Mobile sound has improved drastically from the tinny, tiny speakers we used to get back in the day. However, not every phone has the kind of great sound quality that you might be looking for. Whether you're listening to music, making calls, or gaming, you might wish that you had a better aural experience. Fortunately, there are some things that you can try that may give you better sound quality, and that don't necessarily involve heading out to drop a few hundred pounds on a better phone. Want better sound? Then try some of our tips below.
Sound Quality and Speakers: The Basics
Okay, we're going to start out very simple here, and that means talking about speakers. No, not about replacing them. Sadly, your phone has the speakers that it has, and there's no way around that. But the first step in improving your sound experience is knowing where the speakers are placed on your phone. Throw on some music and listen closely, are you speakers front facing? Rear facing? Top or bottom? Why do you need to know all this anyway? Well, for two reasons.
Firstly, because one of the biggest rookie mistakes when it comes to mobile sound lies in covering speakers. This is a particular problem for mobile gamers with front facing speakers, who may find that the way they're holding their device covers up speakers. But it's also a problem for those of us with swanky phone covers, who might find that the cover itself is blocking sound. Secondly, knowing speaker placement allows you to optimise the position of your phone when you want to listen to something. Lying your phone on your desk with your music playing might be fine if you've got front facing speakers, but is going to degrade quality if you've got rear facing ones. In short, know where your speakers are and make sure they're directed towards your ears!
Get More Volume…
We'll get to actual sound quality in a second, but if your problem is volume rather than quality, then there are some quick fixes. Firstly, there are tons of volume enhancement apps in your Play Store, all of which will over-ride the default maximum sound volume on your phone (and yes, your phone does have a pre-set maximum). Not all of these apps are great, some create distortions in louder volumes, but they're mostly free, so they're worth a try. If you're especially technically inclined you can root your Android and over-ride the maximum volume that way, but it's a risky procedure and a little tricky. Rooting depends on phone model, so you'll need to Google “root” followed by the model of your mobile. You can also try DIY fixes, putting your phone in a box (yes, seriously), or standing it against a glass or bowl might give you the extra volume you're looking for when you're listening to music, for example.
Actual Sound Quality…
When it comes to actual sound quality, we're talking about a little experimentation, since there's no one size fits all solution. There are really three things that you can try, any one of which (or combination of which) might improve your aural experience.
Firstly, you should check the audio settings on your phone, but beware, not all phones have the option to change these. Head into your settings menu, then hit “sound,” then “audio settings” (if you have that option). You can then play around a little and find out if any of the given options improve your sound. Different phones have different options too, some models have the option of optimising for headphone use, for example.
Your second stop should be the music app that you're using. Whether that's the default app or one you've installed yourself, go in and check out the settings and see if there's anything there that gets you a better sound. You might also want to consider downloading a new music app, since sound quality does (surprisingly) vary between apps. Something like Poweramp, for example, comes with tons of settings options, some of which might work out better for you than your current music player.
Thirdly, you might want to check out the app store and get yourself an equalizer app, which will allow you to further tweak sound settings. There are tons of these, though we're particular fans of Bass Booster or Music Volume EQ, both of which give you lots of options for changing your sound quality.
Okay, you might not want to hear this, but sometimes the best thing you can do is just give up. Mobile sound quality is improving, but the truth is that even the best mobile speakers are not going to give you awesome sound or volume. If you're serious about using your mobile to play music then you're going to be better off investing in a good Bluetooth speaker, or in something like a Chromecast, which will allow you to play music using your phone but through a decent speaker at the same time.
If a phone is your only option, maybe because you're on the move, then investing in a good pair of headphones is going to make a difference. There are plenty of models and styles around in all different price ranges, so you might want to head to an electronics or audio store and check a few pairs out before deciding. No, you won't be able to share your music with friends, but you will get better sound quality out of headphones than from your mobile itself.
Finally, mobile sound quality does vary a lot by model, though no phone is going to give you close to what a real speaker can give you. So if music or game playing audio is important to you, then you might want to keep that in mind the next time you're shopping for a new phone. All the software, apps and settings tweaking in the world won't overcome bad hardware design, so look for the best mobile speakers you can find in a hand set that you can afford.