vivo X20 Review: Audio
Author:Soomal
Source:eng.soomal.com

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After vivo changed their marketing strategy, Xplay series are responsible for extreme audio performance, while X series are still Hi-Fi phones with sperate DAC chip, but not that Hi-Fi as former models. X20 is not an exception.

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

Vivo X20 adopts Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 SoC with audio I/O controller integrated, providing good basic audio digital signal. X20 also uses a separated DAC chip, AKM AK4376, which was adopted by former models, such as vivo X7 and X9, and other brands who want to improve their audio performance. AK4376 has a good-looking specifications, 125dB SNR, sampling frequency up to 384kHz, class-G stereo headphone-amp integrated, 40mW @ 16次. However, according to our experience, smartphones with AK4376 will not be that good, and are belongs to the lower level among smartphones with separated DACs. After all, AK4376 is a DAC, not just CODEC, smartphones would be still better with it than those without, but not in all aspects. So, our expectation for X20 is not for the best.

X20 uses the build-in music player in Funtouch OS, familiar UI, changeable skin, a conservative design. It supports most popular audio formats. Just like most others, the player also has local and online part, vivo optimized the local part a little, for adding fast label for local tracks and user habits. The music player is stable, no crashing. The local player supports matching lyric and cover online, however, sometimes it would mismatch the album cover. Hi-Fi mode is still a system option to author other apps to use.

By convention, we use professional sound card to record sounds, combined with common analysis, to provide quantitative results. Turning off the sound effects, vivo X20's output level is -8dB and -11dB in normal mode and Hi-Fi mode, Xplay series, representing the best audio performance, had been always standard output level.

Testing Item 44.1kHz 44.1kHz [Hi-Fi] 48kHz 48kHz [Hi-Fi] 96kHz 96kHz [Hi-Fi] X9 44.1kHz [Hi-Fi]
Noise Level, dB -95.8 -95.8 -96.5 -96.4 -110.7 -96.2
Dynamic Range, dB 96.2 96.4 96.5 96.6 110.9 96.5
Total Harmonic Distortion(THD), % 0.0006 0.0013 0.0007 0.0014 0.0013 0.0014
Intermodulation Distortion, % 0.0043 0.0044 0.0042 0.0043 0.0017 0.0044
Stereo Crosstalk, dB -81.3 -81.7 -81.3 -81.4 -81.4 -91.8

The quantitative result is excellent, except the crossover. X20 does not make too much progress in those indicators, but if you have a look at our graphs, you will find that it is quite better than that of X9. However, even in 24 bit the crossover did not improve, it should be restricted by the hardware. The quantitative result was much better than that of X9 in normal mode. All tests passed successfully, no SRC problem found, Hi-Res supported, while X20 did not pass the 96kHz item in normal mode.

We choose vivo XE800, Creative Aurvana Air, Vsonic GR07 37th for real hearing experience.

Xplay 6 sounds better than X20 in all aspects, including but not limited to resolution, stereo imaging, controlling, after all, Xplay 6 is still representing the best audio among smartphones. We just want to address the gay between top and ordinary audio design for consumers who are looking for a separate DAC in their smartphone to improve audio performance much.

However, X20 is better than the best smartphones without separated DAC, such as iPhone series, Samsung Galaxy S8 series, for its higher resolution especially in mid-to-high frequency, more details, more dedicate and concrete, tenderer warmer sound, and more durable in long time listening. Apple enhanced transient, dynamic and power from iPhone 5, so iPhones are at the similar level in those aspects, but the relatively cruder details and harder sound lag behind. S8 series have the similar problem in detail, also not as good as X20.

Insufficient output power, not only X20, but also most smartphones with AK4376 are restricted by this problem. They are able to power low-impedance and high-sensitive earphones in a high volume, but not ideal controlling. So, compared with those tier 1 smartphones, they sound blurring, and the higher volume is, the more obvious disadvantages are.

X20's sound performance matches its marketing target, not good enough for audiophiles, satisfies ordinary consumer and even entry-level audiophiles.

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