ESS 9018 DAC

The LG V20 isn’t due to launch until tomorrow, but the company has been busy tantalising us with some of the phone’s upcoming features. Most intriguingly is the inclusion of the first ever “Quad” DAC packed into a smartphone. The term has led to a fair bit of confusion, with some wondering if LG is counting the number of outputs, or if there’s multiple DACs for different audio paths. I assure you that this isn’t the case, but a proper explanation is far more complicated. Of course, that’s what I’m here for.

We are pretty certain that the LG V20 will be using the latest ES9218 component from ESS Technologies. The company’s press page features LG’s V20 statement, followed a few days later by a release about the company’s new ES9218 Quad DAC for mobile products. A pretty easy connection to make.

Delving into the press release reveals that the ES9218 is a 32-bit 394kHz and DSD512 capable component, with some nifty sounding analog audio controls, jitter controls, and integrated headphone amplifier. More on that later though. The chip also promises 130dB SNR, 124dB DNR and -112dB THD+N to please audiophiles. Importantly, the release says that this is a stereo (2-channel) component with no mention of a differential output, so the quad output theory instantly goes out of the window. Even so, the release is still cluttered with references to this mysterious “Quad” technology. So let’s try and figure this out.

See also:

The LG V20’s world’s first Quad DAC stakes a claim for wired headphones

August 11, 2016

Before we delve on into this long journey, let’s consider two things. First, LG and ESS are keeping very tight lipped about the DAC and their technology, so this whole article is based on piecing bits of information together, combined with my own audio electronics knowledge – so I could be wrong. Secondly, this is going to be a pretty heavy article, but stick with it, you’ll have an excellent understanding of modern DAC technology come the end. And you never know when that might come in handy when you want to play the dinner party bore.

Deep breath, we’re going in.

Inside a modern DAC

Let’s start with a quick overview of what a DAC is and it’s key inner components. Essentially, a DAC takes digital data from your audio file and converts it into an analog waveform which can be sent to headphones or a speaker driver. The idea is to reproduce the analogue signal with as little added noise or distortion as possible, but in reality this is trickier than it sounds.

Signal chain inside the 24-Bit, 192 kHz Stereo Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC.

Signal chain inside the 24-Bit, 192 kHz Stereo Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC.

DACs are built from various stages, usually comprising of an oversampling stage, a ΔΣ (sigma-delta) modulator, a filter, decimation, and finally an output filter or headphone amp. All of this technology is designed around one essential principle – noise shaping to improve resolution performance. Sigma-delta modulators are used in audio DACs because they are more cost effective to implement at high resolutions than equivalent capacitor or resistor switched networks.

Interpolation (oversampling) spreads noise over more frequencies, making it easier to filter.

Interpolation (oversampling) spreads quantization noise over more frequencies, making it easier to filter.

The first stage of a DAC is oversampling, usually done through the process of interpolation. Interpolation is a form of upsampling, where mathematical formulas are used to approximate values in between pieces of data. For example, a CD quality 44.1kHz file could be oversampled 4 times to produce a 176.4kHz output, or 16 times to reach a huge 705.6kHz sample rate. This doesn’t increase the quality of your audio file directly, but it has the very helpful benefit of spreading this aliasing noise into much higher frequencies. Noise voltage in the audible spectrum is reduced by 3dB for each doubling of the oversampling ratio, although the total noise power across the entire frequency range remains the same. If we were to then filter this new higher sample rate signal back to our original hearing range, we would have cut the amount of noise.

PCM vs PDMThe next part of a DAC is the digital sigma-delta modulator. This modulator turns digital audio PCM (pulse code modulation) data into a PPM (pulse proportional modulation) bit-stream that can be filtered into a more familiar looking waveform. This takes our 16 or 24-bit signal and converts it into a 1-bit data stream, but with a much higher sample rate. This spreads the noise across even more frequencies.

During this conversion, noise shaping is applied to push the quantization noise density up into much higher frequencies. Noise in the audible range falls by 9dB for each double of the oversampling rate with noise shaping. This can be increased to 15dB per doubling of the sample rate with a second order sigma-delta modulator, which is much better than using interpolation alone.

Sigma Delta Modulator Noise Shaping

The signal chain inside a first order sigma-delta modulator and the resulting shaped noise. Note the use of a 1-bit feedback DAC.

