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Top 5 Audio Smartphones of 2016: The best speakers and headphone jacks!

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Wrapping up 2016, we're starting off with audio! Which phone had the best speaker performance? Which phone will do the best job powering your headphones? Can there be one overall winner for the audiophiles in our audience? Time to take our final listen to all of the phones we reviewed this year and deliver a proper ranking!

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Pocketnow Real Audio Reviews

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98 COMMENTS

Akarsh jain - posted on December 27, 2016 7:17 am

I’ll kill myself if the V20 is missing in the list.

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bruhs fer days - posted on December 27, 2016 10:53 am

Akarsh jain same if the HTC 10 wasn’t in here but it is !!!!!! love HTC forever

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Dame Dizzle - posted on December 27, 2016 1:56 pm

bruhs fer days I loved HTC as well so enjoy it while it is here because HTC is on life support may not be around much longer

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David Aquilare - posted on December 27, 2016 10:02 pm

Akarsh jain kys anyway

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Andrew li - posted on December 27, 2016 10:29 pm

Akarsh jain I’m watching this on one

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residentgood - posted on December 28, 2016 5:39 am

I’m using XiaoMi better sound than Sony

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Rena Chan - posted on December 27, 2016 7:17 am

Makes me laugh that over the 3 high-end , high-priced phones, only the one without a proper headphone jack made the list.
Sammy and Google screwed a big time, and I cannot understand.

The manufacture behind the Pixels has the knowledge to do great audio, Google should have licensed it’s technology, the AMP on the Nexus 9 is AMAZING.

Sammy has their own DAC/AMP made with cirrus logic, this package is great IMO but is nowhere to be found in a SnapDragon Galaxy device.

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D33M0N3Y - posted on December 28, 2016 8:24 am

+Michael P. Smith There IS a second speaker… it’s in the top earpiece… Or since you can’t seem to understand, it’s in that thing next to the front facing camera. One speaker is on the bottom right side, the other is on the top next to the front facing camera. That, in case you’re not good at math, equals TWO speakers. I have an iPhone 7 in my hand right now. I dare you to try and tell me otherwise.

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Michael P. Smith - posted on December 28, 2016 8:57 am

D33M0N3Y ahh. Fanboi.. Now it makes sense

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D33M0N3Y - posted on December 28, 2016 9:01 am

+Michael P. Smith Lol, this is my first iPhone EVER… I’ve been an android enthusiast for the past couple of years. Just because I own an iPhone, that doesn’t make me a fanboy.

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Michael P. Smith - posted on December 28, 2016 9:05 am

D33M0N3Y. I know.. I was just messing with you… All I was saying is that it is a bit misleading
. And I am not the only one to think so (see article I linked discussing it) as far as the question posed how dumb do I think the general public is……..I’ll leave that one alone

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Luis Diaz - posted on December 28, 2016 4:59 pm

I checked the article and the speaker grill which it correctly stated didn’t contain a speaker was to the left of the lightning port, where there once was a headphone jack. However, you misunderstood it as meaning that the phone did not have stereo speakers, which it still did due to the right speaker grills being real as well as the top earpiece speaker.

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k. e. - posted on December 27, 2016 7:20 am

Top 1 and 2 were no surprise. Good call. But my guess is more smartphones will drop the headphone jack completely so I am interested how the list will look in 2017.

There’s much more reason to buy a stand-alone portable media player (PMP) now. Cayin i5 is an easy recommendation and Astell&Kern AK70 with a very polished design and UI will probably attract more Apple users.
If not, at least get a proper DAC with head-amp. Like Oppo HA-2, Chord Mojo or JDS Labs C5D.
The video didn’t not mention that Android output is FIXED to 48 kHz on almost every phone. That means even lossless audio coming from a CD has to be up-sampled from 44,1 kHz to 48 kHz, something that makes most sound engineers cringe. The iPhone is LIMITED to 48 kHz, but even 24 Bit audio can be output without manipulation at 44,1 kHz or 48 kHz.

Interestingly enough, some high-end desktop devices like RME ADI-2 Pro only support iDevices, which makes the iPhone 7 by far the most audiophile smartphone if you want to include accessories or use it to store audio that you want to take to work.

