July 10, 2012 at 5:59 pm

5 Apps To Improve Android’s Sound Quality

Smartphones are tricky things. They essentially cram an entire computer into a tiny chassis you can carry around in your pocket, which is pretty convenient. But for music fans, sound quality can suffer as manufacturers cut corners with the audio electronics in the interest of saving space and money.

On top of that, the Android operating system has been plagued by audio issues that can cause pops, clicks, delays, skipping and other issues. Google’s upcoming “Jellybean” update promises significant improvements to audio performance for Android, but not all Android handsets will be getting the jelly-beany goodness. Fortunately, you can improve the sound of any Android phone using apps that optimize or let you tweak your sound. (iPhone people can find their version here.)

First, it must be said that to get the best sounding audio out of your Android (or any other) device, the most important factor by far is the headphones or speakers you’re using. They make the biggest difference in sound quality, and the stock earbuds that come with gadgets tend to be fairly awful. However, if you’re happy with your headphones, the following apps can optimize the audio quality of your Android phone.

Note that Android devices with the “Froyo” OS (2.2) or older won’t let you edit the settings across the entire device, so if you have one of those, you’ll need to choose a music player with equalizer and/or sound optimizer built in. Let’s start with those.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/hugazo Hugazo Morales

    Cyanogenmod has a built-in eq who is very light doesn’t have a significant impact on the battery, you should look at that too.

  • Simon

    Equalizer’s do not improve sound quality! You were right to mention that buying headphones is the best bet, then improving the hardware that the sound runs through (obviously not an option), but you can buy external (small) amps that your headphones plug into which then in turn plugs into the phone. And finally, updating the quality of the audio files. I usually run with plain old mp3s with 320kbps, (yes for the audiophiles out there that defeats the purpose of having all that equipment) but there comes a point where for the large increase in file size vs quality is not that beneficial. Those options will ‘improve’ sound quality! But equalizers, they ‘alter’ sound quality, generally for the worse because it is not what the artist wanted the track to sound like, if they wanted more bass, they would of put it in. And Beats Audio, well…..that is ‘essentially’ the bass booster setting on your current audio player which, for the very low price, is FREE. I don’t disagree with you on the apps, PowerAmp is by far the best one out there with its customization and features. But they don’t per-se, ‘improve’ the quality of the audio

  • Jacob Santos

    these are all equalizers! I found something that works much better than an equalizer, replaces the android’s default audio mixer https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.noozxoidelabs.eizo.rewirepro&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsImNvbS5ub296eG9pZGVsYWJzLmVpem8ucmV3aXJlcHJvIl0.

  • Jacob Santos

    these are all equalizers! I found something that works much better than an equalizer, replaces the android’s default audio mixer https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.noozxoidelabs.eizo.rewirepro&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsImNvbS5ub296eG9pZGVsYWJzLmVpem8ucmV3aXJlcHJvIl0.

  • Dillon Khatri

    Good write up. Jukefox is the best player on the Android market right now. You might think these music player apps are all the same. They are not.The reason being some players can’t do lossless playback well, often lag – causing a decrease in audio quality and often don’t feature gapless playback. Jukefox on my phone the Google Samsung Nexus S with WM8449 DAC makes flac. recordings sound great.

    The DAC, how it is implemented, the player you are using, as well as the version of Android you are running make an impact on audio quality. That being said, make sure you have a Wolfson or Burr Brown DAC inside your smartphone if you want to use it for music. At the same time, use Jukefox and try to get a phone that has the latest version of Android.The reason being..Audio latency. The issue of audio latency is steadily being improved with newer versions of the Android operating system.

    Now is the audio quality on my phone as good as my reference grade CD player or my Hi-Fi set up? Not even close, but it is still ‘very good’ best way I can say it.

    Equalizers can make a headphone sound much better. Almost any Dynamic headphone – meaning one with a moving coil dome driver (the standard type) could benefit from an equalizer.

