Android 2.2's Audio Streaming Sounds Terrible, But A Fix Is Coming

Android 2.2, the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system that is now being deployed to popular devices like the Droid and Evo, is a speed demon. Unfortunately, it’s also tone-deaf: the OS comes with a strage flaw that makes your headphones sound like a pair of tin cans whenever you tune into a streaming music service like Pandora or MOG. Music that sounds great on the same device running an older version of Android suddenly sounds muddy with tinny highs — you can make out the notes and lyrics, but they’re no longer enjoyable to listen to.

I first noticed the problem a few weeks ago and was sure that my Bluetooth headset was to blame, but we’ve since gotten multiple reports that other users have had the same problem. Numerous forum threads have popped up about the issue, as has this lengthy bug report on Google Code. According to comments on the bug report, the problem is related to Android’s switch from the OpenCore media framework to Stagefright. The latter supports HTTP progressive streaming, but cannot properly handle the AAC+ and eAAC+ media codecs — which are used by some of the most popular music streaming services.

Fortunately, a fix is in the works. A Google spokesperson tell us:

“We have fixed the bug, and are working with our partners to update the affected Android devices as quickly as possible.”

Google doesn’t have a timeframe for when the fix will be deployed (it sounds like it will vary by device), but hopefully it will be in the very near future.

Services like Pandora, the recently launched MOG, and TuneWiki are obviously reliant on having their streaming audio sound good. The Android team has known about the problem for well over a month now, if not longer. And, to make matters worse, users are more likely to blame an audio problem on whatever service they’re listening to rather than the OS itself.