LG says high-res audio phones will soon be standard

LG says it's a matter of time before high-resolution audio becomes standard on smartphones, as users seek an audio experience "to match the visual quality they've come to expect".

That's the verdict of Taylor Kim, Head of LG Electronics' Mobile Communication R&D team, speaking exclusively to whathifi.com in light of the launch of the LG G2, which was the first smartphone to offer high-res audio playback as standard.

Kim also talked about how the company tunes and tests the phone's audio quality, while confirming details on the DAC and headphone amp in the G2.

Talking about high-res audio, Kim said: "The availability and choice of hi-fi audio [high-res audio] clips is increasing, with various websites and music services now offering this file format.

"It is therefore only a matter of 'when' not 'if' customers will come to demand this rich user experience (to match the visual quality they have come to expect) as standard."

While knowledge of high-resolution audio is high amongst enthusiasts, the average punter is less likely to be up to speed or indeed particularly concerned, clearly LG hopes to change this.

And it's not the only company, with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 also launching with high-res audio (HRA) support, while Sony is also pushing the format with a whole range of high-res audio products, such as the new Walkman range.

HRA on mobiles brings with it other issues, however. The audio files are far larger in size, and so a standard 16 or 32GB smartphone capacity is going to quickly creek under the pressure of a library of high-res content.

LG is well aware of this, saying the company is "looking at various solutions, including increasing internal memory and offering accessories".

Sony clearly hopes the MP3 player could reemerge in popularity, with dedicated players such as the new Walkmans able to support a much larger storage capacity.

Of course support for HRA is no good if the device doesn't sound up to much. So how does LG decide what's good and bad sound?

LG says they use a "specialised audio monitoring device", which measure quantitative data, "as well as obtaining psychoacoustic findings from a group of experts who specialise in sensibility estimation".

Either way, it seems LG is convinced that high-res audio will be the sound of smartphones in the future...

MORE: High-resolution audio: everything you need to know

by Max Langridge

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Max is a staff writer for What Hi-Fi?'s sister site, TechRadar, in Australia. But being the wonderful English guy he is, he helps out with content across a number of Future sites, including What Hi-Fi?. It wouldn't be his first exposure to the world of all things hi-fi and home cinema, as his first role in technology journalism was with What Hi-Fi? in the UK. Clearly he pined to return after making the move to Australia and the team have welcomed him back with arms wide open.