MP3 players are mostly a thing of the past now. After all, why would you carry two devices in your pocket when one gets the job done? Well, turns out that some people would rather carry two separate devices. Why? So that they can enjoy lossless audio. But, what if we told you that it's possible to do that on Android as well? Let's check it out!
What is Lossless Audio?
So, before understanding how to play lossless audio on your phone, you're probably wondering what that is in the first place.
To put it simply when a recording gets out of the studio, it needs to get compressed into a lossy audio format, like the very common MP3. A lossy audio format means that certain details are getting lost in the compression process and that results in relatively poor audio quality.
Lossless compression is a necessary sacrifice for your average person. It significantly reduces the file size from 50 megabytes down to 8 or less without butchering the audio quality.
Make no mistake. Lossy audio means that details have been lost and the quality has been reduced. The question is if you can tell the difference between lossy audio and the "real" thing. Cause if you can, that's where lossless audio comes in.
You can achieve lossless audio by compressing the songs into a lossless format. FLAC is a very popular example. Other than that, you could also grab a song as it was recorded straight out of the studio. But, that's a bit tough. Even FLAC is rare compared to lossy audio formats.
To summarize, lossless formats offer better audio quality at the expense of taking more space, while lossy formats sacrifice a bit of quality in exchange for taking less storage.
How to Play Lossless Audio
The first thing that you'll obviously need is some lossless tracks. If you don't have any, a very popular place that has numerous songs in a variety of lossless formats is HDTracks.
As things stand right now, if you've already bought your songs in a lossy format, then you're more or less forced to buy them again in FLAC or whatever it is that you're looking out for.
Some people will pirate the songs that they've already bought to avoid that. But, if you've already bought the songs, then is it really pirating? Anyway. Moving on.
After that, you need a music player that can handle lossless formats without down-scaling the audio quality. PowerAmp is a very popular choice as it allows you to play lossless audio while also offering one of the best equalizers that you can get on Android.
PowerAmp offers a free trial. So, go ahead and give it a try to see if you can tell the difference between lossless and lossy audio in the first place.
Your pre-installed audio player may or may not support lossless formats. It's a bit of a gamble. And remember: just because it can playback the music, doesn't mean that it's doing it without sacrificing audio quality. Some players will downscale the quality back down to the levels of MP3.
So, that's really all you need to get started. Your songs in lossless formats and an audio player that can handle them.
While you're at it, learn how to utilize the equalizer as well. It makes a world of difference. And if you don't know, a good way to start is by adjusting only the first three bars on the left for adjusting the bass and the last three bars on the right for treble.
I Can't Hear The Difference - What Am I Doing Wrong?
If you can't tell the difference, there are about 3 things that may be going on:
- Your phone's hardware doesn't allow for lossless playback
- You are not using the proper tools
- Or you just can't tell the difference anyway
1: Your Phone's Hardware Doesn't Allow for Lossless Playback
So, let's start with the first case scenario: your phone's hardware may not allow for lossless playback.
Have you heard the term: "Jack of all trades, master of none?". Well, that's kind of what Android smartphones are. They can take photos, play music, and more, but they can't do it as well as their dedicated counterparts. Sometimes this applies to music as well.
It may be that your phone can't play lossless audio. Just because you have the software, doesn't mean that you've got the hardware as well. You can probably find out by making a Google search or something. But, at this point, if you can't tell the difference, there's not much that you can do about it anyway.
On computers, fixing that issue is as simple as swapping out your audio card and installing a better one. But, on smartphones? Not much that you can do about it.
You could try using a high-quality USB DAC, if it works. But, then again, that beats the purpose of having a handheld device. You may as well get a separate MP3 player.
2: You Are Not Using The Proper Tools
If you're expecting to hear the difference between lossy and lossless audio through your phone's speakers, then you're doing it wrong. You'll need something better than that.
The most popular option for audiophiles is over-ear headphones. As for which pair to choose, well, that is a matter of personal preference.
Sennheiser has a few solid options and so does Audio-Technica with their M40 and M50-X. So, you can start by checking those out.
If you're into gaming and you're looking for a headset that can do both, the Cloud 2 is one of the best headsets that you can grab for the price. It's not exactly made for music, but it's still a solid choice for a middle ground between gaming, portability, and listening to music.
If you've got the appropriate pair of headphones for listening to music and you're sure that your phone supports lossless music playback but you still can't tell the difference, then there is only one possibility left.
3: You Simply Can't Tell The Difference
Maybe your phone or headphones aren't to blame. Maybe you really just can't tell the difference between lossy and lossless formats. And you know what? There's nothing wrong with that!
If you can't tell the difference between lossy and lossless formats, then you don't have to sacrifice extra space or spend money on expensive equipment. Or maybe you can hear it but you just don't feel like it's worth the effort. That's fine too.
That being said, before moving ahead and spending money on audiophile equipment, it's a good idea to try a product before buying it. PowerAmp has a free trial and you can temporarily pirate lossless songs in order to try them. So, that's out of the way.
The only thing that remains are the headphones. If you don't have a friend or family member who owns a pair of audiophile headphones, you could try to look for a shop that allows you to test them. There may be quite a few around depending on where you're living.
That's all for now. If you've got any questions then leave them down in the comments section and we'll try to help you out!
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