vivo Xplay 6 Review: Audio
Author:Soomal
Source:eng.soomal.com

Rate:09.80/98

vivo brands Xplay series as the highest ending smartphone. However, because of the high price, Xplay series are sold much less than X series. vivo choose to upgrade Xplay series with a longer term. Each time when vivo upgrade Xplay series, they will also improve the audio performance, and that's what we concern most.

  • Source: Manufacturer
    Type: Mass produced
    Commercial Relationship: Yes

However, as Samsung recalled Galaxy Note 7, unlike usual, vivo release Xplay 6 just months later Xplay 5/5s. vivo might release Xplay 6 ahead of schedule.

Xplay 6 adopts ESS ES9038Q2M DAC chip, with 129dB SNR, about 3dB lower than the dual ES9028Q2M that Xplay 5s adopted. ESS noted Native DSD Capability, and vivo also announced to achieve hard decision decoding on vivo smartphone for the first time, this should be the biggest upgradation of ES9038 Q2M. The expansion of smartphone internal storage also helps DSD storage on smartphones. Of course, peripheral circuit design also plays an important role in audio performance. The amplify circuit of Xplay 6 is similar to former models, vivo uses 3 OPA1622 for amplifier.

Xplay 6 still adopts the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, just the same with Xplay 5s. Aqstic, named by Qualcomm, which is also known as WCD9335, is the audio CODEC responsible for all audio I/O. If you switch to normal mode, Aqustic will be responsible for the audio playback digital to analog conversion.

Xplay 6 runs on Funtouch 3.0, and the music player is upgraded. The online part of the music player is provided by QQ Music, and the local part supports common compressed and lossless audio formats, including DSF and DFF, but not ISO. vivo provides a DSD professional mode which will only be active when earphones are inserted. This mode will also affect other audio formats, such as notifications, in another word, DSD professional mode will exclusively use the audio sub-system.

PCM signal playback can be also in Hi-Fi and normal mode. Funtouch can authorize Hi-Fi mode to third party music player. The built-in music player supports matching tracks playing with album cover and lyrics online automatically, but the result is still unsatisfied, as lots of album covers cannot find, we have been complaining this for a long time.

By convention, we use professional sound card to record sounds, combined with common analysis, to provide quantitative results. The output level in Hi-Fi mode and normal mode of Xplay 6 is 1dB and -7dB. The output level in Hi-Fi mode is overflow a little, back to normal, you need to turn down the volume a tab. We told vivo this problem, and they will fix it in latest pushing.

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Testing Item 44.1kHz@Normal Mode 44.1kHz@HiFi Mode 48kHz@Normal Mode 48kHz@HiFi Mode 96kHz@HiFi Mode 44.1kHz@HiFi Mode (XPlay 5s)
Noise Level, dB -94.2 -96.7 -94.4 -96.8 -115.4 -96.1
Dynamic Range, dB 94.2 96.4 94.4 97.0 115.6 96.1
Total Harmonic Distortion(THD), % 0.0011 0.0004 0.0011 0.0005 0.0002 0.0005
Intermodulation Distortion, % 0.0031 0.0042 0.0057 0.0039 0.0007 0.0042
Stereo Crosstalk, dB -91.4 -97.4 -91.1 -97.8 -109.6 -96.1

The quantitative result is normal, and we found no SRC problem during our testing. The 44.1kHz and 48kHz result under Hi-Fi mode is outstanding, the normal mode performance is also excellent compared with those smartphones without separated DAC chip. The 44.1kHz total distortion graph below shows such a low distortion that we can hardly find even among those DACs we ever tested. It just sounds clean.

In normal mode, Xplay 6 does not support Hi-Res audio. In Hi-Fi mode, it supports, but we found a problem. You can find harmonic in left channel under 96kHz, the quantitative result and harmonic distortion are not as good as Xplay 5s.

Xplay 6 supports DSD both soft and hard decision decoding. When DSD professional mode switched on, Xplay 6 will use hard decision decoding for DSD, if switched off, Xplay 6 will use soft decision decoding. The sound quality of hard decision decoding is significantly better than that of soft decoding, with more detailed and a larger acoustic image. However, bugs exist, some DSD are playing with lost noise or just muted. Through our test, error occur sometimes when DSD64 playing, and DSD128 can hardly playback normally. No bug exist in soft decision decoding, but the sound quality is not that good.

We choose vivo XE800, Vsonic GR07X, Creative Aurvana air for hearing, and Xplay 5s for comparing.

Treble: Xplay 5s is brighter and clearer than Xplay 6, but Xplay 6 is not dark and blurred. Both are rich detailed, Xplay 5s is better in transient and performs more momentum of plucked instruments, and Xplay 6 is more suitable for strings. Both of them are much better than any other smartphones in treble.

Mid-range: Xplay 5s improves much density in mid-range, leading to a more concentrated and concreted voice performance. As the fundamental tone of most instruments is mid-range, higher density also brings a better treble and bass, which makes the instruments concreteness, easier to locate where the instrument is in your imagination. Xplay 6 inherent this specification perfectly, and even more stretching, especially when hearing basso profundo, it sounds more impressing.

Bass: Bass: Xplay 6 outputs a little higher power than Xplay 5s, and made some hardly perceptible progress, makes it just slightly better controlling and strength for bass. However, it is still only able to power most earphones and mid-sized headphones, unable to power those large overhead phones, for laud but out-of-control bass.

The sound styles of Xplay 6 and Xplay 5s are similar, we can hardly distinguish them if we dont listen carefully, the difference we described are quite narrow. Both of them are neutral and trending a little warm, Xplay 6 is a little bit mellower and softer, sounds more relaxing, while Xplay 5s is better in transient. We do not consider Xplay 6 is better than Xplay 5s in overall sound performance, but we can regard Xplay 6 adjusting it sound style. Xplay 6 is much better in DSD supporting except without bugs.

Xplay 6 would automatically detect inserted earphones to adjust volume for different frequency response, but this function does not work every time, occasionally the loudness is not high enough even at the highest volume. We recommend vivo add a switch for this imperfect function.

vivo changed their slogan from Smart & Hi-Fi to Camera & Music, some are worrying vivo will abandon Hi-Fi in the future. But, don't worry, Xplay 6 performs good enough in audio.

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