Maximum Integrated

This noise shaping is generated by an error correcting feedback loop, where the input signal is compared to the quantized output signal. The difference between these two signals is frequency weighted within the loop filter. By summing this error voltage, the integrator part acts as a lowpass filter to the input signal and a highpass filter to the quantization noise. Take a careful look at this feedback stage and you will see that the feedback signal is generated by a 1-bit DAC, which we’ll call a sub-DAC. So, there’s a DAC within the DAC, and this is what we’ll take a closer look at with regards to the LG V20 in a minute.

A combination of oversampling, noise shaping, and filtering is used to improve DAC performance.

Analog A combination of oversampling, noise shaping, and filtering is used to improve DAC performance.

After the modulator, a low pass filter and digital decimator are used to filter out the high frequency shaped noise and reduce the sample frequency. The remaining high sample rate data is redundant, as we only need a sample rate of twice our maximum audible frequency. So the decimator essentially chops out samples until we are are back at a sample rate that satisfies the Nyquist requirement.

Superior noise shaping (the Quad bit, I swear)

Ok, I really hope that you’re still with me, because now that we understand sigma-delta modulators and noise shaping a little bit, we can finally get to that mysterious Quad DAC part.

As I briefly mentioned, it’s possible to improve the noise performance of a sigma-delta modulator further through the use of multi-order designs. This is pretty much essential if we want to produce a DAC that approaches or surpasses 16-bits worth of resolution for top-quality audio. Fortunately, clever engineers have come up with advancements to this core design that can greatly improve noise and resolution performance. Either through the use of higher-order, multi-bit, or multi-stage architectures, or a combination of the three. It’s the latter that we’re going to focus on here, as a parallel design sums the output from multiple sub-DACs to increase performance. It’s the use of multiple sub-DACs that ESS is likely giving mention to with its Quad DAC title.

The use of multi-order modulators results in more high frequency noise, but less noise in the audible range that we actually care about.

TI The use of multi-order modulators results in more high frequency noise, but less noise in the audible range that we actually care about.

Multi-stage sigma-delta modulators can come in cascaded, band-pass, or parallel designs, or some hybrid approach of all of the above mentioned principles. We don’t know exactly what’s going on inside the ES9218, as modulator design is incredibly complex and often kept as a closely guarded secret. However, since the ES9218 boasts a “parallel quad audio digital to analog converter,” we’re probably looking at a parallel sub-DAC design of some sort.

Complex multi-order and parallel ΣΔ modulators can improve noise performance. Complex multi-order and parallel ΣΔ modulator designs can greatly improve noise performance.

We won’t delve any further into the technical design aspects, as we could keep breaking the parallel design into different possible sub-designs; such as multi-band, time interleaved, or Hadamard; without getting any closer to knowing exactly what ESS is doing. Instead, it’s sufficient to understand that a parallel sub-DAC structure can improve noise performance typically by (6 x Nth order)dB per octave increment in the number of channels. An alternative way to look at this is that signal outputs are summed, while more random quantization noise errors occasionally cancel out because of their non-fixed phase relationship.

Put simply, doubling the number of ΣΔ modulator (sub-DAC) channels improves the noise performance by 6dB times the order of the modulator. So, a simple dual modulator design offers an extra 6dB of SNR over a single channel modulator, while a similar quad parallel design improves SNR by 12dB. Furthermore, dual second-order ΣΔ modulators would improve SNR by 12dB, a quad second-order design could improve performance by 24dB, and so on. 

The signals from each DAC path adds together but noise does not, resulting in higher signal with less increase in noise. Each doubling of converters results in half the decimation noise – Ken Hong, global communications director for LG

Regardless of exactly what ESS is doing inside its new chip, it’s this important circuit architecture that the company is almost certainly talking about in terms of a Quad design, rather than slapping 4 DACs together for multiple outputs, or using dedicated components for speakers, headphones, USB Type-C, etc.

Pros and Cons

Alongside the improvements to the DAC’s signal-to-noise ratio, parallel sub-DACs can also improve the power efficiency of the chip. For example, sampling frequency rates can be lowered while still achieving the same noise performance at a single channel system. Systems could also switch individual sub-DAC circuits on and off, depending on whether they required the extra noise performance or not for different quality sources.

