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Xiaomi 12 Audio test

This device has been retested in the latest version of our protocol. Overall, sub-scores and attributes are up to date. For detailed information, check the What’s New article
OTHER AVAILABLE TESTS FOR THIS DEVICE

We put the Xiaomi 12 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.
In this review, we will break down how it fared in a variety of tests and several common use cases.

Overview

The Xiaomi 12’s audio was quite similar to the 12 Pro’s performance, even though the 12 has stereo speakers, compared with the 12 Pro’s four-speaker setup. When it came to volume, the Xiaomi 12 actually received a higher score than the Pro version. But the Pro did better in other key areas like playback dynamics. In playback, the Xiaomi 12 scored well in the gaming use case. Playback and recording showed good wideness and few artifacts. Both playback and recording lacked bass for a premium-segment device. But overall, the Xiaomi 12 remains a steady performer with no big flaws and some very good points for all types of playback and recording scenarios.


Key audio specifications include:

  • Stereo speakers: top left – bottom left
  • No jack audio output
  • Dolby Atmos, tuned by Harman Kardon

Scoring

Sub-scores and attributes included in the calculations of the global score.


Xiaomi 12
122
audio
120
playback
111

158

127

149

125

162

121

162

104

157

129
recording
122

147

132

146

136

157

103

170

118

145

137

166

Please be aware that beyond this point, we have not modified the initial test results. While data and products remain fully comparable, you might encounter mentions and references to the previous scores.

Playback

Pros

  • Pleasant tonal balance at maximum volume
  • Snappy attack and good punch across all volume steps
  • Good wideness
  • Mostly artifact-free

Cons

  • Tonal balance lacks bass and brilliance, resulting in a quite muffled overall sonority
  • First volume step is a bit too quiet

Recording

Pros

  • Very good Spatial performance, with especially good wideness in general and flawless localizability
  • Very good Dynamics performance, with good SNR and envelope rendition
  • Natural timbre overall, especially with recorder app
  • Pretty clean artifacts-wise, except for some clipping

Cons

  • Severe lack of bass and limited high-end extension
  • Lack of low-midrange and brightness
  • Less convincing timbre performance in high-SPL

Test summary

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.
(For more details about our Playback protocol, click here; for more details about our Recording protocol, click here.)

The following section gathers key elements of our exhaustive tests and analyses performed in DXOMARK laboratories. Detailed performance evaluations under the form of reports are available upon request. Do not hesitate to contact us.

Playback

120

Xiaomi 12

163

Black Shark 5 Pro
How Audio Playback score is composed

DXOMARK engineers test playback through the smartphone speakers, whose performance is evaluated in our labs and in real-life conditions, using default apps and settings.

The Xiaomi 12‘s timbre performance is very good, especially at high volume, even though tonal balance lacks some bass and treble, which puts the emphasis on the high-midrange and makes the inconsistency of the low-midrange obvious. That combination makes the Xiaomi 12 sound thin and muffled. But timbre is much more satisfying at maximum volume because of an added brightness, despite some occasional and slightly aggressive resonances in high-midrange. Still the overall lack of bass results in a thin tonal balance, which gets better as the volume increases. Dynamics performance is fine, even though attack is hindered by distortion. The Xiaomi 12’s bass precision and punch are quite good, regardless of the volume, despite the lack of bass and low-midrange energy.
In the spatial attribute, the device offered a decent localizability, except for classical music where pinpointing the specific instruments was blurry. Wideness was good and on par with Mi 11 series, but the audio did not rotate accordingly in inverted landscape, in both music and movie applications. Otherwise, the Xiaomi 12 offered a good balance, with a realistic rendition of distance and localizability of voices. The Xiaomi 12’s maximum volume step was satisfying, when compared with the intelligibility at the minimum volume step, which is subpar, and will probably affect the audio experience of broader dynamic range contents.
When it comes to artifacts, the Xiaomi 12 is nearly free of them, except for a bit of distortion. The device’s main drawback in this attribute is that it is easily occluded when held because of the speakers’ placement at the top left and bottom left of the device.

Listen to the tested smartphone’s playback performance in this comparison with some of its competitors:

Google Pixel 6
Xiaomi 11T
Xiaomi 12
Here is how the Xiaomi 12 performs in playback use cases compared to its competitors:
Playback use-cases scores


Timbre

111

Xiaomi 12

158

Black Shark 5 Pro

The Timbre score represents how well a phone reproduces sound across the audible tonal range and takes into account bass, midrange, treble, tonal balance, and volume dependency. It is the most important attribute for playback.

