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Android and Hifi Audio


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Was searching on the threads for some similar topics and couldn't find any. And so wanted to share my humble experience on audio in the Android platform. I think its a valid/cost effective platform/alternative although it has still its ups and downs.

 

It started when I was looking for a hifi portable (DAP/AMP) setup 3 years ago since I travel a lot and saw this thread in Head-Fi: Android phones and USB DACs. I wondered if this is true. It would be an awesome cost effective setup since I would be buying only a DAC with/and Amp. The interface and storage will be in the smartphone.

 

Hence my M2Tech Hiface + Headstage 4G setup:

 

kw3zbSel.jpg

 

It was and still a hit and miss thing (compatibility with hardware and software). Was lucky my Sony Xperia Z and later Samsung Note 3 supported USB Audio on Android.

 

And if Android could pass-through audio from a smartphone there are also problems on most Music Apps. Most of these apps rely on the Android sound layer thus downsampling the final audio to 16bit 48Khz regardless of the music file.

 

At that time, there was only ONE app that communicated directly to the USB DAC of which it uses its own universal USB driver: USB Audio Recorder Pro -> https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.extreamsd.usbaudiorecorderpro&hl=en.

 

Before I was using Neutron MP -> https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.extreamsd.usbaudioplayerpro&hl=en.'>https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.extreamsd.usbaudioplayerpro&hl=en. But it WAS using the ASL (Android Sound Layer) there for my music are downsampled. We asked the two developers to colaborate for the good of the Audiophile community and later we got both. Neutron MP had its USB DAC / DSD Support and USB Audio Recorder Pro gave birth to USB AUdio Player Pro -> https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.extreamsd.usbaudioplayerpro&hl=en

 

With an Android app (like UAPP) fully supporting USB DAC and DSD, the next thing is to find a good DAC w/and AMP. Enter LH Labs Geek Out 1000. At $239 it was hard to beat on price/performance/portability. Here UAPP playing DSD128 on my Note 3 while the lights on my Geek Outs confirming it.

 

beRSSTHl.jpg

 

My positive experience in Geek Out led me to fund their desktop size Geek Pulse Infinity. After some delivery setbacks, it too was able to play thru Android. Here with Onkyo HF upsampling 16 bit AAC to DSD128.

 

Wuu8Ab3l.jpg

 

Comparing it to my PC setup using JRiver 21, I felt the Android platform is more resolving overall dynamically, more definition, cleaner. Maybe due to a leaner OS. Well these are subjective and limited to my setups.

 

Therefore, for those who haven't tested this platform and has an Android Smartphone I invite you to try. It's just a $10-15 investment.

 

You'll need:

1. OTG Cable for your smartphone to DAC

2. Software:

Neutron MP -> https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.neutroncode.mp&hl=en

UAPP -> Trial: http://www.audio-evolution.com/downloads/USBAudioPlayerPROTrial_2.5.9.apk

Paid: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.extreamsd.usbaudioplayerpro&hl=en

Onkyo HF -> https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.onkyo.jp.musicplayer&hl=en

HibyMusic (Free) -> https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.hiby.music&hl=en

 

Thank you for your patience. Just here for the music.

 

Next: Current setup -> Himedia Q10 Pro

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Hi Mickey,

 

I'm with you.

 

Since Tidal became available in Oz, I've basically used this for music playback, via the Tidal app on my MacBook Air.

 

I did read something similar to what you posted a while back on this very forum, so decided to take the plunge and purchased a Samsung Android Tablet. Payed for the UAPP app, hooked up Tidal to it and away I went.

 

And yes, as you have found, sound is cleaner with more definition, especially around base notes. Apart from a leaner OS, running off battery probably is helping as well. The MacBook Air actually sounds congested in comparison.

 

Enjoy the music.

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Agree Android can sound great but not always, tried a Samsung S7 the other day and it sounded poor. My Sony Z3 and ZX2 sound great via the Headphone, tried a few DAC's via OTG and haven't found one that sounds better so am thinking it's the OTG/USB connection I don't like so looking at going with Chromecast Audio/Bubble instead.

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Thanks for this information you guys are putting out here. I am looking forward to doing recording from my USB interface to my Android device.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Continuation on first post: My current media trasport/player

 

For months was on dilemma on how to proceed with my Media transport/player build. Wanted a dedicated video/music player but on what route/build: HTPC (Streacom/HD-Plex/Silverstone), Mini-PC (Shuttle, Lenovo Tiny), Laptop? Even considered even going to a Mac, but was at home with PC/JRiver.

 

With my experience on Android above, enter HiMedia Q10 Pro Ultra-HD 4K Android media box.

