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Best low-cost used smartphone for Qobuz streaming?

ronniebear

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On a free trial month, I'm coming to love Qobuz. Being unsure how to ultimately get a high-quality dedicated DAC, and not wanting to use my current Motorola smartphone, I've used my old Samsung Galaxy 5 to run the Qobuz app.

However, I have two concerns about the 7-year-old Galaxy 5 compared with my newer phone and compared with my connected CD player:

1. The headphone output level to my amplifier is somewhat weak. I have to turn up the gain all the way on my amp and on the Samsung. Sometimes the Samsung's headphone-volume system sends a warning about hearing loss risk from loud listening, and then lowers the output volume by about 20%. I'd like a smartphone with higher headphone output, and possibly a higher-performance DAC.

2. The Qobuz app seems to move between functions quite slowly (compared with using the app on my bedroom Lenovo desktop PC). At times it really gets sluggish. It does run much better on my currently-in-use Motorola but I'd like to keep it for calls, texting, e-mail and occasional web surfing.

My objective is to keep the smartphone permanently connected to my amp. I saw amir has tested some of the LG smartphones from four years ago and obtained impressive performance numbers, but I'm not sure where to buy one at a reasonable price. Are there other smartphones -- with the dedicated headphone output and lots of juice to drive the headphone output -- which you recommend, which perform well and are plentiful/cheap on the used market? Thank you.
 

Dilliw

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LG G7 works great as a media device as it has an 3.5mm out and can take a 512mb ssd for storage. I ran Musicolet for a player on mine. If you can find one of the quad dac versions its a bonus, but my U.S. spec'd phone was great too. Looks like they are $40-$80 on Ebay now.
 

JLGF1

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You could spend $100 or less on an external DAC and be better off than headphones output, ime.
 

LuvTheMusic

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This doesn't answer your original question directly, but I agree with @JLGF1 : you may well find it more convenient, and maybe get better sound, by investing in a streaming device/DAC and use the phone only to control the setup.

I use a Bluesound Node (used ones are fine and fairly cheap) connected to an external DAC. You also can use the built in DAC in the Node and skip the external DAC for now. (Yeah, Amir's review says that the internal DAC is mediocre, but it likely isn't any worse than the one in the phone you currently use.) Others have reported good results with the WiiM, which is cheaper (new) than the Node. If you are into a more "do it yourself" approach, many people on ASR have used a Raspberry Pi with appropriate software. And there likely are a few other choices out there, lots of threads on this topic in the forums.

The common idea with any of these solutions is that the streaming and audio processing all are done by the streamer/DAC, which sits on the shelf as a "permanent" part of your audio system. The phone's only role is to control the streamer -- but the phone still runs the Qobuz interface, it's just telling the streamer what to play instead of playing it directly. And best of all, no wires! (Your phone talks to the streamer via WiFi.) Because the phone is just a controler, it can be a really crappy phone, as one look at my system would tell you..... Or you can use a tablet or laptop or whatever.

Good luck!
 

BeerBear

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Sometimes the Samsung's headphone-volume system sends a warning about hearing loss risk from loud listening, and then lowers the output volume by about 20%.
That's a feature/limitation of every phone sold in the EU (and maybe some other places like Canada). You can't disable it without rooting.
So you can either deal with it occasionally, or run the phone permanently at like 2/3 volume.
Or buy the phone from another country, where they don't have such restrictions.

If you use a USB soundcard, like that $9 Apple dongle, you can get higher volume. But I don't know if that higher volume works with Qobuz too, because it usually requires some special app.

Then you need to consider the battery being plugged in all the time.

For these reasons, I find smartphones to be less than ideal media players.
It might be better to buy some stationary (Android) device instead. I saw some cheap ones from China...
 

m0nsieur

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I have an old LG with quad DAC and it sounds fantastic on my system. I turn the phone's volume all the way up, or close to it, and acknowledge the warning that my ears will bleed. I also have a DIY Raspberry Pi powered streamer (plus music storage) with Apple USB-C dongle and the Apple is definitely quieter. It still sounds good to me though. I just turn the volume up higher.
 

Chrispy

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TLDR but do they have a connect-type use yet ?
 

Joe Smith

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Use a WiiM Mini (as low as $65 refurbished) and stream wirelessly from your router, using your current phone strictly as a controller...that's my cheap and easy method.
 

kemmler3D

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Use a WiiM Mini (as low as $65 refurbished) and stream wirelessly from your router, using your current phone strictly as a controller...that's my cheap and easy method.
Yeah, that or a cheap Lenovo tablet (M9?) plus a dongle dac would be a cheaper, better alternative to a random phone and 3.5mm jack.

Keep an eye on eBay, they periodically restock the refurbs. I got a whole mess of them when they were $59+S&H.
 

RosalieTheDog

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You could spend $100 or less on an external DAC and be better off than headphones output, ime.
I agree with this suggestion. A Wiim device (their more expensive offerings have better DACs but the Wiim mini is adequate) is by far the best value proposition for Qobuz streaming. Apart from output level issues, you also avoid Android resampling chennanigans (bit-perfect output) and have a much better usability overall (use your phone as a remote for playback).

For the Wiim mini you need to use the Wiim hope app on your phone to stream Qobuz. The more expensive ofderings offer Chromecast support too (a second hand Chromecast audio would also be an excellent idea!), which allows you to browse and cast music from inside the Qobuz app.
 
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