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.


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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  • synaesthetic - Saturday, June 7, 2014 - link

  • synaesthetic - Saturday, June 7, 2014 - link

    The 20Hz drop is probably due to DC filtering caps on the output. Reply
  • NonSequitor - Monday, June 9, 2014 - link

    What is the repeatability of these measurements? The tables include many digits of precision, but if the measurement isn't that repeatable it's really quite misleading. I also suspect you are dropping trailing zeros. You might want to put ranges on those numbers and remove irrelevant digits. Reply
  • beck2050 - Wednesday, June 11, 2014 - link

    I can't even turn my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with headphones all the way up so I'm not sure what this article is claiming. Reply
  • Nucleuscore - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    Hi Chris

    how where your settings inside the APx software? I have made measurements with a HTC One, LG Nexus 5, Samsung Galaxy S4 and Sony Xperia Z. The measurement was loaded with 33 Ohm. My results were almost equal to yours, but the wattage was much smaller.

    Sorry for the bad english

  • Haftarun8 - Wednesday, June 25, 2014 - link

    This is great! It's hard to find actual audio reviews of mobile headphone outputs with accurate test data. It'd be interesting to compare the quality via bluetooth streaming as well to objectively see the differences. PLEASE do more of these with more phones (in particular the up and coming Galaxy Note 4). Reply
  • 2kfire - Saturday, July 5, 2014 - link

    I didn't see the built-in speaker loudness tests in the original reviews so I figured they'd be here, but I don't see them here either.
    Any reason for skipping those tests for these phones? I'm interested to know if the S5 is competitive now, and if the M8 is noticeably louder than the M7. I know I could go to a retailer and check vs. my M7, but it'd be hard to tell with all the noise...
  • ayork - Friday, August 8, 2014 - link

    Did you try a test while the phone is downloading data? When the 4G radio is working the phone's sound is so bad I am tempted to never stream audio again. Reply

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