Samsung Galaxy Buds EARS Measurements (RAW)

Discussion in 'Audio Science' started by Lyander, Jul 22, 2019.

  1. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    @La Cenric mentioning them in another thread reminded me that I've been meaning to post these, whoops.

    I've been messing around working on my own comp curve for headphones using the SBAF one as a baseline in my spare time, but it's been a messy enough process that I'm scared to even consider trying one for IEMs. RAW measurements it is (plus I think there might be a channel balance issue with either my EARS, upstream, headphones, or just the supplied HEQ curve— need to get my hands on more headphones to try and fine tune things).

    [​IMG]

    I got these as a gift about two weeks back and have been using them as makeshift earplugs and commute 'buds since. Life in the metro means a shit ton of ambient noise, especially when you live next to multiple ongoing construction sites. They're alright for portable use, I don't really need exceptional sound quality in portable settings so while these are far from ultra-engaging I can't really complain especially considering how much I spent on them (that is, zilch). I posted two-day impressions over on Torq's forum that I generally still stand by apart from the fact that I've since experienced a crap ton of stutters and drop outs even while listening with phone in hand, less than a foot away. Samsung's Scalable codec is a variable one, which allegedly helps ensure consistent connection even in less-nice conditions. My experience is that it's still pretty rough around the edges and that it still sounds bland even in "ideal" conditions, with really bad latency all throughout. RTINGS measures 372ms latency, well above the point where I'd say it becomes annoying. Good usable range though, I get maybe 10m with direct line of sight to my phone before it starts crapping out. That figure goes down to about 3m with a couple walls and a flipping massive fridge in between.

    Comfort is about as good as I could hope for considering these aren't tiny, bullet-shaped IEMs; I had an annoying sore spot in one ear that eventually scabbed over and grew accustomed to the irritation, now I can wear these without any real problem provided I don't keep reseating them in my ear. Others report exceptionally good comfort and fit— yay for them.

    TL;DR is that these are tuned to the Harman target curve (unsurprising considering Samsung owns their souls now) but sound really bass-shy despite what measurements say and what others report— mid and low bass sound like wet burps to me, and even though the treble looks polite I find these fatiguing at higher volumes, or at moderate volumes over extended listening sessions. My finding the bass lacking I'm aware could be due to my growing accustomed to low-end-heavy headphones, but I've honestly no idea about the treble.

    Attacks are slow and rounded with hardly any noticeable trailing decays in midrange on up, already mentioned bass is lean and untextured; imaging is pretty good, bit indistinct compared to what I'm used to with flat as a pancake headstage depth, only has alright width comparable to HD650. No real sense of room ambiance, and the background is grey as heck to boot. On the whole I find the overall sonic profile to be kinda boring but simultaneously fatiguing. Good general purpose set for most I think, I imagine some would consider this a "reference" tuning (something I've yet to grow accustomed to) but it isn't something I personally care for. The tonal balance makes it surprisingly easy to pick out macrodetail in recordings, which I occasionally struggle with on the Klipsch HP-3 on my main rig due to its midrange trough (and the fact that my upstream is also decidedly on the near end of mid-range, haha).

    The treble was enough of a bother to me that on day 3 I took a leaf out of @james444's book and wedged a 2-ply of Twinings teabag paper between the nozzle and the eartips— it goes a long way towards reducing fatigue and making these easier to listen to for extended periods of time, and improves passive isolation to boot. The aggressive front filter probably adds in a bunch of distortion as well since the overall sonic presentation becomes loads fuzzier and more warmbutt even taking the FR differences into account, but I rather don't mind:

    [​IMG]


