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Old 2010-06-10, 11:53   Link #1
synaesthetic
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Best smartphone as an MP3 player (that isn't an iPhone)?

Simple question, really.

Which smartphone has the best sound quality out of the headphone jack? I'm not talking about call quality (though that's important, too) but how well it works as a music player.

I'm so sick of carrying a phone and an MP3 player.

I want something equivalent in sound quality to my aging Sony Network Walkman NWZ-A728. I'd like it to have a full keyboard as well (it can be hardware or virtual touchscreen); I know some of the old 10-key-style Sony Ericsson W series phones sound pretty good, but sending text messages on 10-key sucks.

Oh yes, and it cannot be an iPhone. While the iPhone sounds decent, it suffers the same malady of all iPods--it has no bass to speak of and the midrange is way too artificial/cold/digital sounding.
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Old 2010-06-10, 13:43   Link #2
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Can't really vote for any other newer HTC, Motorola etc. Android phone at the moment, but with a nice SD card I'd say an Android device could be a good selection (just check at a store etc. if the quality is up to your standards). I've lately become esp. fond of the player as well as some other alternatives from the Android store.

I have the cheap-o Samsung Galaxy Spica (i5700) myself, and the sound quality isn't that bad compared to some other devices I've had.
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Old 2010-06-10, 16:07   Link #3
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I have a Droid Incredible and it has the best sound quality of the some 13 smartphones I have had, including the Iphone. Only problem with it is the fucking price. About $600. If you can not afford it I would get the EVO probably the next best in my opinion. The Incredible has a really nice keyboard, huge buttons that make me text pretty fast. As far as the sound quality goes it has excellent bass and the midrange as you mentioned with the Iphone is actually good.
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Old 2010-06-10, 16:57   Link #4
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What kind of service you use? The HTC EVO and the Droid Incredible looks nice, but I don't know the situation with the music apps since the one that is built into Android is pretty anemic since it only supports MP3s... Don't bother with any Android devices on AT&T since they cripple the crap out of them (just look at the Motorola Backflip and you know what I mean)...

Palm Pre can also do music, but depending on the models, the storage varies. Also, no micro-SD expansion, but they come with a big flash memory built in. (8 GB or 16 GB). A drawback here is that there isn't many apps since WebOS is not a very popular platform.
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Old 2010-06-10, 17:28   Link #5
synaesthetic
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I'm more concerned with the sound quality than codec support; I predominately use MP3s anyway.

Phones usually have lots of problems with acting as music players, but there's not much in terms of dedicated DAPs that really impresses me now, either...

I wish I could just get a new, bigger version of my current player. D:
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Old 2010-06-10, 22:45   Link #6
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Not really a 'smartphone', but the Sony Ericsson line of phones puts out great sound BUT
1) AT&T has all but dropped them (probably because people were irritated at how much was crippled by AT&T branding)
2) They have a hideous "universal jack" connector that makes attaching headphone quite evil (power, data, and headphones all use the same connector jack).

I have a W760a with tiny stereo speakers that work surprisingly well. However, I'm looking at the Nokia e71x as a possible replacement. Haven't heard how it sounds yet but it is meeting all my other requirements.
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Old 2010-06-10, 23:34   Link #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by synaesthetic View Post
Simple question, really.

Which smartphone has the best sound quality out of the headphone jack? I'm not talking about call quality (though that's important, too) but how well it works as a music player.

I'm so sick of carrying a phone and an MP3 player.

I want something equivalent in sound quality to my aging Sony Network Walkman NWZ-A728. I'd like it to have a full keyboard as well (it can be hardware or virtual touchscreen); I know some of the old 10-key-style Sony Ericsson W series phones sound pretty good, but sending text messages on 10-key sucks.

Oh yes, and it cannot be an iPhone. While the iPhone sounds decent, it suffers the same malady of all iPods--it has no bass to speak of and the midrange is way too artificial/cold/digital sounding.
There isn't one at the moment.

