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By M. Zaid
LG G6 to offer a 32-bit Quad DAC for 'exceptional' sound balance
by Muhammad Zaid Tariq
The LG G6 has been in the news a lot lately. Whether it's about ditching the modular design or leaked design images, the flagship handset sure is stirring up some excitement. Now, LG has announced that the device will feature a 32-bit HiFi Quad DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter) for high-quality audio and "exceptional" sound balance.
This isn't the first time LG has installed this type of hardware on one of its devices. Last year, the LG V20 also sported the 32-bit Quad DAC for a high-quality listening experience, as we noted in our review of the handset. According to LG, the upgraded version of this hardware will now be utilized in the G6.
To offer this audiophile-level sound quality into its handset, the Korean giant has teamed up with ESS Technologies - a company that specializes in producing high-quality audio chipsets. The Quad DAC sports four DACs on a single chip - as the name suggests - which reduces its size by a factor of four, and also minimizes noise by up to 50% when a single DAC is in use.
Other features of the DAC include the ability to fine tune the left and right sound channels separately, which enhances sound balance and reduces noise. Increased integration in its internal circuit also helps lower distortion levels to 0.0002%. LG claims that due to this, minimum acoustic information is lost and sound quality remains clear and crisp.
The LG G6 flagship handset will be unveiled on February 26 at the Mobile World Congress 2017.
By Draconian Guppy
Maybe a long read, maybe a boring read perhaps, alas maybe someone gets pointed towards the right way because of it?
As long as I can remember, i've liked listening to music, be it through speakers, boomboxes and portable gear amongst the whole different ways to enjoy your favorite tunes.
It all started back in 1990, I was around 7ish if I recall correctly, my mom got the Ice Ice Ice Ice Baby single as a cassette... We had a small boombox which I would l listen to on hours long. Then around 1993 Santa brought me for christmas a yellow "splash proof" walkman cassette player;
I carried it around every time I could. Around 1995ish, I asked for scream/childhood cassette single (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scream/Childhood) (Oh how we argued with mum, she would say, he's a pervert bla bla... I would answer, I don't care, I like his music... eternal discussion ). What also "helped" was, my mom, had several cassettes of her own, fleetwoodmac, gun n roses (she loved young axl), rolling stones and plenty other, which I would gladly listen to, though did like that much (oh the ignorance, I now love GnR )
Burglars got in the house one day while we were off for the weekend and gone was my cherished walkman.
It wasn't till around 1998 when dad asked me what I wanted for christmas, I said a stereo system and got an aiwa one:
Listening to music on that was amazing, have such a loud volume available at home was something nice to play around, pushing the speakers to the limits until you could smell sort of plastic burning and I would turn the speakers down. It was around them, a friend taught me how to hook up my PC to my stereo system, oh this sorcery.
I had always been limited to my CD-Rips and "burning" CDs was expensive back in the day, so this allowed me to play all the music I owned, without having to carry around a thousand CD's!
Years passed, it was around 2000ish that portable bugs bit everyone at school and I begin to see everyone with sony cd walkmans, so the jealous/partially spoiled I guess, asked for a sony cd player (not that spoiled, it took a whole year of begging), enter portability!
It was then, how I figured out how retailers would scam shoppers, they would take out supplied accessories and sell them to you crazy expensive, the player I got, was barebones only, not the one pictured above.
I now had all my music on the go! I carried around a small cd keeper, with around 3 CD's, while listening from the stock buds supplied (in the photo). It wasn't until a friend of mine introduced me to Sony "street" style headphones, that I figured out what I was missing out.
All this world of instruments had been out there that I was not listening to. I managed to save up my allowance and buy them in around 5 months...
So this combination kept me happy for a while, I would listen to music, while coming and going anywhere, whether on car/bus/walking. With the advent of napster and other music services in 2000s, my default setup for home would be, PC -> stereo system and portability would be sony cd player (with a whole 10 seconds of skip-free music). I twas thanks to these services, that I also managed to start telling apart bitrate, back in the day 164kbps was OMG UBER HIGH quality and 64kbps was acceptable... It was this way I understood what VBR, CBR and ABR meant.