    Android users have access to the Galaxy Wearables app, which offers access to 5 additional EQ profiles, running through them briefly:
    • Bass Boost attenuates midrange on up, sounds mushy and claustrophobic, really dislike this and I like bass.
    • Soft pats the treble down a bit, this is my fave filter for stock form because it makes the Buds listenable for extended periods of time
    • Dynamic is v-shaped, not really like the Klipsch because it makes vocals sound nasally and brittle, plus it's somehow more fatiguing than the HP-3.
    • Clear attenuates bass frequencies, making for a more clinical, "hi-res" sound— not a huge fan but it does work for some tracks. Big no-no for podcasts.
    • Treble Boost does exactly what it claims. Really, really, really don't care for this one. Ouch. This is supposed to be a close approximation of diffuse field tuning, which means I'm now very much against it.
    antdroid over on forum.headphone.com posted some really useful measurements comparing the EQ profiles in the Galaxy Wearables app to stock. Either way I'm trying to figure out how to run measurements though my mobile into REW so I can take my own measurements of the EQ presets, but his squiggles seem to match my subjective impressions already so I'll likely not bother unless I'm really bored :p
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2019
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  2. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    Kudos for going to the effort. I got mine free as a bonus with my S10e. I didn't expect much in the way of performance, but they came in even below those.
    Ditto. With Developer Options enabled, it looks like it let's you select all of the phone's supported codecs, but I think it only uses whatever it wants to. No differences in audio performance consistency in connectivity with any of the available options. I haven't noticed any significant latency though. I've watched some Netflix with them and things sound pretty in sync.
    This is my default setting. Only one that sounds anywhere near natural. I only use them for podcasts at the gym or watching Netflix when I'm stuck somewhere killing time.

    Ergonomically they're pretty good. I find them comfortable and they stay in securely. The charging case is nice and compact and fits in your pocket comfortably. I don't use them for very long sessions so charging capacity isn't an issue. There's no active sound cancellation but isolation is decent. The touch controls are reasonably responsive and they're decent for phone conversations. There's an ambient sound feature but there was really bad channel imbalance initially and I haven't bothered to try it after a SW update. The sounds that came through were pretty whistly and distorted anyway.

    tl;dr They're not bad for free :p
     
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  3. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    I'm glad I got them for free because if I'd paid MSRP for these I'd be galled, haha. Intuition says if this weren't Samsung it might cost about half what they're asking for it, but I've not tried many truly wireless IEMs so might need to establish norms first. Guess I'm not a fan of Harman's IEM curve is my TL;DR, at least some of the EQ presets aren't horrible.

    And eh, I'm just measuring what I have on hand now to try and build a database of sorts, maybe get my measurement technique down because even knowing this wouldn't be easy getting repeatable results is a pain in the butt. These coming into my hands was just excellent timing, hahaha.

    Microphone quality is absolutely horrible IMO. Apparently there are two sets built into the Buds and depending on how much ambient noise the external mics are picking up they sometimes use the "inner" one, which seems to be picking up vibrations from inside the ear. That's when quality really tanks. The external ones aren't very much better though.
     
  4. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    I haven't actually asked the people on the other end, but they don't seem to have trouble hearing me. I think I might have even had conversations in the gym where the background noise level is horrendous (which is why I'm wearing them in the first place).
     
  5. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    Haha my friends (surprisingly I have some of those) don't really complain about call quality, but cell service where I live is a bad joke to begin with so crap sound is just something you get used to. I've tried recording stuff through the Buds, listening back is kinda painful :))
     
  6. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    Just as an additional datapoint, managed to borrow my sister's stock S10 IEMs long enough to compare the two. Not sure how much I can trust distortion numbers on an EARS rig, but the room was as quiet as it was ever gonna be when I snapped these. Still would take with a gargantuan salt stone until I get everything sorted and ratified, though.

    [​IMG]
    Purple= Samsung Galaxy Buds; Violet= Samsung S10 stock IEMs

    Higher bass distortion on the GBuds explains why I felt the bass sounded like ass. Overall FR balance is better on the GBuds (the S10 IEMs are a bit too v-shaped even for me) so I'm pretty content with the wireless kids, treble/upper-mids and minor performance issues aside (again, considering I spent literally zilch on them :p).

    Curious what that 7.8kHz distortion spike on the GBuds might be. Doesn't correlate with anything in FR or subjectives, could be a fluke but it reappears with multiple tests. S10 stock THD seems to follow FR, which makes me skeevy of taking it as-is.

    Galaxy Buds Distortion:
    [​IMG]

    S10 stock IEMs Distortion:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2019

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