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Pedro Ferreira - posted on December 28, 2016 3:48 pm

EdvisKing πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

where i live i cant return items. i have very low income.. i save money and try to buy something Good. i like to make wise choices ..

i love music , i think my Xba3 are good, im worried buying something up to 700€ and do not notice increase in audio quality. what setup you have..?

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EdvisKing - posted on December 28, 2016 3:51 pm

+Pedro Ferreira yea, but, i mean, im using 2€ earbuds and i think they sound very very good, i can not imagine what 1000€ headphones/earbuds will sound like lol. Where i live, surviving is impossible if you live alone.

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Pedro Ferreira - posted on December 28, 2016 3:53 pm

I understand.. I dont have that problem but , but i dont earn much also xD

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k. e. - posted on December 28, 2016 4:59 pm

I could not find the output impedance of the G5 or the module. Somebody would have to measure it to know how compatible it is with multi-driver IEMs. If the impedance is over 1-2 ohms, the individual drivers might not get a similar amount of power and thus ruin the tuning. If you get a good single dynamic driver, you would not have this problem. You should check out Dunu, Dita and Campfire Audio in that case.

Personally, I use InEar ProPhile-8 as a reference monitor, VE3, NF6 and Jomo6v2 as custom in-ears, Hifiman HE-6 and DT 1990 Pro at home and a Oppo PM-3 for mobile.

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Flaimbot - posted on January 3, 2017 9:31 am

@k. e. “DT 1990 Pro” now we’re talking about hifi πŸ˜€ guess the quality of the axon7 should be fitting to a pair of custom one pro

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Hossam Esnawy - posted on December 27, 2016 7:27 am

Am I the only one who already knew axon 7 will be no. 1

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Hitler is actually a cat - posted on December 27, 2016 8:52 am

Hossam Esnawy as a v20 owner, it wasn’t that surprising considering the hype about those speakers and the reputation of akm as a dac manufacturer. The v20 hifi dac mode just seems to drive harder and in unsupported apps (poweramp) some high impedance cans can’t even be driven. (it does work with the stock player but the ui of poweramp is so much more sophisticated)

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DarkPa1adin - posted on December 27, 2016 9:15 am

In terms of headphone out, i thought it would tie with V20. but in terms of speaker… Axon 7 gets the crown.

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EdvisKing - posted on December 27, 2016 10:22 am

+Hitler is actually a cat PowerAmp FTW. I have bad years because i cant hear a difference between my old galaxy ace 2 output quality and my current oneplus 3 with the same headphones πŸ™‚

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Eyzak Funk - posted on December 27, 2016 1:58 pm

Hossam Esnawy Nope πŸ™‚
(I’m a Axon 7 owner)

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siriuscoop_old - posted on February 8, 2017 11:00 am

I dont care about all the headphone info they give, which is all this video seems to be about. I need to know which phone has the best sounding SPEAKERS which they hardly mention in detail. Does the Axon 7 really have clear sounding speakers which are quite loud, for example when playing videos on it. At work when no one is around, you cant be having headphones on because if someone walks up, jesus how unprofessional. But if youre playing a video you can just pause it as soon as someone walks up to the desk, no issue. Anyway point is, do the speakers on it sound really loud and clear, and do they even have some resemblance of bass for songs which have good bass. Or is that basically impossible on smartphone speakers ;p

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Git Gud - posted on December 27, 2016 7:31 am

Oneplus 3 has one of the best headphone quality.

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Hitler is actually a cat - posted on December 27, 2016 8:57 am

Shawn Mendes people get the one plus purely for the software. The axon 7 seems to edge out the one plus in almost every aspect of the hardware

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Anonymous One - posted on December 27, 2016 11:55 am

Guys the audio experience between the 1+3 and 3T. The OnePlus 3 doesnt go over the boundary with its EQ Tweaking but its still bad and it has extremely low DAC. The 3T goes a little bit too much with its EQ Tweaking but has impressively good DAC. Please correct me if im wrong im not an audiophile. πŸ™‚

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Git Gud - posted on December 27, 2016 2:18 pm

+Shawn Mendes i said headphone quality, go look up the tests. Not talking about phone speakers i don’t care about those

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XtraGalaxy17 - posted on December 27, 2016 5:01 pm

+If 60fps get my bonus approval What? Axon 7 handily beats OP3 in terms of both the 3.5 mm headphone jack output and the speaker quality, I don’t really see your point.

