Comparing my phone (as a USB audio source) to my Sonore ultraRendu with LPS

I had a friend over this morning to help me with a little blind testing. One thing that has bugged me is that phones make much better USB audio sources than they have a right to. I mean it's a damn phone, rite? I've done some blind ABing in the past between my noisy PC and my phone. In that case, my phone (LG V20 running USB Audio Player Pro in USB DAC direct mode) easily outperformed my PC. This event opened my mind to the differences that digital sources could make, as I was very skeptical before this. Shortly thereafter I sprang for a Sonore ultraRendu and a linear power supply.

I currently have two effectively identical DACs in my rig, an RME ADI-2 DAC and RME ADI-2 Pro FS. At least in terms of DAC functionality, they're identical. So I used this opportunity to directly compare my phone to my Sonore in blind tests.

My results were 5 of 5. I preferred the Sonore. Both were clean and noise free, but the phone just seemed to give a bit of digital harshness while the Sonore remained more musical and "analog" sounding. Note: I hate those terms, but in this case I'm going to stick with them because the phone seemed to include that I simply wouldn't describe as part of the music. It was something that wasn't supposed to be there, some kind of digital artifacting.

That being said, we're talking about a streamer and PSU costing upwards of $1000 vs the USB audio functionality on my phone, which is really only an accidental feature built into the USB protocol the phone supports for other reasons. I would have been gravely disappointed if it didn't outperform my phone. Still, I can't help but be impressed with how good phones are.


As a person that still only spins LP's and CD's and has never had music on their phone I find what you wrote to be interesting.

I did a search on "best cell phone for audiophiles" and came up with the article below. However their criteria and how they use them is often different than your USB source method.

Best smartphones for audio
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