The Quad DAC’s low power mode shuts down three of the four DACs when they’re not needed, to increase battery life when playing lower quality audio or using lower quality headsets. – Ken Hong, global communications director for LG

However, there are gradually diminishing returns to the power savings the more channels that are added. Furthermore, each channel and extra order layer adds a considerable amount of circuitry to the DAC, which makes it more expensive and complicated to produce. Very high end DAC systems can use 8, 16, or more modulators in parallel, but this comes at the expensive of much higher development costs and power requirements.

Other DAC features

There’s more to the ES9218 than just some fancy new architecture. The chip also boasts an analog volume control, a Time Domain Jitter Eliminator, and an integrated output bypass switch.

The latter is quite simple, it’s designed to allow sources to bypass the DAC’s fancier features when the source input doesn’t require high quality conversion. A likely example in a phone might include speech from a phone or video call. This should help to save on power consumption, an important option in mobile devices.

Digital Jitter

Real high-speed clocks exhibit jitter, which can lead to data being incorrectly read when clocked on a rising or falling edge.

The Time Domain Jitter Eliminator is a bit more complicated, but I’ll try to spare you from too much more technical jargon. Jitter is a term used to refer to a timing mismatch between the data stream and the synchronising clock, which can produce high frequency distortion if bits are read incorrectly.

To combat this, ESS implements a separate low-jitter reference clock to drive the digital to analog conversion, accompanied by a Asynchronous Sample Rate Converter that analyses the incoming data clock and corrects the data bitstream using an algorithm. Essentially the chip runs two separate internal clocks to ensure that each bit of data is read correctly.

Jitter correction adds another level of noise prevention.

Apogee Jitter correction adds another level of noise prevention.

Finally, the analog volume control is pretty much what it sounds like. Rather than adjusting the volume in the digital domain, which can quickly push your desired signal towards the noise floor, ESS has designed a custom analog circuit that attempts to limit the effects of noise when reducing a signal’s amplitude. The company claims that its design allows for 130dB SNR even at low listening levels.

There’s also a built-in headphone amplifier on the chip, so developers won’t have to design an additional amplifier circuit to drive headphones.

Wrap Up

ESS has put a lot of effort into designing a very low noise, low distortion DAC for smartphones with the ES9218, and the LG V20 will be the first handset to make use of this technology. Although we can’t be sure exactly what ESS is up to with its “Quad DAC” design, the result should be a component that can make the most of high resolution audio files with noise performance that extends beyond 16-bits of resolution.

Despite the name, a Quad DAC design isn’t necessarily better than everything else on the market right now, as there are a huge range of potential designs out there, each with their own pros and cons. That said, the ES9218 certainly looks to be a very promising component.

Up next:

Exclusive LG V20 renders: every angle of LG’s next flagship

August 9, 2016

We’re certainly looking forward to having a listen to the LG V20. Will the handset’s DAC be an important factor when weighing up whether or not to purchase LG’s next flagship smartphone?

Robert Triggs
Lead Technical Writer at Android Authority, covering the latest trends in consumer electronics and hardware. In his spare moments, you'll probably find him tinkering with audio electronics and programming.
  • Andrés

    Great article!!

    although i do not associate the ESS brand with high quality audio (because they used to manufacture the cheapest = most affordable PC soundcards back in 90s), it will be interesting to see how this very product will stand out.

    Audio (and video) is something a lot of people listen to almost every day, and the quality boost is often noticeable, and appreciated.

    • hydzior

      Now they’re producing one of the best DACs on the market.

    • Jack Jennings

      Yeah, having listened to a few of their dedicated mobile DACs, I would definitely recommend them.

  • Robin George

    LG is the present innovation kings…they may hammer this one

    • jokky

      Problem? With lg you don’t have too much custom rom support.

      • Lg haters trolling

        • jokky

          I’m not hating LG, infact i quite like the lg v10 as a device but being a modder not having custom rom support is a big down for me.

          • noh1bvisas

            is every post of yours about custom roms? think i’ve read 5 or 6 of them today.

          • I have a g5 and I love every bit of it, but you’re right, without unlocked bootloaders it can’t be considered the best phone

          • Jack Jennings

            G4 here….I feel bad for you guys :(

      • Kirk Sutton

        This is true. There is so little development for my V10. I assume it’s the second screen making it more difficult. The V20 is probably going ot have the same issue. Thankfully we have root, recovery, and a xposed.

