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Qualcomm Aqstic sets a new standard for audiophiles


Arysyn
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This is news that already is a few months old. However,  just found out about it earlier today when I read about this being featured in the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. The only other smartphone it has been present here in the U.S., has been the HTC 10. It appears from reading what I've read online today, that the mysterious audio system I've been wondering about ever since the HTC 10 was released, is indeed the Qualcomm Aqstic audio system of sorts. Supposedly from what I've also been reading online regarding this, is that the Note 7 ought to be just as powerful sounding as the HTC 10, at least in terms of headphone audio.

 

My guess is that this is meant to keep the audio of the Note 7 at least on par with the Wolfson quality of audio the Note 5 had, along with preparing the Note 7 for a defensive strategy against whatever LG might have going for the V20 with its audio, considering how the V10 is known for its great audio. This is a major deal in my opinion for why the Note 7 makes a great device, among other things I'm in the process of compiling mentally for a post about it in the Note 7 thread. I've already made a post there about it, so for here I'll talk about the actual Aqstic device outside of the connection it has with the Note 7.

 

It appears the Aqstic is not standard with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820. It is a separate feature for the smartphone manufacturer to add. I figure Samsung decided to not implement it in the S7 line so that it could save for the Note 7 I imagine it will later promote. Although, I'm a bit surprised why Samsung isn't doing now, along with the mysteriousness why other device manufacturers are not even adding it to their smartphones, such as LG with the G5,or Lenovo/Motorola with the Z, Sony with the X, etc. This sounds like an amazing feature based on what has been said about the HTC10's audio, something I was complimentary of, with the exception of the mysterious advertising/promotion of it as having "Brilliant sound is at the very heart of HTC 10. In fact, it’s one of the few phones with certified* Hi-Res audio. Just press play and you’ll hear how Hi-Res audio processing, 24-bit DAC and our new high performance headset amplifier are all carefully tuned to work together to deliver a true symphony of sound."

 

Anyways, hopefully there will be more information about this seemingly impressive audio feature Qualcomm is adding to the Snapdragon 820, although sadly only for those manufacturers who choose it as an option. Here are some links about the Aqstic, which I've also added to my post in the Samsung Note 7 forum section. I'm going to update both with any information I discover about this too.

 

 

and

 

https://www.qualcomm.com/news/snapdragon/2016/06/02/qualcomm-aqstic-sets-new-standard-audiophiles

 

 

also these from Reddit

 

https://www.reddit.com/r/Android/comments/4wcenj/the_note7_uses_qualcomm_aqstic_audio_codec_the/

 

https://www.reddit.com/r/GalaxyNote7/comments/4wb07b/note7_uses_qualcomm_aqstic_audio_codec_it_will/

 

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I'm no audiophile or audiophool, but I do enjoy good sound and get annoyed with lesser quality hardware/audio implementations, ie audible background hiss or noise/hum/etc, insufficient volume, poor handling/mixing of multiple sound sources.

 

I'm glad that some hardware makers still pay attention to audio quality on their devices.

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Does it have lossless aptx incorporated into it.

Good question. I'm not sure. However, I do know the Note 7 has some form of aptX in it, so that is good, at least. I'm figuring though if I were to guess at it, that this form of the Snapdragon 820 with Aqstic, probably does have the aptX HD or lossless variety. I read an article many months ago about how Qualcomm was going to integrate the aptX HD in their audio chips, They may have decided to use regular aptX in the normal Snapdragon 820, while the AptX HD got put into the Aqstic version. I doubt Qualcomm would leave it out of the Aqstic model considering the point of it was to give manufacturers the option for higher quality audio.

