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Article: An Audiophile Switches From iOS to Android


The Computer Audiophile
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Unbelievable. I've owned an iPhone since there inception and I'm afraid to try anything else. This proves how insignificant we are as audiophiles. Hey, give em MP3 capabilities and a ton of emoji's, now sell that phone. Thanks for doing all the hard work. Hopefully this article will benefit others who are considering a Pixel phone or certain Android devices.

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Chris,

 

Try the following on your iPhone:

 

1. Access your "Music" folder via file system and drag your music files into it

2. Transfer music files via Bluetooth

3. Play Ogg and FLAC

4. Get a decent UPnP controller app

 

These are very basic tasks that users expect from their devices. You can do all of the above in Android since version 1.0. You cannot perform these basic tasks in iOS due to Apple's restrictions.

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I'm waiting on the iPhone 8, or whatever it is called, and keeping my iPhone 6 for now. Not enough new on the 6S or 7.

 

I had a Moto Android. It worked well enough for that early stage, but ended up preferring the iPhone, on Verizon, in my area.

 

As well, the iPhones fingerprint security fits into the increasingly rigorous security of health information usage, like pulling up my patients on the hospital computer system, or texting a picture of an X-ray to a colleague. The iPhone, when doing iMessage is considered secure, while regular SMS text messaging is not.

 

Not that any of that has anything to do with Audio, but it does with phone usability. I applaud Chris for his efforts, but a lot of things end up that way with Android, and Apple phones. The closedness of the phone OS itself narrows the choices. Over time more and more of the hold ups will fall away as the phones evolve.

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I have a different solution: Good pair of headphones. Use audio jack built into phone. No issues.

 

Good enough for mobile listening. Sounds fine. Upgrading headphones gets you 90% of the way there.

 

Mobile isn't critical listening, anyway. It can't be, by definition. I don't expect it to sound like an expensive home system.

 

It still sounds fine. The problem is managing expectations. Lower them and be happy.

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Thanks for a very interesting article.

 

I'm surprised you didn't try the Android version of Onkyo HF Player, as that is the music player you were using on your iPhone. I have a 16Gb iPod touch and a 1st gen Moto G, and with HF Player running on both devices into an iFi Nano DSD, and they sound identical to me. The iFi has an analog volume control and I wonder if the hardware volume control on a Dragonfly would work on Android with my setup. The HF Player has its own user mode USB driver and so your problems with the Dragon volume control might not exist with Android HF Player.

 

You woes with using an adaptor to power the phone, while it drives a DAC at the same time sound more like problems with USB OTG, rather than problems with Android USB to me. That is because OTG is expecting a 1:1 connection between the phone and a USB device such as a DAC. This means it won't work with a USB hub, and I think the only way you can achieve your dual use aim would be via a USB hub where the phone is the host of a normal USB bus setup (ie as it would work with a laptop, rather than OTG with a phone).

 

I use iTunes and XLD to manage my music collection, and I find a big problem with the iPod version of HF Player is that you can't sync the High Res tracks in a playlist via the normal iTunes syncing mechanism. Instead you need to copy the High Res music files into a special folder in HF Player and they aren't properly integrated with Red Book CD quality tracks that iTunes will sync. I don't have that problem on Android because I use an app called 'iSyncr' which runs on the Mac and on the phone, and it can sync playlist which have both High Res and Red Book which is much more convenient.

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I work within the limitations of Android on my set top box and portable devices (phone, tablet). I have MinimServer/MinimStreamer installed on a computer designated as a file server/music player with dsd transcoding implemented via FFMpeg. Foobar2000 for Android serves as the music player on all the Android devices. For dsd, I transcode down to 24 bits/44.1 Khz to ensure playback in Android. As a fallback, Foobar2000 Android has a resampling setting. I set this to 44.1 Khz to be double sure that Hi Res Flac files are playable. Flac and mp3 files play fine with the current set up, as do dsd (albeit with a very minor lag for 2x/4x files as transcoding starts working).

 

Important to add that Foobar2000 Android is a UPnP/DLNA renderer.

 

Rmel66.

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Chris,

 

Try the following on your iPhone:

 

1. Access your "Music" folder via file system and drag your music files into it

2. Transfer music files via Bluetooth

3. Play Ogg and FLAC

4. Get a decent UPnP controller app

 

These are very basic tasks that users expect from their devices. You can do all of the above in Android since version 1.0. You cannot perform these basic tasks in iOS due to Apple's restrictions.

I can do all of that (not sure about bluetooth transfer) using HF Player on the iPhone. And it upsamples as well. The sound of my iPhone with the USB3/Lightning and Dragonfly Red is the best I've heard from any player. It matches or maybe beats my Sony ZX2 using my Noble K10s.

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Two more bits here:

1- Apple has limited sample rate over the lightning audio interface to 48KHz/24bit. Any DAC connected this way is limited to this resolution. For example, the Audeze lightning cable. Nevermind that the chips used in the DACs can go to 192/24 (they can, I checked).

