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LG talks V30 audio: here's what you can expect from the new Quad DAC

The new DAC is said to provide high-resolution audio streaming capabilities, digital filters, and "much of the high-quality audio enjoyed by listeners using expensive headsets."

Published onAugust 28, 2017

What makes the LG V series interesting is how much LG tries to pack into its phones. As well as an innovative, dual-screen design, last year’s LG V20 offered a sturdy build, microSD card support, a removable battery, dual-cameras, and a powerful Snapdragon processor — it was even the first smartphone to run Android 7.0 Nougat.

Another area where the V20 excelled was audio, featuring a Quad DAC sound system that we said would “delight audiophiles” in our original LG V20 review. Ahead of the unveiling of the LG V30 on August 31, LG sent out a press release earlier today to provide some details about the improvements it has made to the sound system for its new handset.

LG has implemented a “32-bit Advanced Hi-Fi Quad DAC” powered by ESS Technology’s SABRE ES9218P tech in the LG V30, which provides two features that the LG V20 didn’t include: “digital filters” and “sound presets.” Instead of specifically aiming for a truest-to-real-life audio experience, LG says, this time, it’s deliberately making this DAC more customizable.

The digital filters will come in the form of four presets: “Enhanced,” “Detailed,” “Live,” and “Bass.” Bass will, ostensibly, amplifiy the frequencies at the low-end, while Live will emulate the sound of being in a physical location (more on that in a second). What enhanced and detailed will offer specifically isn’t completely clear from the name, but both are likely to provide some general frequency cuts or boosts to “improve” the overall experience (see the image above, middle).

In relation to these presets, LG says: “Even with ordinary equipment, LG V30 users can experience much of the high-quality audio enjoyed by listeners using expensive headsets.”

This is a big claim, and honestly, if LG has found a way to achieve this, the implications would be huge — and not just for smartphones. If the output device (i.e. the type of headphones or speakers that the audio is played back through) ceased to be so heavily tied to the overall audio experience, that kind of innovation could have an application in many audio systems. As it stands, I’m skeptical of LG’s claims, but we’ll be able to investigate this further soon.

LG also states: “The Hi-Fi Quad DAC controls left and right audio signals separately, adjusting balance in such detail that listeners will feel as if they are standing in the center of a concert hall.” Though it’s not explicitly stated, I guess this is tied to the Live sound preset. Obviously, not all music is suited to/would benefit from the tonality of the concert hall, so applying this by default would be weird.

Possibly the most interesting claim about the new DAC arises from LG’s partnership with MQA Ltd. The MQA tech included in the LG V30 is said to offer high-resolution music streaming, something which may allow for a premium listening experience without the need to download sizable (i.e. high-quality) audio files or use up “large amounts of mobile data.”

This kind of audio service isn’t common on smartphones, and it could be of significant value to those with music streaming subscriptions (that is, if it’s any good).

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Further, the V30 houses an “HD Audio Recorder,” which allows it to use its audio receiver as a microphone (known as “receiver-as-a-mic” or, confusingly, “RAM”). This should allow the V30 to record both loud and quiet sounds with greater clarity.

Finally LG also briefly mentioned the low distortion offered by its new Hi-Fi Quad DAC and the wider audio paths that will allow it to process more audio data, without lag, and with greater accuracy.

So far, all signs are indicating that LG’s new phone should be another excellent handset for music enthusiasts if nothing else. For more on what you can expect to see from the LG V30, check out our dedicated rumors page at the link.

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