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I wrote a post about this interesting article I found here (needs translated) http://news.inews24.com/php/news_view.php?g_serial=973468&g_menu=020800&n_favtab=1, which I posted over in the LG V20 thread. Not meaning to double post, but this information is relevant in both threads. I'll definitely add some things here to better distinguish my posts though. From reading the article after translation, it appears that LG may not be using an ESS Sabre audio system for the V20, unlike what was in the V10. Instead, LG may be using the Qualcomm Aqstic audio system. If so, this means LG must find the Aqstic sounds very good to be indistinguishable enough from the V10's ESS Sabre. Technically, the ESS Sabre looks somewhat better in what is capable, as I mentioned in my post above this one, that the ESS Sabre is 32-bit/384khz, while Aqstic is 24-bit/192khz.

 

There really isn't much of a difference when listening, except for music specifically made for 32-bit/384khz listening, which even then may not be that noticeable by human hearing standards. There are other aspects in making great high-quality audio besides bits and khz, and its possible the Aqstic does better in those other terms than the ESS Sabre does. I'm not sure, but I think this makes the Aqstic look quite good. Its what made the HTC 10's headphone audio quality get such rave reviews, so the Note 7 which is going to have it, should sound quite good as well. Also if the V20 is going to have it, again the same high-quality should be present as in the V10, and both the HTC 10 and Note 7.

 

This sounds as the bar is being raised on the importance of high quality audio in smartphones - finally! 

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You have to have really good headphones to exploit all that, right? I have looked into planar magnetic headphones and decided against it when I realized costs would be too high. UHQ has promise but not a lot of support IIRC.

 

Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk

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You have to have really good headphones to exploit all that, right? I have looked into planar magnetic headphones and decided against it when I realized costs would be too high. UHQ has promise but not a lot of support IIRC.

 

Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk

 

I think as long as people aren't using sub - $50, they ought to be able to tell the difference in audio quality. Yet, the higher quality, more expensive headphones likely will produce better sound, but not necessarily the kind of sound one likes. Its very subjective and some headphones/earphones are tuned more for bass, some more for treble, etc. The high-end audio chips will enable better sounding audio that will improve whichever preference the headphone/earphones produce.

 

For example, I have $300 earphones from Etymotic, which leans towards analytical, treble-based audio sound, very light on the bass, though highly detailed sound signature. However, I've noticed quite a difference just between using the Samsung S7 Active alone compared to using it connected to an old Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Roadie device I have. The Audio Advantage Roadie sounds much better than the S7 active does. I'm getting the Note 7, as I've discovered issues on the S7 Active that isn't good, mainly display issues the AT&T store took back for me. I pre-ordered the Note 7 prior to hearing about the Aqstic, so this definitely is welcoming news to me as I know quite likely I won't have to use the Turtle Beach device with it.

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What are the odds that Aqstic is in every Snapdragon 820, and it's up to the vendor whether they want to pay for the license to support it. Similar to the Nexus 6P and Qualcomm QuickCharge 2.0.

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What are the odds that Aqstic is in every Snapdragon 820, and it's up to the vendor whether they want to pay for the license to support it. Similar to the Nexus 6P and Qualcomm QuickCharge 2.0.

 

From what I've read, the Aqstic isn't in every Snapdragon 820, but only in select chips. Personally, it sounds odd to me that Qualcomm would spend the money designing separate chips that have it and then those that don't. In a way, It makes more sense that it would be an unlockable feature of all Snapdragon SD820s, but then again, not so much so since that would be a waste to have it unused. Elsewhere  read the Aqstic is a discreet chip made by Qualcomm separate from the main SD820, which makes the most sense as it wouldn't be a huge cost burden to Qualcomm making unused chips or unused feature in chips, other than the few manufacturers wishing to have it. This also makes sense when it comes to the HTC 10, since there are people claiming the HTC 10 is using a discreet chip for their audio, not the built-in SD820 audio. Qualcomm has said that the HTC 10 is using Aqstic, so that must be it then.

 

It'll be an interesting few months now for smartphone/audio enthusiasts doing comparisons between the Note 7 and the V20 with Aqstic vs Quad Dac reviews. I think when people decide to do these tests, the Aqstic will be uncovered in greater detail specifically.

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