        • jokky

          True, it would be horrible if root wasn’t available

          • Kirk Sutton

            If you haven’t yet, I would suggest installing xposed and using the g4 tweaksbox. it really lets me tweak the lg ui which i actually think is the better ui of all the major android manufacturers. I do need to try all the new contenders coming up though like ZTE, Huwaiu, and Honor. That might change my mind.

          • jokky

            There are the new nexu….ehm pixel device coming soon. We will see what the new “stock” google version will be……

  • Shane Anderson

    who listens to music on their phone and cares that much ??? I feel the sound quality is great on mostly modern de ices anyways. the real question about this phone should be. is it modular? lol

    • Um… I do?

    • Prince

      There are a lot of people who hear lossless music these days on there phones that’s why apps like Tidal exist on Play Store. If you don’t use your smartphone for music doesn’t mean no one use listen music on there smartphone’s

      Dedicated dac will help audiophiles to enjoy there favorite headphones 😉

      • Yeah, I thought it’s mostly a matter of headphones, not sound device.

        • hydzior

          Without a good source great headphones will not help.

          • noh1bvisas

            digital is digital. 0s and 1s don’t change. now the DAC might make a difference if you spring for good wired earphones.

      • Jack Jennings

        Doesn’t even need lossless to see a huge benefit – I’d much rather have compressed music through a good DAC than vice versa.
        EDIT: I also agree with your point, for clarity.

    • Loser_lon

      i care about music quality but not so much about modularity

    • José Andrés Jurado Vadillo

      The sound quality of most modern phones isn’t great. try an audio quest dragonfly someday and you’ll see what I’m talking about. That being said the difference in qualify should become apparent with better headphones. My setup consists of nad visio hp50 and schiit fulla

      • X juan

        A fulla schiit (oops) cant go into your pocket like a mobile phone.

    • Raymund

      Phones are the primary source of music for most people, why do you think things like Apple music and Spotify are so huge, most people don’t have cd players, quite like how most people don’t have cameras anymore and just use their phones, no offense but very silly start to a comment, every college student in America uses their phone for music, same for high school and the older generations are starting to use them too, but mostly young people who grew up with tech use their phones as their primary source, but yeah most older people don’t

    • Heathaze

      I do as well! I rotate my music collection, all lossless FLAC files, as well as some higher resolution downloads, to and from my LG V-10 via SD cards. Good sound quality on the go was the main reason I bought the V-10, and it separates this phone from the Apples and Samsungs of the world.

      On paper at least, the V-20 should be even better.

  • catfanatic1979

    Compare it to the Axon 7 which has the best audio of any phone right now.

    • X juan

      It will be interesting to see if the ESS dac can better the AKMs used in Axon 7.

    • Kirk Sutton

      I own the HTC 10 and the LG V10. The V10 is superior by a good margin. Have you compared to these phones? I would be interested to know how they compare.

    • Jon C

      It was, the Axon 7 isn’t nearly as good.

  • Zancheachu

    audio quality should not be the cornerstone of any new smartphone release. honestly i don’t want to pay more for audio quality, instead audiophiles should invest in high end earphones. Lg is always at the forefront of innovation, but they alway implement it wrongly. so for the v20 the focus is a quad dac? common lg, the bulk of buyers don’t care.
    just give an overall balance package i.e excellent battery life.

    • Nanenbrot

      Why would you pay hundreds of dollars for high end earphones if your source on the go sounds terrible? Talking about wasting money.

      • Zancheachu

        that is why i said “audiophiles”. audiophiles should spent money after purchasing a phone, while does who don’t care save money

        • PsiPhiDan

          You don’t get it. Without the proper DAC in the phone, the most expensive headphones on the world would be useless.

          • Zancheachu

            Oh are you sure. actually expensive earphones are expensive because they have high end DACS. so lg wants to transfer a high end Dac from the earphone to the phone and bump up the price

          • Abdul Jakul Bin Tamud

            what? the? eff? we already have 500 USD plus IEMs so a quality phone with a decent DAC and amp is a dream come true for us….. tell me which high quality earphones have built in DACs in them? dont give me bluetooth and wireless shit

          • Kirk Sutton

            I think he/she meant to say high end headphones are good in part because people buy good dacs for them already. The point that was missed is that not too many people are going to portably bring a source, a portable DAC, and headphones. If they do, they are going to want a decent quality source(not a phone) and most people carry a phone also. That is a lot of things to carry. Instead, most normally bring a DAP and headphones. The idea LG has is you have a phone always anyway. why carry a phone and a DAP when you can have one device to do it all. This does appeal to audiophiles and definitely frugal audiophiles since DAPs can be fairly expensive while also not including any streaming sources. You have to spend a boat load to get a dap that runs android and can stream.