It was around 2003ish we were walking around the mall with my girl and being a woman, she had to look in every store and the mall and window shop, it was because of that, I saw this in a window of an electronics store:
A mini disc player! I immediately went in and asked a store helper about, he explained that mini-discs could be burned with the NORMAL cd-burner! How had the geek in me never known this! I felt oh so lame! The salesman kept on going how each mini disc could hold up to around 500 songs depending on the "song size". I had to have it, It would break my saving account (based of some informal jobs as a helper in a store + allowance). I went home and researched, online price would be around $150, were I lived, it cost $400... But I had to have it... So I returned to the store and bought the player, ran back home, bought standard triple A batteries, burned the first mini-disc and listening began! I was overjoyed! I had around 300 of my songs for my portable listening! I spent the better part of that afternoon listening to music, then all of a sudden, I had not noticed, batteries were gone! In less than two hours this crazy player, ate through a pair of batteries. I decided to go out and buy another pair and had the same behavior, which I thought was weird, as a result I went back to the store and asked about the horrible battery life, the salesman said "oh you need a pair of rechargeable triple A battteries" (crazy expensive as well), but I wasn't going to let that get in the way, so I got the batteries, again ran back home, charged the batteries (NiCd ) and music was in my ears again, for a whole 3 hours... What was ######! I was used to getting WEEKS out of my cd-player and months out of my walkman! What THE HELL NIKE PHILLIPS... Being the geek that I was, I researched online, it was a widespread issue, unfortunately, the stores in our country did not allow for returns then (most still don't ) so here I was, stuck with a ###### battery life player... It did the job, But I had to buy an extra pair of rechargeable triple a batteries (both pairs and charger cost me around $120 back then). This kept me happy for a good year or so, but as far as my digital life goes, this has to be the worst purchase ever in my life (well yet anyway... one never knows! )
Around 2004ish one of my best friends returned from the USA and had a "broken" sony atrac minidisc player, he told me if I fixed it, I could have it (basically he was going to throw it away... but he was trying to point out he was doing me a favor... Ahh... friends, friends will be friends, that's what real friends do, give you ###### )
The problem the player had a stuck left button and would reboot for some reason, I researched online and it turns out the fix was easy via a factory reset and some glue inside the player, long story short, I manged to get the player working. It was then I figured out, how to put music in the player, you had to use Sony propriety software crappystage, I mean SonicStage, the issue was not the use of software, but rather that it converted every song, into its crappy, lossy ATRAC format, which degraded the music quality enormously, but it had one sole benefit, battery lasted around one week on a single triple A battery! It was a love hate relationship with this player throught out a whole year, every time I wanted to add a new song, it was a 20 minute process and around two hours for several songs, that and MD cassettes were not available in my country and were crazy expensive online as well . I hated everything about this player, but the battery life was stellar.
Around this time, I was still using, nike phillips headphones, when the "sweatproof" silicone around them began to fail and using them would cut my ears, but I still had the streetstyle sony headphones.
Circa 2006ish I can't remember why I started looking for an mp3 player, but quoting myself from:
I considered many brands, cowon, creative, toshiba in the end I settled for a creative zen vision:m, now, being in third world hell, getting this player would be quite an ordeal, I was a broke college student. A budy of mine told me about a courier service that would bring stuff from the USA and purchase it with their credit card. MSRP was around $220, it cost me around $320 including a generic charger. Ever since these days, I can remember someone said, don't buy apple, itunes is the devil... ( it is ! for me anyway! ) In a month or so I had the creative in my hands... I had a problem though, my streetstyle sony earphones were banged up and the included earbuds were trash and ordering a pair of headphones through the service mentioned above was too expensive at the moment, so I looked around locally and found these puppies:
Again, ripped off, they cost me around $50, while online price was $20... They were amazing except for one thing, the weird volume control would add static while you were turning volume either up or down, again I researched later, a widespread issue which was solved in a newer model with a digital controller. I used the hell out of these with my creative vision:m. I sweat a lot, around 2 years in, the pleather pads started peeling because of my sweat I guess and the head band had lost its original fitting and the closed cup headphones would no longer seal.
I can't find my exact post if I did or how I found sennheiser, but I ended up getting these:
These evoked nostalgia to my old sony streetstyle: Sennheiser PMX200. It was here, were I really bitten by the head fi bug, through the (now I know, sucky) sennheiser, I began to hear a thousand and one details in my music, the clarity, soundstage, micro detail when compared to anything I had owned before! It was around this time I started dwelling deeper and deeper into VBR instead of CBR and eventually discovered FLAC, but I made sure most of my music was VBR whenever possible.
I think it was around that time, someone here, pointed me to head-fi:
I had discovered the world of hifi... How long had I been missing out on hearing music properly! As a result of that bug, I got these:
Head direct RE-2, I was usually to the somewhat cold signature of the senheisser, that also had some pronounced bass, the RE2, an analytical IEM, was amazing, I was finally listening to music in a "Natural" way, without added bass to distort (like the beats by dre brand...)
Never head of head direct? I don't blame you, most head-fi gear comes from "unknown" asian brands... Now, the head directs sound signature was amazing to me, but they had/have one flaw, as a chinese company, sadly, they do live up to the bad chinese rep in terms of build quality ( not saying everything chinese is bad quality...), in around 3-4 months, the headphone plug just went, mind you, I babied them... Their customer service was stellar! It still cost me $25 to ship back (almost the cost of the original re2)... I got a pair back and another 8 months went, and would you know it, they f'd up... (yes that's how I felt, ###### ass chinese build quality), that brought forward the following:
Based on feedback, I ended up getting the Etymotic MC5 ( http://www.head-fi.org/t/504336/etymotic-mc5-vs-re0-re2-an-amateurs-comparison ), as they had two year warranty (vs 1 from head direct) and had a similar sound signature to the RE2s. Now, while similar sounding, the etymotic were simply more revealing in detail in every aspect, also, much more "colder" (eg. analytical).