 

HiMedia Android TV Box

HiMedia Q10 Pro - futeko.com - High Performance Media Box. Android Box, Kodi Box, Mini-HTPC. UK Based.

 

Android 5.1, 4K60 Ultra-HD, HDR10 + Dolby Vision, 10bit colour, 7.1 HD-Audio, dual-band wi-fi, Gigabit Ethernet, 3D-ISO, 192kHz audio, auto-frame rate switching, HiMedia Imprex 2.0 PQ enhancement, 3.5" HDD bay w/ 8Tb support, USB hosts 1x3.0 and 2x2.0, USB Slave (PC) 1x3.0, SD drive, Samba.

 

Q10_Pro.jpg

 

Best thing...its less than $200

 

Bought it, hooked it up on my Dell 4K monitor and Geek Pulse Infinity + LPS4...

 

Here with Neutron MP playing DSD128.

 

wzCfNNXh.jpg

 

Sound pretty damed good. Better than my PC/Jriver setup I believe.

 

Hooking it with an LPS improved also.

 

Insights:

 

1. 4K UHD is awesome!!

2. UI needs to be worked up.

3. Could not connect thru UAPP, Onkyo HF nor Hiby for I could not access their menu settings. Only Neutron MP was I able to make it run (w/ my Geek Pulse).

4. Native USB audio runs only at 48Khz (in paper it should be 24/192), if you want higher bitrates there is Toslink or HDMI.

5. Hooking up thru LPS further improves sound (don't know to what degree just did it briefly this morning).

Conclusion:

 

A very viable not so costly option. Like Raspberry Pi but without DIY.

Having still those "What Ifs". But for now (for now...) I am happy.

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uploadfromtaptalk1461760397742.jpg

A very nice bundle! Nexus 5, iFi iDSD Micro, Senheizer HD25 Aluminum.

Exept Spotify and Tidal I use Hiby player and Neutron for local files!

Mac Mini with JRMC26 or Audirvana  / Raspberry4B_4GB(GentooPlayer_LMS) / Raspberry Rpi3B+: Allo DigiOne(GentooPlayer) - M2Tech Evo DAC Two Plus/iPurifier2 - Schiit Vali 2 - Densen DM20pre/30pwr amps - Spendor SP2/3E, Sennheiser HD600 & HD25Aluminum - Audeze Sine

Cables: Vovox, DIY, Furutech. 

Portable sources: iPad, DELL Laptop with JRiver MC26

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Continuation on first post: My current media trasport/player ....

Here with Neutron MP playing DSD128.

wzCfNNXh.jpg

Sound pretty damed good. Better than my PC/Jriver setup I believe.

 

Hi ! thanks a lot for the very interesting thread. Very nice player with a powerful HW i understand.

The last your words have triggered strongly my curiosity.

One question ... are you able to use the usb dac also with other media player apps like Kodi, VLC, etc. ?

 

Hooking it with an LPS improved also

 

Which brand/model are you using ?

 

Insights:

 

1. 4K UHD is awesome!!

2. UI needs to be worked up.

3. Could not connect thru UAPP, Onkyo HF nor Hiby for I could not access their menu settings. Only Neutron MP was I able to make it run (w/ my Geek Pulse).

4. Native USB audio runs only at 48Khz (in paper it should be 24/192), if you want higher bitrates there is Toslink or HDMI. 5... .

 

have you tested the quality of the Toslink maybe ?

Thanks a lot again, gino

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Hi ! thanks a lot for the very interesting thread. Very nice player with a powerful HW i understand.

The last your words have triggered strongly my curiosity.

One question ... are you able to use the usb dac also with other media player apps like Kodi, VLC, etc. ?

 

Yes!, in theory (if you're device supports it like my smartphone, cause its a hit or miss thing) it could be able to support upto 24/192. But my unit plays only 16/48.

Which brand/model are you using ?

 

I used my Geek Pule Infinity's LPS4 to test, bought last night a Audiophics/Jays LPS since I heard there was an improvement (even not that much but for a $120 will give it a go).

 

have you tested the quality of the Toslink maybe ?

 

Couldn't see the bitrates on my DAC while playing thru Toslink. But a heard a very slight improvement based on the native 16/48 counterpart. Again this is device specific, it will depend on yours.

Thanks a lot again, gino

 

 

 

 

Figurati!

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Figurati!

 

Hi ! thanks a lot for the very helpful advice.

I am thinking seriously to the Himedia Q10 pro even if i have just bought another Android TV box, the Nvidia Shield TV 16GB.

As i said your words about its sound bettering the one from your pc system has confirmed my feeling, that an Android device can be a very good digital source

The main issue, as usual, can be the lack of drivers for dacs.

