Android is still suffering from horrendous audio latency

by: Robert TriggsJuly 10, 2015

galaxy note 3 music one handed operation aa 07

It has been a little while since we last looked at the long running, unresolved issue of audio latency and Android. I wish I could tell you that things were all fixed up with the roll-out of Android Lollipop, but sadly there doesn’t appear to have been enough of an improvement.

Results compiled by Nervous Systems using data collected by the SuperPowered measurement application, which we talked about before, show that the most popular Android handsets are still far too slow at providing a round-trip from jack/mic to speaker for real-time audio processing. The results from the 20 most popular phones can be seen below.

Top 20 Android audio latencyFor reference, the threshold of latency detection for audio, among other senses, is around 20ms before the brain will perceive the delay as two separate sounds. Keep in mind that this test is a simple round trip with no time spared for any processing! Even the best Android phones still fall well short of the 5-20ms target, with most modern handsets putting in a best score of 60-70ms.

On the plus side, there has been an improvement since Android 5.0 Lollipop, with many phones showing around a 40ms reduction in latency. But the final results are still far too high for real-time processing. It is especially disappointing that Apple devices score less than 10ms in the same test. Despite showing the biggest improvements, even the Nexus 5 doesn’t come close.

Nexus 5 audio latencySamsung has its own Professional Audio SDK which exposes jack audio data directly to Android applications for reduced latency somewhere in the much more acceptable 10-15ms range. However, this has to be implemented on a per-app basis and likely isn’t used very widely and was disable for the test.

This issue is a problem not because it affects day-to-day audio playback, but because it is still locking Android out as a creative platform for real-time audio. Real-time apps that require jack or mic data just aren’t feasible with Android, years after the issue was originally raised.

Sadly, there’s not much we can do about it, other than keep complaining and hoping that Google comes up with a solution.

  • Moe Aboulkheir

    Hah. The graphs are SVG – try Ctrl-+ for higher quality screenshots.

  • josuearisty

    I think that hardware needs to be very close from software, I mean you need to work with both to get that dream come true

    • tiger

      like Apple?

  • Bradley Uffner

    What do the red lines on the candle charts represent?

    • jorda

      Those lines represent the range of results. So a longer red line means the response times vary more.

  • motoridersd

    These are the most popular Android devices? The Nexus 5 is the newest one on there and it’s almost 2 years old. I wouldn’t be surprised if things aren’t fixed in the Nexus 6, S6 and G4 though.

    • Gustavo

      Yeah, they should put more updated devices. All devices in chart are more than one year old. Also, they should see if it improved in latest Android M build to give a better idea on how it is now and what to expect.

      • Gábor

        Check the full list at the Superpowered website. It has many fresh models (sometimes under codenames), and experimental builds of unreleased devices too (internal testing by Samsung, etc.):

    • jorda

      Those are the most popular devices when the data was collected, so it might be a tad better now but there is a fundamental problem with Android’s audio APIs that is causing this latency.

      • Android Developer

        OnePlus One is that popular ?

      • tiger
      • Mike

        This data is from 2014 I think.

      • Moe Aboulkheir

        Apologies for confusion – “popular” means highly represented within the data, which is continuously updated.

    • tiger
    • Moe Aboulkheir

      Nexus 6 latency is good, as per

      The S6 is pretty shocking, latency wise – I have one. ~170ms.

  • IronHeart

    2015 model phones are not tested..almost all of them are atleast 1 year z3 seems to be the youngest (September 2014)

  • tiger

    Here what it means:

    Some specific examples on how audio related applications suffer from roundtrip audio latency greater than ~10 ms:

    •Music instruments apps, audio effect apps: musicians cannot play together on stage, as the performer using an Android device will be half beat behind the others. It’s not even usable for practicing.

    •DJs can not perform beat-matching, as their pre-listening signal in their headphones is far behind the master signal playing for the audience. Applying effects like a loop roll or echo is very hard too.

    •Games: sound effects, such as explosions or gun sounds lag behind by a few frames. Game audio is then “detached” from visuals, making for poor user-experience, preventing immersive gaming experiences.

    •VOIP apps, such as Skype: if both users are using a high latency Android phone, the overall audio latency is higher than the network latency. In other words, it takes more time for audio to “flow” through Android, than data packets to be transferred between continents.

    •Virtual reality (VR): when the viewer turns his head, the audio “follows” too late, destroying the 3D audio experience. Check the Paul McCartney Google Cardboard app for an example. Google is on the verge of leaving billions in revenue in VR opportunities for Apple.

    Read more:
    Low Latency Audio. Cross Platform. Free.
    Follow us: @SuperpoweredSDK on Twitter

    • Bendgate

      still samsung devices are ahead of iphone 6.

      • charlesarthur

        That’s a clever screenshot, because the listing at shows 12 iPhone 6 (3 x iPhone 6 “4 more”) results ahead of the Samsung with Professional Audio SDK, and then the two iPhone 6 results you’ve got. So the truth seems to be that Superpowered has seen more iPhone 6s that are faster than the Samsung with Pro Audio SDK than slower ones.

        More to the point, all the iPhone results (but not all the Samsung with Pro Audio results) are within the 20ms limit that’s accepted as required. So the article’s premise still seems to be supported.

        • Blackangel3942

          I think your math is wrong because “3 x iPhone 6 ‘4 more'” = 15 not 12.

      • tiger

        Lol. Can’t read.

      • tiger

        Android cannot game, cannot play music, has malware, and is second class citizen to developers.

