Call quality and volume analysisSupport

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  1. novox77

    novox77 Leeeroy Jennnkinnns! VIP Member

    Call quality suddenly became a big deal last week when many reviewers panned it. I finally activated the Evo 3D today and could test this. This is a subjective commentary, but I have a really good ear, and among friends, I'm the go-to guy for anything sound- and music- related, though I don't consider myself an audiophile (that's another story).

    Got a chance to have a 15-minute phone convo with a neighbor (a stereoscopy enthusiast, actually) and talked to him about the phone. I was prepared to have a very poor experience given all the negative reviews. But it did not turn out that way.

    I heard very very little background hiss. Higher frequencies were a little muted (some people call this 'muddy' sounding), but not so much that you couldn't distinguish an 'F' from an 'S.' That puts it on par with landline quality. Actually, hiss has nothing to do with call quality in the digital era. Here's a little background and explanation:

    Hiss was intentionally added to land lines back in the day to let people know a line was established. The dead silence made people think they were disconnected. In the digital era, noise reduction filters often removed all hiss, making silent parts of the call truly silent. Many mobile phone and VOIP carriers added 'comfort noise' to re-solve the old problem. Have you ever pulled your phone from your ear and look at it to see if it's still connected? If so, your carrier probably doesn't use comfort noise. But if the carrier of the person on the other side does use comfort noise, you'll be able to hear it.

    Hiss in the audio world is the same as static on a TV. It's white noise, and only in an analog transmission do you have various degrees of static/hiss. With digital transmissions, either the signal is strong enough to interpret, or it isn't. 1 or 0. Nothing like 0.28. Therefore, when someone gripes about hiss, they are likely griping about comfort noise, which is intentional, or the person on the other line is in a noisy environment. This point is often brought up when discussing HDMI cable quality. If a cheapo $1 Monoprice HDMI cable is working, you're getting the best picture possible. There's no in between.

    One scenario I left out was a defective speaker. Yes, that can cause hiss, since the speaker is an analog device, but it's very easy to test if the hiss resides in the speaker. Expect the hiss to always be there for every single call. If not, it's likely not the speaker.

    I actually use my phone as a phone, and my day job requires me to be on a call at least an hour a day, and I call people around the country and sometimes to India and China, so I am very familiar with what the Evo 4G was capable of in terms of call quality. Therefore I could usually identify which side the problem was on (signal cutting out, dropped calls, etc). Rarely was it the Evo 4G. And actually, the worst performing phones were the iPhones, which is very popular in upper management apparently. They get dropped like flies :) anyway...

    Evo 4G call quality sounds the same regardless if the bars (stock Sense) show 1-bar or 6-bars. Where it starts to fail is when the indicator shows 0-bars, and even then, it may not drop the call. Based on my signal strength testing in this thread, the Evo 3D bars correlate to the Evo 4G bars exactly. I watched the signal strength fluctuate, and both phones went from 3-bars to 4 at the same threshold. I also witnessed this consistency going from 4- to 5-bars. So I'm going to assume HTC didn't change how they represented signal strength in their bar indicators.

    Today, during my phone call, I had 2-bars, and the call sounded clear. I would feel confident saying that you should still have good quality at 1-bar, just like the Evo 4G did. If you have a stable 2-bars or higher, and your call quality is bad, I would point the finger at the phone on the other end. A good idea is to call someone on a landline, where you know their call quality will be constant, at least on any of the major US TelCos.

    So that's what I did for my next test. With a stable 2-bar signal strength on my Evo 3D, I called a landline (parents' house). No one was home, but I got the answering machine, and I know the sound quality of that answering machine well, having heard it for at least a decade. Evo 3D sounds just fine at 2-bars.

    In summary: call quality, is it awesome? No... but I'm not expecting studio-recording fidelity on a phone. So, for what it is, it's very good. It captures the upper frequencies enough to distinguish all the consonant sounds, and it holds a signal consistently (no large fluctuations in signal strength or bars indicator). At 2-bars, calls sound just as good as the full 6-bars. Hiss during my test calls were negligible, and as I explained above, hiss is not a relevant indicator of call quality in digital transmissions.

    Again, this was my subjective opinion, qualified by my understanding of sound, basic DSP, and the industry's use of 'comfort noise' to generate hiss. Comments and/or criticisms are welcome, as always.

    UPDATE (June 26, 2011):
    I found a way to test call quality on both Evo 4G and #vo 3D despite the 4G now being deactivated. Dial *2 and listen to Sprint's IVR. I did the following tests:

    1) E4G + Airave
    2) E3D + Airave
    3) E4G - Airave
    4) E3D - Airave

    With the airave, both E4G and E3D performed very well. Very little hiss and very clear consonants. I observed 4- to 5-bars. Without the airave, I got 0- to 1-bars, but the audio never cut out. I noticed some volume fluctuations, but still good for both phones.

