Galaxy S9’s speakers are a loudest, not a ‘best’

The Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus are so packaged with features, it’s easy to zephyr by one of a many vicious for bland life: The speakers.

People buy phones for camera peculiarity and battery life, not usually for sound. But a present we play a YouTube video aloud for a crony or put your mom on speakerphone, you’ll know if a audio sounds abounding and full or apart and tinny. Simply put: Good speakers make a phone some-more beguiling to use.

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Not so fast, Galaxy S9. 


Josh Miller/CNET

For a initial time ever, Samsung gave a Galaxy S9 phones twin speakers rather than one. You’ve got a orator griddle on a tip of a phone face, and afterwards another to a right of a horse port. The phone also has Dolby Atmos program to raise sound clarity and quality.

But we know what? The Razer Phone has dual-speakers (on a phone face) and Dolby software, too, and we were tender with a approach a audio swirls and swells to fill a room. Here was a estimable adversary.

Although a Razer Phone, a device by lifestyle gaming association Razer, is too niche to competition opposite Samsung, a world’s largest smartphone maker, in terms of perfect numbers of units sold, we still wanted to see that of these is a best phone for personification videos, music, games and calls aloud. In short, we wanted to see how sound Samsung’s Galaxy S9 orator explain unequivocally is.

We already knew from listening that a iPhone X and final year’s Galaxy S8 furnish tinnier, thinner sound than a Galaxy S9. What could we learn from a phone that common roughly accurately a same dual-speaker claims?

The winner: Turns out, it truly depends on a situation. The Galaxy S9 Plus pumped out a loudest audio, and took a esteem for fuller strain and richer vocals. But speakerphone calls were plainly bad, and videos, while good, unsuccessful to douse us.

Here’s what we schooled about a Galaxy S9 speakers, and how we tested them. Let a Galaxy S9 contra Razer Phone orator throwdown begin.

Note: Despite Dolby and Samsung’s suggestions, we can’t indeed get loyal approximate sound — infrequently called 360-degree sound — from twin speakers. Surround sound implies that there’s audio entrance during we from all sides, including behind you. However, a Dolby settings and twin speakers do raise a sound margin adequate to make a difference.

Music test: Galaxy S9 speakers are overwhelming for personification tunes

Winner: Galaxy S9, by a prolonged shot. Every singular one of a dozen songs we played sounded richer and deeper on Samsung’s handset than on a Razer Phone. The Galaxy S9 done us dance and daub a feet. The same strain on a Razer Phone had many agree vocals and music. That danceability: Gone.

Songs: We listened to tunes from scarcely any genre, including Top 40 throng pleasers, classical rock, hip hop, indie, instrumental, electronic/dance music, and… Appalachian folk classics, since because not?

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Music sounds rich, loud, and layered on a Galaxy S9.


Josh Miller/CNET

How we tested: First, we put both phones on Dolby’s “music” setting. Then, in a still discussion room, we played songs from Spotify and Audio Network, gripping an ear out for volume, regard and richness, abyss and layering.

We placed a Galaxy S9 Plus and a Razer Phone between us, got adult and paced a room, toggled audio between a devices, and listened to pivotal tools of a strain over again on both phones.

We started with both phones during limit volume, though mostly indispensable to dial down a Galaxy S9 Plus a notch. Samsung’s phone is louder, though tends to crush sound during a top volume level. However, in a large, open room, a volume boost done all a difference.

Video test: We’d rather watch cinema on a Razer Phone

Winner: Razer Phone. While a Galaxy S9’s higher audio operation done voices sound richer and some-more vibrant, usually a Razer Phone indeed pulled us into a scene.

What we watched: Sci-fi thriller Altered Carbon Season 1, Episode 2 from Netflix (at 26:00), and this video from CNET sister-site Roadshow and this video of stand-up comedian Jimmy O. Yang, both on YouTube.

How we tested: With Dolby Atmos on both phones set to Movie mode, we dismissed adult a Netflix and YouTube apps with a few informed videos. We hold a phones between us, one during a time, sloping them towards any of a faces in spin to get a full outcome of practical approximate sound.

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Videos played louder on a Galaxy S9 Plus, left, though were infrequently some-more immersive on a Razer Phone.


Josh Miller/CNET

First up: A quite trippy theatre from a Blade Runner-inspired Altered Carbon, where a protagonist visits a fearful lady trapped in practical reality. It’s a theatre filled with spacial audio cues (footsteps, raindrops plopping into puddles, a squeaking rodent and a banshee-like scream) and it’s one where Razer’s phone won by leaps and bounds.

With Razer, a sounds felt localized, like we could tell where they were entrance from. With a Galaxy S9, a tortured roar sounded a small some-more vibrant… though a rest of a theatre felt one-dimensional.  CNET’s hiss vid filled with cars and personalities was a transparent win for a Razer Phone, too — we could clearly hear a sweet, honeyed sound of engines over a credentials music. Not so many with a Galaxy.

