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Is iPhone 6 sound quality any good?
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Is iPhone 6 sound quality any good?

by Salil Tembe2014/09/29

It has been quite sometime since Apple released the iPhone 6. Every apple fan has been anticipating the new iPhone majorly because of the larger screen and better hardware. Apple products are known to give the best user experience, but for a premium price. That does not necessarily mean that a premium priced product equates to top notch, cutting edge features. As always, we are going to look at how the speakers and the over all audio system works in the iPhone and if it is any better than previous versions.

iPhone 6 audio quality

Samsung, HTC and LG have been giving their users that capability to play high resolution audio. High resolution audio is sampled at 196kHz and has 24 bits per sample. The noise level is very low and the frequency response of High resolution audio drivers often goes past 22kHz as compared to the 18kHz cut off in usual non-high resolution audio systems. If the phone manufacturers like Samsung, HTC and LG can give away this high resolution capability in their phones, then logically Apple should already be having this feature in their phone.

Shockingly, the iPhone 6 nor the iPhone 6 Plus has the hardware capability to play 24 bit/196 kHz audio stream. Even if they do not have that capability, it is not like you would hear any difference in the sound quality. All things considered, the phone’s loud speakers are quite small and will definitely not be able to make any difference in sound at such high resolution. Same goes for the earpods which also have quite small speakers. Therefore, they are unable to produce that extreme detail you get with 24 bit audio stream. Oh, but it is quite possible to distinguish between 16 bit vs 24 bit audio if you listen to audio using some high quality over-ear headphones such as the Bose SoundTrue. Test your own ears with this great audio quality quiz from NPR, it’s quite hard!

24 bit audio is possible

Apple does not stop you entirely from playing 24 bit audio at 196kHz. It is just that one audio DAC which connects to your audio jack that limits the performance. The iPhone 6 can play 24 bit audio and output full high resolution audio output through its lightning connector. Henceforth, you need speakers that can connect to the lightning connector on the iPhone 6.

iphone 6 audio

Apple iPhone 6

It is not entirely difficult to have a 24 bit DAC inside the iPhone, but there has to be some reason for Apple to still sell its phone this way. One reason is that, there is very little high resolution music on iTunes. The other reason being, many existing 24 bit audio tracks available elsewhere on the internet are up sampled from 16 bit tracks with no sound quality improvement. Considering these two facts, it might be logical for Apple to wait until it gets popular and then one day we can expect them to give us that capability of having high resolution audio output.

How does it compare with iPhone 5S

The difference between the two generations is quite comparable. The loud speakers on iPhone 5S are more suppressed and less clear, whereas the loud speaker on the iPhone 6 is vivid and louder. The iPhone 6 Plus has the similar clarity and vividness, but it is little bit louder. To summarize, the clarity and depth to the sounds produced by iPhone 6/Plus are entirely because of the redesigned speakers. It’s worth noting that the larger phone size allows bigger speakers to be built inside the phone. A closer look reveals the speaker placement has not changed over the two generations and is still located right next to the lightning connector. Clearly, having a great sounding loud speaker has become much more important these days and Apple seems to have implemented some of the best sounding speakers in the mobile world.

iphone 6 screen comparison

iPhone screen comparison

Not having high resolution audio should not put you off from buying the iPhone 6. High quality music is not in great demand and is consequently unsupported by many labels. It is a great phone with lots of nice features such as a big screen, better speakers, larger battery and more powerful processor and of course a heavy price. You should definitely check out the iPhone 6 which is great for watching movies on its 1080p screen and listening to music on its improved speakers.

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About The Author
Salil Tembe

Salil is an electronics engineer who has a passion for expressing his love for technology through writing. He firmly stands for open sourcing everything that makes our lives better.

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