No sooner than we receive a tip about something Pixel related do we see the same tip appearing on other news sites; that tells us someone wants a message spread, and this is one probably worthy of your consideration. It seems that the Google Pixel range suffers from some pretty ordinary audio distortion when using the built-in speakers, though it doesn’t affect every handset, it seems to be at random across both Pixel and Pixel XL devices.
What’s the issue? Well, reports vary, but the audio on some devices appears to suffer from clipping (the top and bottom of the sound wave being cut off, or clipped) and/or distortion (which can be caused by clipping itself, or other causes). It seems to happen – unsurprisingly – when playing audio at maximum volume, but even then, the nature of the issue is such that it won’t happen consistently.
We’ve found that at least two of our Pixels at Ausdroid are affected by this, though it seems likely that more probably are. Have you got a Pixel / Pixel XL and want to see how yours goes? Try this clip of The Mummy (thanks Android Police for finding a great demo vid) and crank the volume:
You could hear pops, bass distortion, and goodness knows what else.
To my mind, the cause seems simple; the speakers in the Pixel / Pixel XL are small, and not designed to play audio at full volume for prolonged periods. That, and the nature of the speakers probably doesn’t lend themselves to certain sounds which typically require larger, more complex speakers to accurately and fully reproduce. There could be other explanations, and probably better ones, but it seems that Google’s software in the Pixels isn’t taking into account the maximum input specifications of the speaker units, causing distortion at the top end.
The fix? An easy one, and it can be implemented in software. Take the top end off the volume, and all of a sudden, the speakers are able to cope. Don’t believe us? Play that Mummy trailer again, but tap the volume down just one notch from full, and it should be fine.
Better news is that we understand Google is aware of and investigating the issue, according to the latest on the Google Product Forums.