A note on music sound quality for iPhone and iPad users thinking of a Nexus 7 – the Nexus 7 speakers aren’t great

As mentioned elsewhere, I’m a long term Apple, iPhone and iPad user and got a Nexus 7 out of curiosity and to see how easy it is for an iPhone / iPad user. Generally I am very pleased with it, but I would be negligent if I didn’t mention the relative speaker qualities, when playing music.

To be honest, the Nexus 7 speaker quality is only “fair” – I wouldn’t say it is “good.” It’s actually rather tinny. And using the Nexus “surround” setting only makes it worse (it is good that is off by default).

My iMac has the best music sound quality of the speakers I have. The iPad 2 is next best, and very good. The sound quality drops quite a bit by the time you get to the iPhone 5. But even the iPhone 5 sound quality is much better than the Nexus 7, which obviously has the worst speaker of the lot, even if you are not an audiophile (which I’m not).

In summary, for the mobile devices I own, the speaker quality for music is:

  • Best: iPad 2
  • So-so: iPhone 5
  • Worst: Nexus 7

I haven’t done a comparison with earplugs or headsets of these devices. I know, for example, that music sounds beautiful on my iPhone 5 when I use the earplugs. So this is probably simply a speaker issue.

Note: I did try using my iPhone 5 and iPhone 4 earplugs on my Nexus 7, but the output sound into the earplugs was extremely low. Does anybody know if this is a Nexus 7 earphone jack output setting issue? Or maybe the Apple earplugs are just not compatible with the Nexus 7? Or could the output jack be defective? I had the “volume for music” in Settings turned way up but the sound coming through the earplugs was very low.

Anyway, if you aren’t doing a side-by-side comparison with the iPhone 5 or iPad 2 the Nexus 7 sound may seem “oh, that’s not too bad” to you. But as soon as you switch and do a direct comparison it’s pretty obvious.



A note on music sound quality for iPhone and iPad users thinking of a Nexus 7 – the Nexus 7 speakers aren’t great — 1 Comment

  1. Additional note on earplugs: I did find an additional setting beyond Settings > Sound > Volumes > Music, video games & other media.

    (By the way, the above setting gets reset every time you plug in or unplug a headset.)

    The additional setting is just the volume control on the side of the Nexus 7. When the headset is in and you try to adjust the volume buttons up, you first get a warning about “setting volume too high.” If you “ok” that, you can raise the volume and it sounds like a normally to-be-expected earplug volume via the iPhone earplugs. So that’s a relief.

    I still think (1) the sound isn’t as loud as the maximum on the iPhone 5 (on the iPhone 5 I can’t bear to listen to the maximum sound, but can easily do so with the Nexus 7) and (2) the sound quality seems better on the iPhone 5. Maybe “something got lost in translation” via the Google Music Player.

    But the iPhone earplugs do work, and it does provide better sound quality than the rather tinny speakers.


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