Listening to music is something that a lot of people do in their spare time. As our lives are getting busier by the day, we are moving towards listening to music on portable devices rather than sitting in our rooms all the time. The most obvious choice being our smartphones, as they are great for playing music, and when coupled with the right pair of headphones, they can really bring out the best listening experience.
However, the one thing that we often overlook when playing music on our phones is the music players that we use, or the apps, in other words. Normally, people are under the impression that a software is not something that will make a difference to how the music sounds. But that is not true; a good audio player, or an audio app on your phone can make a ton of difference.
That is why we have rounded up some of the best audio apps for the audiophiles out there so you can go ahead and squeeze the best audio experience out of your Android device.
For a list of regular Android audio apps for the average listener, see our other article, “Top 5 Music Player Apps for Android in 2020.”
1. Poweramp v3
Poweramp fans were in for a treat when the app was officially updated to v3 in late 2018 – and the developer has been releasing a steady stream of updates throughout the beginning of 2020. Poweramp v2 was one of the best Android audio apps for a long time, offering amazing sound quality and tweaks.
Poweramp v3 introduced support for hi-res DACs, both internal and external, which means it can play up to 24bit/192khz audio files, if your phone’s internal DAC supports that sampling rate, or you have an external DAC. The UI is very clean with liquid-smooth animations, and has various display options, such as folder / album display with cover albums.
Poweramp v3 has a 10-band equalizer with custom presets, and it plays pretty much all audio file formats. The audio engine features Float32 internal sample, Float64 DSP processing, up to 384khz sampling rate, various dither settings, SWR/SOX resamplers, and some additional DSP effects such as stereo enhancement and reverb.
2. Onkyo HF
A strong competition to Poweramp is Onkyo HF Player, which features absolutely amazing sound quality. It has a 16,384 discrete band, linear-phase FIR filter equalizer, can play most file types including 192khz/24bit FLAC and WAV, on the paid version. The free version will downsample audio above 88kHz to a maximum of 48kHz.
By itself, Onkyo HF may not have much in an edge over Poweramp, unless you have Onkyo audio equipment. Because Onkyo makes a lot of hi-res audio equipment, such as receivers, amplifiers, headphones, and other products, Onkyo HF can connect to those devices and ‘enhance’ them. For example, Onkyo HF has equalizer presets that are specifically tailored for their hi-res headphone models. This makes Onkyo HF a sort of companion app for Onkyo’s products, but it is still one of the best audio players even without Onkyo headphones.
3. Neutron Music Player
Neutron Music Player has one of the most complicated UIs we’ve ever seen, but that’s because it’s literally packed full of audio tweaks and DSP effects to play with. It is an audiophile’s dream and a simple UI enthusiast’s nightmare.
Neutron’s equalizer supports up to 30 bands and has a custom 32/64-bit audio rendering engine. Some of the DSP effects include things like parametric and graphic EQs, surround sound enabler, crossfeed/crossfade, tempo, pitch, and a lot more. With this kind of apps, it’s really easy to get lost “tweaking” your audio playback and forget to just enjoy your music.
It supports hi-res audio hardware, up to 24bit / 768 kHz. It also supports a number of DAPs such as the Fiio X5 / X7, the HiBy R6 Pro, and others. Neutron supports pretty much any audio file format you throw at it, and also has DSD decoding. Of course, it supports direct output to USB DACs, and…honestly you just need to check it out for the complete list of features.
4. USB Audio Player Pro
If you play your hi-res files primarily through a USB DAC, then you should definitely check out USB Audio Player Pro, which was built specifically for USB DAC output. It utilizes a custom USB audio driver that can bypass the Android sampling limitations, which means your 32-bit/384kHz files will actually play at that bitrate/frequency (if your USB DAC supports it), instead of being downsampled to 16/48kHz, as many other audio players seem to do.
Furthermore, USB Audio Player PRO can take advantage of some of the latest hi-res DACs being built into newer Android phones, such as the LG V20, V30, Samsung S6/S7, OnePlus 3, Fiio X5/X7, and others.
For a simple audiophile music player, the Android version of popular desktop player Foobar2000 is a good one. It lacks a lot of the configurations and tweaks found on the desktop version, but Foobar2000 for Android is an ongoing development project.
The UI is easy to navigate, and it can play most audio files, including hi-res FLAC and WAV. It has a DSP manager with the standard DSP plug-ins you’d expect to find – advanced limiting, crossfading, dB limiting, resampling, and even downmixing channels. It also supports downloading or streaming music from UPnP media servers.
This app requires root and must be obtained either from official XDA forums, or the Magisk Manager module.
V4A is not an audio player. It is a third-party equalizer and DSP processor that enhances the overall sound of your music. It gives you a ton of tweaks that can make your music sound better to your ears, such as bass and clarity boosting, surround sound emulation, and a bunch of other equalizer-related tweaks.
While that sounds like things you can do most in an already powerful audio player like the ones we’ve already mentioned in this list, Viper4Android can be loaded with IRS (Impulse Response Samples), which process the sound to have the output characteristics of the IRS, which are often based on various manufacturer headphones.
For example, there are IRS profiles to make your headphones sound like a pair of Sennheiser HD 800s – although it won’t magically make crappy earbuds sound amazing, playing around with IRS profiles and V4A’s tweaks can make a significant difference in perceived audio quality, especially when using lower-grade headphones.
One of the best IRS profiles for V4A is “Dolby II Pro Logic”, which significantly enhances bass and clarity, without adding muddy distortion to your music. IRS profiles can be easily found online, such as through the XDA forums, and then you simply add them to the Viper4Android folder on your phone.