But a Galaxy S9 Plus competence be a one if we mostly caring about a voices of your favorite celebs. In a shred with Silicon Valley star Jimmy O. Yang, a Galaxy S9 done his voice sound distant richer than a Razer Phone, regardless of that Dolby Atmos environment we used.

Games test: Razer Phone is a gamer’s phone

Winner: Razer Phone. Razer and Samsung traded blows in this category, with a Razer Phone charity improved 3D audio and a Galaxy S9 providing richer sound. But it’s harder to incidentally silence a Razer Phone’s speakers in landscape mode, that warranted it a win over Samsung.

What we played: Super Mario Run, Riptide GP: Renegade, PUBG Mobile

How we tested: Since a Galaxy S9 doesn’t have a “Game” audio mode, we left it set to “Auto” and picked a “Game” mode on a Razer Phone. Then, we played 3 renouned Android games: One 2D, one 3D single-player where sound is optional, and one 3D multiplayer diversion where sound is vicious to success.

To be honest, we didn’t notice any inestimable disproportion between a Razer Phone and Galaxy S9 in Super Mario Run. Mario jumps, breaks bricks and collects coins unequivocally likewise on these twin phones, and we didn’t cite one sound over a other (except that a Galaxy S9 was simply too shrill during full volume).

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You won’t incidentally cover adult a Razer Phone’s front-facing speakers while personification a game.


Josh Miller/CNET

Riptide GP: Renegade felt like a win for a Samsung Galaxy. The jet ski racing game’s pumping soundtrack was some-more enchanting on a Galaxy S9, and a striking H2O sounded some-more believable. But we did notice it was a small too easy to incidentally cover a phone’s right/bottom orator while “steering” a jetski with both hands.

And with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, a one diversion that really, truly requires we to hear where your enemies are entrance from in sequence to survive, a Razer Phone won, no contest. It was distant easier to place footsteps and sepulchral gunshots with a Razer Phone than Samsung’s Galaxy. They came by louder, too.

Hands-free call test: Use a Galaxy S9’s speakerphone usually when we must

Winner: Razer Phone. The Razer Phone muffled a exam caller’s voice, though differently kept him feeling “present” rather than 500 miles away. Audio boost done him positively shrill with a phone during full volume. The Galaxy S9 Plus done his voice clearer, during a cost of extensive sound on a line. Sound boost was uncomfortably shrill and amplified a problems.

How we tested: We used a accurate same T-Mobile SIM label to discharge issues of network interference, and asked a colleague on a other side of a building to call any phone, one during a time. We set Dolby Atmos to a Voice setting, though it didn’t make a disproportion even when we incited this environment off.

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We listened to a tourist review a news story, with a phones laid on a list between us, usually as we would for a discussion call. After a few minutes, we incited on sound boost, an on-screen control that uses program to artificially raise a call volume. It’s generally useful for shrill environments, like vocalization in a car, a mall, or from opposite your kitchen if you’re cooking while throwing up.

The Razer Phone was quieter than we’d design for a dual-speaker phone, though it was unequivocally clearly a improved listening experience. Audio sounded rather suppressed, like we were perplexing to douse a caller’s voice with a pillow, though a line remained clear.

While we got some-more outspoken abyss and clarity from a Galaxy S9, like that sham had been lifted, a exaggeration during a top volume settings done us wish to blemish a ears. And there was so many audio “garbage” popping, crackling and fizzing in a soundscape, it was infrequently tough to concentrate. Sound boost usually done those problems worse.

And a leader is…

You consider we’re going to contend Razer Phone, don’t you? But it isn’t that simple.

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The Galaxy S9’s audio is on a right track, though Samsung still has some-more to learn.


Josh Miller/CNET

What we detected is that this isn’t a standard throwdown, where a phone with a many “points” wins. In a sports analogy, this sound exam isn’t about how many points we put on a board, it’s about that phone produces a best sound when we need it — and those formula usually weren’t uniform.

It unequivocally depends on possibly you’re looking for cleaner voices and louder volume altogether (Galaxy S9) richer, some-more layered audio (Galaxy S9) or a wider, some-more immersive sound theatre with a rather agree tinge (Razer Phone). And possibly you’d rather have a span of front-facing speakers that aren’t easy to incidentally retard (Razer Phone) or a slimmer build though speakers projecting out on possibly side (Galaxy S9).

Even if we never see a Razer Phone in a wild, there are lessons here for Samsung. The initial is that good stereo speakers positively make a difference.

The second is that a Galaxy S9, that is a better-known phone of a twin by far, has a lot to learn from a Razer Phone when it comes to creation approximate sound not usually louder, though truly some-more immersive. We wish Samsung’s holding note.

Read: Best phones of 2018 (so far)

Read: Galaxy S9 highs and lows

Read: Razer Phone might spoil all other phones for you

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