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bokeron2020

Hardware and/or PowerAMP Limitations?

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Hello.

The very fisrt thing I've done with my new Motorola Defy is to install the trial version of Poweramp. I am new to Android, too.

At first the difference with the Motorola player is so astonishing I couldn't believe it was the same phone. Now I've had some hours to play music and I've found something not so astonishing... but I suppose I'll have to live with. In one word, I've found sound distortion. I write this post to ask for help understanding how this program works, how android works, and how it all relates to the Motorola Defy.

Please let me explain what's in my mind :)

My previous phone was a low-end Nokia X-Series (5310). A music oriented phone wich, it seems, had a dedicated chip for sound processing. I frankly admit I don't know what this means or how it affects the output. The Nokia sounded quite good to my ears, almost as good as my old iRiver player.

When I played the first song in the Motorola Defy I almost cry :) The sound coming from my earphones (Sennheiser, various models) was low, flat... it was awful. I tried the system effects' EQ hoping for some improvement... and what I got was... even more awful.

Then I installed Poweramp and I was instantly happy. I adjusted the preamp, EQ, etc... and I got a lot more volume, a powerful bass, high frequencise could be heard at last... so yes, that was the word, I was happy. The sound, though slightly lower, was even better than my previous Nokia 5310.

I've been playing some different songs since then, and I've sadly found distortion when hearing a bunch of them. It's mostly in the high frequencies, but I suppose is just a matter of time I find it in the lows also. Anyways, distortion is there. In some songs I can lower the preamp, or some EQ settings... but then I find some other song that distort even with the modified settings. If I adjust the preamp and EQ to play all songs without any audible distortion... then the volume isn't so different from the stock player, and the EQ while noticiable lacks the "punch" I was expecting.

Nothing like this happened with my old Nokia. The volume was high, and only at maximum volume I got some distortion... that sounded like... I don't know how to explain it... like too high volume. The distortion in this Defy+Poweramp sounds like the high frequencies are being simply clipped because it can't handle them when the volume is too high.

It is a lame explanation, I know, but I don't have the knowledge to explain it differently :).

Anyway... that's the problem. And I suppose there's no solution, but I'd like to understand what's going on, and what's so different compared to my old Nokia.

Am I right believing Poweramp (or any other player) can't do anything about it because the limit is the hardware, not the algorithms used ?

Did the Nokia used some kind of hardware EQ and The Defy/Poweramp can only do it in software ?

Is it because the Defy can't deliver as much power as the Nokia?

Or is it the sound processing hardware in the Defy so bad when compared to the Nokia dedicated chip ?

Can someone shed some light on my darkness? :)

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You need to reduce preamp and compensate volume drop with global volume. There are only 16bits on Android software and hardware for sound processing. If song already uses whole dynamic range (i.e. all 16 bits), there is no dynamic range "space" to amplify any frequency to, thus any amplifying will cause overload, this is why there is preamp and why it's set to a negative value by default.

Thanks!

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Hello again :)

So... if the phone volume level is low, preamp can only manipulate the digital data up to a level that, once surpassed, leads to distortion.

The only way to reach louder volume levels would be by manipulating the analogical gain of the, say, headphone amplifier, and only if that amplifier had some "juice" left and was limited at the formware on purpose by the phone builder ? Am I saying too many nonsenses ? :)

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There is no "analogical gain" in modern Android phones - their digital amplifiers always work in "full power", the volume is changed in software. Also, usually max volume is limited (also in software) by OEMs to avoid hearing loss, and some ROMs/root apps or special settings can change that, but I yet to find android phone which is not painful:) in headset on max volume even with reduced PowerAMP preamp.

Thanks!

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Hi again.

Thanks for the explanation. I'm a newbie when it comes to these things...as you can easily notice :) :)

Do you, by any chance, know if the Motorola's Androids are "hackable" in order to remove that OEM software limit ? My main complain about my Motorola Defy is, precisely, max volume... wich isn't max enough when you're in a noisy enronment.

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A useful program to help eliminate distortion/boost volume on mp3 files is mp3gain (mp3gain.sourceforge.net).

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