Streaming audio quality nosedives on Android 2.2; fix is coming soon

Android users who recently updated to version 2.2 were shocked to discover that their once pristine streaming  audio now sounds muddy, tinny, and downright awful. This flaw with streaming audio was originally reported in June by Nexus One users who were the first to rock this latest version of Google’s mobile OS. With the debut of Android 2.2 on the EVO 4G, the complaints regarding this issue became more numerous and much more vitriol. One new Android user was so pushed to the edge that he even threatened to return to his Palm Pre.

Before you start pointing your finger at the streaming audio services, the problem reportedly lies with Stagefright, the underlying audio decoder for Android 2.2. Google switched from the OpenCore media framework in Android 2.1 to Stagefright in Android 2.2. Presumably unbeknownst to Google, Stagefright has difficulty handling the AAC+ and eAAC+ media codecs which are used by the major streaming audio services including Pandora, Slacker, and Rhapsody.

To quell this rising tide of criticism before it mushrooms out of control, Google confirmed earlier today that it has a fix for this bug and is working with its partners to deploy this patch as soon as possible. Google is wise to troubleshoot this bug before Android 2.2 is rolled out to other handsets.

While waiting for this official patch to hit your handset, affected owners can try to revert back to Android 2.1 which streams audio with near-perfect quality. If you can’t stand to be away from the faster and sexier Android 2.2, then you can apply an unofficial fix that disables Stagefright and its horrible effect on streaming audio. Though you may lose some of the features of Stagefright, you will be able to enjoy the crisp, clear sounds of your favorite streaming audio track. Whether you chose to revert, fix via unofficial means, or wait for the Google-sanctioned patch, hit us up in the comments and relay your experiences with this unfortunate flaw.

[Via TechCrunch and Google Code]

  • @daplacidone

    I thought i was the only one it was peeing off something serious….

  • Matt J.

    StageFright is the only cause of this class of problem? I have been hearing terrible things about the new implementation of MediaPlayer in general, including video. But since I have been seeing these in the android developer group and the like, I never know when it is just “cockpit error”, i.e., the programmer doing something that he should not have expected to work at all, but that happens to fail only with the newer MediaPlayer rather than with OpenCore.

    BTW: this article makes it sound like OpenCore is for audio only (though it does not actually say this). But I am pretty sure it is for all multimedia, not just audio. It is only to be expected then, that there will be problems with such a major shift. It would be strange if this one audio problem were the only one.

  • I can also confirm that stagefright causes problems with playing of mp3 files from remote sources, as well as causing the infamous wavs-won’t-play-at-all problem.

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