It was around this time, the smartphone boom 2009-10ish, for the iPhone 3Gs, that smartphones really began catching up to DAPs (digital audio players) in terms of sound quality. I had been eyeing a used iPhone 3Gs for a while, reading reviews/comparisons in the audiophile world and deemed it was good enough to be my portable solution for music. the 3Gs was okish in terms of sound quality it was around the same as my creative zen vision:m. And then, along came a good deal for an iPhone 4, which had a very different sound signature, a bit warmer to anything I had ever owned.
After the iPhone 4 and continuing my search for analytical sound, I endedup purchasing a creative xFI 2 ( bit into marketing), not a bad purchase as the nike phillips, the xfi 2 was good, but the OS, build quality, was just down right nasty, (sadly, creative didn't manage to repeat the success of the vision branch and eventually exited DAP market) but audio quality was clearly better than that of my iphone 4. Not mention it's horribly slow resistive touch screen.
Around 2011ish The combination of the XFi2 and the etymotic MC 5, got me wandering how I could improve on that analytical sound, so I started looking for IEMs again http://www.head-fi.org/t/557760/ultimate-ears-triple-fi-10-pro-vs
I looked at several brands (unknown to me) like ultimate ears, Audio Technica, Phiaton, but the search ended up always getting me to etymotic 4PT.
I will say this, tri flange tips, take time getting used to, they basically rape your ears if you've never inserted anything that deep before (hmmmm this phrase...), that said, the games from the Etymotic MC5 to the ER4Pt were less noticeable, as the sound signature was similar.
The iphone 4/ Creative xFi 2 served me well for a good 2 years until I learned about the samsung Galaxy s4 what came with a dedicated wolfson audio chip, so I sold my trusty iPhone 4 and bought a Galaxy s4. Sound wise, the Galaxy sounded a little bit better, wider, more expansive i'd say and just about the same as my xFi 2 as well. (As a side note, touchwiz is ubergarbage and since samsung did not ever release source code for exynos, customs ROMS were not that stable for the exynos S4.)
I was quite happy with the S4/Xfi2 setup, except for the low powered amp in the s4, volume had to go high to drive my ER4PTs. For years, I read about Hi-Fi daps, IEMs and headphones on Head fi, didn't really think my setup could improve the sound from my awesomesource files in anyway.
Around 2013ish, I lost / misplaced my xFi2 and in 2014 decided to upgrade my dreaded s4 to an LG G3 ( much in part because of touchwiz) A grave mistake with some good sauce involved! The g3 goes crazy when a 2 stage (and not 3 ) plug is used, sound is a lot better than my old s4 and xFi2, though severly low output volume leaves much to be desired, anyway, because of the whole 3.5mm issue, I decided it was a good excuse to finally try portable amps... You can read about that story here:
Long story short, looking for portable headphone amp, compatible with my LG G3 I almost bought this https://www.jdslabs.com/products/70/c5-headphone-amplifier/ , but as a members recommendations over at head fi, kindly pointed out, amping would only improve the capabilities of my current source, in other words, if my source wasn't perfect, it would amplify those imperfections... This got me thinking on how I could better my source.
Long story short, I ended up purchasing an iBasso Dx90
I got it second hand from a member over at head fi, MSRP was around $400 and he was selling, like brand new for around $270ish which was a steal IMO. Now, the firmware was some issues, but that's a different story. As soon as I got it, I paired it with my trusty Etymotic E4PT and INSERT HOLY MOTHER OF GOD meme! The difference from anything I had ever owned was outstanding! I was suprised by the clarity, depth, width and general sound signature, I did not think my ER4PTs could sound any better and they do! All these years wasted due to lack of funds/wrong knowledge of DAPS, etc! I would never go back to smartphones unless for emergencies (battery, forgot dap, etc). My ears were blown away, the difference was night and day! All these years I was thinking my smartphones were good enough, but the sad truth is, they were not even %50 of the sound signature this puppy had!
As a result of this player I had to figure out how to make my sound more expansive, as universal IEMs can be sort of limiting just because of how they are, this led to a search for over the ear headphones
This resulted in the OPPO PM-3, yes I know they also make smartphones, but in the good ol US of A, a company licensed their brand name and they make (supposedly) the best bluray players and headphones. The sound signature vs my IEM (and yes no an apples to apples comparison) is a bit different in the sense of slightly "warm" vs the more analytical er4pt. But the sense of air/space/depth, just cannot be had with my current e4PTs vs the PM-3.
So, after this long post, the TLDR version of this would be:
If you can tell the difference between mp3 bitrates, eg. 64, 128, 192, 256, 320 VBR, ABR, CBR, etc. AND enjoy listening to music, do get proper equipment! You will be suprised in the world apart from how SOUND should sound and how poorly you've been listening to it as well (and if you can afford to obviously).
Now, my next steps are Custom IEMs, Open headphones and a better source. The problem is, I'm not so sure #1. my ears will know the difference between my current setup and crazy expensive sources likes http://www.astellnkern.com or even if the improvements to be had are along worth $1000, in terms of source anyway. In terms of headphones, I know sound can be improved with open back headphones (over my pm-3) and CIEMS. We'll see how that goes/
Note: none of the images are mine, I found in search engine!
Edit: Come to think of it, neowin had been a big part of me going Hi-Fi.... hmmmm food for thought eh?