In an objective measurement, the iPhone's output jack has the flattest frequency response out of pretty much all smartphones on the market. ie it doesn't mess up the original sound. What you perceive as "lack of bass" and "artificial" is actually what a good output should be, as ideally you want the frequency response of your physical equipment to be as flat as possible so you get the sound the recording was intended, and then apply equalization to it for the best, non-permanent effects that suits your own personal music taste and the particular song you are listening to. Coming from a Sony I wouldn't blame you for wanting more puchy bass though because most Sony consumer equipment cranks up the bass out of the factory to suit mainstream pop music which are very much bass driven now-a-days. And yes I also know the i-whatever series has really poor present equalizers too.

Which is a shame really, as I personally would want to move away from an iPhone, but there isn't anything right now that is better, and we are just stuck without much choices.
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Old 2010-06-11, 03:44   Link #8
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Originally Posted by chikorita157 View Post
...but I don't know the situation with the music apps since the one that is built into Android is pretty anemic since it only supports MP3s...
Sure supports AAC (probably HE-AAC, too) as well as OGG Vorbis here (retested with the Android SDK's emulator just now, too). Probably WAV for those who like to use way too much space, too. The ones on the market can have support for everything ffmpeg's decoding functions can deal with (APE etc.).

You could actually beat some music apps into submission with their looks (usability-wise most of them are fine though), so I wonder why you chose to select the format support to diss Android -- which is actually pretty nice, even out-of-box :V .

Quote:
Originally Posted by houkoholic View Post
In an objective measurement, the iPhone's output jack has the flattest frequency response out of pretty much all smartphones on the market. ie it doesn't mess up the original sound.
Interesting. Given how the iPods used to lose to Cowon players and PSPs all the time in audio output checks I am rather surprised. Unfortunately I'm enjoying what I have right now and have no intention on going the "Apple way". Their control on what can be used and can't be used is just disgusting, even if it has some positive side effects (possibly). Not to mention that my current phone seems to actually be rather OK'ish, even if made by Samsung.

Of course, in the end it always comes down to subjective opinions, which might highly differ from the numbers. Which is why I just recommended the aforementioned person to test out if different handsets match his listening tastes.
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Old 2010-06-11, 07:30   Link #9
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Originally Posted by Vexx View Post
2) They have a hideous "universal jack" connector that makes attaching headphone quite evil (power, data, and headphones all use the same connector jack).
SE is starting to include a 3.5mm audio jack in most of their newer phones, which is certainly a good thing because that was one of my main gripes about the company. I have a W995 which has one and I love it. OP is looking for a smartphone though so the XPERIA X10 could be a nice choice. I heard the new Samsung Galaxy S also has really nice audio quality, and also a really nice phone in general.
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Old 2010-06-11, 07:52   Link #10
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I looked for answer for this myself a while back. The one I found that fit the bill was the Nokia 5800. Standard 3.5mm jack, cheap, takes standard MicroSD cards and does enough.
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Old 2010-06-11, 11:05   Link #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JEEB View Post
You could actually beat some music apps into submission with their looks (usability-wise most of them are fine though), so I wonder why you chose to select the format support to diss Android -- which is actually pretty nice, even out-of-box :V .
It's sad they don't support FLAC out of the box. Majority of my music nowadays are in lossless since I got better sound equipment and I pretty much can't stand lossy music below 320kbps at minimum.

Also, I only played around Android 1.6 on my iPhone 3G with the Android port. Not everything works on it so I can't really give you an accurate opinion on what I think of Android, although it's a nice alternative.
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Old 2010-06-11, 11:23   Link #12
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I was actually looking at the XPERIA X10 Mini Pro the other day. I don't know how good it sounds as an MP3 player, but ohmygod it's cute.

When it comes to playing lossy MP3s, the sound quality of the source is generally not of absolute importance--the headphones matter much more, obviously. The problem I often run into with phones as MP3 players is hiss, especially on sensitive IEMs.

Plus my earphones, Head-Direct RE2, are not bass monsters (they are quite like Etymotic earphones) and the bass roll-off on the iPhone is even more pronounced on a headphone that already rolls off the bass. With a decent parametric EQ, this would be less of an issue, but the iPhone's EQ is useless.
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Old 2010-06-11, 12:19   Link #13
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Originally Posted by chikorita157 View Post
It's sad they don't support FLAC out of the box.
Yes, I agree with this kind of (not that I'm planning on using FLAC on my phone). I guess they just didn't think of supporting lossless formats out of the box. Personally I keep to 192-256kbps AAC-LC or Vorbis for music on my handheld.