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Git Gud - posted on December 30, 2016 11:26 am

+francis phoon kys i fucked your mum dead gran

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Rangga Wiratno - posted on December 27, 2016 7:41 am

Let’s hope S8 won’t be missing the headphone jack. They need to show Apple is no longer the way to go, they proved it with 3D touch, I hope they do so too in the headphone jack.

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Steve - posted on December 27, 2016 8:45 am

Rangga Wiratno yes they really do

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Rangga Wiratno - posted on December 27, 2016 8:46 am

+JuanBagnell but would you prefer a phone with an audio jack or… A phone with *2 USB C ports* cuz as you said in your iPhone audio video, DAC can be built in on the headphone itself whilst DAC on phone are mostly fixed. Imagine if say there’s a cool dongle/adapter (not flappy one like Apple’s but rock solid cable less one) that the manufacturer provide and with two ports (top and bottom) you can choose which is used for audio and which for charger which I think is a more viable solution to the missing audio jack problem we’ll have in the upcoming future.

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che456ter - posted on December 27, 2016 10:50 am

I’ve heard that Samsung bought “harman kardon”
So I’m expecting them to put it to put that audio technology into the S8 making it a champ in the audio department.

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POMF AND COREY IN THE HOUSE BEST ANIMES - posted on December 28, 2016 2:42 pm

Rangga Wiratno That wont happen samsung is gonna go the apple way next year (rumors say so lots of them actually) so yeah

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Mabirc - posted on December 30, 2016 2:41 am

“Apple is no longer the way to go”
Yes it is, for those like me that prefer iOS over Android. Thats just plain biased to say that.

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Theost21 - posted on December 27, 2016 7:44 am

i have the 7+ with Marshall Major II bluetooth headphones. Works really well!

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Theost21 - posted on December 27, 2016 5:16 pm

+EdvisKing don’t i have permission to say that?

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EdvisKing - posted on December 27, 2016 5:18 pm

+Chris Rodriguez idk whuts the problem, im not audiophile

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EdvisKing - posted on December 27, 2016 5:19 pm

+Theost21 well, k, good to know that your bluetooth speaker works well… its just not related here. Should we all scream now here that our devices works well aswell? lel

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Theost21 - posted on December 28, 2016 11:00 am

+EdvisKing sorry i thought you were interested

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EdvisKing - posted on December 28, 2016 12:10 pm

+Theost21 no probs!

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Ahmed Bilal - posted on December 27, 2016 7:54 am

Samsung and apple.. Headphone jack
When you can’t compete with others so you simply drop it…

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JuanBagnell - posted on December 27, 2016 8:04 am

πŸ˜€

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Stuffy Pancake - posted on December 27, 2016 10:46 am

Apple removed their headphone jack early to get manufacturers to make lightning headphones prior to the iphone 8 redesign. I do agree with you they remove something if it gets in the way.

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Georgi Ivanov - posted on December 27, 2016 7:57 am

Alcatel Idol 4 and 4S anyone?

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Matt Leakes - posted on December 27, 2016 8:38 am

Georgi Ivanov I was thinking the same I love my idol 4s audio sounds great I prefer it over my iPhone tbh

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Rachi Siders - posted on December 27, 2016 7:58 am

So glad I got the V20. One of those rare ones I plan to keep in my collection. No upgrades needed until 2018 for me.

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Rachi Siders - posted on December 27, 2016 12:56 pm

+seth evans i think the G5 and V20 in large part are safe though. I hope.

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Chris Rodriguez - posted on December 27, 2016 2:15 pm

JuanBagnell Upgraded to Axon 7 from Note 4. N4 is a beast of a phone. If only Sammy had taken everything from the N4 and upgraded it.

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Joseph Yi - posted on December 28, 2016 12:13 am

I’m so confused about the bootloop issue. I’ve had both the G4 and V10 for over a year now and neither has bootlooped. Am I treating my phones too nicely? Does anyone know exactly what is causing the bootloop?

