A somewhat scientific look at the Incredible's audio quality.General


Last Updated:

  1. ikediggety

    ikediggety Well-Known Member This Topic's Starter

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2010
    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    38
    Today I hooked up the headphone outputs of my D.I. to my M-Audio Profire 2626 audio interface and sat down to do some semi-serious testing. I tested using 3 seconds of white noise (to test frequency response), a 20-second 20-20k sweep (to test phase coherence), and the Apples in Stereo's "Sunndal Song" (to test the ability to rock). Signal generation and MP3 conversion were done in an old version of Cool Edit Pro, and Incredible recordings and wave comparisons were done in Cubase 5.

    I was going to take screen caps and make a whole big thing about it, but, as an older and wiser man once said: let me explain... no, no, there is too much. Let me sum up.

    I went into these tests being completely happy with the performance I'd gotten from the Incredible so far, and expecting it to pass with flying colors.

    Sadly, I was just a little bit disappointed.

    Firstly, there appear to be MAJOR sample clock issues. "Sunndal Song" is 3:30
     

    Advertisement
  2. jasonb1985

    jasonb1985 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Messages:
    987
    Likes Received:
    67
    i did a Freq response plot about a month ago but with pink noise instead of white. you seem to be a little ahead of my audio knowledge. i know how to do freq response measurements but have no idea how to tell if phase is inversed or if the timing is off. i was most interested in just frequency response. my results from the pink noise track we're good. not perfect, but very acceptable.

    when listening to the Inc with my Sennheiser CX300II's i am completely happy with how it sounds. it sounds good and it gets plenty loud. i know they aren't audiophile headphones, but i am happy with how they sound. they have a nice boosted bottom end that is very pleasing to me but also sound very clear in the midrange and top end as well.

    i also plug my Inc into my car every single time i am in my car. i am always streaming music from Pandora, Rhapsody, or DroidLive and i have always been pleased by the results. i have a completely custom sound system that i put together all on my own and it sounds great on it.

    i sometimes plug it into my surround sound system at home to listen to music with it as well. it's just more convenient sometimes than grabbing my laptop and firing it up. my home theater system is also very capable and it sound great there too.

    so in real world listening i am happy with the Inc. i'm not an audiophile, mainly because i can't afford to be, but i am very obsessed with sound quality.
     
  3. potterdood

    potterdood Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2010
    Messages:
    567
    Likes Received:
    26
    you guys are very technical on your research, but honestly I understand some of it but not all, but all I know is when I plug headphones into the DInc, to me, it sounds like a poor excuse for a mp3 player, and I'm comparing that to my iPod touch, which sounds awesome, I use the same music and same headphones and the iPod sounds 100x better.
     
  4. dm33

    dm33 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2010
    Messages:
    320
    Likes Received:
    56
    I think you said it.
    The problem isn't frequency response.
    The problem for me at least is dynamic range.

    For a phone you'd like automatic level control, ie dynamic range compression. To make quiet sounds louder and louder sounds quieter. Basically everything closer to the same volume.

    The Incredible, on phone calls at least, acts more like squelch on old radios. If the audio falls below some relatively high threshold, it cuts off the sound. This drives me crazy sometimes on the phone. When the other person gets quiet, they are totally cut off. Yet if they speak up it hurts my ears.

    I think I've noticed other audio annomalies as well, but I'm not sure.
    I often (used to) connect my phone to my car stereo. When the other party talks I can hear it through the car speakers.
    This worked well with my iPhone 3G, but on the Incredible, it sounds much worse than if I use the earpiece. The squelch effect seems really bad and when someone speaks up I get distortion and a mid-high range ringing to their voice. Generally sounds so bad I have to use the earpiece.
    I've also noticed that playing audio through my car stereo doesn't sound quite right. The bass in particular sounds muddled with missing lows and somewhat boomy upper bass. This in particular does not match your frequency response test which appears very flat.

    One comment on your test, the frequency scale should be logarithmic to be useful. Much of the tonal range is below 1khz which is just one corner of your chart.
     
  5. jasonb1985

    jasonb1985 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Messages:
    987
    Likes Received:
    67
    here is the measurement i took:

    [​IMG]

    it looks all jagged because with pink noise it's best to take a few measurements and then average them together. this is just one quick measurement. it's pretty flat, but not perfect.
     
  6. VegasOnAcid

    VegasOnAcid Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    Messages:
    1,758
    Likes Received:
    160
    Kinda sucks.. They make these phones with so much space for music and movies.. but then they dont give them the capability to play them very well. As you said, I am not going to lose sleep over it, but I have invested in a few pairs of triple driver earphones that are very sad. =(
     
  7. jasonb1985

    jasonb1985 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Messages:
    987
    Likes Received:
    67
    could it be the lack of EQ on the Inc? the headphones i use have frequency response that fits my needs. so i don't need any extra EQ'ing.

    unfortunately with android phones and their lack of EQ, you either need to research headphones before you buy them, or be lucky enough to have a set that sound acceptable to you with no EQ. i can fully understand why people would not like an android phone as a media player for this reason.

    for me and the headphones i chose, things sound great.
     
