Samsung Galaxy S9 Review: Audio


Although the Samsung S8 series is gloomy in sales in China, but from a global perspective, it is still strong. S8 series, from appearance to function to stability, no obvious short board, wins a good reputation. Samsung put higher expectation on this new S9 is placed higher expectations. Such a big player is still receiving attention from all parties. We have also booked the S9 state bank version for the first time. Now let's take a listen at the S9's sound performance.

There are multiple hardware versions of the S9. The S9 that is officially sold in mainland China uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, but the S9 also has a version of the Exynos 9810 processor, due to the processor's built-in audio I/O controller and peripheral chips are different. The sound quality of different versions of the S9 can't be equated. Therefore, this sound quality evaluation is only of reference to the Qualcomm version of the S9. The Qualcomm version of the S9+ can also be used for reference.

According to the teardown on ifixit, the Qualcomm version of the S9 uses the Qualcomm Aqstic WCD9341 CODEC. This is Qualcomm's best codec so far, and the S8 uses it. Qualcomm uses the high general Audiophile grade to describe it, WCD9341 can support up to 32-bit/384kHz sampling rate, signal to noise ratio of 115dB, support for local DSD [64/128] playback. For conventional design, this CODEC is sufficient.

After the acquisition of Harman, AKG became Samsung's grand company. AKG is undoubtedly a gold sign, no wasting, S8 and Note8 are all bounding with an AKG in-ear earphone. This earphone is also in the box of S9. Samsung is using AKG's technological resources and reputation in a deeper way, claiming that the S9's dual-speaker system is AKG-tuned. Hear the action crisper and louder on the stereo speakers tuned by AKG. They offer pure sound that's 1.4x more powerful than previous Galaxy phones. Samsung's official description, a little unclear feeling, in short, means getting better.


The music player remains basically the same with the S8, the interface is a little bit out of fashion, and it is divided into online and local parts. Many online programs need to pay, and it is not so sophisticated in using. Local music playback cannot automatically match album cover, so the interface is even more out-of-fashion when playing locals. Support for DSD64/128 is good, and dozens of DSD files for testing can play normally. Equalizers, tubes, and concert halls are all reserved, Dolby Atmos sound added. For music lovers, these things are not necessary. The player supports streaming to DLNA devices, including 44.1kHz/16bit FLAC strings except DSDs, convenient. This streaming process is lossless, so S9 can be used as a wireless digital dial.

We start to add USB audio device compatibility test and Bluetooth decode supported test as the popularity of smartphone external device. We choose Musiland MD30 Plus as our audio device, using SuperDSP platform that is compatible with UAC2.0. Another one is Matrix Mini-i Pro 2S, adopting XMOS program. The reason why we choose these two is that they can display the current sampling rate on screen. We will add more devices in the future.

Testing Smartphone iPhone X iPhone 8 Plus Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Samsung Galaxy S8+ Samsung Galaxy S9 Huawei Mate 10 vivo X20 Plus OnePlus 5T vivo X21
Musiland MD30 Plus Auto Switch Sampling Rate Auto Switch Sampling Rate Locked to 48kHz or 192kHz Cannot Work Properly Locked to 48kHz or 192kHz Locked to 96kHz Locked to 48kHz Locked to 48kHz Locked to 48kHz
MATRIX Mini-i Pro 2S Auto Switch Sampling Rate Auto Switch Sampling Rate Locked to 48kHz or 192kHz Locked to 48kHz or 192kHz Locked to 48kHz or 192kHz Locked to 96kHz Locked to 48kHz Locked to 48kHz Locked to 48kHz
Comment greater than or equal to 96kHz will be locked to 192kHz, others are locked to 48 kHz

The S9 USB audio peripherals supporting is not perfect, 44.1kHz and 48kHz will be locked at the 48kHz output, 96kHz and 192kHz will lock at the 192kHz output, the most common 44.1kHz sampling rate will inevitably SRC, which is detrimental to the sound quality.

The Bluetooth connection test found that S9 supports aptX. In fact, S9 should support aptx HD, but we do not currently have aptx HD test equipment to verify. To add a Bluetooth headset or speaker to the S9, you should choose a model that supports aptX or aptx HD.

By convention, we use professional sound cards to record sounds, combining with common analysis, to provide quantitative results. The maximum output level of the Galaxy S9 is -8dB, which is consistent with the S8.

Testing Item S9 44.1kHz S9 48kHz S9 96kHz S8 S7 Edge S6 Edge
Noise Level, dB -95.6 -96.6 -107.8 -97.2 -97.2 -96.9
Dynamic Range, dB 95.4 96.7 110.8 95.6 97.1 95.1
Total Harmonic Distortion(THD), % 0.0006 0.0006 0.0006 0.0007 0.0010 0.0022
Intermodulation Distortion, % 0.0047 0.0041 0.0004 0.0051 0.0048 0.0058
Stereo Crosstalk, dB -95.1 -96.6 -99.5 -96.1 -96.1 -92.7

All the test was normal and no SRC was found. The high-definition sampling specification test passed smoothly. All major audio formats and DSDs were successfully played. The indicators perform well, and harmonic control is very good. Compared with S8, the performance of indicators can be regarded as the same level of performance.

There is no audible difference between the actual listening and the S8. It can be considered that the audio subsystem of the S9 is a copy of the S8. S9 maintains the S8's neutral style and maintains excellent resolution, especially in the mid-and-high frequency, which is excellent in conventional design. Compared with the old rival, iPhone series, the S9 performs relatively weakly in terms of powering, dynamic and transients, while better than the iPhone in details and forming. If equipped with easy-to-power small earbuds, S9 performance should be dominant, and with the large-size headphones in the match, the iPhone's powering advantage accounts.

Samsung's flagship models, for more than a year, have been bounded with an AKG earbud, which is indeed a good one among various cell phone earphones. However, this earbud is not good enough, and its voice does not have the advantage of these flagship phones. Bass performance is in line with the tastes of young people, but high-frequency sounds a little hard, and S9 high-frequency resolution is actually relatively good. If you require more, you can change to a better headset, with easy to drive, sound balance, excellent high-frequency features.

Although the S9 has not improved compared to the sound quality of the S8, it still can be regarded as a top level in the conventional design [referring to the audio subsystem] of the mobile phone, which is definitely better than most pure music players for a few hundred yuan. Moreover, Samsung did not follow suit, decisively retained the 3.5 mm headphone port, in fact, for the average consumer, this is the most convenient port, providing much more abundant choice for earphones.

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