Audiophile question


First let me say THANK YOU for keeping the headphone jack! Can’t tell you how frustrating it is being forced to use a dongle with any of my headphones when listening to music. Any chance us audiophiles will be getting a decent DAC in this phone? It’s obviously not a primary focus but MAN would it be nice…


I’d also love to see some decent DAC. They shouldn’t be that expensive anymore. It doesn’t have to be the top-notch product (if that’s too expensive that is), but phones are used as portable music players.
So please include some goodish DAC :slight_smile:


i believe we should have a poll thread to be able to ascertain what is the minimum specs most people have/need on their headphones. in-ear or over-ear types doesn’t matter.

i have a pair of new Pioneer in-ear headphones that go for 5hz-50hz at 26 ohms with a sensitivity of 108 db. flac types go well here not sure about mp3s (not high enough bitrate probably)


ok since i came across this youtube video while i was researching dac/amp i thought you might be interested in hearing why there is actually less you need to be concerned about

in short - phones/smartphones are not suitable for hi res audio since that is ussually the job of an external AMP/DAC dedicated for 16/24/32bit amplitude proccessing and sufficient sample rate in this case 44khz at maximum(because the average human hearing can go up to 20 khz analog so double that for high fidelity digital reproduction acording to Niquist theorem explained in video)
At least 96 db SNR is required but can go higher with hardware dithering up to 120db.
between 120db-140db max possible is over the top and not neccessary because of how human hearing works also explained in the vide.
Making a smartphone with such great specs will be very difficult and expensive and will not compare to dedicated external amp/dac since components have to fit too tight together and there is noise and crosstalk.
best option is external AMP/DAC with 24bit at max 44khz native (can go higher with optional internal hardware oversampling if required). software oversampling degrades overall experience. so over 44khz is really only niche case scenario.
for audio production you need 24bit and only for listening to uncompressed source 16 bit is all you need.

so i have been researching for external libre DACs/AMPs and found this:

not sure if the firmware is 100% freed of binary blobs maybe someone with more experience can confirm this. they link to a store where you can find hardware and electrical diagrams in order to build your own.

if you know of other places to visit please post here.


Thanks, that was very informative! For me, the big advantage of having a decent dac in the phone would be to have the best quality audio I could get without having to carry a second device with me. I’ve used portable external dac/amps, and my preferred source is my Cowon player, but if I only want to bring one device with me a decent dac in the phone seems the way to go…wouldn’t need a really powerful amp either since I’m mostly using iem’s when I’m out and about, and the other cans I’m using with it are pretty low impedance.


it depends what kind of IEM’s (in-ear monitors) you are using. some very high end expensive hi-fidelity ones absolutely benefit from good external AMPs. there are some external DACs who also include AMP circuitry there is no need for two separate ones only on the big/heavy/large ones used for very high powered speakers.

if you just want some small/high end amp/dac for smartphone you can have a look here:

they probably have binary blobs in their firmware seeing as they are so expensive. 24-32 bit is really overkill unless you record music.


I had the black dragonfly, I also had a Fiio Q1 that I liked. That’s what led me to get my Cowon. But if I’m going to bring a second device with me for audio, I’d just use my Cowon (I’ve got custom EQ settings for all of my headphones, and that would save the battery on the phone as well).