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Lenovo Legion Phone 2 Pro Audio review: Excels at gaming

Reading Time: 10 min read
71
audio

Launched in April 2021, the Lenovo Legion Phone 2 Pro is designed for gamers. It comes with a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor and a large (5500 mAh) battery with fast charging, as well as a multi-cam setup with a 64 MP main camera. Let’s see if the audio performance is indeed fit for gaming!

Audio specifications include:

  • Two speakers (up front-firing and bottom front-firing)
  • Headphone jack output

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


Lenovo Legion Phone 2 Pro
71
audio
74
playback

62
recording

Playback

Pros

Cons

  • Dynamics are impaired by high volume playback
  • The stereo field doesn’t follow rotation in inverted landscape mode

Recording

Pros

Cons

  • Recordings are midrange-focused and slightly nasal
  • Loud sources generate noticeable distortion

Our Audio protocol placed the Lenovo Legion Phone 2 Pro well above the average, with an overall score of 71. The  score  places  Lenovo’s latest gaming phone on par with the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra.

In line with the brand’s claim, the Lenovo Legion Phone 2 Pro excels at gaming (audio-wise) thanks to substantial bass, good voice presence, impactful and sharp dynamics, and very good spatial attributes (wideness, localizability, balance, and distance). The phone also delivers a remarkable volume performance and does a good job of keeping sonic artifacts to a minimum. However, note that its audio limitations (lack of brightness, stereo scene not rotating accordingly in inverted landscape viewing, slight compression, and distortion at maximum volume) make it less suitable for playing music or watching movies.

The Lenovo Legion Phone 2 Pro is less skilled as a recording device, due to a midrange-focused tonal balance, the limited signal-to-noise ratio in noisy environments, average spatial characteristics, and a specific volume weakness. Those shortcomings prevent the phone from truly shining in any use case, despite its microphones’ directivity adaptation when filming selfie videos, good capture overall of the sound envelope, and valuable artifacts management.

Sub-scores explained

The DXOMARK Audio overall score of 71 for the Lenovo Legion Phone 2 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

Lenovo Legion Phone 2 Pro

68

82

Black Shark 4 Pro
Best: Black Shark 4 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 Lenovo Legion Phone 2 Pro delivers a very satisfying timbre rendition with appreciable low midrange warmth and substantial bass, although clarity and brightness are slightly lacking. Even though it could offer a deeper low-end extension, good bass strength makes this device stand out compared to other smartphones, with a hint of bass distortion enhancing the clarity of the lower spectrum, even at softer volumes. However, this added distortion becomes a bit overwhelming at maximum volume when listening to bass-heavy content.

Music playback frequency response

The low midrange is characterized by a nice warmth and roundness, providing power to instruments such as guitars and brass as well as carrying out voice presence. High midrange could benefit from greater clarity, and treble, albeit flat and natural, is a bit dull. It stays tame and doesn’t exhibit harshness at maximum volume, which is highly appreciable, but more brightness and air would be welcome, especially at lower volumes where intelligibility and clarity are needed.

Dynamics

Lenovo Legion Phone 2 Pro

76

81

Black Shark 4 Pro
Best: Black Shark 4 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 are a real strength of the Legion Phone 2’s. Attack restitution is sharp at nominal volume and particularly striking at softer volumes compared to most other devices. As volume increases, dynamic compression becomes noticeable, and transients get slightly attenuated. That said, attack manages to remain snappy.

Bass precision is very satisfying overall, with a fairly accurate envelope and proper sustain in the extreme low-end of the spectrum. The slight bass distortion previously mentioned brings good dynamic support while slightly impairing the attack, especially at maximum volume. Punch is very impactful across all volumes, backed by strong low midrange energy and low-end power.

Spatial

Lenovo Legion Phone 2 Pro

63

82

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

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

Playback spatial attributes are very good: the stereo scene is wide and immersive, localizability of the sound sources within the auditory field is precise, balance in landscape mode is nearly perfect, and distance rendering is realistic.

It is, however, important to note that the stereo scene doesn’t rotate according to the device’s orientation in inverted landscape viewing, resulting in a left-right inversion in both music and movie apps. Balance is also slightly skewed towards the bottom speaker in portrait mode, in other words, centered elements tend to be perceived a bit lower than they should.

Volume

Lenovo Legion Phone 2 Pro

79

Highest Score

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

In Playback Volume, the Legion Phone 2 Pro  racks up the best sub-score of all the phones we have tested to date, sharing first place with the Realme X2 Pro. Its speakers’ maximum volume is very satisfying, delivering good loudness and generally unaltered timbre and dynamics.

As shown in the graph above, volume steps are extremely consistent from softest to loudest, allowing the user to finely adjust the listening level. Minimum volume performance is also very good, with correct intelligibility and dynamics that generally stay punchy and snappy, even at low listening levels.