2- The Dragonfly Red or Black draws remarkably little power from the USB interface which makes the combo with the iPhone perfect. Also as you know it connects over UAC so not limited to 48/24. Point is, almost by chance the combo with an iPhone is (almost) perfect.

mini+Roon > dCS Rossini DAC + Rossini Master Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo G2

system pics

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I have a different solution: Good pair of headphones. Use audio jack built into phone. No issues.

 

Good enough for mobile listening. Sounds fine. Upgrading headphones gets you 90% of the way there.

 

Mobile isn't critical listening, anyway. It can't be, by definition. I don't expect it to sound like an expensive home system.

 

It still sounds fine. The problem is managing expectations. Lower them and be happy.

Earphone/headphone upgrade is certainly an absolute must, the included earbuds are absolutely pathetic.

 

 

I use custom Noble Kaiser 10 monitors. There was a marked difference in sound quality between the headphone jack and the Dragonfly on my iPhone 6. On my current 7+ there's also a marked difference between the lightning/3.5mm adapter (which I will say sounds marginally better than the headphone jack in my 6) and the Dragonfly. So this matters.

mini+Roon > dCS Rossini DAC + Rossini Master Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo G2

system pics

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I am Using LG G3 with Android 5 about 1 1/2 years. Using noname OTG cable I am getting music via my DAC, but only lower sample rates are supported by Android OS. Using cheap 3rd party apps kike Onkyo HF Player or USB Audio Player Pro I am able of bitperfect audio playback via USB Audio Class 2 protocol and also DSD playback. Functionality of HF player is yet better than on iOS because access to music media is not so restricted like on iOS, see http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f11-software/onkyo-hf-player-ios-now-capable-realtime-direct-stream-digital-5-6mhz-conversion-24037/#post415358

 

I did not face with troubles with software side of things. What I am complaining is the playback sound quality compared with desktop solutions. When I did my tests 1 1/2 ago, I could not find really well designed and for high quality audio suitable OTG cable, allowing to charge my Android device during playback. I never reached comparable sound quality for example with foobar2000 from my Android device. Now the situation with good USB cables within reasonable price point may be different, as you indicate in the article. But ... I'm still rather sceptic. For desktop systems, USB cables with separately shielded data and power lines exist to lower pollution of data wires with noise. The mini USB connectors used in Android phones are not ideal for digital audio from noise and interference point of view. From these reasons IMO when sound quality is the main point, well tuned desktop system has more chances to reach better sound quality results. Desktop system may be also more powerful and able to run higher quality upsampling algorithms, which can bring interesting results with many DACs. Phone can be still used for remote control.

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Why does Chris suggest using USB Audio Pro for playing Tidal? The Android Tidal app itself will play to a DAC through USB - so what extra does USB Audio Pro offer?

 

Thanks to Chris for such a thorough study. There are so many incomplete and incorrect snippets of information on the web regarding Android audio. It is useful not only to have these guidelines, but also the warning that Things Are Bad, and it will take a great deal of time to figure out how to get things working for your set up.

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Why does Chris suggest using USB Audio Pro for playing Tidal? The Android Tidal app itself will play to a DAC through USB - so what extra does USB Audio Pro offer?

 

Thanks to Chris for such a thorough study. There are so many incomplete and incorrect snippets of information on the web regarding Android audio. It is useful not only to have these guidelines, but also the warning that Things Are Bad, and it will take a great deal of time to figure out how to get things working for your set up.

 

Hi Mark - I don't recommend the native Android Tidal app because of Android's lack of hardware volume control.

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Hi Mark - I don't recommend the native Android Tidal app because of Android's lack of hardware volume control.

Probably ok if you use a DAC with it's own volume control like the Oppo?

mini+Roon > dCS Rossini DAC + Rossini Master Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo G2

system pics

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Hi Mark - I don't recommend the native Android Tidal app because of Android's lack of hardware volume control.

I see, thanks. I have always suspected that my Android does not pass the Tidal steam through to the DAC bit-perfect, because of rate conversion between 44.1 and 48 kHz. I thought that this may have been the reasoning.

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Do like I do, I use my Nexus 6P as a phone and an AK240 (latest firmware now features Tidal support) for music. Problem solved.

 

(but it makes for a very short article).

 

And it means a second device to Cary at a substantial cost.

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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Android plays audiophile music just fine. There are music player apps that can play high-res like Neutron. There are even DSD players for a price. You can output digital via Bluetooth. Many USB DACs work on Android but only on regular USB 2.0 ports, not the just released USB-C. But sure enough full accessory support of USB-C will come.

 

Your problem arise because you want to use a USB DAC and charge at the same time. So you need to get a breakout box, just like Apple phones. So get a breakout box. Look I have done this more than 2 years ago without the hassle you went though. This what what most Apple people face once they exit the Apple econsystem. They have to start thinking. My app is Neutron music player and I configure it to output to the USB port where a DAC is attached via a data/power breakout box. The DAC is not Audioquest and it works like wonder. It a bit more expensive but it plays not only 24/192 but DSDx2. I feed the analog output from the DAC to headphones and to my big sound system. Sound quality is exemplary given the nature of this setup. This was done 2 years ago without so much as a hiccup.

 

So what's all the fuss?

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