    Increase treble if your headphones sound lifeless. Add bass if they sound tinny. I could go on an on. Here is a basic breakdown of equalization:

    With sound, there are three things that need to be controlled: Frequency, loudness(how loud you perceive your music) and volume. If you are able to control these three components – you will achieve quality playback.

    Headphones…Are a whole other story. But always go for professional grade. Go check head fi.
    Not …celebrity endorsed garbage. Your ears will thank you. Good day.

  • Anonymous

    If you aren’t afraid to root your phone (or you’ve already done so), install the Beats Audio driver. I’ve thrown away a lot of money on headphones, expensive or cheap, and downloaded quite a few different music players, and none have had the impact that downloading that driver did. Sure, headphones do a lot to augment sound, but when those headphones crap out (my Bose IE2 have to be my favorites but they stopped working after exactly one year -_-) you’re stuck buying new ones.

    Download the driver…it’s free, and even $12 Skullcandy earbuds will sound a bit better. Tweak your music player choice, because they do sound different.THEN, look into headphones. You’ll waste a lot less money.

  • Dillon Khatri

    I actually post something useful…the beats audio driver is just OK. It can improve the sound quality marginally, but if your headphones are junk and your files are low quality, there is little to no hope. Bose IE2′s are awful lol. Your ears are severely inexperienced. Just because you’ve spent a fair bit of money on headphones, it does not warrant your recommendation to others about how they should listen to their music. It is about having the knowledge and being able to share that knowledge. Sure, I’ve owned over 100 headphones audiophile grade, mid-fi, lo-fi, IEMs(in ear monitors), so I know my stuff. As well, driver units in headphones are all different and are distinctly colored in many ways. That is why they ALL sound different. You need to hear a REAL headphone before you make any funny statements: “Tweak your music player choice, because they do sound different.THEN, look into headphones. You’ll waste a lot less money.” – The headphones you are using in any case are the first deciding factor of ‘audio quality’ With your advice, people will never get a chance to hear the beauty of a high-res recording of their choice through quality headphones. Read my previous comment.

  • John

    Common sense is something you people lack….

  • Bill Claff

    Some phones have an issue where they “think” a headset is plugged in, when it is not. This shuts off the speakers and sometimes shuts off the microphone.

    In that case, an app name SoundAbout will get the sound working again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ben.woodman.923 Ben Woodman

    So firstly, beats is garbage. The headphones, the drivers, its all filth. The quality of the cables that they use for their 300$ headphones is less than I can find in a store. So… unbelievably cheap. There is such better drivers out there that it blows my mind you’d recommend beats. And Bose is also garbage, yet not as bad. How do I know? Because past Bose products have died on me after a year too. My 30$ pair of Sennheisers have lasted five years. Since I got my Ipod 1st Gen.

  • Anonymous

    I will say this – I agree Beats is overhyped crap. I recommended that driver because it’s what I’ve used, simply hadn’t found any others, feel free to use what works best for you (I’m sure you can replace Beats with any other free driver out there and my main point still stands). As to Bose, they SOUND better, they are just too expensive to break as easily as they do (didn’t you read, I broke mine too). But I’d still gladly buy Bose for sound alone. And my main point was, there are other ways to optimize sound than just throwing your money away on headphones. I appreciate your concern over the Beats thing, but this wasn’t meant to be a pissing war over brands.
    ——– Original message ——–

  • http://www.facebook.com/ty.buchanan.75 Ty Buchanan

    There is a way around this. Get the MP3 in MP4 format if you can – this is better quality. Go to your PC HD music manager. Every PC should have one. On my Dell it happens to be Realtek. Choose the “Bathroom” Setting. I really improves base and harmony.
    Put a CD (you have borrowed from your local library) into the PC CD drive. Put the 3.5mm plug going into your small computer speakers base mixer into a laptop, or put a lead into the speaker socket in the back of the PC. Download the free Audio program. Click the start record button in Audacity. Then start playing the CD. If you want to listen, plug an earphone into the front of the PC. After you have recorded the whole CD, You can see where the tracks begin and end by the the straight lines in Audacity. Save them as individual files or use the whole CD recording as a playlist. Plug your Android into your PC and transfer the files across. Get one of those cheap plugin blox speakers on Ebay or use Earphones. The sound is Excellent.