Hip-Hop Classical
Lenovo Legion Phone 2 Pro 78.1 dBA 72.2 dBA
Samsung Galaxy S21 5G (Snapdragon) 74.1 dBA 70.5 dBA
Lenovo Legion Phone Pro 72.2 dBA 71.2 dBA

Artifacts

Lenovo Legion Phone 2 Pro

89

96

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G
Best: Samsung Galaxy A52 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.

Management of artifacts is also a strong point for the Legion Phone 2 Pro. Other than the usual undesirable sonic consequences induced by synthetic signals, the phone’s speakers mostly stay clear of problems.

At high volume, dynamics — mainly attack — are slightly altered by compression, and timbre is affected by fairly discreet bass distortions. It should be noted that those artifacts are not too detrimental and will stay vastly unnoticed in a typical listening experience.

Recording

Timbre

Lenovo Legion Phone 2 Pro

70

88

Asus Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders
Best: Asus Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders (88)

As a recording device, the Lenovo Legion Phone 2 Pro delivers a rather midrange-focused tonal balance. The overall result sounds a bit thin when recording urban and home scenarios, and slightly nasal across all use cases, due to the lack of low-end extension and the occasional midrange resonances. Further, in loud environments, recordings can become quite boomy. On the other hand, in meetings-like situations, voices are very well captured: they sound natural, and generate no resonances.

Life video frequency response

In indoor scenarios, treble is clear and natural. It slightly lacks high-end extension and can sound ever so slightly nasal, but the voice remains plainly intelligible. Outdoors, the phone doesn’t perform quite as well, since treble and high-end extension are both noticeably lacking.

Dynamics

Lenovo Legion Phone 2 Pro

60

78

OnePlus 8
Best: OnePlus 8 (78)

The signal-to-noise ratio seems to strongly depend on the environment. In relatively quiet surroundings, such as selfie videos made at home, it fares well, whereas it tends to deteriorate in loud environments, such as an urban memo. On the other hand, envelope capture is good across all use cases, with well-defined dynamic elements.

Spatial

Lenovo Legion Phone 2 Pro

57

78

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

In the recording area, the Legion Phone 2 Pro’s spatial performance is only average. Localizability is decent in most use cases and slightly impaired by artifacts and phasing issues. The microphones prove capable of adapting their directivity when recording selfie videos and in meeting use cases — but not in life videos. Wideness and distance perception are average.

Volume

Lenovo Legion Phone 2 Pro

53

89

Xiaomi Mi 10S
Best: Xiaomi Mi 10S (89)

The Volume sub-score is hamstrung by the microphones’ behavior under loud recording conditions, in which recorded audio manifests very perceivable artifacts. Otherwise, loudness is great in life videos, memos, and meeting scenarios, and average in selfie videos. 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
Lenovo Legion Phone 2 Pro -22.7 LUFS -19.7 LUFS -18.5 LUFS -15.6 LUFS
Samsung Galaxy S21 5G (Snapdragon) -26.8 LUFS -19.6 LUFS -22.3 LUFS -22.3 LUFS
Lenovo Legion Phone Pro -29.5 LUFS -17.6 LUFS -16.1 LUFS -22.1 LUFS

Artifacts

Lenovo Legion Phone 2 Pro

72

90

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

The Legion Phone 2 Pro’s microphones do a fairly good job of controlling artifacts. That said, shouting voices can induce minor distortion and pumping, and slight clipping can be heard in urban scenarios when the surrounding’s loudness rises. In loud environments, a high-pitched ringing sound can be perceived, as well as sudden volume changes; those variations tend to disappear when switching from life to selfie videos. Slight hissing can be noticed in outdoor recordings, but never becomes prominent nor too distracting. You can check for artifacts yourself in this sample recording:

Background

Lenovo Legion Phone 2 Pro

36

58

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

The Lenovo Legion Phone 2 Pro manages to capture the background in a natural manner. As mentioned in the spatial section, a form of directivity adaptation seems to be implemented, as out-of-focus elements appear to be slightly attenuated.

No noticeable artifacts are noticeable in the background, except for a slight balance and volume change in selfie videos filmed indoor, which is probably due to the noise reduction process. Consistently with the overall frequency response, the background’s tonal balance is somewhat midrange-focused, lacking both high- and low-end extension. Still, it manages to remain relatively natural and free of unwanted resonances and artifacts.

Conclusion

In terms of audio, Lenovo’s Legion Pro line has made quite a leap forward since its first generation: from a score of 59 for its first iteration, the Legion Phone 2 Pro racked up a 71 on our Audio ranking scale. This score reflects the phone’s good playback performance, including excellent volume results, substantial bass, intelligible voices, impactful dynamics, and immersive spatial attributes, all of which make it highly suited for gaming. That said, the Phone 2 Pro is not particularly recommended for listening to music or watching movies, nor is it a skilled recording device.

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