Samsung Galaxy S5 Audio Testing

Compared to the HTC One M8, the Samsung Galaxy S5 has a worse audio system. It only puts out around 20% of the wattage of the HTC One M8, making it less likely to be able to drive every headphone to a reasonable level. The THD+N on the 15 Ohm load is lower with the Samsung, but it is putting out half the power and under a quarter of the watts of the HTC One M8. If you drop the HTC One M8 down a single volume level it will still be far more powerful but likely have lower THD+N.

Dynamic Range is almost identical between the two phones, and close enough that you will not hear a difference. Crosstalk is a major difference as the Samsung is -20 dB worse here than the HTC One M8. You are likely to hear sound from one channel in the other ear. This can reduce the size of the stereo image and present the music as being more unfocused.

The relative level is better on the Samsung but I don’t think anyone will be able to hear the difference between the two.

  15 Ohm 33 Ohm 150 Ohm 330 Ohm
Dynamic Range 91.877 dB 91.921 dB 92.113 dB 91.985 dB
THD+N 0.1457% 0.0505% 0.0102% 0.0103%
Crosstalk (L) -38.347 dB -44.767 dB -57.666 dB -64.503 dB
Crosstalk (R) -38.329 dB -44.804 dB -57.704 dB -64.485 dB
Output Power 22.31 mW 10.63 mW 2.602 mW 1.194 mW
Output Voltage 577.3 mVrms 592.4 mVrms 624.7 mVrms 627.8 mVrms
Relative Level (20Hz - 20kHz) ±0.081 dB ±0.081 dB ±0.082 dB ±0.082 dB

 

Compared to the HTC, the THD+N on the S5 is much higher. Whereas the HTC only passes 0.2% around 20kHz, the S5 is past 0.25% for the entire time on the stepped frequency sweep. The Right channel shows higher THD+N values than the left channel, while the HTC is identical in both channels. I checked the graph for every impedance load and they all look identical to this so it isn’t an error in measurement.

Unlike the HTC, the frequency response of the Galaxy S 5 is flat out to 20kHz. It has the same meaningless drop at 20Hz as well. Again I don’t think anyone will hear the difference, but the Samsung is better.

This chart shows that the S5 favors odd-order distortion over even-order distortion. The 2nd and 4th harmonics are below -90dB and -100dB respectively, while the 3rd and 5th order harmonics are each over 20dB higher. Most people find odd-order distortion harsher than even-order distortion.

Conclusions

Unlike the HTC One M8, there are no sound modes to play around with in the Galaxy S 5. With these two flagship phones for 2014, the HTC One M8 is packing the superior audio system. Is has a more powerful amplifier at all levels, lower crosstalk, and lower THD+N. The relative frequency response is worse but not by an audible amount.

The HTC One M8 will be more versatile by supporting a wider selection of headphones at more listening levels. There will be headphones that the Samsung is not able to drive to reasonable listening levels that the HTC One M8 will have no issues with.

HTC One M8 Audio Testing
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  • cheinonen - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    Measuring jitter would require these to have a discrete line out. Any jitter present off the DAC is being masked by the noise from the amplifier and cannot be reliably measured. Jitter would likely be falling around -110dB or below, but that would be swallowed up by the noise floor here. Reply
  • edzieba - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    What /about/ jitter? Unless your equipment is seriously faulty, jitter is a non-issue. It's the "this is TOTALLY why you need to spend more on our magic cables than on your equipment!" for the digial age.

    You can feed SPDIF over a coathanger (https://web.archive.org/web/20010419223607/http://... and experience no jitter issues (or any other issues).

    When outputting an analog signal (i.e. the amplified headphone out), jitter is a total non-issue.
    Reply
  • althaz - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    I'd also love to see a test of the Lumia Icon or the 1020. I haven't heard them, but the 920 at least doesn't sound as good as the iPhone or the HTC you've tested above. Wouldn't switch OS for a better sound, but would buy a newer phone. Reply
  • willis936 - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    One thing that I think is important here that is rarely measured is the amount of noise from the radios that gets rectified in the amp. We've all heard the characteristic tick tick tick from when we laid our phone next to the stereo. Some phones are better than others in terms of not having audio affected by the phone's radios. Reply
  • name99 - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    That was a feature of GSM and the particular way it timesliced. It didn't occur with CDMA devices, and it shouldn't occur with any modern phone that's using WCDMA, HSPA, or LTE. Reply
  • DoctorG - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    I get radio noise all the time with my CDMA Galaxy Nexus (and Palm Pre before that.) Reply
  • willis936 - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    I get it loud and clear from my razr (XT912) when I put it near headphone amp or stereo that my computer uses. I'm also moving to an HTC One (M7 Verizon) and it too has the issue. I haven't tried turning off CDMA altogether but since I have LTE coverage and the noise only comes when there's data usage I'm going to conclude it's the LTE. They can do clever shielding and filtering tricks to keep it from affecting the amp inside the phone. You literally can't do anything besides keep it in your pocket to avoid the noise in other amps. A faraday cage at 700 MHz is nearly air tight. Reply
  • Jimster480 - Tuesday, June 10, 2014 - link

    On my M8 I haven't noticed the audio being affected by the radio. Actually all 3 of my HTC's (HTC EVO 4G, EVO 4G LTE, One M8) haven't had this issue. They do have a bit of feedback if plugged into the charger and the battery percentage is high. But other than that their sound has been pretty pure, and better from generation to generation! Reply
  • Ammar666 - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    Which Galaxy S5 did you test? The Qualcomm one or the Exynos one. Because the Exynos one comes with a Wolfson DAC I think. Reply
  • theduckofdeath - Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - link

    I would have guessed they tested the common Snapdragon based one. But then again, that one uses the same DAC as HTC as far as I know which would mean that either the test is flawed or Samsung screwed up the software on the GS5. I remember it was the complete opposite with last years generation, where the GS4 had much cleaner sound than the old "One", even though those two also used the same DAC. (according to measurements done by GMS Arena)

    Personally, I'm not a big fan of these type of pure technical test to find the best sounding device. You need some sort of human tap-in, like an extensive blind-test, to get a real life reference as to where they really stand. Especially when you use hyperbole to the extreme like Mr. Heinonen is.
    Reply

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