  • Etrex

    Totally agree with this. The best pair of headphones i own is actually a cheap headset from Nokia wh-208 . Hate the fact that they are in ear, but for the price, they actually produce a wide frequency range, without losing clarity, and im someone obsessed with sound quality, but other than thise i cant find a decent pair that arent in ear, if you can find a pair that produces everything without spending 1600$ on a pair of audiotechincas you should post it. And beats are bullshit. They dont post their frequency range because its only from 20 Hz to 20khz which a dollar store frequency range.e

  • karlo gallo

    It’s been almost a year but I have to weigh in on this. Okay. The Beats mixer is glorified garbage, but there isn’t much out there besides Beats. But there actually is one, and thankfully it’s WAY better than Beats too: Noozxoide EIZO-Rewire pro. Music players…PowerAmp is great; I’ve used that for a year, and I still have it in my phone even if I’m using Neutron now. If you’re a bit brave you may also try out Neutron Music Player. It’s decidedly NOT user friendly. The devs say it’s meant for pros and not us of the general populace, whatever. People complain about its UI. You need to get used to it, big time. But in terms of sound quality it’s also very good even if you don’t use its equalizer. If you do use the equalizer, there’s loads of channels to allow you to customize the sound, although if you’re using EIZO, using the equalizer isn’t recommended. Neutron also allows you to use your phone’s folders as actual playlists. I use Neutron along with the EIZO app. Another great player is Noozy Music Player. The UI is minimalist, would remind you a lot of Zune. EIZO is built into it, but for further customization like enlarging the soundstage and setting the environment, you’d need the EIZO standalone too.

    Headsets and amps…the headset is usually the first that you buy of the two. More expensive and better specs on paper is usually better, but it really depends on your ears. It takes experience to listen to the sound off a brand new set of cans or IEMs and project what it will sound like after a 100-hour burn-in period, so for the inexperienced the bad news is that getting a sparkling brand new golden headphone from heaven by spilling all your blood in a complicated full moon ritual doesn’t really prove much – your new toy just won’t sound as nice after a few days. I usually recommend getting a pair of used ‘phones – used for six months or so, but with the shop warranty still active. That way, the ‘phones have been burned in well enough and the sound quality is more stable. You also get to test the unit itself instead of some test unit at the store, only to be sold a different unit in a box. As for amps, take the hype with a grain of salt. Amps are first of all amps, not equalizers or mixers. They make the sound louder, not necessarily better. Some have bass boost functions, which is nice if you don’t want your phone to do everything. Because amps are devices that run on electricity, operating them near your phone can generate interference (hiss, cracks) as you listen to your music. The best value for money are the Fiio branded ones. More expensive ones sound better, of course.

    Lastly, not all ‘phones work well with amps. Not that they’re defective; they just weren’t designed to be used with amps. I’m currently using Fiio E11, works well with my Pioneer HDJ-1000, my TDK mp100, and my surprisingly tough, bass-enhanced 3-year old China-made headset from the local store. (CD-R King for anyone in the Philippines.)

  • Quan Bui

    well, that’s certainly not fair to say. I’m an audiophile myself and I’ll admit Beats products are very overpriced. In terms of sound quality, Beats headphones are no better than $150 AudioTechnica headphones. The bass on Beats headphones are muddy/fake/damp, but very nice for the hip-hop genre (most likely what it’s used for anyway). People that KNOW good sound quality will NEVER buy a pair of Beats. Audiophiles are not what Beats is catered towards. Oh, and Sennheisers are top-notched… but you gotta understand that headphones have tiers, and those tiers are money-based.

  • Harshdeep singh

    Haven’t you got the ArmAmp player


    ou my freind are a dumbass

  • Mark Lynch

    Nice bit of writing. Learnt something there. Enzo and Noozy downloaded. Bring my bose mei2′s to life. Respect !

  • alex

    Love eizo too