Realme X2 Pro Audio review

Reading Time: 10 min read
58
audio

Announced last fall, the Realme X2 Pro smartphone packs a lot of hardware into a budget-friendly offering. Its Super AMOLED display and Snapdragon 855+ SoC are premium features for a phone in its category. There are even some impressive audio specs, such as Dolby Atmos certified speakers and dedicated amplifiers for each speaker.

We put the Realme X2 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 built-in speakers. In this review, we’ll break down how it fared in a variety of tests and in several common use cases.

Audio specifications include:

  • Dual Dolby Atmos certified speakers with dedicated amplifiers
  • Headphone 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

58
audio
59
playback
55
recording

The X2 Pro performed reasonably well for a value-priced phone in our audio tests, with its DXOMARK Audio Overall score of 58 putting it handily ahead of the two phones we compared it with, the Honor 20 Pro and the Sony Xperia 1. As you’d expect, though, it isn’t on the same level as such flagship offerings as the Samsung Galaxy S10+ and the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro.

For playback, the X2 Pro achieved a reasonably good score of 59. Highlights of its performance include clear reproduction of mid-range tones, along with precise treble and bass. However, bass tones, while precise, are lacking in volume. Its sound stage is also not as wide as those found on many other multi-speaker phones. In our listening test cases, we found the X2 Pro relatively better for playing games than for listening to music.

Gaming on the Realme X2 Pro

Recording audio using the X2 Pro is a mixed bag. Its overall Recording score of 55 isn’t great for a mid-range phone, and is well below the Honor 20 Pro and higher-priced flagships like the Galaxy S10+ and Huawei Mate 30 Pro. However, recordings do have fairly good tonal balance, putting the X2 Pro ahead of the Honor 20 Pro in that category. The sound dynamics of recordings are also quite good.

Accuracy of reproducing sound source locations is also hit or miss. Listeners were able to do a good job of pinpointing the direction of sounds, but the X2 Pro pans recordings to the right—meaning that the right channel is louder than the left channel—which impacts how the listener perceives the direction of audio sources on playback.

Sub-scores explained

The DXOMARK Audio overall score of 58 for the Realme X2 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

Realme X2 Pro

57

78

Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro

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

The X2 Pro does a reasonable but not great job of preserving the tonal range of audio sources. Its performance in this area is slightly better when watching movies than when listening to music. Overall, the speakers emit bright sound with clear mid-range and precise treble. But one issue is a relative lack of bass, which creates a tonal imbalance.

You can see in the chart below that the X2 Pro does a job with very similar quality to that of the Honor 20 Pro when it comes to accurately preserving tones, but a lack of bass compared to the Honor 20 Pro and to higher-end phones like the Galaxy S10+ impacts its Playback Timbre sub-score:

Music playback frequency response

Dynamics

Realme X2 Pro

57

75

Huawei Mate 20 X

Our Dynamics tests measure how well a device reproduces the energy level of a sound source.

The X2 Pro does a decent job of preserving sound dynamics. Attack in particular is quite precise, especially when watching movies or playing games. It also does a better job than other similar phones in accurately rendering bass tones at high volumes. However, that plus is offset by an overall lack of bass, which impacts the punch of audio played through the phone’s speakers. Its resulting Dynamics sub-score of 57 is a point below the Honor 20 and four points below the S10+.

Spatial

Realme X2 Pro

45

77

Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro

The X2 has below-average spatial rendering of sound sources, particularly when listening to movies or music. It’s much better when gaming. The primary reason for this is a very narrow sound stage and resulting lack of wideness. The apparent location and distance of sound sources is also not very precise. As with some other phones, the stereo channels are reversed when playing music in the phone’s music app while holding it in inverted landscape orientation (that is, with the bottom of the phone on the left).

Having two speakers does put it solidly ahead of single-speaker phones like the Honor 20 Pro, but even so, its performance is below a lot of flagship phones like the S10+.

Poor spatial wideness

Volume

Realme X2 Pro

79

Highest Score

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

Playback volume is one of the strongest aspects of audio on the X2 Pro. Its playback Volume sub-score of 79 is the highest of any device we have tested so far, and it is the first Android phone to top the 77 earned by Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro Max. Even at minimum volumes, content is intelligible, but not too loud. Volume linearity is reasonably good, although the top two volume steps are essentially identical. Maximum volume is good, but could be a little louder.

