|Could this be THE audio lovers Android handset? Your|
gateway device to the world of hard audio?
(apologies in advance for your wallet)
I hope you guys don't mind hearing about my little hobby horse once again, but I have some news that I thought I'd share with you in relation to the back-and-forth saga of USB audio and the Galaxy S III.
If you want to know whether the S III can really be a portable player to satisfy the more demanding audio fans out there, then you'd better read on just over the break...
So, USB audio and Android. A personal bug bear ever since it came to light that it wouldn't be supported by the stock Android implementation of USB host in Ice Cream Sandwich (V4.0 of the Android operating system, and the first with native support for this in phones).
|Don't believe all the promises of operating systems|
coming with promises of delicious candy, they might
not be what you expected before you accepted that ride
On the morning of the Galaxy S III announcement Supercurio fanned the flames of this hope when he ellucidated the existence of Samsung USB audio drivers in the Galaxy S III, although he could not confirm whether they were working out of the box at that time. In my own hands-on with a pre-retail S III two weeks before its eventual release one of my priorities was to test my E17 USB DAC with the S III. Sadly at that time audio was not diverted to USB, and instead blared out of the phones loudspeakers, illustrating that it was not recognising an output via the USB port. Hope died a little, although as they say "hope dies last", so I still maintained a slender thread of optimism that things might change by the time of retail release.
Well, that time arrived, and the time came to test USB audio another time. Sadly it still didn't work, although something had clearly changed between pre-retail and retail software, as audio no longer emanated from the loudspeakers and the phone recognised a line out was connected. I was about ready to throw in the towel at that stage, but fortunately I kept my fingers on the pulse of the "sound quality" thread at XDA-developers and noted that a user there called ma10 had success connecting the S III to a Topping TP30 USB DAC (which he later documented on video for the inevitable naysayers). While this was a great proof of concept, it wasn't really what I was looking for, given the Topping unit isn't exactly pocketable.
|The FiiO E7, a very well regarded portable DAC and headphone amp, |
catch some reviews here, here and here
Well, my E7, and USB audio moment of truth, arrived this afternoon...
...and I am extremely happy to report that it works with Samsung's latest flagship!
(I realise that without video this never happened, so will be posting up the first of our trademark connectivity demo's on the blogs YouTube channel later on for people lack the good judgement to just trust AndroidNZ)
Obviously what we don't know at this stage is how broad support for USB DACs is at the present time, we have confirmation it works with a couple of devices, but I'm also aware of a couple of examples of failures like my E17. If you can add to the compatibility picture please drop us a line in the comments below and we'll keep this piece updated with a running list of compatible devices (a buyers guide if you will). But for now we can at least forward one recommendation for a portable solution in FiiO's E7.
Right at this moment there is nothing I'd rather do than soak up some excellent sound out of my Galaxy S III via the FiiO E7 for a few hours, but you lot are slave drivers, and I realise that you want part two of our review, so I shall get on with that instead...