We take a look at how HTC 10, LG V10 and Sony Xperia Z5 Premium are making us look at smartphones as some serious audio devices and why iPods and other music players are on their way out.
While launching the 10, HTC waxed lyrical about the phone's audio prowess. We don't fault them though, for HTC has suffered much in the smartphone genre in the past couple of years and by flaunting something they're still investing on points to the fact that they aren't willing to call it quits yet.
If you love recording audio while on the go, HTC 10 may probably be your best bet. The phone introduced the world's first stereo 24-bit Hi-Res audio recording. Beat this, the technology captures audio 256 times more detailed than standard recordings and covers twice the frequency range. This probably means that if you play a recording made by your distant friend on the HTC 10, you'll almost feel as if he is sitting by your side and talking to you. Goosebumps assured.
It's not only about the audio that HTC 10 captures but also the one it generates. The phone is Hi-Res audio certified and comes with a unique headphone amp that's probably way better than the ones in all other smartphones. The amp produces twice the power of a conventional headphone amp and can upscale 16-bit audio to 24-bit!
A typical audio file is like a gigantic box of bread slices. While a 16-bit audio file contains 44,100 audio slices per second, a 24-bit one can pack up to 96,000 slices inside a second. This translates to over 250 times the audio resolution in a 24-bit audio over a 16-bit one, and much better clarity and smoothness in your songs.
On the flip-side, a three minute song in .mp3 format takes up just about 3MB of your phone's storage. In comparison, a 16-bit one will take up 30MB and a 24-bit one an unbelievable 100MB! Hence the 2TB microSD slot in the HTC 10.
Apart from introducing the exceptional technology, HTC also adds a bit of personalization to it. HTC 10 packs a Personal Audio Profile system which adjusts specific sound frequencies to each ear, letting you hear music exactly the way the artist intended. Just like premium acoustic systems, the BoomSound™ Hi-Fi edition speakers in HTC 10 also feature separated tweeter and woofer design with dedicated amplifiers for increased audio clarity.
The best part about the V10 is its amazing audio quality which has the ability to give HTC 10 a run for its money. The phone sports a 32 bit Hi-Fi Digital to Analog Converter by ESS Technology which offers high-end audio in dynamic range with low levels of total harmonic distortion and noise.
Hi-Fi DAC can be enabled in the V10 by plugging in headphones and activating it through the drop-down menu on the main display. The technology converts digital signals into analogue whose quality can then be enhanced by amplifiers and Hi-Fi stereo speakers.
While every smartphone carries a DAC, the Hi-Fi DAC is a totally different world. The one in V10 comes with 75 step volume adjustments and produces much higher volumes than a standalone DAC. It also produces studio-quality 192kHz sampling frequency which is way beyond 44.1kHz and 48kHz frequencies that we are presently used to.
To add to it, V10 can also support lesser knows audio formats like flac and wav, making itself capable of playing almost every kind of music available and it can also recover corrupt MP3 files which ensure that you won't have to keep searching for new tracks to cover for your destroyed ones.
Even though the Xperia Z5 Premium is better known for its 4K display and the majestic 24MP camera, it also figures among those rare phones that are Hi-Res audio certified.
Xperia Z5 Premium comes with DSEE HX technology which can easily upscale low-res and compressed audio files to high resolutions. It does this by predicting missing data from each audio file. Yet another new tech named ClearAudio+ then balances the frequencies and optimises them to provide a perfected stereo output.
As per Sony, the phablet can also reducing up to 98% of exterior noise thanks to an Active noise control technique which can filter out high-frequency noise from reaching your ear. If you love using wireless Bluetooth speakers, Sony’s LDAC™ codec transmits data three times more efficiently than legacy codec over Bluetooth, enabling better clarity and lesser noise in the transmission.
Sony has also introduced a new High-Resolution Audio Headset MDR-NC750 which can be a handy accessory if you travel often. The headset features Beat Response Control which emphasizes on low-frequency ranges and brings more clarity to deep bass rhythms.
With a number of brand new smartphones sporting Hi-Res audio among their best features, it seems that smartphones in general will undergo the transition from MP3 to 16-bit and 24-bit frequencies sooner than expected. To be fair, HTC 10, V10 and Z5 Premium have made strong starts, specializing in hi-res audio recording, 24-bit and 32-bit frequencies and superior noise cancellation respectively to save us the cost of purchasing headphones, speakers and MP3 players to do the job.
Even though some work needs to be done before we can expect smartphones to turn into standalone stereo systems, the progress so far gives us a lot of hope for the near future.