You can see how the volume increases are reasonably consistent as you change the volume settings (except for the top two steps):

These volume levels are really impressive for smartphone speakers, and should suit those looking for loud sound:

Hip-Hop Classical
82.8 dBA 77.4 dBA

Artifacts

Realme X2 Pro

83

89

Nubia Red Magic 3S

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

Sound from the X2 Pro’s speakers is relatively clean, with few artifacts overall. Impressively, its speakers are hard to occlude, even when gaming, though there is some spectral  at high volume, especially when gaming. High volumes also bring with them excessive resonances at upper-mid-range frequencies.

Recording

Timbre

Realme X2 Pro

66

82

Huawei Mate 30 Pro 5G

The X2 Pro is quite average when it comes to its accuracy in recording across the tonal range. One major issue is a lack of bass, which is particularly apparent in our Electronic Concert recording test. Video, meeting, and memo recordings also have the unpleasant effect of sounding a bit like they were recorded in a can.

You can see the X2 Pro’s lack of bass and the artificially loud upper-mid-range tones in this chart of microphone tonal response that includes results for our comparison phones, the Honor 20 Pro and Galaxy S10+:

Life video frequency response

Dynamics

Realme X2 Pro

61

68

Samsung Galaxy S10+

Recordings made with the X2 Pro result in acceptable but not exceptional sound dynamics. Voice recordings feature precise plosives, which is a strong point. However, resonances at high frequencies detract from overall sound quality.

Spatial

Realme X2 Pro

55

70

Huawei Mate 30 Pro 5G

While the X2 Pro does a decent job of spatial rendering of sound sources, it has some flaws, including the fact that voices sound somewhat distant in our meeting use case. It also has an odd quirk of making recordings sound as if they are coming from the right, which impairs a listener’s ability to isolate the direction of sound sources, and hurts the wideness of the sound stage.

Here you can listen for yourself to the way recordings are shifted to the right by listening to one of our sample sound scenes recorded with the X2 Pro:

Despite its issues, the X2 Pro’s Recording Spatial sub-score of 55 is slightly ahead of the flagship Galaxy S10+ and only a little behind the Honor 20 Pro.

Recording video with the X2 Pro

Volume

Realme X2 Pro

54

88

Huawei Mate 30 Pro 5G

As with most of its recording attributes, the X2 Pro does an average job of reproducing the volume of sound sources. When recording meetings, users can enable a specialized Meeting mode that further accentuates voices, but the same feature unfortunately narrows the tonal range and thus produces a less-natural-sounding tonal response. As a result, the X2 Pro’s Recording Volume sub-score of 54 is at the lower end of devices we’ve tested.

The table below shows that overall loudness levels of recordings made with the X2 Pro are definitely within acceptable ranges, although towards the low end:

Meeting Life Video Selfie Video Memo
-28.2 LUFS -23.4 LUFS -22.1 LUFS -23.8 LUFS

Artifacts

Realme X2 Pro

46

82

Asus ROG Phone II

X2 Pro recordings unfortunately suffer from an abundance of artifacts. For example, there is audible clipping, hissing, and volume pumping in our Electronic Concert use case. Voices are distorted when recording video with the main camera, but recordings made with the front camera have their own issues, as microphone occlusion is a major issue.

Background

Realme X2 Pro

29

58

Apple iPhone XS Max

As with the primary audio sources, the overall sound scene is panned to the right when recorded with the X2 Pro, which makes the background sound unrealistic, and helps drive the phone’s relatively poor performance in this area (and its corresponding low Recording Background sub-score of 29). Backgrounds also lack bass and suffer from high- and mid-range resonances that result in artificial and overly bright sounds that listeners likened to hearing audio recorded in a can.

Conclusion

For an inexpensive phone, the Realme X2 Pro does a good job of playing back and recording audio. No one will confuse its performance with that of a media powerhouse or flagship phone, except for its exceptional ability to play audio over its speakers at very high volumes with limited distortion.

The odd panning effect when recording means that anyone who needs to make accurate recordings should probably use a different device, but if you can live with that, it does a serviceable job of recording audio.

Playback

Pros

  • Decent overall performance for playback
  • Clear mid-range and precise treble
  • Great volume performance
  • Good bass precision at maximum volume
  • Performance is particularly good in our Gaming use case

Cons

  • The overall lack of bass impairs tonal balance and punch
  • Spatial rendering is lowered by limited wideness
  • Aggressive high- and mid-range resonances at maximum volume

Recording

Pros

  • Decent overall recording performance
  • Precise plosives help provide accurate sound envelopes
  • Good localizability, thanks to good mid-range reproduction

Cons

  • Audio scenes are almost always panned to the right, impairing Directivity and Wideness
  • Obvious lack of bass, especially in our Electronic Concert recording test
  • High-frequency resonances make the background sound canny and unrealistic
  • Noticeable artifacts, such as distortion, clipping, and pumping in loud recordings

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