          • Kirk Sutton

            Once the headphone jack is gone this will become a moot point. We will have an inline DAC in the cable running from the usb c port to the heapdhones. So it will be like an adaptor cable turning the usb c port into a heaphone port. Then we can have whatever phone we want, whatever dac we want, and whatever heapdhones we want. I think this will be a pretty ideal scenario.

          • Abdul Jakul Bin Tamud

            yup, since the v10 the x7 and pioneers/onkyo and other midfi daps became semi obsolete… but I think he was referring to wireless headphones that has builtin dacs like the coming apple earbuds

          • Kirk Sutton

            Currently no great headphones or earphones have built in DACs. So I hope he/she wasn’t referring to those although you may be right. My lower post right under this does talk about those and how I actually don’t mind the headphone jack going away. However, I still am super happy with the V10s audio.

          • Abdul Jakul Bin Tamud

            yup, poweramp alpha and v10 plus velvets sounds so good, yup the inline dac can be made if they can further shrink the dac like the dragonfly red and bundle it with the connector

          • Xavier

            Let me explain:
            Shitty dac + good earphone = shitty sound
            Good dac + shitty earphone = shitty sound
            Good dac + good earphone = good sound

            No there are no dac in earphones, unless you are talking about wireless in that case you don’t even need a flagship, just get a shitty phone and your wireless earbuds will do the conversion for you. In that case you can just buy a shit phone and spend the remaining few hundred on a wireless earphone

          • Knowbody

            Wut? Most headphones and earphones do not have any DAC’s at all, including the expensive ones. The DAC is in the device they’re plugged into.

        • Jack Jennings

          Yeah, that doesn’t make sense at all.

    • hydzior

      hi end headphones need hi end output.

    • Tony T.

      Lol and not everyone cares about having an amazing camera, yet phone OEMs still put a huge emphasis on this. If you don’t care about audio, then don’t buy this phone. But obviously there is a market for people who want higher end audio output on their phones since carrying a phone AND a DAP all the time is pretty annoying.

      • DDD

        Way more consumers care about the camera than the audio. Almost every review talks about the camera for that very reason. Adding this in is fine, but it’s not a selling point. They should be aiming to sell a phone that a decent size of people are going to want to buy.

        • Tony T.

          Not everyone phone has to appeal to every audience. Besides, there obviously is a growing community that cares about audio. Also, do you really think this phone is going to have an awful camera? The high quality DAC will just be in addition to a good camera. I don’t understand why this is a bad thing… Aside from music, better audio will make movies/YouTube etc be a better experience too. It’s not just beneficial to audiophiles.

          • DDD

            Not to every audience, but to an audience large enough that the device actually sells well.
            No one is saying the phone is bad. We’re saying that it’s main marketing strategy is to yap about the audio. Hands up, who actually knows what a DAC is? Two people? OK.
            I mean, why should anyone buy this phone instead of grabbing the S7 Edge? Why should I get this instead of the cheaper OP3 or Axon 7? What’s so special about this phone?

          • Raymund

            I’m actually going to get this and give up my s7 edge because the audio is so bad, but I’m a music Producer so you may have a point

    • Trey Zachery

      What are you complaining about? I’m sure there’s numerous android smart phones out their for you to choose from that don’t focus on audio quality. It’s nice that LG is actually giving Audiophiles some attention because you can’t get this type of package from a Audiophile grade player. With this phone, we have replaceable 256gb sd card slot (which comes in handy since flac files are 200mb+ in size) and a removable battery to change if the power gets low. It makes ZERO since to have to carry around a secondary dac when this phone does EVERYTHING we need in one package.

      • Knowbody

        It’s “out THERE”, not “out THEIR”. “ZERO SENSE”, not “ZERO since”

  • noh1bvisas

    i read elsewhere that this will only come into play with wired headphones. i use mine wireless ones mainly at the gym or office so this feature is meaningless to me.

