Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ Review: Audio


The Samsung Note 7 recall seriously harmed Samsung's brand around the world, especially in China. Could its brand image be overhauled? S8 & S8+ is the key factor. This time we got S8 and S8+ at the same time, so the audio review is about both of them. Both are Chinese version.

  • Source: Self-Buying/Netizen
    Type: Mass produced
    Commercial Relationship: No

The Galaxy S8 & S8+ are equipped with Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with 10nm process. The audio CODECs of them are Aqustic WCD9341, we can see that from iFixit's teardown. WCD9341 belongs to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC. We noticed that Qualcomm describe it as an Audiophile Grade chip, for it able to provide 115dB SNR, native DSD64/128 playback, and aptX HD. Although the specifications of the WCD9341 are still far away from those top DACs, it is the best among smartphone CODECs.

After Samsung's $8 billion Harman acquisition, AKG becoming a part of Samsung Group. So we can also see the AKG bounding earphones. Samsung is also looking forward to AKG bringing a positive impact. Samsung also noticed offer pure sound by AKG, not that kind of audiophile or Hi-Fi, but Samsung becomes much more confidence with the S8's audio performance.

The latest re-designed built-in music player is not that good-looking, even a little worse than before. The music player is also able to provide online audio contents and playback local tracks. We often encounter the need-to-pay online contents. The local music player cannot match album cover, but lyrics can be. The biggest progress is the ability to play DSD64/128, even better in supporting than the vivo Xplay 6, as Xplay 6 cannot play some tracks when hard decoding. Samsung integrated a SoundAlive in, which is a sound effect controlling system, providing equalizer, Concert hall echo, surround simulation, etc. However, those sound effects are not able to enhance audio performance.

By convention, we use professional sound card to record sounds, combined with common analysis, to provide quantitative results. The output level of Galaxy S8 & S8+ is -8dB, higher than S7 Edge's -8dB and the S6 Edge's -14dB, and similar to iPhone series' -6 to -7 dB.

Testing Item S8 44.1kHz S8 48kHz S8 96kHz S8+ 44.1kHz S8+ 48kHz S8+ 96kHz S7 Edge S6 Edge
Noise Level, dB -97.2 -96.7 -107.9 -97.2 -96.7 -108.0 -97.2 -96.9
Dynamic Range, dB 95.6 96.7 110.9 96.1 96.7 110.8 97.1 95.1
Total Harmonic Distortion(THD), % 0.0007 0.0007 0.0007 0.0007 0.0009 0.0005 0.0010 0.0022
Intermodulation Distortion, % 0.0051 0.0044 0.0012/td> 0.0045 0.0043 0.0012 0.0048 0.0058
Stereo Crosstalk, dB -96.1 -97.8 -103.7 -96.4 -96.7 -104.2 -96.1 -92.7

S8 & S8+ passed all tests, no SRC problem, and also Hi-Res audio playback, but restricted by our devices, we cannot test higher sampling rate audio formants, such as 192kHz/24bit. S8 & S8+ almost the same in quantitative result, both have excellent indicators, ideal harmonic distortion, and clean black background in RMAA testing.

Also, the sound of S8 and S8+ is almost the same, and we cannot even distinguish one from the other. We choose Galaxy S7 Edge and iPhone 6 for comparison, those 4 smartphones each has a styled neutral sound performance. Compared with S7 Edge, S8 & S8+ are more solid and detailed, especially in mid-to-high frequency. Compared with iPhone 6, S8 & S8+ are a little weaker in powering earphones, and slightly narrower in transient and dynamic, but S8 & S8+ are more detailed, stretching, and better in re-constructing stereo imaging. In a word, S8 & S8+ are more smooth and dedicated.

By this WCD9341, Samsung S8 & S8+ are two of the best sound in smartphones without separated DAC chip. It is the first time that Samsung performs better than Apple in audio, not to say the DSD supporting. However, the S8 & S8+ can still not be compared with those smartphones with separated DAC chip. Today, we can say that Samsung is able to provide better audio performance in technology.

We see that Samsung made progress in audio after the recall of Note 7. They had really introspect themselves.

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