Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review: Audio


The curved screen and the beautiful body design and IP68 certified water resistant of Galaxy S7 Edge have attracted much attention and raised strong urge to buy. As a leader in smartphone market, the audio performance of Galaxy S7 Edge has also attracted much attention.

The Chinese mainland retail version of Galaxy S7 is G9350, it is equipped with Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, while those selling in Taiwan, South Korea, and Europe are equipped with Exynos 8890. Different SoC means different audio subsystem. After LG had released V10 as a Hi-Fi smartphone, rumor said Samsung would adopt separated DAC in their devices to improve the audio performance. However, after S7/S7 Edge released, we find no separated DAC, but just the CODEC WCD9335 that Qualcomm SoC brings from the teardown from ifixit and chipworks. We cannot find the detail information of WCD9335, official documents says that it supports Hi-Res. The Exynos 8890 SoC version uses a CODEC chip customized by Cirrus Logic, but this is not pursuing for better audio performance, just because of Cirrus Logics acquisition of Wolfson. Wolfson CODEC, such as WM5102 or WM1840 that Samsung adopted in their SoC has ideal indicator, SNR and dynamic range can be as high as 113dB and 110dB, but gap still exists compared to separated DAC and amplifier structure.

After such a long introduction, we have to mention that our S6 Edge is China Mainland version that equipped with Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, the CODED is Qualcomm WCD9335, and an additional Maxim MAX98506 as an amplifier for speakers. The sound style of Qualcomm CODEC tends to be neutral, but audio performance of different devices varies, Samsung is able to make full use of these chips. S7 Edge is powered by Android 6.0, the music player app is simple, in sound effect setting, there are equalizer, 3D sound effects, timbre.

The max output level of S7 Edge is -10dB, lower than -9dB of S6 Edge+, higher than -14dB of S6 Edge. In comparison, iOS devices are about -7dB.

Testing Item 44.1kHz 48kHz 96kHz S6 Edge+ S6 Edge
Noise Level, dB -97.2 -97.3 -106.9 -96.2 -96.9
Dynamic Range, dB 97.1 97.3 105.3 96.3 95.1
Total Harmonic Distortion(THD), % 0.0010 0.0047 0.0038 0.0014 0.0022
Intermodulation Distortion, % 0.0048 0.0046 0.0016 0.0056 0.0058
Stereo Crosstalk, dB -96.1 -97.1 -99.2 -95.2 -92.7

There is no problem in the testing result of S7 Edge. S7 Edge supports Hi-Res audio playing. Samsung also solved the SRC problem that exists on Nexus series. The audio performance of Qualcomm SoC version S7 Edge is between S6 Edge and S6 Edge+. The sound style is neutral, but cannot drive headphones as well as S6 Edge+, especially when we used GR07 Classic. It sounds not that tender and stretched as S6 Edge+, and a little harder in treble. This difference in sound style may come from different audio subsystem or analog output circuit.

The audio performance of S7 Edge (Qualcomm SoC version) does not reach our exception, no matter dynamic range, detail, or sound style, it cannot parallel to S6 Edge+ or iOS devices. However, Galaxy S7 Edges audio subsystem is designed without separated DAC, even if we use the Exynos SoC version, there exists little potential improvement for audio performance. The silica-gel-pipe-interchangeable Samsung in-ear phone is comfortable in wearing, but a little dark in treble, and low in mid-range and bass. If you expect better sound performance ,you should take into consideration a better earphone.

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