    Now here's where things got interesting... I decided to output the call audio through the headphone jack to my sound card and record it with Audacity. And I found that while the E4G recording sounded pretty much the same as the earpiece, the E3D sounded HORRENDOUS. Very loud hiss and very muffled voice. Consonants were very muddy. It was night and day. I repeated the E3D calls a few times just to rule out a fluke connection. It was always bad.

    That would certainly explain some of the bad reviews. If they made their determination solely through an audio-out through the headset to speakers, that would explain the discrepancy. So it proves that call quality through the headphone jack is pretty bad. But call quality through the earpiece speaker and the back speaker sound just fine.

    I've attached the recordings from trials 3 & 4 (no Airave; 0- to 1-bars) for your listening pleasure. Again, this test seemed to indicate a problem with E3D's call quality through headphone jack only. And I haven't tested BT quality in my car yet.

    Attached Files:

  2. NSXLA

    NSXLA Well-Known Member

    Someone else pointed out, how on the 3D you don't have to go searching for the exact spot using your ear to find the calls to be loud enough, that is a plus!
  3. JunBringer

    JunBringer Well-Known Member

    I learned something today! Thanks dude!

    BTW is that little hole at the top near the headphone jack another microphone, I assume for noise cancellation?
  4. jdsingle

    jdsingle Well-Known Member

    I'm extremely worried about call quality. Listening to active studio monitors and studio cans all I do is sound. It'll be interesting to test out the sound quality. Hopefully it is like you are saying novox and this is just a subjective thing. Thanks for all of the information.
  5. EarlyMon

    EarlyMon The PearlyMon Moderator

    Well done.

    We now we need to consider how to begin consolidating information as we discussed this morning.

    For example - should this thread tie over to:

    Or - should we set up a categorized set of reviews, specific to individual topics, as you mentioned in our discussion?

    Either way, suggest those interested in this topic also see linked thread, above.
  6. Emmexx

    Emmexx Well-Known Member

    I was making calls all day to test this out as well, due to the reviews mostly. I do need it as a phone as well.

    In five calls to my work, a car tint shop, Sprint and a couple of electronic stores, all land lines, I had no complaints.

    In several calls to friends and family, in some cases to show them the new phone (hey, some wanted to see it...not that I minded showing it off :) ), the call quality was also good.

    I even called while passing through a traditional dead spot right at the edge of my town. Normally, they get dropped. It didn't happen this time.

    Just as stated above, this is a subjective thing, but it works for me.
  7. novox77

    novox77 Leeeroy Jennnkinnns! VIP Member

    Am still thinking of utilizing the 2nd post in the User Reviews thread to categorize and consolidate. Might as well get the ball rolling now.
  8. EarlyMon

    EarlyMon The PearlyMon Moderator

    I don't think it will fly with Admin, but I'm going to ask and see if we can't get mod-added prefix capability.

    Often, for very hot topics, lots of folks have asked me if we could set up special sub-forums.
    novox77 likes this.
  9. jdsingle

    jdsingle Well-Known Member

    Can anyone test and see if they can output to a set of speakers? Whether you use bluetooth or whatever. I'm wondering if I can run a call through my monitors and give a good review that way.
  10. novox77

    novox77 Leeeroy Jennnkinnns! VIP Member

    I was going to output through the 1/8" jack into my sound card and record... although that's partially testing the audio-out capability of the phone's jack along with the call quality...

    If I had a spare BT headset, I would crack it open and wire the speaker wires to an audio cable that I could route back into my sound card and record the BT audio, but again, I'm not isolating call quality; I'd also be testing the BT headset's ability to produce good audio from the source data.

    call quality is a toughie to test quantitatively....

    But I suppose if the end result sounds pretty darn good, we can say case closed? :) I may yet give this a try.
  11. EarlyMon

    EarlyMon The PearlyMon Moderator

    Just ran a call with audio out to an extra pair of inexpensive (powered) Koss desktop speakers - no issues. But watch for any feedback, you know.
    jdsingle likes this.
  12. EarlyMon

    EarlyMon The PearlyMon Moderator

    The headphone circuit is really very, very good - better than the Evo for overall sound output, especially in volume compared to my wired earset.
  13. thelonewizard

    thelonewizard Well-Known Member

    I received a call from my buddy today, and I was pleasantly surprised by the call quality. MUCH better than the Samsung Intercept's quality. His voice was much clearer.
  14. PyroSporker

    PyroSporker Well-Known Member

    Great overall analysis but this seems rather Utopian. There is definitely a digital in between and it ain't pretty looking or pretty sounding.

    I noticed that too just tonight, I was playing music on the phone wired to my car stereo. With the Evo 4G I had to crank my stereo all the way up to 11 ;), but with the Evo 3D I was able to keep it lower and the transmission was more consistent. I also enjoyed flipping through the new SRS and EQ settings.

    Others have noted the speakerphone maybe is not as good, but the headphone jack is better, so you win some you lose some.
    EarlyMon likes this.
  15. jdsingle

    jdsingle Well-Known Member

    It's a hard quantitative test for sure unless you have an amazing mic and an isolation room that you can do tests in with multiple phones. I plan on comparing it's call quality along with a couple of other phones (Samsung Alias 2, Moto Droid, HTC Thunderbolt, and Droid X).

