Google Adding Legacy Support for Older Audio Codecs to Fix Streaming Audio Issue


If you don’t already know, streaming music on Android 2.2 suddenly sucks, for the most part. At least over 3G and Edge connections, audio quality is so bad that it makes using several listening services – including Pandora and Slacker Radio – a pain. This is because – with the upgrade to FroYo – Google implemented a new media framework – Stagefright – that would bring about support for new high quality audio codecs, but to the dismay of many streaming music vendors, would also bring about the death of some of the older ones used in a majority of these applications.

Scratching Ear

Google’s obvious hopes were to get everyone to step up to their new standards, but the developers aren’t seeing it that way. I’m not sure how extensive a change must be made to support the newer codecs, but they’re not budging and it’s forcing Google to commit code to add support for the older codecs back into Android 2.2. It becomes a huge mess after you realize that the OEMs and carriers will need to bring the changes to you themselves, so there’s no telling when we might actually see the fix for a majority of devices (excluding the Nexus One, duh).

[Google Code via Android Central]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Running 2.2 on the Droid1 and have seen no problems streaming. Pandora works just the same, Slacker too.

    What exactly are the problems?

  2. +1 used Pandora this morning with no signs of distortion or anything thru headphones on high quality. You should describe the quality in your entry. thanks

    -Froyo flavored EVO owner

  3. I’m not sure of the quality personally (not a big “music-on-phone” type of guy) but many users here:


    And various other popular forums around the internet are describing issues. YMMV.

  4. Google’s obvious hopes were to get everyone to step up to their new standards

    hmm not quite sure what they were thinking there.

  5. Sounds like crap.

  6. I’ve been running Froyo on my Nexus One for two and a half months now. I constantly stream Pandora between work and home over Edge, and I’ve never noticed any poor quality. I’m not saying it’s not an issue, because this isn’t the first time I’ve heard about it, I’m just really confused because I’ve never experienced it when by all accounts I should be given the description of the problem. Perhaps it’s because I’m a Pandora One subscriber and so maybe they use higher quality codecs for paying members?

  7. If you have Pandora set to “normal” quality, you will definitely notice that the music sounds horrible. If you have it set to “high” quality, the difference isn’t as noticeable.

  8. Yep, I definitely noticed a major quality drop on Slacker (over 3G) after installing Froyo on my Droid. It’s now painful to listen to in my car. Used to be quite good.

  9. I’ll the same thing I asked on Android Central. Where did this “legacy” idea come from? Reading the thread on the Android issue page and looking at the code changes, it sure looks like this was just a simple bug.

  10. It’s funny. If you read Google’s feedback & support, it says Slacker is not affected- Resaons unknown why it works. Go figure.

  11. My wife and I noticed this last weekend. Pandora sounded very messed up. I switched to Grooveshark and it sounded great.

  12. MOG had a report on their support site that high quality audio wasn’t effected (MP3 files), but that the lower quality streams and downloads (AAC) were effected.

    I stream a little from MOG, but I’m more likely to download a song, especially if I like it.

  13. So why dont the developers do a little work an update their software? I guess users will just move on to use something else! That’s the free market economy at work. If you stay behind you get left behind. Wake up devs!


  14. You guys are obviously deaf.. The sound quality has been kicked down to AM quality.. Not the FM/ Near CD quality it was before..

    Get your ears checked and/or get better headphones.. The issue is here.. The real thing is that this is a BS reason. Slacker/Pandora are locked into their files as that is what they are licensed to use for streaming from their media vendors. For them to go back and fix it is a big effort.. Slacker has already replaced most of their files already due to poor AAC support in 2.1 and earlier. Now Google goes and does this which woudl require them to change AGAIN??

    I also call BS as google’s website says it fully supports these codecs up to bitrates extremely higher than is being used for streaming, however it doesn’t work.. Go read the 9308 bug report, you’ll get the just..

  15. Does this effect last.fm?

  16. I’m starting to NOT want Froyo on my Incredible.. My friends with Froyo Evo’s say they actually DO NOT like the additions made by Froyo compared to 2.1 .. Just give me Flash and HD Video and I’ll be happy.

  17. Using Sapphire 1.0 he took OUT StageFright – meaning I have Froyo & Streaming goodness with now issues.

    (smugly cross arms and raise one eye brow – and step back to avoid bitch-slap)

  18. Never heard of this problem until now. Nexus One running Froyo and streaming audio over 3g sounds fine to me. Pandora, shoucast (xiialive), Slacker Radio all work well.

  19. @Dave Aha! I tried switching from High to Normal quality and finally heard the horrendousness. I’m actually relieved to know that my ears aren’t just that terrible that I can’t distinguish good and crappy quality. But High quality streams just fine over T-Mobile’s Edge, even in pretty mediocre coverage areas, so I guess it’s just not something I have to worry about.

  20. if you can’t hear the difference, you may as well be deaf.

  21. Aha, that explains it.
    When i was playing Pandora through my car sound-system over 3G, it actually sounded really good for a relatively low bit rate. But after the 2.2. upgrade the audio-quality became definately less. To me the sound seems to have less ‘definition’, less ‘smooth’.

  22. @Brad2 – Google’s not completely clean on this. Vendors don’t generally yank an API out from under developers. Usually the old API/codec is marked ‘deprecated’ for one release, as a warning to devs, and then it’s removed on the *next* release. From what I’ve seen, Google didn’t do that here. I’d welcome a correction if anyone has other info…

  23. And this is why I NEVER jump on a new update, for anything, until I see what experiences others have. Here’s my heartfelt thanks to all the “beta testers” on these forums. Hopefully the update for this will also fix the other bugs 2.2 had on the Evo, and then I’ll upgrade.

  24. KAIS100 (AT&T Tilt) with CM6, latest radio, and latest kernel.

    Pandora sucks – crackling noise is awful.

    It could be Froyo or the fact that Kaiser hardware is not officially supported (who can complain at 400mhz)?

  25. Well. That explains it. After cooking my own ROM from source to try to fix what’s wrong, digging down through the Bluetooth stack (thinking that’s the issue) and generally getting disgusted with the crappy audio I’ve had since 2.2 I finally discover that some bonehead decided to suddenly change the codecs to something that sounds like garbage. They should have had an overlap period before light-switching over to Stagefright.

    I’m sorely tempted to dig up a 2.1 ROM and revert my Nexus to the old code. I’ve pretty much given up listening to Pandora in the car.

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