A little over a year ago, we briefly talked about the then-new replacement media player XenoAmp by XDA Senior Member ssuukk. In fact, we liked XenoAmp so much that we even put in on our Holiday Guide 2012 apps list. The player has amassed a loyal following, thanks in part to its fantastic and unique UI, which is seemingly unlike any other player available.
But it’s not all about the visuals. Rather, XenoAmp can be considered somewhat of an audiophile-grade music player, or at least as close as one can come when listening to compressed media through a mobile device. One way in which this is apparent is how XenoAmp forgoes the standard preset equalizer settings found on other players. Instead, it features an equalizer aimed at correcting frequency response problem areas due to room acoustics or headphone / speaker response curves.
So how does this equalizer correction work? For example, if you use external speakers such as a dock or car connection, XenoAmp emits a frequency sweep and adjusts the equalizer response curve to correct for non-linearities in the frequency response. If you own a modern home theater receiver, this should all sound relatively familiar to you. After all, this is similar to what Pioneer’s MCACC Pro, Yamaha’s YPAO, and the Audyssey room correction accomplish. Mind you, these solutions now also employ parametric (rather than fixed-Q) equalizers, as well as reverb compensation, speaker distance, and phase control. That said, to have arguably the most important feature from these calibration systems available on a mobile device is quite exciting.
The same also goes for headphones, but the calibration procedure is a bit different. Rather than emitting test tones and having them measured by a microphone, XenoAmp has you use your own ears as a microphone as test tones are emitted. While not as precise as a microphone-based calibration, this can potentially be better than nothing.
Those keeping track may have one lingering reservation: the use of a graphic / fixed-Q equalizer rather than a more suitable parametric EQ. After all, the worth of a calibration is heavily dependant on how finely the response curve can be adjusted, and parametric equalizers afford much more customizability when it comes to sound correction. However, one way around this is to simply add more equalizer bands to the graphic equalizer. This is where Viper4Android comes in.
We recently raved about the ViPER4Android Audio engine by XDA Forum Member viper520 and Recognized Contributor zhuhang. And in yesterday’s update to version 220.127.116.11, the developers added an important new feature that allows it to play nicely with other apps: a third-party control API. Using this API, ssuukk was able to make XenoAmp control Viper Audio’s equalizer, allowing for a 10-band equalizer for use in the calibration techniques mentioned above.
If you care about audio quality on your mobile device, we highly recommend giving XenoAMP and ViPER4Android a shot. Combined, the two deliver a great listening experience. Yes, in a perfect world, we’d have perfect speakers and headphones that deliver uncolored and untainted sound to our ears with perfect transient response and no harmonic distortion. We’d also have perfect rooms that don’t alter the frequency response of our speakers by introducing harsh early reflections and room mode bass-nulls. In such a world, any kind of equalizer (or really, anything introducing anything into the signal path) is expressly bad. However, with our flawed room acoustics and imperfect frequency response curves, the correction built into XenoAmp may prove useful, and is at least worth a shot.