But while the usage of mobile audio continues to grow, the Android operating system has struggled to keep up.
One area where it lags is the lack of a system-wide equalizer. Sure, some apps offer their own equalizers, but there’s no native way to adjust the output for any audio.
You need a third-party solution. Here are four of the best equalizer apps in the Google Play Store.
(Note: You should only have one equalizer app installed. Multiple equalizers can cause compatibility issues.)
Understanding Equalizer Apps
Before I dive into the list, there is one important point to clarify: all the equalizer apps that work without requiring root access do the same thing.
That’s because they all rely on the Android AudioEffects class to control the Equalizer, Virtualizer, BassBoost, PresetReverb, and EnvironmentalReverb.
This has a few significant repercussions for users. Firstly, the only differences between the apps are the user interfaces and the additional features – the effect on your audio will be identical. Secondly, the equalizers will not be able to control more than one app at a time. Finally, the equalizers you download work in the same way as the equalizers packaged into apps like Spotify and Google Music. If you only use one service and it already has an equalizer, downloading an additional app is unnecessary.
Because of these realities, this list only has the four best options.
In my opinion, Equalizer has the best features, it’s the easiest to use, and it has the best interface.
The free version comes with 11 presets (Normal, Classical, Dance, Flat, Folk, Metal, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Pop, Rock, and Latin) as well as a bass boost, surround sound, and a sound amplifier. Tap on the preset you want to activate it.
Its standout feature is its use of ID3 tags to automatically adjust the equalizer based on the type of music you’re listening to. Clearly, this only works if you’ve taken the time to tag your music library correctly.
The app follows Google’s “Material Design” principles, but you can download custom themes if you want to add some spice. There’s also a home screen widget, letting you quickly adjust your equalizer on-the-fly.
The pro version is available for $1.99. It adds a way to save your own custom presets, the ability to add custom presets to your home screen widget, and allows the ID3 tagging feature to work with streaming apps like Spotify.
Download: Equalizer (Free)
2. Equalizer & Bass Booster
Equalizer & Bass Booster does a lot more than the name suggests. In addition to the bass boost, there’s a five-band equalizer (60 Hz, 230 Hz, 910 Hz, 3.6 kHz, and 14 kHz), a 15-level volume booster, and a surround sound control.
Aesthetically, the developer has designed the app to look like it’s an MP3 player that floats in the middle of your screen. There are easy-to-use dials that let you change the volume, bass, and surround sound.
Whenever you’re playing audio, the screen of the virtual MP3 player has some cool visuals that bounce around in time to the music. If you make the visuals full screen, it becomes even more impressive. The graphics adjust themselves as you move your device around. You need to let the app record your phone’s audio for the on-screen effects to work (see screenshot above).
The $2.99 pro version removes ads and adds custom presets.
Download: Equalizer & Bass Booster (Free)
3. Equalizer Music Player Booster
Equalizer Music Player Booster is a three-in-one app: an MP3 player, a music equalizer, and a bass booster. It has an “Editor’s Choice” award in the Play Store.
The equalizer has five bands (Bass, Low, Mid, Upper, High). There are 10 presets to choose from, and you can also create and save custom presets.
It will only work with audio (songs or podcasts) stored on your device – it is not compatible with Spotify or other streaming apps. However, don’t let that put you off — as mentioned at the start of the article, the equalizers provided by Spotify and dedicated third-party apps are identical in terms of functionality.
The MP3 player is easy to navigate. It’ll automatically find any audio you have saved on your device, it supports crossfading (up to 20 seconds), it has a visualizer (though it’s not as impressive as Equalizer & Bass Booster’s visualizer), and there’s a sleep timer.
There’s even a way to share songs will other users on the same network. As long as they have the app installed on their device, you can give them a code and they can stream your entire collection remotely.
For $2, you can remove the ads.
Download: Equalizer Music Player Booster (Free)
4. Equalizer Ultra Booster EQ
I’ve made Equalizer Ultra Booster EQ my final pick for one main reason: it boasts a 10-band equalizer. From my research, it was the only non-root 10-band app in the store. If you know of any others, be sure to let me know in the comments.
In additional to the 10-bands, you’ll also find a virtualizer and a reverb dial, as well as sliders for a bass boost and a treble boost.
If you’re happy to spend $1.50, you can unlock “Ultra Mode.” It has some cool additional features, including a preamp, ultra bass, enhanced stereo effects, crossfading, and playback speed adjustment.
Despite the benefits, there is a trade-off. The app is nowhere near as straightforward to use or as pleasing on the eye as my three previous recommendations. The font it deploys looks like something out of a bad sci-fi movie, and the silver-on-black theme can be difficult to read.
Nonetheless, if those extra bands are important to you, it’s a solid choice.
Download: Equalizer Ultra Booster EQ (Free)
Which Equalizer Do You Use?
I hope my four choices have helped you understand what the core features offered by Android equalizer apps are. Which app you ultimately decide to download depends on what is most important to you: ease-of-use, graphics, multiple bands, or additional features.
For more on audio, check out a comparison between Ableton and FL Studio.
Image Credit: Christopher Gardiner via Shutterstock.com, Eric via Flickr
Originally written by Joel Lee on June 21st, 2013.