        • Blackangel3942

          Actually Android has much less malware than an iPhone unless you were to enable “Unknown Sources” in the Security section then that is a different matter altogether. Also, Android gives you the freedom to customize and to build, so it is not a matter of being “second class citizen to developers” but being to develop with more freedom than that of Apple’s strict policies and OS.

          • tiger
          • Blackangel3942

            The only thing that article talks about is how most (97%) malware is targeted at Android, but it does not give you any numbers of how many Android devices are infected. Also, it clearly says in the last paragraph of the article the amount of malware is due to “The popularity of the Android mobile platform around the world is certainly going to attract malicious activity.”

          • Blackangel3942

            Here is my proof.

            Make sure to read them all thoroughly and carefully, especially the first three.

          • tiger

            All 3 top links refer to data given to them by GOOGLE itself! I am sure Tim Cook can give data too…but would you trust it?

            Want to read a sorry excuse for app security? Link:

          • Blackangel3942

            Ask yourself this.
            1)Would you rather collect the data yourself?
            2)What reason would Google have to lie about how much malware infects their OS?
            3)What do you have against Android?

          • tiger

            facepalm myself

          • tiger

            This is good stuff…Google and every developer spying on you…that is Android way of life. Hell, you cannot even encrypt your phone properly on Android!

          • tiger

            What do i have against Android? Nothing…i would not touch Android with a ten foot pole given how much snooping Android allows. Google reads and analyzes EVERYTHING you do…3rd party devs have access to everything because permission is so screwed up on Android.

            Yet, you have folks like you that are brainwashed into thinking the opposite!

            Do you really think Google would say publicly how vulnerable their OS is??????? Really!

          • Blackangel3942

            I am not brainwashed because I acknowledge the fact that Android is vulnerable and so does Google which is why they are testing out a new permission control system. But, you think that iOS is invulnerable to malware as if it were some sort of god. Even apps on the App Store ask for unnecessary permissions such as access to your contacts.

          • tiger

            My problem is with your original statement in this conversation. Nothing more, nothing less.

          • Blackangel3942

            I hate to ask this but can you help my find my original statement?

          • Blackangel3942

            I can tell you why those flashlight apps ask for those permissions if you would like to know.

          • tiger


            “”It works in the background, these pieces of software. So they’re taking your phone number, your GPS location data, they’re even taking over your entire network operating system, meaning if you’re doing your banking on another app, they can ‘sniff’ that and see the banking information that you’re sending,” Sileo said.

            He says a majority of this information is going to marketing companies. These people take it from you electronically and then sell it, and that’s how they make a lot of money.

            However, Sileo says there have been also been documented cases by the FTC that the information is being sent to cyber criminals as well who are using it to steal your identity.”

          • Blackangel3942

            Can you prove that all apps do exactly what is stated in the first and third paragraph? Also, the second paragraph is talking about cookies, which are found on any smartphone, tablet, and PC.

          • tiger

            Didn’t the other link tell you what they steal? Why are you asking for proof again?

          • tiger

            As for apps and games, if you think that quality is on same level, then you are truly brainwashed!

          • Blackangel3942

            For apps, it depends on what category you want to talk about. As for games, it varies from device to device so it makes it nearly impossible to judge on quality.

      • Karly Johnston

        u got pwned

  • enloquecido

    That sucks. Although my M8 isn’t bad, but they need to get on that!

  • James Childress

    I hardly watch apps like Netflix on my android devices because of the audio lag. It drives me nuts not having lips sync with the words. How hard is it to build a latency adjusting tool into Android?

  • s2weden2000
  • Someguyouthere

    Never had this issue but mine is rooted with all the crap removed I wonder how much is related to the bundle junk that comes preinstalled

  • LindaEFisher

    Some New Features with androidauthority….. Go To Next Page

  • metronome

    Check out digital audio for your phone on both Android and iOS… ditch the cheap sound out of your analog 3.5mm jack!

  • going34
  • Hi All,

    I am CEO and cofounder of Superpowered — the audio engine on whose data the original blog post was based on. The author of the blog post should be commended for using and visualizing the data — however, there is — currently — a glaring inaccuracy in his post.

    He writes:

    “2 Superpowered is a well-designed library, and its stewards are agitating for improvement of the latency situation on Android, which is great. It has many advantages, but as it’s a layer over OpenSL, it’s in no position to reduce latency.””

    We thank the author for the compliment on the quality of our design – but are unfortunately his characterization about Superpowered’s ability to reduce latency in Android is incorrect.

    Allow me to state without reservation: Superpowered does, indeed, reduce latency in Android audio and Superpowered is NOT simply as a layer or wrapper over OpenSL.

    The facts are that while Android ‘forces’ Superpowered to input/output audio via OpenSL — most of (all?) other audio-related functions found in OpenSL, Superpowered also provides with lower latency.

    For example, the Superpowered audio players are lower latency than OpenSL audio players.

    We hope this helps — feel free to reach out to us [email protected] anytime should anyone have any questions.


  • intrr

    “It is especially disappointing that Apple devices score less than 10ms in the same test.”

    How can something GOOD (low audio latency) be “disappointing”? This can only be said by an ideologically tainted Android Fanboy.

    • 1213 1213

      Because it means that android is doing relatively worse you lunatic.

  • ɢᴀᴍᴇʀ ᴅᴜᴅᴇ™

    until somebody yells at enough linux devs to fix their godawful audio stack, this problem’s going to persist for years.