Lately i have been "playing" with usb to spdif converters and at least one seems to work with Android.

Then i can drive any dac around with decent results.

Interestingly some dac manufacturers start to provide drivers also for Android OS (like iFi Audio).

Thanks a lot again.

Have a nice day, gino

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Can't you hooked your DAC to the USB of your Shield by playing thru Neutron/UAPP and the likes? It has Play Store right?

 

Or test thru your smartphone by an OTG Cable and the Apps I mentioned.

 

With a $10-15 investment you could confirm it yourself.

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Can't you hooked your DAC to the USB of your Shield by playing thru Neutron/UAPP and the likes?

It has Play Store right?

 

Hi ! let me explain a little better my situation.

Before getting the Shield i was using a generic chinese Android 4.x media player with UAPP > usb cable > dac and the sound was ok. Actually very ok. Love it. Clean and powerful. Beautiful.

But i want to use the dac also with a video player like Kodi, VLC, Youtube ... and this is not possible with UAPP.

So i needed a Lollipop device that has native usb support.

The shield is still in the box ... but in the weekend i hope to find a free moment to try it out.

 

Or test thru your smartphone by an OTG Cable and the Apps I mentioned. With a $10-15 investment you could confirm it yourself

 

thanks for the advice but as i said no problem with UAPP, a great app indeed for audio only and it works also with older version of the OS.

From what i understand for using an external dac with video the only way is to try if the Android device supports the dac natively (i.e. apps like UAPP do not work ... i have already tried. I cannot lunch UAPP and keep it running with Kodi or anyother similar video player. If i launch Kodi then UAPP shuts down and the dac stops working, of course).

I am interested in high quality of sound but i cannot live without video anymore.

I love video concerts.

Some are excellent indeed.

And i have noticed (for instance with those on Youtube) that if the system is good for audio also tracks of poor quality (i.e. low bitrate MP3) sound interesting.

I will try in the weekend for sure.

But i am following with the greatest interest the last Himedia products. It is indeed a great brand and the products are high quality.

I am also interested in the H8 and Q5 last edition with Lollipop (that is a must).

Thanks a lot again, gino

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Onkyo HF player is worth looking into. It will output hirez including DSD over Android otg connections.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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@Gino

Ok got you bro! HiMedia Q10 Pro supports native USB audio to 16/48 on USB and Spidf Toslink (of which I don't know what bit rate /depth). Listening video at 2160p 60fps 8bit (firmware fix on the future for 10bit error on part of HiMedia) on these with my DAC/Amp.

 

@esldude

What I like with Onkyo HF: Over/Downsampling

Have a DSD128 capable DAC. All files below DSD128 are upsampled. And my DSD256 files are downsampled. Pity due to UI interface on my Android Box I could not access its settings to configure it. Only Neutron MP could be played but it doesn't have this feature.

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  • 7 months later...

Hi Guys - I'm reviving this old thread with a question. I'm in the process of switching from an iPhone 6 Plus to a Google Pixel phone with Android 7.1 Nougat. I currently use my iPhone connected to an AudioQuest DragonFly via an adapter that also enables me to power the phone at the same time. I'd love a similar adapter for the Pixel / Android.

 

Here is an Apple adapter that would accomplish what I want, but I doubt is will work on Android. Is there a similar device available for android phones? I don't need the HDMI port, but it doesn't hurt.

 

USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter - Apple

 

 

 

 

MJ1K2_AV1.jpg

 

 

 

 

MJ1K2_AV2.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MJ1K2.jpg

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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Chris, google results seem positive. Not entirely sure what you will decide ultimately meets your needs but I hope this helps.

 

This amazon result looks especially promising.

 

It looks like "everything" is made for Apple computers and Android support is very spotty. I guess I'll have to buy a couple for testing.

 

I just received an email from Satechi that this adapter is only for Mac :~(

 

http://www.satechi.net/index.php/metallic-series/satechi-slim-aluminum-type-c-multi-port-adapter-with-type-c-charging-port-4k-hdmi-video-output-and-2-usb-3-0-ports-space-gray

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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You might consider a phone that has wireless charging. Then you can use a USB otg cable for connecting your favorite dac.

 

Sent from my D6633 using Computer Audiophile mobile app

 

I ordered a Google Pixel. I don't believe it supports wireless charging.

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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Chris,

I've read very good things on the Pixel. You may find something like the link at the end useful for charging and connecting the AQDF. Here the dragonfly plays flawless with Android 6 and USB Audio Player pro on LG G4.

Cheers, Tom

 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B01M29DNY1/ref=mp_s_a_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1481627588&sr=8-7&pi=SL75_QL70&keywords=beegod

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