LG V10 – How to turbo charge the Sabre Hi-Fi DAC sound quality

  

If you read my review of the LG V10, if not click HERE , you will have read that it has a Sabre 32bit Hi-Fi DAC. This means the V10 has a special high impedance mode for headphones from 50-300 ohms. 

With 50 ohm plus rated headphones, the V10 turns into a stunning digital audio player with lots of power and volume. It still sounds good in low impedance mode, but it’s worth triggering the high impedance mode to witness the difference. 

On XDA Developers somebody developed an app to trick the phone into the high impedance mode. I tried this app and it does t work. It also has other side effects reported by others. 

However, there is a much easier way to put the V10 into high impedance mode. This is achieved using an adapter. Being more precise you need a 10 cm 3.5mm Male to 3.5mm Female Auxiliary 4-Conductor TRRS Stereo Audio Extension Cable adapter as shown in the photo. You plug the adapter into the V10 first. This puts the V10 in AUX mode and switches the DAC to high impedance mode. Then plug your headphones into the adapter.  I would recommend dropping the volume right down to 15 out of 100 before you play any music as the potential volume in high impedance mode is massive. Just one small note is high impedance mode uses more battery. 

I bought a FosPower cable as shown above from Amazon. Including delivery it cost Β£4.99. Link below. As it came from the USA it did take a few weeks to arrive. 

FosPower cable for the LG V10 from Amazon UK

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37 thoughts on “LG V10 – How to turbo charge the Sabre Hi-Fi DAC sound quality

  1. Hi Gavin,
    Is it true that the DAC is only active in certain apps of the LG V10? Music player, etc? Is it active in Youtube too?

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    1. Guys all you need to do is unplug headphones then call your voicemail number or any number and then reconnect the headphones as the call is connecting this tricks the phone into selecting high impedance mode, no cable or special connector needed, enjoy

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  2. Hi Gavin, just got this phone mainly cos of the DAC. I used to have a Sony phone and I used an external Fiio e6 which gave amazing power and volume. I thought I’ll get the same result with the DAC and amplifier inbuilt in the V10, but I’m not, turning on the Hifi does not make a difference. I’m using Audio-Technica-ATH-M50X headphone with the V10. Is the problem that enough ohm?? I even thought maybe the mp3 files were of low quality so I downloaded FLAC hi-res files but still no difference with the Hifi DAC switched on. Do I have to buy new 50+ ohm headphones to take advantage of this feature, or will this Fos powercable make it work.Thanks in advance for your reply

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      1. I understand Gavin. But for some reason I dont think the Hifi mode is triggered even with the LG music app. When I press the Hifi button, the music does pause for a sec and then the sound ‘changes’ a bit, a bit clearer but volume is the same or maybe even a bit lower due to the cleaner sound. You did state in the article that high impedance is only activated with headphones with 50ohms or more. My headphones are only 35 ohms, maybe that why. Will try out this app to see if that works. I have also ordered the cable online. Thanks for your help

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  3. Same problem here, with the LG music player, trigerring the DAC does not make a difference (!!!!), same thing with the app, and i even tried with my HD 650 headphones with 300 ohms. the music pauses for a second but comes out the same loudness …

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      1. I have the european version, H960. Even tried a different V10 today in the shop – trigerring the DAC = no difference, not sure if it’s a problem in the batch but something’s up …

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      2. The Euro version doesn’t work with the free app. It does work if headphones are over 50 ohms or using an adapter cable that makes V10 think its in AUX mode. That method worked every time for me. Sometimes I had to toggle the switch a few times or reboot on the odd time.

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    1. I also have the European version H960 as Paulo Fernandes, ordered from Czech Republic. So the app didn’t work for me as well. I have ordered the FosPower cable you recommended from amazon, will wait for it to come. Hopefully that does the job. If it does not work, then maybe something wrong with the EU version, or I’ll have to ditch my 36ohm M50x, and shell out some money for 300 ohm headphones. Will let you know when the cable arrives if it does the trick

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  4. Now that Marshmallow is out for the LG V10 I hear that the restrictions on the DAC working on only certain apps such as Tidal plus the built in player have been lifted. Can anyone confirm that this is correct? Thanks Gavin for the cable tip.