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seth evans - posted on December 28, 2016 10:13 am

+Joseph Yi honesty I really don’t know, I heard it has to do with the processor unit. I have v10 for around a year and it’s always been in a otter box since day 1, I never put any launchers or anything and one morning i wake up to it looping. It sucks cause like the phone itself looks brand new not a single scratch on it

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Rachi Siders - posted on December 28, 2016 12:26 pm

+Joseph Yi its a number of theoried reasons but it could definitely come from overheating near the components which my V10 did get warm quite a few times but I thought nothing of it. Had mine for about 11 months and on the same day I scoffed off a few user complaints about bootlooping as being something few and overexaggerated, my V10 exhibited those exact same symptoms as the other people. I really couldn’t believe it. That was the first time I was without a phone for reasons not related to something I did to damage the device.

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okniceguy - posted on December 27, 2016 8:07 am

switched to the V20 after the late Note 7. other than the scratchy, static-y noise when manipulating headphones while connected, great choice.

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Tez PLP - posted on December 27, 2016 10:27 am

okniceguy how would an LG v10 compare to the v20 in the sound department?

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okniceguy - posted on December 27, 2016 10:31 am

Tez PLP my very first LG electronic ever bought. I can’t tell you. But removable battery, ir blaster, secondary screen that works better than Samsung’s, and more paralleling you the topic of this video, the sound is amazing (though I wish it did have dual speakers).

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Tez PLP - posted on December 27, 2016 10:34 am

okniceguy I don’t mind the speakers much. I just heard that the DAC and amp on the v10 could still compete with newer phones.

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okniceguy - posted on December 27, 2016 10:38 am

Tez PLP ok, well, unfortunately I can’t say as I’ve never owned an LG prior to this.

but my off-the-hip suggestion is to stay with the V10 if it’s only incrementally better.

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Tez PLP - posted on December 27, 2016 10:47 am

okniceguy alright man, thx😎

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Kirill Holstov - posted on December 27, 2016 8:41 am

Do you think that Apple will abandon the Lightning connector and will switch to USB C?

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Emad Ahmed - posted on December 30, 2016 8:44 am

+Mabirc​ Sucks for us though. Separate accessories and a broken ecosystem.

+Giovanni Cheng​ Yeah I got that. That’s why I eliminated “Will Apple do it or not?” out of the equation.

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Giovanni Cheng - posted on December 30, 2016 8:46 am

+Emad Ahmed Yes, it sucks. Sadly Apple wouldn’t care :p

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Mabirc - posted on December 30, 2016 1:23 pm

It was surprising for me though how the new MBP has so many USB C ports. That it even has USB C… I dont understand Apple these days.

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Emad Ahmed - posted on December 31, 2016 4:46 am

+Mabirc Apple is confusing now and Apple isn’t giving much attention to Mac. The competition is getting better while Apple is only going downhill and the sales prove that.

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Giovanni Cheng - posted on December 31, 2016 1:02 pm

Apple’s primary market now are phones and tablets. They don’t focus on their computers or laptops anymore because everyone uses a smartphone instead. Or at most an iPad with wireless keyboards.

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MiracleWarriors - posted on December 27, 2016 9:26 am

It is sad that no Sony’s smartphone made your list.
I could test the XZ and I loved what I heard…

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JuanBagnell - posted on December 27, 2016 9:48 am

Z3 was a great high water mark for Sony. Wish they could get back to that…

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XtraGalaxy17 - posted on December 27, 2016 5:03 pm

+JuanBagnell Wait what, it actually fell behind Xperia Z? Or were you just meant to say “Z3”? I’m a bit confused…

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D13H4RD2L1V3 - posted on December 27, 2016 9:15 pm

Like Juan said, we want a new Sony phone that’s as good or better than the Z3.

That was the undisputed Sony champ.

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Mabirc - posted on December 30, 2016 2:41 am

Well, are you an audio expert ?

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Michael Pfeiffer - posted on January 2, 2017 7:41 pm

And Sony moved away from glass back phones….shame really.
Still waiting for a worthy Sony successor to my Z3C.

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Shellyman Vol.2 - posted on December 27, 2016 9:38 am

ZTE really outdone their selves this year!

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JuanBagnell - posted on December 27, 2016 9:50 am

Very impressed with the Axon.