Music playback frequency response


Dynamics

127

Xiaomi 12

149

Black Shark 5 Pro

The Dynamics score measures the accuracy of changes in the energy level of sound sources, for example how precisely a bass note is reproduced or the impact sound from drums.


Spatial

125

Xiaomi 12

162

Black Shark 5 Pro

The sub-attributes for spatial tests include pinpointing a specific sound's location, its positional balance, distance, and wideness.


Volume

121

Xiaomi 12

162

Black Shark 5 Pro

The Volume score represents the overall loudness of a smartphone and how smoothly volume increases and decreases based on user input.

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
Xiaomi 12 73.6 dBA 69.7 dBA
Xiaomi 11T 71.3 dBA 68.6 dBA
Google Pixel 6 74.8 dBA 69.7 dBA
The following graph shows the gradual changes in volume going from minimum to maximum. We expect these changes to be consistent across the range, so that all volume steps correspond to users’ expectations:
Music volume consistency


Artifacts

104

Xiaomi 12

157

Asus ROG Phone 5

The Artifacts score measures the extent to which the sound is affected by various types of distortion. The higher the score, the less the disturbances in the sound are noticeable. Distortion can occur because of sound processing in the device and because of the quality of the speakers.


Recording

129

Xiaomi 12

157

Black Shark 5 Pro
How Audio Playback score is composed

DXOMARK engineers test recording by evaluating the recorded files on reference audio equipment. Those recordings are done in our labs and in real-life conditions, using default apps and settings.

The Xiaomi 12 showed its strength in recording, with a subscore that was slightly better than the 12 Pro’s. Timbre was highlighted with a very natural tonal balance in simulated use cases, but it was less so in an electronic concert, life and selfie videos. In the main video app, timbre was affected by dull treble and a very limited high-end extension, regardless of how the phone was held and of the SPL scenario. Timbre was much better when using the recorder app, but tonal balance was focused mostly on the midrange, depending on the content. Dynamics performance for a device in this segment was very good, with a full envelope and with very little compression and pumping getting in the way of the audio experience at a high SPL. Like most Xiaomi devices, spatial performance offers great wideness in life videos, with precise localizability and realistic distances in most use cases. Selfie videos, on the hand, have a bit more limited wideness and narrower stereo scene. The Xiaomi 12 delivers a particularly excellent performance in maximum loudness tests, where it showed nearly no distortion at high SPLs like electronic concerts. The Xiaomi 12 had a few noticeable artifacts such as slight pumping and clipping on loud outbursts. While the device does not occlude easily, fingers near or on the microphone do sound a bit loud on the recordings. Background noises, however, were not intrusive and were natural-sounding.

Here is how the Xiaomi 12 performs in recording use cases compared to its competitors:

Recording use-cases scores


Timbre

122

Xiaomi 12

147

Honor Magic3 Pro+

The Timbre score represents how well a phone captures sounds across the audible tonal range and takes into account bass, midrange, treble, and tonal balance. It is the most important attribute for recording.

Life video frequency response


Dynamics

132

Xiaomi 12

146

Black Shark 5 Pro

The Dynamics score measures the accuracy of changes in the energy level of sound sources, for example how precisely a voice's plosives (the p's, t's and k's, for example) are reproduced. The score also considers the Sound-to-Noise Ratio (SNR), for example how loud the main voice is compared to the background noise.


Spatial

136

Xiaomi 12

157

Asus ROG Phone 5

The sub-attributes for spatial tests include pinpointing a specific sound's location, its positional balance, distance, and wideness on the recorded audio files.


Volume

103

Xiaomi 12

170

Black Shark 5 Pro

The Volume score represents how loud audio is normalized on the recorded files and the how the device handles loud environments, such as electronic concerts, when recording.

Here are the sound levels recorded in the audio and video files, 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
Xiaomi 12 -28.8 LUFS -21.6 LUFS -19.9 LUFS -23.4 LUFS
Xiaomi 11T -26.8 LUFS -21.2 LUFS -19.5 LUFS -20.3 LUFS
Google Pixel 6 -27.8 LUFS -17.9 LUFS -16.3 LUFS -19.8 LUFS


Artifacts

118

Xiaomi 12

145

Black Shark 5 Pro

The Artifacts score measures the extent to which the recorded sounds are affected by various types of distortions. The higher the score, the less the disturbances in the sound are noticeable. Distortions can occur because of sound processing in the device and the quality of the microphones, as well as user handling, such as how the phone is held.

Listen for artifacts in this extract, which has been recorded in a busy home environment:


Background

137

Xiaomi 12

166

Black Shark 5 Pro

Background evaluates how natural the various sounds around a voice blend into the video recording file. For example, when recording a speech at an event, the background should not interfere with the main voice, yet it should provide some context of the surroundings.

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