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Honor Magic3 Pro+ Audio review: A top-spot performer

Reading Time: 10 min read
81
audio

The Pro+ model sits at the top of Honor’s 2021 flagship series, the Magic3 line.  It is the Shenzhen-based company’s latest crème de la crème smartphone, boasting a spec sheet loaded with premium features. The Magic3 Pro+ is equipped with the top-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 888+, a curved 6.76-inch OLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate, nanocrystal shield glass protection, and a beefy 4500mAh fast-charging battery.

Audio isn’t left behind: With its dual stereo speakers and a DTS:X Ultra algorithm, the Magic3 Pro+ promises to deliver an immersive playback experience. On the recording side of things, the phone is equipped with three microphones, and the ability to zoom in on target sounds.

We put the Honor Magic3 Pro+ through our rigorous DXOMARK Audio test suite to measure its performance both at recording sound using its built-in microphones, and at playing audio back through its speakers. We tested the Magic3 Pro+  with the firmware update [5.0.0.178(C00E176R4P12)] that Honor was preparing to publicly release on Dec. 31, 2021. In this review, we will break down how it fared in a variety of tests and several common use cases.

Key audio specifications include:

  • Two speakers
  • Three microphones
  • Audio Zoom
  • DTS:X Ultra sound technology
  • USB Type-C input for headphones (no 3.5mm jack)


About DXOMARK Audio tests: For scoring and analysis in our smartphone audio reviews, DXOMARK engineers perform a variety of objective tests and undertake more than 20 hours of perceptual evaluation under controlled lab conditions. This article highlights the most important results of our testing. Note that we evaluate both Playback and Recording using only the device’s built-in hardware and default apps.
(For more details about our Playback protocol, click here; for more details about our Recording protocol, click here.)


Test summary


Honor Magic3 Pro +
81
audio
80
playback

82
recording

Playback

Pros

Cons

Recording

Pros

  • Great recording performance overall
  • Very good tonal balance with great clarity, particularly remarkable in selfie videos
  • Realistic and accurate envelope, very intelligible voices
  • Impressive loudness and excellent maximum recording level without distortion

Cons

  • Occasional compression in life videos and electronic concerts
  • Limited high-end extension in life videos and electronic concerts
  • Tonal balance is a bit too thin in recordings made with the Recorder app, lacking low-end and low midrange.

With an overall score of 81, Honor’s latest flagship reaches first place, joining the Black Shark 4 Pro in the top spot. The natural timbre, sharp attack and precise bass of the  Magic3 Pro+, in addition to very good spatial and volume results, make it one of the best-suited playback companions whether it is for listening to music, watching movies, or playing games.

Besides tonal balance, the speakers’ slight lack of low midrange also affects punch, and localizability. At maximum volume, compression and distortion both become perceivable.

As a recording device, the Honor Magic3 Pro+ speeds up its run of excellence. It lands the top Recording score in our database, and edges out the previous leader, the Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders, by a single point. Our engineers were particularly impressed by the phone’s nominal loudness, and maximum level reachable without noticeable artifacts. This makes the Magic3 Pro+ the ideal candidate for recording in loud environments, such as concerts.

Adding to that excellent performance are the particularly homogeneous tonal balance, the accurate envelope, the great signal-to-noise ratio, the realistic, wide and precise audio scene, and the quasi-absence of sonic artifacts.

As for drawbacks, life videos (films made with the rear cameras in landscape mode) and high-SPL recordings exhibit occasional compression and could have benefitted from a better high-end extension. Also, note that audio captured with the recorder app lacks low-end and low midrange.

Sub-scores explained

The DXOMARK Audio overall score of 81 for the Honor Magic3 Pro + is derived from its Playback and Recording scores and their respective sub-scores. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at these audio quality sub-scores and explain what they mean for the user.

Playback

Timbre

Honor Magic3 Pro +

78

82

Black Shark 4S Pro
Best: Black Shark 4S Pro (82)

Timbre tests measure how well a phone reproduces sound across the audible tonal range and takes into account bass, midrange, treble, tonal balance, and volume dependency.

The Magic3 Pro+ speakers produce a natural, precise, and clear timbre. Treble and high-end extension are very satisfying, and midrange is mostly free of resonances. While bass is present enough, its strength is not on par with our top-scoring devices. Also, a bit more low-end and low midrange would have given more body and depth to the overall sound. Finally, at maximum volume, slight treble resonances can arise.

Music playback frequency response

The timbre performance remains very good overall, earning the phone a sub-score of 78, only four points down from the top-scorer in this category.

Dynamics

Honor Magic3 Pro +

78

81

Black Shark 4S Pro
Best: Black Shark 4S Pro (81)

DXOMARK’s dynamics tests measure how well a device reproduces the energy level of a sound source, and how precisely it reproduces bass frequencies.

Dynamics attributes are also very good. Across all use cases and regardless of the listening volume, attack is precise, with clear and well-defined transients, and bass is precise, despite the occasional lack of sustain induced by a limited low-end.

Punch is also well above average, however, recessed low midrange doesn’t allow the energy of impactful instruments, such as kicks or bass, to be fully reproduced. Additionally, at maximum volume, noticeable compression impairs the dynamics by crushing transients and squashing the overall sound envelope.