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DerHeimatlose1 - posted on December 28, 2016 12:49 pm

JuanBagnell
I don’t understand this ranking – the Axon 7 wasn’t loud enough to drive most of my headphones ?!?

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TheCommandMaster - posted on January 2, 2017 3:27 pm

JuanBagnell do you have the European or Us version?

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LeKo - posted on December 27, 2016 9:49 am

The iPhone 7 has the best Headphone Jack

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alexdiezg - posted on February 15, 2017 2:10 pm

LeKo Wait, what? No way! I’ve heard Apple putted more effort for the 7 Plus variant!!

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Alex The Commie - posted on December 27, 2016 9:58 am

I’m proud to own my Axon 7.

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EdvisKing - posted on December 28, 2016 3:46 pm

+Eyzak Funk trolling? which part? because i dont speak very well in english because im still learning? sir your logic is very good.

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Eyzak Funk - posted on December 28, 2016 3:47 pm

+EdvisKing You just said you were a couple comments ago.

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EdvisKing - posted on December 28, 2016 3:49 pm

+Eyzak Funk oh, so sad, you can not understand sarcasm and irony. Sad for you.

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Eyzak Funk - posted on December 28, 2016 3:50 pm

+EdvisKing Well I mean you are trolling.

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Eyzak Funk - posted on December 28, 2016 3:51 pm

+EdvisKing You must have trouble learning English, because going to your profile you have comments in English going back 163 weeks.

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abdul-wahab hawsawi - posted on December 27, 2016 10:15 am

Just bought the Philips SHP9500, will never buy a phone with no headphone jack.

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JuanBagnell - posted on December 27, 2016 10:30 am

Oh those are nice…

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abdul-wahab hawsawi - posted on December 27, 2016 10:32 am

+JuanBagnell even though I got them only for gaming and general use, I still notice how good they sound.

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VoloKin Project - posted on December 27, 2016 11:01 am

+JuanBagnell the Honor Note 8 didn’t make the list only because you didn’t have a review unit. The loudspeaker is mono, but the headphone output is greater than the iPhone 7.

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Alberto 9324 - posted on December 27, 2016 5:27 pm

+VoloKin Project ooh, i can’t wait to watch it, also please talk about the audio quality, do some comparisons

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VoloKin Project - posted on December 27, 2016 6:43 pm

+Alberto 9324Β no problemo, will be released up until 30th.

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Alberto 9324 - posted on December 27, 2016 11:58 pm

+VoloKin Project can’t wait

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VoloKin Project - posted on January 2, 2017 8:51 pm

+Alberto 9324​ 2 days delayed but my review is finally up.

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Alberto 9324 - posted on January 2, 2017 8:54 pm

+VoloKin Project alright, gonna watch it

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spevi1234 - posted on December 27, 2016 12:40 pm

Fact remains that 99% of people are still using MP3’s

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Rene-Mathieu Gaudron - posted on December 27, 2016 3:17 pm

spevi1234 true but I for one am in the 1% using loseless, so the Axon 7 was the way to go with its expandable storage.

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spevi1234 - posted on December 27, 2016 4:00 pm

Rene-Mathieu Gaudron Nice to know others appreciate high quality audio

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JuanBagnell - posted on December 27, 2016 8:45 pm

So let’s say you are using MP3’s. A better amp is still a better amp. A lower noise floor is still a lower noise floor. A better signal to noise ratio can still help on higher bit rate audio. Better hardware is still better hardware.

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spevi1234 - posted on December 27, 2016 9:02 pm

I never ragged on the high-quality amps. I’m saying that most people won’t be taking full advantage of them because they’ll be using MP3’s. It’s great that they’re paying attention to audio now, and it’s great that you made a video about it. No hate. Keep the great videos coming.

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ivesaaron - posted on December 28, 2016 11:10 am

spevi1234 I’ve taken several blind tests in order to see if I can tell apart MP3 from FLAC. I really couldn’t (I own the Audio Technica M40x and an iPod Touch 6th gen, which has a decent DAC). That’s how I listen to music all of the time, so it’s not really worth for me having files 3 or 4 times the size to listen no audible improvement. If you have an advanced setup, FLAC may be a solution (MAY BE, because some studies suggest that even with the most advanced setup, most people won’t hear the difference), still that’s not how most people listen to their music.

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