What a DJ thinks of the LG V20's audio features
Joey Santos is a DJ/producer and an online educator, and serves as the Content Creative at Digital DJ Tips, the world's largest training site for Digital DJs. When LG sent us their new flagship phone, the V20, said to boast great audio features, we enlisted the help of an audio pro like Joey to help us out. Here's his take on the device:
The LG V20 is a curious smartphone – it’s got some quirks and eccentricities that make it one of the more unique Android phones out right now. It was released almost a year after the original LG V10, which was LG’s flagship smart phone at the time.
In this review we take a look at the LG V20's biggest selling point – its audio – and see if it lives up to the hype. Of course, audio features alone do not make a phone. We also weigh in on itsother specs and features. Let’s dig in. Read below or watch our video above.
First, let's rattle off the specs. The LG V20 is an Android smartphone that comes with a 5.7” Quad-HD (2560×1440, 513ppi) IPS Quantum Display. It’s one of the first (if not the first) phone to ship with Android 7.0 Nougat, which at the time of this writing is the latest version of the Android operating system. It’s got 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage that’s expandable to 2TB via a microSD card slot, a 3200mAh removable battery (a rarity in flagship phones these days), and a USB-C charging port.
There are three cameras onboard – the front-facing one is a 5-megapixel wide-angle lens, while the back has a 16-megapixel lens and an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens.
But here's the coolest bit: it has an onboard 32-bit hi-fi digital audio converter (DAC), which improves the quality of the audio passing through the headphone jack. Speaking of headphones, the LGV20 comes with B&O Play earbuds – B&O is the lifestyle brand of top-shelf audio giant Bang & Olufsen, and these earbuds were tuned specifically to take advantage of the LGV20’s onboard DAC. They’ve got a really nice bass response and come in a tangle-free cord. You can use these with the onboard quad DAC of the LGV20 for a great listening experience, but the greater purpose of the DAC is it allows you to plug in audiophile-grade (ie. high impedance) headphones that would otherwise need more power to be driven.
Usually you’d need to buy an external DAC just to provide the juice for those headphones, but the LG V20 has it built in. Its predecessor, the LG V10 was already known for its great audio – the V20 trumps it by offering even better signal-to-noise ratio for a clearer listening experience. It also has out-of-the-box support for playing back lossless 24-bit FLAC files to further push the device as the music fan's phone of choice.
It’s like having a hi-fi headphone playback system in your pocket – great news for music lovers who have been bit by the top shelf headphone bug.
Here's my take: If high-quality audio matters to you, and you want to extend that to your smartphone choice, the LG V20’s onboard DAC is a rarity even among flagship phones. While the tech isn't revolutionary enough that I would call it "the" ultimate audiophile’s choice, it's still one of the best phones to consider if sound is a big priority for you.
The phone has extra value for the media creator looking to improve their content's audio. The microphone records audio in high resolution 24bit/48kHz . Paired with the onboard cameras, the LG V20 actually makes for a pretty good capture device for blogging, recording acoustic covers and the like. The phone has also been configured to handle sound up to 132 decibels, up from the V10's 120-decibel limit. This means better-than-average audio recordings at loud places, say a concert – although I wouldn't go so far as to say that it has completely solved the problem of distorted audio in such a location. It should be better than most though.
Now, if you'd like to hear how the phone fares in other aspects, we've got an overall review below.
The phone is speedy, and why shouldn’t it be? It’s got the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 onboard, which is one of the fastest mobile processors at the time of this writing, along with 4GB of RAM. Switching between Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat was a breeze, and I didn’t experience any slowdowns or app startup lags whatsoever – a far cry from the ageing iPhone 6 Plus that I just couldn’t let go of.
Games go on without a hiccup. I love Hearthstone (big fan of the original World of Warcraft trading card game here), and playing it on the LGV20 is an absolute joy because of the large screen and great sound.
The phone body
First off, a confession – I hate bad design when it comes to tech. I like tacky things, but my phone has to feel great, look great, and work with a minimum of friction. The LGV20 ticks all those boxes – it’s got a military grade metal case that screams premium and has a nice heft to it. It also provides the phone with shock protection, making it ideal for people who drop their phones often (i.e. me). It's said that it's able to withstand drops from up to 4 feet thanks to the detaching battery cover, which disperses the shock. It gives owners that extra feeling of security. That's great to have especially considering that this is a device that costs P35,990.
The screen is among the best I’ve seen on a phone. It’s huge, it’s bright, and the colours are rich and vibrant. Things just seem to jump out at you. I do a ton of reading on my phone, and I love it for going through my RSS posts on Feedly, as well as my saved articles on Pocket.
That big bright screen has a caveat, though: I’ve recently stopped buying paperback books and shifted to reading completely on the Kindle app on my iPhone 6 Plus. Long reading sessions can be a bit tiring on the eyes, but are manageable. When i tried to do the same on the LG V20, I just found that my eyes got tired a bit quicker than usual – maybe I was just getting used to the LG V20’s slightly bigger screen and brightness, but it’s something to consider if you suffer from eye strain constantly. Having said that, reading in short bursts on the LG V20 is an enjoyable experience.
A unique quirk that the LGV20 has is a secondary display on the upper right. It displays stuff like date and time, battery level, and other statuses, and you can swipe it to access other controls such as the media player, flashlight, WiFi on/off, Bluetooth on/off, and so on. It’s a nice feature to have, but I don’t think it’s necessary or as capable as, say, the edges in the Galaxy S7 Edge.
Finally, let’s get to the triple camera set-up on this phone. The front-facing camera is a 5-megapixel wide-angle one, and while it’s cool for taking group photos because you can fit more people in the frame, it does tend to distort your face. It has a slimming result as an effect, though, so that could be to your liking.
The rear cameras are a lot better – there’s a 16-megapixel and an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens in the back, and you can switch between these two whenever you want. I particularly like the wide-angle lens because it’s got that GoPro look to it that just makes photos during gigs and travel look cooler.
You’re able to set the cameras to different modes such as panorama, slo-mo, multi-view, as well as auto for those who don’t like to tinker too much. There are also full manual modes for both video and photo, which is great news for those who want to have more control over their photography.
The LGV20 is an eye opener, not just to the quality and performance of LG phones, but to the maturity of the Android system as a whole. If you’re an Apple fanboy who’s grown tired of the lack of innovation out of Cupertino, I personally think that Android could very well be the way forward – virtual reality, while available on both platforms, seems to be more readily identified with Android instead of iOS, simply because Google paved the way forward for mainstream adoption of VR.
If you’re looking for a new Android smartphone, the LG V20 should be on your shortlist. If you’re coming from iOS and looking for a less expensive alternative to the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and the Google Pixel XL, the LG V20 comes highly recommended. – Rappler.com
Joey Santos is a DJ/producer and an online educator. He is the Content Creative at Digital DJ Tips, the world's largest training site for Digital DJs, where he produces tutorials and gear reviews, and is the course tutor for Music Production For DJs and Virtual DJ 8 Made Easy.