Spatial

Honor Magic3 Pro +

80

82

Black Shark 4S Pro
Best: Black Shark 4S Pro (82)

The sub-attributes for perceptual spatial tests include balance, distance, and wideness.

Spatial performance for the Honor Magic3 Pro+ is excellent, with great localizability of sound sources within the stereo field, accurate balance between the left and right channels, and very good wideness. Distance rendering is realistic, but would have been even more natural with a stronger low midrange.

Volume

Honor Magic3 Pro +

78

79

Black Shark 4S Pro
Best: Black Shark 4S Pro (79)

Volume tests measure both the overall loudness a device is able to reproduce and how smoothly volume increases and decreases based on user input.

At 80, the Magic3 Pro+ is only one point down from the (three!) top-scoring phones in this category. This is thanks to a very consistent and natural distribution of volume steps (as shown in the graph above), and a more than satisfying loudness at maximum volume. Here are a few sound pressure levels (SPL) measured when playing our sample recordings of hip-hop and classical music at maximum volume:

Hip-Hop Classical
Honor Magic3 Pro + 75.2 dBA 72.8 dBA
Black Shark 4 Pro 74.5 dBA 69.5 dBA
Xiaomi Mi 10S 74.7 dBA 72 dBA

While minimum volume is perceptually well tuned (dynamic content remain fully intelligible), it is objectively a bit too loud.

Artifacts

Honor Magic3 Pro +

87

96

Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G
Best: Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G (96)

Artifacts tests measure how much source audio is distorted when played back through a device’s speakers. Distortion can occur both because of sound processing in the device and because of the quality of the speakers.

Unlike all other categories in playback, the artifacts sub-score is only average. While there are almost none at nominal volume, slight treble resonances, bass distortion, and strong compression appear at maximum volume.

Recording

Timbre

Honor Magic3 Pro +

91

Highest Score

In recording timbre, the Honor Magic3 Pro+ earns the best sub-score in our database thanks to a highly homogeneous tonal balance across all use cases — particularly remarkable in selfie videos. High midrange and lower treble is clear, which brings out the vocal contents.

Life video frequency response

But reaching the best sub-score doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement! Life videos could indeed do with a little more presence above 10 kHz, whereas memos slightly lack bass and low midrange. On another note, high- and low-end extension are limited in high-SPL recordings, which otherwise ensure great high midrange and treble clarity. This results in a lack of brightness and depth inducing a rather midrange-focused sonority.

Dynamics

Honor Magic3 Pro +

75

78

OnePlus 8
Best: OnePlus 8 (78)

Dynamics in recorded audio are very satisfying. Despite slight compression, the Magic3 Pro+ exhibits an overall accurate envelope, snappy attack, and a very good signal-to-noise ratio in all use cases. On top of that, it performs exceptionally well when recording in loud environments.

Spatial

Honor Magic3 Pro +

76

78

Black Shark 4S Pro
Best: Black Shark 4S Pro (78)

The Magic3 Pro+ turns in a very good spatial performance, once again a few points down from the title-holders in this category, namely the Black Shark 4 Pro and the Asus ROG Phone 5. Thanks to the natural and consistent midrange, distance capture is perfectly accurate, regardless of the scenario. Additionally, all types of recordings exhibit a wide and precise audio scene.

Volume

Honor Magic3 Pro +

94

Highest Score

The Magic3 Pro+ lands the top volume sub-score in recording, outperforming the Xiaomi Mi 10S by five points. Recordings exhibit great nominal loudness in every situation. Here are our test results, measured in LUFS (Loudness Unit Full Scale); as a reference, we expect loudness levels to be above -24 LUFS for recorded content:

Meeting Life Video Selfie Video Memo
Honor Magic3 Pro + -19.8 LUFS -16.9 LUFS -16.7 LUFS -17.9 LUFS
Black Shark 4 Pro -27.6 LUFS -20.8 LUFS -18.8 LUFS -20.8 LUFS
Xiaomi Mi 10S -23.6 LUFS -17.7 LUFS -16.4 LUFS -17.4 LUFS

Further, the phone is able to reach an outstanding level before starting to exhibit noticeable distortion, which makes it the best choice for recording concerts of all the phones we’ve tested to date.

Artifacts

Honor Magic3 Pro +

89

90

Asus Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders
Best: Asus Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders (90)

For recording artifacts too, the Magic3 Pro+ ranks among the best devices in our database, just one point down from the Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders. Recordings are generally void of sonic artifacts, whether temporal or spectral, except for some compression when recording in loud environments and occasionally on loud noises. You can check for artifacts yourself in this sample recording:

Background

Honor Magic3 Pro +

52

58

Apple iPhone XS Max
Best: Apple iPhone XS Max (58)

Expectedly, backgrounds recorded with the Magic3 Pro+’ microphones exhibit a clear and natural tonal balance, and very few artifacts.

Conclusion

The Magic3 Pro+ delivers an excellent audio experience overall, forcing the Black Shark 4 Pro to share its top-score crown. While playback is slightly impaired by minor flaws, the phone remains very well-suited for listening to music, watching movies, and playing games. As for recording, Honor’s latest top-end model earns the best score of all the phones we have tested to date thanks to a stellar performance across all use cases, from recording memos all the way up to recording loud concerts!

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