  8. jasonb1985

    jasonb1985 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Messages:
    987
    Likes Received:
    67
    again, your headphones probably have a very flat frequency response. your triple driver headphones were probably very expensive, and usually more expensive headphones have a flatter response. if we had an EQ i bet you'd be happier with them when paired with your Inc.

    which brand and model headphones do you have?
     
  9. VegasOnAcid

    VegasOnAcid Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    Messages:
    1,758
    Likes Received:
    160
    I have a few, notable ones, Sennheiser IE8s (my fav), UE Triple Fi 10, and Westone UM2s (these are only dual driver). Eq would be nice, but I am just picky I think... thus why I have so many earphones. Lol.
     
  10. jasonb1985

    jasonb1985 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Messages:
    987
    Likes Received:
    67
    this is a comparison of you IE8's with my CX300II's:
    [​IMG]

    i can see why you like the IE8's. they are pretty similar in frequency response to my CX300II's which i really really like. my 300II's look a bit flatter in the bass region, which i'm surprised to see because i'm sure the IE8's cost more. i couldn't find the other two you listed.

    EDIT: now that i look into it, it looks like the IE8's have adjustable tuning on them. pretty sick! i guess the frequency response is pretty impressive with the extra bass setting:
    [​IMG]
     
  11. VegasOnAcid

    VegasOnAcid Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    Messages:
    1,758
    Likes Received:
    160
    The IE8s have a little dial on the side of each earbud to adjust bass. What site do you generate those from?
     
  12. jasonb1985

    jasonb1985 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Messages:
    987
    Likes Received:
    67
    i saw that and edited my post. they seem like some sick headphones. might have to get a pair eventually.

    the website is headphone.com. pretty nice website.
     
  13. VegasOnAcid

    VegasOnAcid Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    Messages:
    1,758
    Likes Received:
    160
    Ya, Sennheiser makes wonderful products. I had a pair of the triple driver Shures, loved the fit but I ended up selling them after I got the IE8s.
     
  14. jasonb1985

    jasonb1985 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Messages:
    987
    Likes Received:
    67
    ok, maybe my ears aren't as good as i think they are but i just did a a/b comparison using my CX300II's playing the same songs on both my HP laptop using winamp and then my Inc using the stock sense music player and i don't really hear much of a difference if any at all.

    i played a couple songs from an Opeth album called Damnation, which is known for being a very solid recording. i really can't hear any difference between the two. i don't know if i should be happy or sad about that, but those are my findings.
     
  15. ikediggety

    ikediggety Well-Known Member This Topic's Starter

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2010
    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    38
    agreed 100%. the incredible, perhaps in lieu of the noise cancelling mic from the nexus, seems to employ a REALLY overeager noise gate. hopefully it's something we can figure out how to hack.

    well, remember, i tested frequency response with white noise, which is equal amplitude across the entire spectrum. what you seem to be describing sounds a lot like what i noticed when playing back music - compression, especially of the low frequencies. heavy compression of a certain frequency range can sound a lot like simple attenuation of that same range, which is why multiband compression is such a popular mastering tool.

    i used a linear scale on purpose because it showed the only significant dropoff that the incredible had (above 20k) more clearly. the logarithmic plot looked even more favorable, and i didn't want to be accused of bias. :D good observation, though.
     
  16. ikediggety

    ikediggety Well-Known Member This Topic's Starter

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2010
    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    38
    one thing i noticed is that the profile of the noise itself (at least in my tests) wasn't perfectly even. it was heartening to notice that, in places where the noise profile had peaks and valleys, the recorded profile from the incredible seemed to match them pretty closely.
     
  17. 4x4le

    4x4le Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2010
    Messages:
    105
    Likes Received:
    0
    Sound testing software and the procedures are not my forte, however I have done back to back testing of other products in other fields (ie. Not phones, not mp3 players) but other devices that require critical specifications in order to perform properly.

    Now can I offer a control? I have been happy just using the headphone jack to stream mp3's and pandora on my trucks stereo, and I recently got in my friends car to do the same. He has a decent sound system, nothing major but much better than factory. Rockford fosgate speakers, RF 12" sub and a sony
    Mex-bt2700 head unit he just got to replace his old unit. He said it has bluetooth so I decided to sync with it and try the sound that way. The difference was very real! So much that I am now going to get one of these cd players and dust off my old subs and amp and put them in my truck.

