Samsung Galaxy S5 Audio Testing

Compared to the HTC One M8, the Samsung Galaxy S5 has a worse audio system. It only puts out around 20% of the wattage of the HTC One M8, making it less likely to be able to drive every headphone to a reasonable level. The THD+N on the 15 Ohm load is lower with the Samsung, but it is putting out half the power and under a quarter of the watts of the HTC One M8. If you drop the HTC One M8 down a single volume level it will still be far more powerful but likely have lower THD+N.

Dynamic Range is almost identical between the two phones, and close enough that you will not hear a difference. Crosstalk is a major difference as the Samsung is -20 dB worse here than the HTC One M8. You are likely to hear sound from one channel in the other ear. This can reduce the size of the stereo image and present the music as being more unfocused.

The relative level is better on the Samsung but I don’t think anyone will be able to hear the difference between the two.

  15 Ohm 33 Ohm 150 Ohm 330 Ohm
Dynamic Range 91.877 dB 91.921 dB 92.113 dB 91.985 dB
THD+N 0.1457% 0.0505% 0.0102% 0.0103%
Crosstalk (L) -38.347 dB -44.767 dB -57.666 dB -64.503 dB
Crosstalk (R) -38.329 dB -44.804 dB -57.704 dB -64.485 dB
Output Power 22.31 mW 10.63 mW 2.602 mW 1.194 mW
Output Voltage 577.3 mVrms 592.4 mVrms 624.7 mVrms 627.8 mVrms
Relative Level (20Hz - 20kHz) ±0.081 dB ±0.081 dB ±0.082 dB ±0.082 dB


Compared to the HTC, the THD+N on the S5 is much higher. Whereas the HTC only passes 0.2% around 20kHz, the S5 is past 0.25% for the entire time on the stepped frequency sweep. The Right channel shows higher THD+N values than the left channel, while the HTC is identical in both channels. I checked the graph for every impedance load and they all look identical to this so it isn’t an error in measurement.

Unlike the HTC, the frequency response of the Galaxy S 5 is flat out to 20kHz. It has the same meaningless drop at 20Hz as well. Again I don’t think anyone will hear the difference, but the Samsung is better.

This chart shows that the S5 favors odd-order distortion over even-order distortion. The 2nd and 4th harmonics are below -90dB and -100dB respectively, while the 3rd and 5th order harmonics are each over 20dB higher. Most people find odd-order distortion harsher than even-order distortion.


Unlike the HTC One M8, there are no sound modes to play around with in the Galaxy S 5. With these two flagship phones for 2014, the HTC One M8 is packing the superior audio system. Is has a more powerful amplifier at all levels, lower crosstalk, and lower THD+N. The relative frequency response is worse but not by an audible amount.

The HTC One M8 will be more versatile by supporting a wider selection of headphones at more listening levels. There will be headphones that the Samsung is not able to drive to reasonable listening levels that the HTC One M8 will have no issues with.

HTC One M8 Audio Testing
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  • CSMR - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    I would also like to see output impedance.
    Especially as the tests now use dummy loads, which will mask the effect of high output impedence on frequency response.
  • Doroga - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    Yes, would like that one for both phones and motherboards reviews (at least 1 midrange board per brand to get an idea).
  • pelms - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    Very interesting. I'm hoping phone manufacturers will come to treat audio quality with the attention they (and the press) pay to camera quality.
    It would be interesting to test the iPod Classic and Touch to get a baseline for comparison.
  • Jimster480 - Tuesday, June 10, 2014 - link

    Well I have a first Gen iPod touch with a Wolfson and I have to say there is a night and day difference to the M8. It sounds better with all forms of sound. Its alot clearer and the sound stage is alot deeper.
  • Anakha - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    Nice article! :) One question, do you feel like voiding your warranty and converting the M8 to the Harmon/Kardon version? The details for the conversion can be found here: I am curious to see if this would make any difference?
  • jk1 - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    thank you for this article. i would really like to see an evaluation of audio become part of every anandtech smartphone review - both as a music source and for telephone. these phones are routinely used as music sources, but that function is typically neglected in favor of exhaustive analysis of the cameras.

    if you do decide to do evaluation of dedicated portable audio sources, let me nominate the ibasso devices - dx50 and dx90, as well as the fiio's- x3 and x5. these receive the most discussion over at head-fi, so i'm sure there would be interest.

    btw- although i check anandtech's smartphone page regularly, i actually came to this article through a link posted in a thread at head-fi, a thread devoted to the htc one m8 as an audio source. i'm sure more audio reviews will generate more links, there and elsewhere.
  • Jodiuh - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    Thank you AT, I knew this already, but wanted confirmation. Can this thing power some AKG Q701's?
  • synaesthetic - Saturday, June 7, 2014 - link

    Not very well.
  • Zoomer - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    Testing more phones will be helpful! One M7, Nexus 5/7/10, Xperias, the Apples.
  • The1Metallian - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    Thanks for the article! Now - is there a test of the quality through Bluetooth? I hear all my music on my GS3 through the sound system in my car via Bluetooth and I've noticed that music sounds better when coming from my wife's iPhone. I am now evaluating a phone upgrade and music sound quality is high in my consideration, but always staying with Android.

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