    Let me know if you give it a try. I don't know enough about phones to make an expert statement on it. However, I would think that the biggest difference on the phone will be it's own speaker (speakerphone and normal one). Routing through blue tooth would negate the phones speakers and same with running an audio out.

    You just used an audio cable out to the speakers? Thanks for the info.
  16. Androidalltheway

    Androidalltheway Well-Known Member

    I will say noise cancellation is much better then the evo 4g, my evo 4g picked up everything
  17. Androidalltheway

    Androidalltheway Well-Known Member

    As long as you keep the call volume at a minimum it is ok, I rank it 7/10, evo 4g was 8/10, its close
  18. novox77

    novox77 Leeeroy Jennnkinnns! VIP Member

    Updated my OP with more info, including audio clips. It appears that E3D does suffer from bad call quality when the call is outputted through the headphone jack. But it's fine through the earpiece speaker and the back speaker.

    Will test BT output of both E4G and E3D shortly.
  19. bobby2478

    bobby2478 Well-Known Member

    I've used mine for a few calls over the past few days and have noticed some minor issues with call quality.

    Over the earpiece on the 3D, when I place a call and am waiting for the other party to pick up I can hear the ringing sounds a bit choppy and can cut in and out. When I'm talking to someone, their voice can sound a bit muffled at times, and can be somewhat choppy from time to time as well.

    Overall I wouldn't say it's poor or a major issue, but it is a nuisance and is about the ONLY area right now I'm not 100% satisfied.

    Does anyone else when waiting for your other party to pick up, do you notice the ringing sounds a bit choppy?
  20. novox77

    novox77 Leeeroy Jennnkinnns! VIP Member

    what's your signal strength when you observe choppy sound? Without this information, there's no way to say if there's a problem.
  21. bobby2478

    bobby2478 Well-Known Member

    I have full bars of service on both 3G and 4G, I've tried this with 4G both on and off, and it seems the same regardless. Again it isn't a dealbreaker for me or anything I'd consider to be poor voice quality, but it does appear sporatically throughout a call where I don't recall a similar sound when using my TP2.
  22. novox77

    novox77 Leeeroy Jennnkinnns! VIP Member

    but voice calls use neither 3G or 4G....
  23. bobby2478

    bobby2478 Well-Known Member

    I thought when you're conntected to 4G that since it handles simultaneous voice and data transmission it would use the same network connection for both. I guess in either case it's still using the same voice network and then if you're connected to 3G it stops data communication but if you're on 4G it can continue the data while you're using the voice connection.

    Looking at the status bar, for 4G it shows 2/3 and for the network icon next to it it shows 5/6. Do the bars above 4G represent the data signal strength, where the bars to the right represent voice signal strength?
  24. C21Realtor

    C21Realtor Active Member

    After bitching about the call quality initially, it's acceptable. Battery is acceptable to me, as well. With or without my Motorola bluetooth headset, the call sound quality is a bit more hollow than what I was hearing in my last phone. This has a digital - like satelite radio sound.

    People understand me, and that's all that really matters. After several hours of talk time, it's fine. I've been talking up a storm for 4 days. Talking on the highway with alot of ambient noise using bluetooth is where I couldn't be understood clearly. That may have been the case with any phone.

    The rest of the phone's functionality blows away the Treo Pro that I've been hanging on to, so I'm a happy camper.
    falconey likes this.
  25. novox77

    novox77 Leeeroy Jennnkinnns! VIP Member

    Here's a little explanation to clear things up:

    4G = wimax (data only)
    3G = CDMA2000 1xEV-DO (data only)
    2G = CDMA2000 1xRTT (voice only)

    The 2G/3G is actually one radio, and it can only be in one mode at a time. So if you're on a phone call, the 2G/3G radio is in 1xRTT mode, which only does voice/sms. If you're in 3G and you get a call, the phone shuts down 1xEV-DO and goes into 1xRTT mode. Calls take precedence over data.

    4G is a separate radio, so it can be on simultaneously with the 2G/3G radio. That is how you get simultaneous data and voice if you're on 4G. Same with wifi; that's a separate radio as well. Our phones programatically shut off 3G when the 4G radio is on. So if you have 4G, you're using wimax and 1xRTT. If you are connected to a wifi hotspot, you are using 802.11b/g/n and 1xRTT.

    We can toggle 4G and wifi. We can also toggle the 1xEV-DO (HTC calls this "mobile network" in the settings). But there's no toggle for 1xRTT unless you use airplane mode, which shuts off all radios and remembers their last state.

    So for call quality tests, it doesn't matter what radios are on. The only one that matters is the 1xRTT, which is represented by the 6 vertical bars near the battery indicator in the status bar. If you use the app I mentioned in this thread during your call, you will see that the signal type will be 1xRTT.
    bobby2478 likes this.

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