Huawei P20 Pro Review: Audio


Huawei's mobile phone, except to the Honor 9, while other models are very common in sound quality, including even the flagship Mate series. Therefore, we do not expect too high on the sound quality of Huawei mobile phones. How does the P20 Pro real hearing performance will be?

P20 Pro adopts Huawei Hisilicon Kirin 970 processor. Just like Mate10 series, according to the teardown of ifixit, the peripheral audio chip is Hi6403, which is also the same as Mate10. That is to say, there is no big difference on both audio subsystems.

P20 Pro follows the removing 3.5 mm headphone jack trending, so they sent an adapter. Can this adapter be compared with the HTC U11? No! Because this just transfer ANALOG SIGNAL, while U11s adapter has a CODEC in to do the digital to analog work, it is truly an adapter, not an ultra-portable DAC. This kind of adapter will not improve sound quality a little, but if done well, it will not be harmful. What is certain is that it is not more reliable than the 3.5 mm port. Of course, removing the 3.5mm port currently is largely to promote the Huawei-led HWA Bluetooth solution.

Mate10 actually SRCs, but just a little harmful to sound quality. It has little effect on quantified data, but it can make the sense of hearing relatively blurring. This is probably a software issue. If the P20 Pro can modify the software, it is possible to achieve a little bit of improvement in the hearing experience.

There are no major improvements in the built-in music players, which are divided into online and local content playback. Local playback supports the mainstream music formats. P20 Pro supports online lyrics and album cover matching, but it may be the server error, only ten of dozens of albums are matched correctly, worse than the Mate10, while it gives a cover to Soomal's test signal. The stability of the player itself is OK, no difficult in using, and the interface is a little out-of-fashion.

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 Huawei P20 Pro 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 96kHz/16bit 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 96kHz/16bit 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 P20 Pro locks the sampling specification to 96kHz/16bit when connecting to a USB audio device, which is not good for sound quality. In fact, it costs only a few line of codes.

The Bluetooth connection test found that P20 Pro supports aptX, while as to Huawei-led HWA, we currently have no device for testing. According to readers' feedbacks, Huawei's mobile phone may produce noise when connecting SBC Bluetooth devices, but Soomal did not find the problem on the P20 Pro.

By convention, we use professional sound cards to record sounds, combining with common analysis, to provide quantitative results. The P20 Pro's maximum output level is -10dB.

Testing Item 44.1kHz 48kHz 96kHz Mate 10
Noise Level, dB -95.0 -96.5 -108.2 -95.2
Dynamic Range, dB 95.4 96.8 18.2 95.7
Total Harmonic Distortion(THD), % 0.0019 0.0019 0.0019 0.0021
Intermodulation Distortion, % 0.0051 0.0045 0.0020 0.0050
Stereo Crosstalk, dB -94.4 -96.2 -103.2 -93.4

The test was successfully completed, and slight high-frequency attenuation still appeared at 44.1 kHz. There were also some small harmonics., which were very subtle and could not be reflected in the quantized data, but they could be seen faintly on the spectrum, while there is no such problem at 48 kHz. This is actually a little trace left by the high-quality SRC, which result is acceptable, and it is not obvious on real hearing. Hi-Res test passed, but high-frequency attenuation was very severe, consistent with Mate10's performance, which performance should not be like this. Compared to Mate10, the crosstalk at 96 kHz is still slightly improving, indicating that this line has not become a bottleneck.

The real hearing performance is similar to that of Mate10. The timbre is neutral, sound field flat, thin sounds, and the power controlling is not good, as the volume is increased, the defects will become more obvious, and high frequency will gradually get out of control and the burr will increase. Low-frequency performance will also be out of control, fast percussion will become turbid. The overall performance does not match its locating, just belongs to the current medium level. There is a clear gap, when compared with the iPhone series, Galaxy S series, and those Qualcomm based models. There is an easy to solve this problem, you can try a third-party CODCE built-in adapter. It would have a tail anyway when using 3.5mm headphones, why not choose a good one.

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