Samsung Galaxy S9+ Korea Version [SM-G965N]: Audio


There has been two versions existence of Samsung's S series hardware platform, one is Qualcomm Snapdragon version, while the other Exynos version is rarely seen in China mainland. As the significant differences in hardware, there is not much reference to each other, and we usually only buy the China mainland version, which is also Qualcomm Snapdragon version, and seldom using the Exynos version. This time, a rich user sent us the Galaxy S9 + [SM-G965N], which is based on the Exynos platform. Because it is sold in South Korea, it is also known as the Korean version.

S9+[SM-G965N] uses Samsung's Exynos 9810 processor and is one of the most powerful mobile device processors available today. Due to factors such as patents, it is not widely applicable to all Samsung flagship mobile phones and can only be used in versions sold in a few regions. Our lack of continuous understanding of the Exynos series makes it impossible to make a rough judgement based on experience, such as whether the built-in audio I/O controller is capable for all audio streams. The CODEC chip specification is also not clear, but the possibility of using Qualcomm CODEC is almost zero. It can be considered that there are significant differences between the S9+ [SM-G965N] and Qualcomm audio subsystems, so the performance of the two different versions of the audio quality cannot be directly equal.

The operating system of the S9+[SM-G965N] is also different from the China mainland Qualcomm version, as it does not have a built-in music player. We have downloaded Google Play Music and Netease Cloud Music. The S9+[SM-G965N] also has Dolby Atmos built-in. It plays a role in both the loudspeaker and the earphone, greater in former. It does not make much sense for applications where sound quality is required.

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 Samsung Galaxy S9+ Korea Version 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 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 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

In support of USB audio devices, the performance is consistent with the Qualcomm version S9, 44.1kHz and 48kHz will be locked at the 48kHz output, 96kHz and 192kHz will be locked at the 192kHz output, which also has room for optimization.

The Bluetooth connection test found that S9+[SM-G965N] supports aptX, we do not currently have aptx HD test equipment, and S9+ should also be supported. To add a Bluetooth headset or speaker to it, you can choose to support aptX or aptxHD models.

By convention, we use professional sound cards to record sounds, combining with common analysis, to provide quantitative results. The maximum output level of the S9+[SM-G965N] is -8dB, which is consistent with the Qualcomm version S9.

Testing Item S9+ 44.1kHz S9+ 48kHz S9+ 96kHz S8 S9
Noise Level, dB -95.3 -96.7 -102.8 -97.2 -95.3
Dynamic Range, dB 95.4 96.8 101.8 95.6 95.4
Total Harmonic Distortion(THD), % 0.0015 0.0016 0.0012 0.0007 0.0006
Intermodulation Distortion, % 0.0050 0.0045 0.0012 0.0051 0.0047
Stereo Crosstalk, dB -94.6 -97.5 -100 -96.1 -95.1

The test was successful, no SRC problem was found, Hi-Res tests were also passed, and the DSD128 was able to play normally. However, by comparing with the Qualcomm version of the S9, it will be found that the quantitative indicators should be inferior, harmonics are significantly more than the Qualcomm version S9. In fact, such quantification results are actually considered to be relatively good.

In the real hearing part, we chose to compare with the Qualcomm version of the S9. The powering of the two is basically the same, Qualcomm version S9 may be slightly better. In addition, the difference is more obvious. S9+[SM-G965N] is warmer and softer, and the style is not bad, but the overall resolution is relatively weaker. S9+s [SM-G965N] treble is relatively vaguer, high-frequency dynamics and transients are less than the Qualcomm version S9, the mids imaging is also in the lower case, while Qualcomm version S9 is more energetic in vocal. The Qualcomm version S9 also has a slightly higher sound field performance. Conclusion is clear that the S9+ [SM-G965N] is not as good as the Qualcomm version S9 in this real hearing part. This should be a gap in the hardware platform, not a software error or intentionally.

This in-ear earphone from AKG is the standard for Samsung's flagship model. The S9+ [SM-G965N] is also equipped with this headset. The quality of the sound performance in the distribution is actually OK, but still not worthy of these flagship models, even if the S9 + [SM-G965N] is not as good as the Qualcomm version S9 in sound quality, but with this AKG headset is more than enough. Want more, a better earphone is preferred.

Although the sound quality is a bit worse than that of the Qualcomm version, it will not be a disadvantage. In mobile phones without separated DAC chip, it is also considered to be a medium-to-high level. For the average consumer, the S9+ [SM-G965N] sound quality is sufficient.

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