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  5. Sorry but this seems counter intuitive to me as a audio technician. If you are trying to drive clean power into headphones you would want as low as possible output impedance to give you a good damping factor. By triggering the aux mode you are putting the output into a signal driving mode rather than power delivery mode which I would have thought would make it quieter.

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    1. I guess there are two different AMPs in this phone (there are also 2 DAC, one on the Qualcomm SOC), and the most potent one is only triggered with 50+ ohm headphones attached (or with a trick, using an adapter). For your information, there is a clearly higher sound quality in AUX or High Impedance mode, tested with 80Ohm Sennheiser HD-25 or Yamaha EPH-100 (IEM, I have to use an adapter).

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  6. I have been playing around with my v10 for a week since I got it. I think folks are missing the fact that there are 4 listening modes. 1. Normal, no DAC (turned off) 2. DAC on, low impedence, below 50 ohms, this does not enable the ESS Amp 3. DAC on, aux enabled, ESS Amp enabled 4. DAC on and impedance over 50 ohms, ESS Amp fully enabled.

    Scenario 4 is far and away the best high fidelity experience. I think I read that with the DAC on and aux identified the ESS amp does not use the full power. I have validated it with various headphones where the above 50 ohm headphones always sound best even using the aux cable to low impedance headphones.

    With an old pair of sennheiser pxc350 (350 ohm) the dac and amp are amazing. Better than my oppo-3 with aux cable. Who would have thought…

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    1. Where did you find those modes, mate? Just got my V10 and trying to figure out how to boost the volume of 35omh headphones?

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      1. I have the same issue to diagnose in what mode I am in.
        H960A model, with original 5.1 firmware for now. I clearly hear when I am in some high power mode (probably AUX when I use an adapter and some low ampedance IEM), I remember to see screenshots where there is an AUX icone shown in the settings, but I don’t find it on my device/firmware…
        Where do I have to look for, please ?
        Thanks

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      2. In your case, find an adapter (or an extension cable) to trigger at least the AUX mode. I use an extension cable provided with my IEM, and it works. You have to enable the Hifi DAC in the settings, then connect the extension cable alone (no headphones attached), that triggers the AUX mode, then you attach the headphones. You’ll hear at once a better and more powerfull sound with good quality, even low impedance, headphones.

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  7. Hii gavin am interested in getting the lg v10 but also have an eye on the htc 10 known as the gold standard in the audiophile world. What phone you advise me to choose i am not an expert but i like good quality sound loud and clear . I like harman kardon sound signature i have it in my cat it is good . Did you test the lg v10 with bluetooth in your car . Thx . And also wich headphones under 150$ should sound perfect with the lg v10 .thx .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The HTC 10 is very good and better for audio. The V10 camera is ahead of the HTC. Worth seeing what features you prefer on each. But for audio I loved the HTC. Bluetooth on the V10 worked fine in my car. For headphones which genres do you like and do you prefer in ears or on ear or over ear headphones ?

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  8. FosPower also offers a plug version of this product (http://amzn.to/2jcHjb7) – will that work?
    My V10 is on Marshmallow, and I hear a real difference with ‘HiFi’ mode on/off with my Custom Art Ei.XX (60ohm) CIEMs. Is there a visual mode indicator? How can I tell if I need the cheat cable?

    Thanks for the article!
    -G

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  9. After installing just now the DAC fix app, on a European 960, I am under the impression that it works because the max volume out of TIDAL/ROON is no equal to the built in media player (very loud at the max). Sound is true HiFi. I am using Focal Elear. Never had I such hifi on my ears as this combo of LG V10 and Focal. What a team!

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      1. Two steps forward, but now, one step back again: During the night, I “cleared all” apps in Android in order to check “default” battery drain per hour with low activity, which according to the app BatteryDrain is 7% doing nothing. (Need to work on that). The app that during the night consumed the most battery, is the HIFI Everywhere app. It used 25% of the battery. I should add that I used it a little before going to bed, don’t know how much, but as it seems, the app ITSELF (!) is using battery out of all proportions. In addition comes, I assume, the increased battery usage caused by enforcing usage of the HiFi DAC. This needs further investigation and I would salute that somebody else did the same test. This device is on Marshmallows 6.0 with all available updates installed. (It was purchased Saturday, the last unit in town. No wonder I am in a late arrival, since almost none of the magazine reviews in Norway contains any hint on the HiFi features. Except or one review. Amazing slipshod journalism. I would have purchased last year if I only knew)

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