    Anyways, is it possible that the hardware (headphone jack, amp, ect) could be a limiting factor in the sound quality? Can you do the same tests with blutooth carrying the sound? There are usb blutooth recievers you can get for cheap.

    Sent from my Incredible using tapatalk
     
  18. ikediggety

    ikediggety Well-Known Member This Topic's Starter

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2010
    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    38
    that's an excellent idea. many people have already remarked about how much clearer calls sound over a bluetooth headset - adding that music sounds better over a bluetooth receiver would seem to be another indication that the audio quality problems people have been experiencing, both in calls and in headphones, are directly related to the DAC's used in the incredible. although i have to say that i still hold out hope that any compression that HTC built into the audio is a software thing that can be defeated.

    unfortunately i don't have a bluetooth music receiver. anybody on here in north florida and want to help out with this little project?

    also, i haven't looked exhaustively yet, but is there an android app that can tell you the hardware used in your phone, similar to a program like Sandra on a PC? i'm curious whether or not different batches use different DAC's, given the amount of people here who say their calls sound just fine.
     
  19. Trojita

    Trojita Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2010
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    2
    Holy shit this is the same problem I have. I have to have the volume set to max to hear most people because their voice sounds muffled or barely able to be heard. If my mom calls me it hurts the hell out of my ears though because she is a little bit louder which the incredible seems to amplify to a point where I think I might go deaf if I keep on using the phones. I hoped a replacement would fix this but the replacement Incredible I just received seems to act the same way.
     
  20. 4x4le

    4x4le Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2010
    Messages:
    105
    Likes Received:
    0
    I just wanted to update this and say that I have the bluetooth headunit installed in my vehicle now and the sound is great when streaming trough bluetooth.

    It also lets me answer the phone, and flash to incoming calls when on the line with the volume knob by pushing on it.

    The coolest thing is (and I was blown away to see that I could do this, is I can skip and pause songs on pandora with the seek button and pause button on my headunit! I can also control the music app by seek << and >> and I can pause the music!

    The only time I have to mess with the phone is when I get in the vehicle to turn on pandora, or if I want to change the station. This is GREAT, and to stick with the point of the thread, the sound quality is noticiably better to my ears when using bluetooth than using the headphone jack, not to mention much more convient.
     
  21. Bug Splat

    Bug Splat Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Messages:
    280
    Likes Received:
    34
    Very interesting. I have been less and less impressed with my Dinc while listening to music in my car via headphone jack to AUX jack. I have a fully after market system with dual 10" subs and my Zune would play the hell out of it. My Dinc is missing something. I can't put my finger on it but as a first impression its missing power in the low frq's and clarity in the mids. The high's sound ok. I have tried adjusting my systems EQ but still the best I can make it is not near good enough. Its bugging me to the point where I'm really thinking about getting a new head unit with BT support. I wish the Dinc had some kind of EQ to play with. Is there a MP3 player app that has one?
     
  22. amarryat

    amarryat Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2010
    Messages:
    365
    Likes Received:
    41
    I think you are right. It's almost like the sound has been compressed. My iPod sounds much better.

    Edit - plus the volume control needs to be able to go a bit higher
     
  23. slackfumasta

    slackfumasta Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2010
    Messages:
    100
    Likes Received:
    31
    It just goes to show you; some of us (i.e. me) are such sound noobs that we (meaning me) would notice anything amiss with the Dinc sound. I play my Dinc using the aux jack in my car, same as I did with my 3G for the last two years, and they both sound just the same to me.

    Odd, I hear so many people claim that the iPod is a terrible mp3 player because of poor sound quality, yet people in this thread seem to think the opposite.

    I would like to see an EQ for the Dinc though. I'm one of those people who puts all the sliders to the top and then to the bottom to see what it does, then settle for something in a little wavy pattern, or if I can't figure out which one is right, I just set everything to the middle so I can just get on with listening to Lady Gaga.
     
  24. blastoff99

    blastoff99 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2010
    Messages:
    64
    Likes Received:
    38
    I tried the Inc as a music player in my car back to back with my mp3 player and was seriously underwhelmed by the Inc. Possible that this is because I went through doubletwist? If anyone has any insight here, please share.
     
  25. ikediggety

    ikediggety Well-Known Member This Topic's Starter

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2010
    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    38
    This actually makes a lot of sense. When you send audio out via bluetooth, you're sending it digitally. the digital signal is then converted back into analog audio by your head unit. and it's saying something that an independently converted bluetooth audio signal sounds better than the incredible's headphone output. i haven't had a lot of experience with bluetooth audio, but last time i heard it, it left a LOT to be desired.

    the whole point of my testing was to determine the quality of the incredible's D/A (digital to analog) converters, which only affect the audio coming out of the speaker and the headphone jack.

    just another piece of anecdotal evidence that audio problems with the incredible are directly related to its DACs.
     

Share This Page

Loading...