note: Being in Poland, you may have to see if those Hi-Res sites offer "European" versions that will sell to people in Poland. An example would be the UK/British version of HDTracks. I'm hoping they will sell to you. Just Google each of the other ones and see if there's a Polish one or at least UK/German/Spain/France etc one. It's hard for me to know or check being that I'm in the U.S.)
 
Feb 11, 2017 at 1:50 PM Post #6 of 12

RockStar2005

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  Thanks for the suggestions, I'm even thinking about buying new headphones now :D I own these Aurvana Live for 5 or 6 years (I change the earbuds more often :D) and with my new phone and DAC I think buying better headphones make sense. I'll get the Sony MDR-XB950BT headphones in a few days or weeks (as an Xperia XZ pre-order bonus). Their price is similar to the K550 you mentioned but maybe that's because they have bluetooth (and of course an optional cable connection with much better sound quality). I don't think they're better than these K550 so I'll probably sell them - it's not my choice anyway and I can buy better headphones with that cash :D
 
BTW after reading what you wrote, maybe I'm also an "audiophile lite" :D The main reason I bought the HTC 10 was the sound quality and almost a year ago I bought a good external DAC/amp for my PC (Aune X1S). I also care about the sound quality of my music (only 320kbps mp3s or flacs). I can hear when the sound quality is good but I just don't like describing it like on this forum :D

 
Twelve, 
 
A few weeks ago I decided to sell off my Sony Xperia X Performance and buy the HTC 10 once again. I had it last summer for about a week but thought the Sony would be better. Turns out, that wasn't really true. For camera, perhaps yes..........though after 2 major camera updates I can say the 10's camera is definitely better now than when I tried it last June. But for battery life and ESPECIALLY audio, the 10 is CLEARLY the superior phone! 
 
I compared both the XP and the 10 to my $299 Oppo HA-2 portable amp/DAC. The XP couldn't match the quality of the HA-2, but the 10 DID IMO. That was when I knew the XP had to go, and the 10 would stay. I also sold off my HA-2 as well since I no longer needed it either. The amp on the 10 is definitely stronger as you said too, so I didn't even need to buy a portable "amp only" device like the FiiO A5 I was looking at. The volume output max of the 10' s headphone amp is just a tad over 1 volt, so clearly 1 volt is ideal. My headphones (AKG K551) are 32 ohms, which is low, so for higher impedance headphones the A5 MAY be necessary, but fortunately my K551s sound INCREDIBLE and even better than headphones 2-3 times their price, so I have no desire to replace them. 
 
The phone is a real JOY to use too. I got the 10 in Topaz Gold, which I think looks MUCH nicer than the S7 in Gold I got last year. The gold color on the back of the 10 looks more realistic. 
 
I just wanted to thank you again for your input as it was definitely a factor in me trying out the 10 again. Last summer I really didn't give the audio much attention as again I was very focused on the XP, which turned out to be a letdown really. But this time I did, and it really made me see it in a whole new light. I also got the LG V20 last month and tried that out too, and was almost gonna just keep that, but the phablet size (5.7" screen!) was simply too much for me, so the 10 worked out better. I heard the 11 is supposedly gonna have a 5.5" screen, which to me is still phablet territory lol. If that's true, it's very likely I will skip the upgrade this year and just (happily) keep my 10 'til I see what comes from HTC in 2018. lol 
 
May 10, 2017 at 10:47 PM Post #7 of 12

MajesticTwelve

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@RockStar2005 I will have access to the Xperia XZ Premium in one month (June 7th) because my sister is getting it after nearly 3 years of using the Xperia Z3 Compact :D I can test the XZ Premium's audio quality and check if it's louder than the XZ or HTC 10 when it arrives. As I planned I sold the XZ's pre-order bonus (MDR-XB950BT) and I'm still thinking about getting something better than my Creative Aurvana Live! - are the AKG K550 still the best headphones to buy? This time there's even a greater bonus if you pre-order the Xperia XZ Premium in Europe (350$ Sony MDR-100ABN bluetooth noise canceling headphones) but my sister will probably want to keep them :D
 
May 11, 2017 at 6:53 PM Post #8 of 12

RockStar2005

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@RockStar2005 I will have access to the Xperia XZ Premium in one month (June 7th) because my sister is getting it after nearly 3 years of using the Xperia Z3 Compact :D I can test the XZ Premium's audio quality and check if it's louder than the XZ or HTC 10 when it arrives. As I planned I sold the XZ's pre-order bonus (MDR-XB950BT) and I'm still thinking about getting something better than my Creative Aurvana Live! - are the AKG K550 still the best headphones to buy? This time there's even a greater bonus if you pre-order the Xperia XZ Premium in Europe (350$ Sony MDR-100ABN bluetooth noise canceling headphones) but my sister will probably want to keep them :D

Hey Twelve!

That's awesome!

I honestly would be SHOCKED if the XZ Premium outdid the 10. I have not gotten any indication that Sony has improved anything with its audio in years. That's why I got the 10 in January and STUCK with it! Read here from post I sent someone else just this morning in case you are curious. Then you will be up to date with where I'm at.

I see. Yeah I mean still TRY the XZ Premium out and yeah kindly report back here, but you may be better off with the HTC 10. lol The U 11 gets announced late Monday next week, and if it has the SAME killer DAC/amp as the 10, then I MAY get it? Not sure as it is a bigger phone (5.5") and I'm not big on phablets. lol Plus I LOVE my 10 anyway.

YES they most certainly are! I mean if you want closed-back they are, yes. The only alternatives would be the AKG K551 (which is what I have) which has a shorter cable and in-line remote with mic, or else the AKG K545, which is more portable with a removeable cable but I think the K550/K551 sounds like 10% better. So up to you.

I just checked eBay, and this seller (who appears to be reputable) will ship the K550 MK II (SAME sound quality as K550, but MK II is the UK version, and I prefer how the model name is written vs. K550 too) to Europe, and accepts returns too. Best price I could find that also ships to Europe (double-check though cuz I don't know which country you're actually from?! lol)!! Only 2 left so hurry! Hope that helps.

Yeah let her keep them. Then let her listen to your K550 and she'll prob be jealous, sell it, and get a K550 for herself! lol If it's too big for her, then suggest the K545. Or K845BT (BT version of K545) if she MUST have bluetooth (but mehh, wired is BETTER lol).

One thing............ when playing off XZ Premium, use an amp or something if you REALLY wanna hear what the K550 MK II can do! The HTC 10 however does NOT need an amp cuz it's already loud as F. LOL
 
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May 12, 2017 at 1:39 PM Post #9 of 12

Irlandéso

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Hi, really appreciate this real life info, since I am still unsure which of these phones to go for. Seeing you have both, would you consider you can hear normal phone calls better on one than the other, especially in areas of poor reception..
 
May 12, 2017 at 1:51 PM Post #10 of 12

RockStar2005

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Hi, really appreciate this real life info, since I am still unsure which of these phones to go for. Seeing you have both, would you consider you can hear normal phone calls better on one than the other, especially in areas of poor reception..

Irlandéso,

Sure no problem!

Both phones are great for both sound AND phone call quality, but at least here in the U.S. (not sure what country you're in?) I would pick the HTC 10 because the unlocked version is FULLY compatible (including VoLTE) with my carrier T-Mobile, where the unlocked Sony phones are not.

So yeah, go with the HTC 10 there. In other countries though it probably doesn't matter I guess.

Hope that helps!
 

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