The apps from the store can fix a lot of that, though. APE, FLAC, Wavpack etc. all are supported in most if not all apps that take advantage of ffmpeg's decoders and there are modified firmwares with built-in FLAC support, f.ex..

As for the XPERIA, don't know -- shouldn't be that bad. It's just unfortunate that Sony Ericsson usually takes its sweet time to make software updates (2.1 updates were signed for December 2010 or so, f.ex.). At least they're planning on keeping things somewhat updated.
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Old 2010-06-11, 16:21   Link #14
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This is almost as rough as finding a new dedicated MP3 player... what the hell happened?

You want a good music phone, you're stuck with Apple. You want a dedicated DAP with huge storage, you're stuck with Apple or Microsoft. Cowon makes great-sounding players but they can't design a UI to save their lives, and Sandisk players are just... meh.

I miss the NW-HD5, when Creative players didn't suck, and all those awesome iRiver HDD players.



Edit: Microsoft, where the hell's the Zune phone? It better have Tegra 2...
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Old 2010-06-11, 17:06   Link #15
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Quote:
Edit: Microsoft, where the hell's the Zune phone? It better have Tegra 2...
It's called Windows Phone 7 and its another closed garden with even less features (no Copy and Paste, Adobe Flash, Multitasking). So yeah, they are even more behind compared to the competitors.
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Old 2010-06-11, 17:23   Link #16
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Ugh.

There's no magic bullet! =(
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Old 2010-06-11, 22:48   Link #17
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After reading this thread I decided to test out my Motorola Droid. Using the same 256AAC file and the same good quality headphones (Ultrasone HFI-580), I did some A/B/C testing.

Difference between my MacPro's headphone jack and the jack on the SOny amp hooked to the computer: Slight loss of very high frequencies, most likely due to length of analog cable.

Difference between computer and Droid: Some loss in the low bass. Kind of expect this due to the size limits of the amp inside the phone. Actually I wouldn't want a bigger amp taking up space and chewing up battery just to hear stronger sub-bass. Otherwise it sounds quite clean to me. I should point out that a lesser set of earphones will nerf the bass worse than the phone is... although I assume that since you're asking this question you're not using some $20 garbage earbuds.

Biggest advantage of the Droid: The slide-down keyboard is sweet. I really didn't want a phone with a touch keyboard because it eats too much screen, as well as no touch feedback. I'm quite happy with the droid keyboard.
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Old 2010-06-11, 23:43   Link #18
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Originally Posted by synaesthetic View Post
I was actually looking at the XPERIA X10 Mini Pro the other day. I don't know how good it sounds as an MP3 player, but ohmygod it's cute.
Unforunately if I'm reading this graph correctly, the X10 series models tend to have a fair bit of bass dropoff:
http://www.gsmarena.com/sony_ericsso...view-481p5.php
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Old 2010-06-12, 00:20   Link #19
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The actual reason most MP3 players have bass roll-off is due to the analog stage's DC filtering capacitors and their size. They cannot be big microfarad because they have to be small SMT jobbies. Certain manufacturers (Sony, Cowon) will "adjust" the DAC's output to compensate for this.

I can't actually afford an X10 anyway, they're all imports and it looks like they're all unlocked.

I think, for the time being, I may just stick with a dedicated DAP and not worry so much about the phone. If I could find something bigger to replace my A728 with, it'd be good.

The iPod Classic's price is ludicrously good right now (seriously, $250 for 160GB is awesome) but I'd have to look for different headphones. Without boosted bass, anything Etymotic (or my Head Direct RE2s) will sound very anemic. The problem I run into with earphones is that, well, if they don't lack lows, they lack highs or mids.

There's never a good solid middle ground. Well, actually there is, it just costs $900 (UE-10 Pro).
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Old 2011-08-19, 08:04   Link #20
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mp3 player

Why don't you take into consideration Nokia? It's quite nice even Symbian version is good but actually I liked droid based player better. The only thing is that default headphones are a bit junky but player settings are very good. mp3 player software
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