Wolfson launches hi-res chip to meet "growing trend for quality mobile audio"

Wolfson Microelectronics has announced details of the "ground-breaking" WM5102S, which it says will let you experience 24-bit, 192kHz high-resolution audio on your mobile device.

The new chip is part of the company's Audio Hub portfolio and brings "Master Hi-Fi" playback – we presume that's a reference to Studio Master files – to smartphones and tablets.

It's not the first chip to do this, the LG G2 and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 both support high-res music, but Wolfson says the new chip comes in response to growing consumer demand.

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Wolfson principal product line manager Tim Page said: "We are seeing very significant growth in end-user demand for premium quality mobile audio, which is now seen as a key device differentiator.

"With Studio Master quality recordings increasingly being made available for download onto mobile devices, consumers understandably want to experience these recordings on their mobile devices at the same quality that they would enjoy on premium home audio systems."

MORE: Wolfson plans hi-res audio for smartphones

Features of the WM5102S include a 120dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), while Wolfson's Master Hi-Fi filters are integrated into the chip and are optimised for playback of 24-bit recordings.

Those filters also draw on the 'unique' sonic quality of the ultra-high performance WM8741 DAC to enable high-fidelity playback at a fraction of the power consumption, cost and size of systems designed for high-end home audio.

Last year, the LG G2 became the first smartphone to support 24-bit/192kHz hi-res music, including the Wolfson W5110 DAC as part of its specifications.

The iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S5 are expected to be launched later this year (later this month in the case of the Galaxy S5), while a whole host of new phones and tablets will be launched at MWC 2014 at the end of February. Could high-res audio become a standard feature on mobile devices? We shall see.

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by Pete Hayman

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Pete was content editor on What Hi-Fi?, overseeing production and publication of digital content. In creating and curating feature articles for web and print consumption, he provided digital and editorial expertise and support to help reposition What Hi-Fi? as a ‘digital-first’ title; reflecting the contemporary media trends. He is now a senior content strategist.