    • Extragooey

      Yes, wireless transmit digitally and then the DAC in your wireless headphones does the conversion

  • mosfett

    Talk about something that SHOULD have been in the Note7 for $1000 (In Sweden).
    Let’s face it, the sound is terrible.

    • Hans Pedersen

      Bollox. Samsung uses Cirrus Logic DAC’s in their phones. You know, the Wolfson DAC’s. That is also an audiophile DAC. The main difference between Samsung and LG here is, Samsung has more groundbreaking features to market in the Note 7 than a DAC.

      • ConCal

        “Ground breaking features” …”you know, the Wolfson DAC’s” lol
        Dude, give it a break. We get it, you love Samsung.

        • Hans Pedersen

          Speak English much?

          • Kirk Sutton

            That English is perfectly fine. Try to read it again.

      • StrattHacks

        Only if you have a Exynos model, otherwise it’s a subpar integrated qualcomm setup.

        • Hans Pedersen

          He said Sweden, so, that’s definitely an Exynos model.

          • Francis Phoon Chang Liang

            Plzz Hans u don’t need to bullshit about ur note7 which uses a wolfson dac.It sound sucks compare to my vivo x5max which have a es9018k2m in it.Just face it this quad dac will easily crush ur note7.Just use ur eye and look at the spec it is higher than ur wolfson dac.BULLSHIT MORE lmao u are comparing a mediocre dac to a high end dac man ur note7 cant even drive my hifiman he400i how can it be good?? Bullshit more vivo x5max using an es9018 can drive my he400i.

      • ….

        You mean “groundBURNING features”…

        • dulce.oglesby

          I usually benefit in the span of $6 thousand-$8 thousand monthly with an internet task. Anyone prepared to finish basic at home tasks for 2h-5h every day from your living room and make solid income for doing it… Test this task UR1.CA/pm79t

      • As if Wolfson made only high quality DACs… Not that it doesn’t actually matter how good your DAC is, if your analog section after the DAC is shitty.

        • Hans Pedersen

          That must be the weakest point made this week on AA.
          “Wolfson could potentially make cheap stuff, and LG could surprise us all by all of the sudden make something properly built.”

          • Jack Jennings

            Well no, ESS would be the relevant manufacturer here, not LG.

          • The “weak point” is, that I neither praise nore bad-mouth the phone, until I read detailed reviews. The theoretical specs can’t really be judged.

            And I am personally very sceptic about everything audio. I am an HiFi enthusiast for almost 20 years now, and I am not impressed by most mobile devices regarding their audio quality. So I’m curious to see what LG has to offer in this regard.

      • GasPoweredCat

        just because cirrus bought wolfson does not mean cirrus are automatically better unfortunately, admittedly past samsung devices with pre-cirrus wolfson chips in were some of the best sounding mobiles out there theyre not quite as good as they were these days (well to my ear anyway) also its not just about the DAC itself but its implementation ive heard many dedicated DACs that use the same chip but sound completely different.

        but on your other point i disagree samsung should have been making a bigger deal about the DAC in their setup since back in the note2/s3 days but for some reason even after the likes of ZTE/LG and Meizu started talking about sound quality they still fail to really mention it. i also dont quite know what groundbreaking features you mean, its not doing anything special other than costing a lot, dont get me wrong its not a bad device its just not doing anything noteworthy (see what i did there) but then neither is anything else really weve kind of reached saturation point, even mid-range devices can pack all the latest features in.

        • Hans Pedersen

          Here are the facts: LG have a 20-30 year track record of releasing sub par quality products at a lower price than the competition. Wolfson has a track record of releasing quality DAC’s. Everything else is just your wishful speculation.

          • GasPoweredCat

            now hold on i never said the LG was good, i merely said they were making an effort in the sound department and actually speaking up about it where as samsung were using a superior dac several generations ago but never really mentioned it as a marketing point.

            wolfson HAD a record of releasing good chips however theyre not wolfson any more, theyre cirrus logic now, who have a very mixed record, just listen to an iphone and im sure youll hear what i mean.

            i personally have no “wishfulness” i dont listen to music on my phone so i have no horse in this race i just think its good that companies are at least trying to improve the experience for those who do use their phones as a media player, personally i use a DAP so its not a concern to me really just a point of interest

          • Hans Pedersen

            You can try and spin it however you want. The fact still stands: The Wolfson lab knows how to build quality DAC’s for mobile devices, it’s sort of “always” been their thing. LG has no track record of doing that.

