Mobile phones have been the main device with which we listen to music on a daily basis for a decade, since they allow us to listen to songs through their speakers , wired headphones , or Bluetooth headphones . However, it is possible that you are not getting the most out of your headphones, and we are going to tell you some tricks to get the most out of them regardless of the device you use them on.
There is a reality that we have to face, and that is that wired headphones sound better than Bluetooth headphones. The sound over Bluetooth is more compressed, and despite the fact that new and better codecs have been launched in recent years, the cable is still better, whether in a mobile with a jack or with USB C that allows audio to be output. In the latter case, the DAC can be in the USB to jack converter, or inside the mobile itself, which is where most terminals currently include it.
How to improve the sound with headphones on your mobile
As we said, on the mobile we have several ways to improve the sound depending on the headphones we use. Bluetooth headphones have a little extra trick over wired ones, so we’re going to list the improvements that work for both types of connectivity.
YouTube, Spotify and Streaming music apps
If you listen to music streaming, you probably use platforms like YouTube, YouTube Music, Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Amazon Music, or Tidal . Each platform offers different bit rates depending on the type of subscription. Therefore, a basic setting that we have to look at on these platforms is the bitrate that we are listening to, since this determines the compression of the sound we receive.
Most of these platforms use the AAC format , and not MP3, since AAC offers better compression with less loss, and also allows you to adjust the bitrate in real time depending on the quality of the connection. Assuming a stable connection, Spotify offers a 160 Kbps bitrate in its free version, going up to 320 Kbps if you are Premium.
YouTube, for its part, limits its videos and music to 128 Kbps, and only leaves the sound at 320 Kbps to paid users, like Deezer. Apple Music offers 256 Kbps, and platforms like Tidal offer the best quality with sound even in FLAC format with lossless compression reaching figures of up to 1,411 Kbps .
By default, applications determine what quality of sound to put on the content we play, we can go to the settings and change the quality. In Spotify we can choose the quality depending on whether we are on a mobile network, WiFi or the music we download to listen without connection.
Local players and equalizer
If you are someone who prefers to have your music library, either in MP3, AAC or FLAC format , then you will probably be quite careful when downloading the songs. There are a multitude of mobile players, and most offer a built-in equalizer.
This equalizer allows us to adjust each type of frequency to our liking. PowerAMP is one of them, as well as other free players like Shuttle.
In Android we also have the option of installing equalization applications that affect all the sound that we reproduce on the mobile. Among them we find Music Volume Equalizer – Bass Booster and Equalizer & Bass Booster as the most outstanding. Also, if you have root on your phone, you can install ViPER4Android , an advanced equalizer that allows you to modify even the smallest detail of the audio.
This is exclusive to wired headphones, and is to buy a portable DAC. With them, you can have higher quality sound amplification and more powerful sound, ideal if you are an audiophile who uses high-end headphones. In addition, they are powered by USB, and you can connect them to the mobile itself for power, or to an external battery. In Amazon we find the iFi Hip-dac, which is valid for both Andriod and iPhone.
In turn, this other category is exclusive to Bluetooth headphones. The latest mobiles are compatible with codecs such as aptX, aptX HD, LDAC, SBC or LHDC . Each of these codecs has been developed by companies such as Qualcomm in the case of aptX, or Sony in the case of LDAC. SBC is free and is part of the A2DP protocol, and is the most widely used.
LDAC is the best of all, with a maximum bitrate of up to 990 Kbps. AptX HD is limited to 576 Kbps, while SBC reaches only 328 Kbps, which is good for MP3, but bad for higher quality files. For this reason, LDAC is one of the best options that we can choose on the mobile to ensure that we are getting the most out of Bluetooth sound. We can also set a sampling frequency of 96 kHz, which, together with the use of an LDAC codec, will allow us to get the most out of our headphones; especially if they are Hi-Res certified.
In addition, the latency that each codec has is very important, where depending on the one you use you can find latencies of up to 200 ms. SBC, which you probably have by default, reaches up to 170 ms. With aptX things vary, depending on whether aptX, aptX Adaptive or aptX LL (low latency) is used, with figures that vary between 160 and 35 ms. LDAC is the best of all with 30 ms of latency, and already with cable the figures go down to 10 ms.
To change all these codec and bitrate settings on an Android mobile, we will have to go to the Developer Options . In most terminals this option is not activated by default, and it is necessary to go to the terminal information, and press several times on “compilation” to activate it. Once active, the option to access and choose the codecs we want for our sound will appear.