Topic: Switch Audio Quality Discussion Thread

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I could not find much information about the sound quality and supported formats of the Nintendo Switch so I though it would be great to gather some experience to objectively rate the sound quality of this device.

Now this should not be a big concern for most. The Switch does not even support media playback (until homebrew arrives), so file format support is out of the question for now. But it would be interesting to know what DAC chip and opamp Nintendo uses. Is it capable of playing 24bit audio? What is the sample frequency limited to? 44.1kHz, 48 kHz or 192kHz?

Does the Switch support surround sound? Portable devices obviously stick to stereo because they are best used with headphones. But the Switch wants to be docked. It could forward multi-channel audio via HDMI to a surround receiver.

What is the headphone audio output like? What is the output impedance (can it be used with sensitive multi-driver in-ear monitors)? Does it have audible hiss with sensitive earphones? Objective measurements with RightMark Audio Analyzer (RMAA) would be helpful, but for that test the Switch would have to play a 24bit-48kHz audio file which is not possible by default.

This discussion and later findings are of audiophile interest. I know that 95% won't even care and say "this sounds great with my 30$ earphones." In that case, this thread is not for you.

I won't receive my Switch unit before late April, so I have little to contribute at this point. But it would be interesting to have some of these questions answered already.


Gameplay matters.


Small update:

It seems people have already researched the possibility of using an external DAC for the Switch. In portable mode, there is no such solution. Many devices support USB-OTG to digitally forward the audio information. The Switch does not support this, so the only output is analogue. You can, however, use an analogue amplifier via the headphone jack.
(Audiophile remark: This is not recommended because you amplify the source twice which creates more distortion. This should only be done if the volume is not sufficient.)

The dock sadly does not have a digital output (optical or coax) for a hifi DAC. One could use an HDMI-splitter if the TV does not support pass-through, though.

Gameplay matters.


Another small update:

the Switch will output 5.1 surround sound over HDMI via the dock

It would be interesting to know if games have both 5.1 and 2.0 PCM audio tracks or if they only have 5.1 and the Switch internally downsamples to stereo when undocked.

Gameplay matters.


Switchcraft wrote:

Does it have audible hiss with sensitive earphones?

Unfortunately, yes. I have replaced mine because of this hiss. It was very much pronounced during loading screens and quiet moments in Zelda - I would say game-breaking. It was about the same level on my in ear hp and over the ear hp, so even on non-sensitive ones. It was both in dock and handheld mode. New Switch suffers from hiss only when docked so it doesn't bother me since I use HDMI output then. I would say I expected this somehow when I saw on first teardowns that they didn't put much effort in shielding jack output unfortunately.. I could bet that every unit will suffer from this to some extent. I've seen a lot of reports about this issue, some only when docked and some both docked and handheld. And let's not forget that most of the people doesn't hear static noises..

Edited on by Monry



So I finally have the Switch. I haven't bothered about sound quality too much yet. I will try more sensitive IEMs soon. For now I am only using the Oppo PM-3 via headphone out.

I have pre-ordered the iFi IEMatch, a small dongle and analogue dampener that reduces hiss and increases compatibility for sensitive earphones. Unfortunately, it also lowers the volume and the Switch does not have a high output to begin with. Actually, I find the dynamics very compressed but I can't make a proper comparison at this point.

Gameplay matters.


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