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Using Cyanogen OS AudioFX, and whether you should bother

Generally speaking, audio enhancement apps and services for Android phones and tablets have a complicated relationship with their users. Someone with a reasonable understanding of how audio works can use an audio enhancement service to great effect, but these services need to cater to everyone else as well. The end result typically is a series of presets that are almost good and a series of toggles so you can turn the feature on and off depending on what you're listening to, but if you get one on your device that works well it can be a big deal.

Cyanogen OS includes one of these services in the form of a partnership with MaxxAudio, called AudioFX. Here's what you need to know in order to effectively navigate the app, should you decide your audio could use a little tweaking.

Cynogen AudioFX

AudioFX is by far the nicest-looking implementation of MaxxAudio out there, and easily one of the friendliest apps for audio enhancement available today. The app has a clean, straightforward UI to it with plenty of dark tones and bright colors. Front and center are the audio presets, taking you through Folk and Jazz and Small Speakers, with adjustments across the colorful bars as you swipe around. Beneath this you find MaxxTrebble and MaxxBass knobs, which don't really require any further explanation. At the top of the app you find an on/off toggle, and tapping it will adjust the sound coming out of your speakers or headphones accordingly. If you're using headphones, you gain an extra MaxxSpace knob for depth.

With a decent set of cans, AudioFX can make a tremendous difference

Not every app allows AudioFX to alter the sound coming out of the phone, so there's a bit of trial and error at the beginning of your experience. You'll have great success with locally stored audio, but there's some variance with the streaming apps. Spotify works well, but iHeartRadio doesn't recognize the service at all. AudioFX is completely unaware when something works or doesn't work, and has no idea what kind of music you're listening to, so frequent trips back and forth between apps to disable the service or change the way the app is altering sound is required in most cases.

If you're planning on listening to music through the speakers included on your phone, no matter which Cyanogen OS device you're using, the difference in audio quality is minimal. Headphones, on the other hand, will offer a much better experience. With a decent set of cans on your head AudioFX can make a tremendous difference in the quality of audio coming from your phone, but even with inexpensive earbuds it's not hard to appreciate the adjustments being made within the presets.

AudioFX is something every audiophile wishes would come pre-loaded on everything, but ultimately lacks the universal functionality and ease of use to be something you're going to feel compelled to use all the time. It's nice if you've got a playlist of similar music to burn through, but in most other situations its existence adds an unfortunate number of additional steps to regularly get the sound you want.

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter

  • Always been one of my reasons for CM. Most other EQ's lack the quality and fine tuning. That said, it still couldn't fix the Nexus 6's lackluster audio. Posted via a SGS6
  • I see you traded in for a Galaxy S6. I agree the Nexus 6's audio wasn't great. But Viper4Android made it worlds better! For anyone looking for how to set it up properly for the N6, I put together a guide here The one in XDA that says to flash a bunch of zips, I found breaks a lot of other features.
  • Well aware of it, and it did help quite a bit. That said, the DAC is still lacking on the N6. The 1+1, even without AudioFX turned on, had fuller reproduction, and drove my cans adequately at a lower volume output level. The S6 is much improved than the N6 in that regard with the Wolfson chipset. Posted via a SGS6
  • Is this the same "AudioFX" that comes with Cm 12.1 and all the ROMs using the CM "base." Like PAC-Rom? Because on my SM-N910T it does not work. At All. Either it being with headphones, Bluetooth, or its native speaker. Stock music app or Google Play, on my Note 4 AudioFX has never worked :(
  • I have a OnePlus... And MX50s. Does that make me cool? I say yes. Anyway... I used Audio Fx once in a while. Though I'm not that great at tuning audio so I just turn it off most times.
  • Actually most so called audiophiles will opt for no eq at all. Just visit headfi. Posted via the Android Central App
  • This, exactly. If an audiophile is involved, they will be running non-eq'd audio to a headphone amp which will give them the bass/mid/treble adjustment options with much less compression or quality loss than a software EQ. I've played with EQ settings on several phones and without fail it always sounds better with EQ turned off. Posted via Android Central App
  • ^This. But gotta push the CM stuff so yeah. Dude. What if the word "NEWS" on the AC widget actually linked to the news page? #mindblown.
  • Root and if applicable, bootloader unlock and/or S-OFF and you can get an even more advanced version of this: ViPER4Android. Has sections for audio settings for headphones, external speaker and bluetooth output, profiles support for all three and works at a system level so all sounds will be affected. Either way, it's a bit of a stretch to say that audiophiles will actually take a liking to AudioFX Posted via the Android Central App
  • Well I had to remove maxx audio and use another app called Viper fx because my Bluetooth kept on messing up and stuttering. I wonder if that zip file I flashed changed anything else.
    I wonder when cyanogen will fix thesd Bluetooth issues. It works for the most part but Viper fx doesn't work and sometimes I have to reconnect Bluetooth or music won't play at all Posted via Android Central App on 1+1
  • Nothing will ever beat V4A. Its the main reason I can't have an unrooted phone. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah, I wish it was available without root through API's and the actual Google Framework. Posted via a SGS6
  • Agreed. V4A is the first thing I flash after rooting or flashing a new rom.
  • I swear, I keep finding new things to add my rooted S5 - thanks! Sounds amazing with my new xiaomi piston 3's Posted via the Android Central App
  • I miss this from my 1+1 days. As much as I like Clear Audio on my Z3 and Z3 Tab Compact, Audio FX was one of the top three favorite things I enjoyed ah it the 1+1. Approved by the Z3 Tablet Compact!
  • I've been noticing lately that Beats on my One M7 is my favorite. Which is weird because I used to hate it. But it turns out that anything that's not FLAC quality lossless, i.e. 320kbps or less will have noticeable distortion from the Beats EQ. But if you listen to FLAC files, so like 947kbps or more, it sounds really really good
  • I've been using Cyanogen for many years. And one of the lease used features that I have found my self not to use is the built in Audio EQ. I don't know what it is about it, but everytime I change the settings and try to tune it to my liking I find it actually takes away the quality of sound. But after giving this version a try I can say it has much to my liking.
  • Another vote for V4A. Amazing app.
  • For great audio you should beats audio apk you can find it on blackmart
  • I loved Cyanogen's EQ. On my stock Nexus 5, it's hard to get good sound. I bought a bluetooth headphone thingy that you can plug your headphones into, and that does the trick. Now, when I adjust the stock eq using the bluetooth adapter, my settings don't make the sound so quiet you can't even hear it. Sounds pretty good, actually.
  • Viper4Android is by far the best "Audio tweaking" app around but it's requirement for a rooted phone makes it not a viable choice for some people. Viper4Android can also be a bit scary for non-audiophiles. You really sort of need to have some audio knowledge to get the most out of the app and those that do not have a clue as to what they are doing can make things much worse. I will always prefer Viper4Android but I hope that for those that cannot use it or are a bit gun shy of all of its features that Cyanogen puts some more effort into AudioFX. A pretty and simple UI is not cutting it.
  • Dolby Atmos is simply the best ^_^
  • Would be nice if it worked.