          • GasPoweredCat

            samsung are hardly known for their audiophile equipment either, if you want a cheap all in one surround rig maybe get a samsung, if you actually wanted high quality audio they dont make a single product worthy of consideration and it isnt really LGs DAC just like the one in the samsung is a wolfson the LG is using an ESS who also have an excellent track record, the 9018 series were excellent if not legendary chips,.its all personal preference and implementation i know but its actually always been a bit of a tough call between the two in the last few years. if wolfson can keep their own standards after the buyout i guess is what were about to see with these new chips (and if ESS can continue their success) i havent personally heard a note 7 so i cant comment on the latest iterations

            im kind of just playing devils advocate here because i havent actually heard either of them and its unfair to judge any audio gear on anything other than its sound, and that includes past pedigree.

          • Hans Pedersen

            Then maybe stop trying to imply that I am the one full of it, when it is clearly the OP troll who’s probably never even seen a Note 7.

          • Jack Jennings

            LG don’t build this DAC, ESS do.

      • Jon C

        Wolfson is an audiophile DAC? It’s midfi at best. It may have been in a dream you had years ago, but not anymore. Next you’ll be telling us Bose are audiophile speakers!

        • Hans Pedersen

          Tom’s Hardware had an honest blind test comparison of DAC’s a couple of years ago. You should be able to find it easily on the Googly thing. The guy who actually owned the $1,000 DAC mostly preferred the sound quality of the bulk produced $2 DAC.
          You clearly have no clue what entails audiophile. Your easily-offended hipster brain mixes marketing terms up with what is actually audio quality.
          A $2 DAC can sound as clear as a $1,000 DAC using the same headphones. Learn something real instead trying to sound it, by repeating stupid troll and hype.

          • Jon C

            Fuck Tom’s Hardware. Fuck them right in the pussy. If you A/B with a junk DAC, amp, and speakers, irrespective of price, you won’t hear anything except me chuckling at your stupidity. I own a Benchmark MEDIA DAC2 HGC. Go research the specs yourself. Read the white papers. Search for reviews. The DAC measures and sounds better than $20k digital gear at 1/10 the price. You so don’t know what your talking about, but one thing is clear you believe anything you read if it justifies how cheap you are. Enjoy the mediocrity that is your mp3/Wolfson/bose reality, you neophyte broke-back bitch.

          • Hans Pedersen

            Yeah, fuck one of the oldest hardware review sites on the internet. Your hipster buddy knows more that them!

          • Jon C

            Much like you, they don’t know jack shit about high end audio.

  • Badelhas

    No. I’m deaf.

    • tanop

      i am blind

      • PhantomGamers

        i am dumb

        • Knowbody

          I’m wearing two pairs of pants.

      • Badelhas

        Sorry, I didn’t hear you.

  • ThienLam

    I’m no audiophile, so just wondering how does this setup compare to some other dedicated DAPs like Fiio / Cowon / Sony Walkman /… Is it comparable to any specific model, say Fiio X5, or still very behind DAPs and just maybe the top of smartphone audio only?

    • Jack Jennings

      I doubt it would be as good as an external DAC like those you’ve mentioned, but it would be more convenient, and could actually save battery for those that don’t have one built in.

  • Hans Pedersen

    This could perhaps help them sell a phone or two, if they fire the marketing department and find one that can come up with terms and brand names that appeal to consumers, not nerds.

    • noh1bvisas

      sheeple buy samsung or apple. they need something to set theirs apart.

  • Taleim

    I’d just be happy with more volume levels. Drives me mad, can never get the perfect volume on android.

    • noh1bvisas

      axon 7 is supposed to be very loud

    • Jack Jennings

      The analogue volume control should interest you then! There are also software solutions for this – if you’re on a custom ROM or can install Xposed then there are a few options for adding more volume steps in. The default on Android is 15, which is why they’re quite big jumps, but you can make it far more granular.
      I actually have a little analogue ‘attenuator’ (like an in-line remote) that slightly extends my earphones that also does the trick, you could probably pick one up for almost nothing.

      • Taleim

        I’d love some kind of physical analog volume control. I’ve been looking for one for years. Do you know any you could suggest? as I use android pay and knox etc for work, I haven’t tried any custom roms on my 26th. little bit over the effort, I’d love 30 volume steps to be standard on android, surely would be easy for Google to put an option in settings where you can select how many volume steps you would like?

  • roqz

    Considering the LG G4/G5/V10 bootloop and image burn issues, this is a very nice feature that might work great for at least 6 months, and then LG will refuse to replace/repair it.

    • Anonymous

      Bootloop on the g5? Of course the g4 and somewhat the v10 was plagued with that horrible boot loop, but there isnt a widespread issue with the g5. And also, screen burn is an impossiblity with the screen technology used on all those phones.

      • roqz

        As weird as it is, and not being an AMOLED screen, the LG G4 IPS Quantum display does get a screen burn/ghosting issues, you can search around in the web for that, and as a former G4 owner who suffered the bootloop, the screen burn issue happened just about 3 weeks before that.

        Even more worrying is that the same display technology is being used in other LG flagship models.

        • Anonymous

          I just find it hard to believe that an lcd display suffers from what you say, it is impossible for that to happen due to the nature of the technology. With that being said, lg does use their quantum lcd tech for all their screens, which basically means they combined the lcd and touch layer instead of separating it like everyone else. Other than that and a few other technical changes to the usually lcd display, its still an lcd display. And Ive tried in vain to find any credible evidence of what you said happening, are you sure you are not confusing burn with ghosting?

          • roqz

            It is not that hard to find about the issue, just search the web for images for something like “lg g4 ghosting”. There are many threads on reddit and XDA too.

            This is an example (status bar icons burned) of what happened to my LG G4. Take into account that LG used the moniker “Quantum” for their phones, but is not the same technology than in the TVs or monitors. Just branding/marketing.


            So, if you want to get an LG, you might get these issues, that’s my point. I ordered my G4 on the release week and was super happy until it suddenly got the ghosting issue, and then, died about a month later with a bootloop. Now it sits on my drawer, the local LG didn’t want to honor the warranty due that I live in a different country than where I bought it. So, my 2 cents, just stay away from this company.

          • Anonymous

            I have seen these threads, and screen retention is definitely a documented issue with this tech, but not screen burn. You are correct though in your statement. Quantum dot is a very completely different tech compared to their quantum ips display, which the g4 uses. And neither of these are cursed with the same kind of screen burn amoled and by extension oled displays will eventually face. Have you tried at all keeping your screen on an all white image for a while?

  • Yan Qin

    I don’t really care about DAC since I’m using Bluetooth on the go. Hope V20 has great battery life and screen.

  • Raymund

    I’m so excited about this phone, I’m so disappointed with the horrible audio from my s7 edge, I noticed the difference between the s6 edge and the s7 instantly, Qualcomm just doesn’t care about audio, so I’m most likely going to upgrade my s7 edge to the v20, although losing all the great things about using Samsung will be missed… At least until the s8 or note8

  • Antoine Swans

    Looks like they went back to the G2 design.

  • Raymund

    Could someone explain why my comments were deleted?

    • Kirk Sutton

      because you smell bad?

      • Raymund

        I don’t know… If that’s the case how did yours go through?

    • Knowbody

      I ate them. I was hungry.

      • Raymund

        Well Im glad they were nourishing to you at least

  • David Koraia

    Just a quick question. So all this DAC benefits go only to wired headphnes? No benefits for bluetooth headphones (such as beats studio wirless)?

    • Anonymous

      Yes correct, this output is fed to the headphone jack only.

  • SamsaraGuru

    Wow. I am sure that was very enlightening, if only I understood it! Sms

    Not your fault, Robert, just my lack of technical know how – and desire to know how. Good to know someone knows though and understands it.

  • anonymouse

    IIRC a man from ESS said on the V20 presentation that they needed 4 DACs to achieve what they wanted. Since there was no space in the phone, they “gutted” 4 DACs and packed necessary components into one. That is where whole quadDAC term came from.

  • Anonymous

    It is true that very cheap lcds will wear out faster, but lg did not use cheap lcds for the g4, or any of their flagships in the g or v series. Thry have been known to do that in the low low end market, but not on their high end phones. Its entirely possible that you got a dud though, I reiterate, because this is not a widespread issue with their screens and phones, except for the bootloop. That is a total blunder that I lost plenty of trust in them over.

  • cemerian

    Does anyone know the dac specs of one m8?