1. krobik's Avatar
    Okay, I got a Moto G 3rd-gen (16/2) coming in the mail, and I've already got a problem with it. It cannot be set to mono audio output out-of-the-box. I currently use an LG Optimus L90, and in General Settings under Accessibility there is sub-heading named Hearing. In Hearing, I can set the Audio Type to either Stereo or Mono, and I can adjust Left-Right Channel Balance with a slider. There is another setting for Captions, but I am not hearing-impaired, so only the first two settings interest me. And frankly, I think those two setting should interest anybody who wants options for the output of audio. In other words, these two settings, Audio Type and Channel Balance, could just as well have been settings in the Sound section of Settings. They are fundamental and important options for listening to music, which, after all, is a primary use of smartphones. When I first started using the LG phone as a music device I found it very unpleasant to hear stereo music divided into separate channel components, especially when the sound was delivered directly into the ear canal with earbuds. I don't listen to music that way, with bass and drums in one ear, and with melody and voice in the other ear. I was greatly relieved to find the Mono setting in Accessibility. Mono audio output was a vast improvement in my listening experience. I recently learned, a bit late, that Lollipop does not support mono audio output. This baffled and disappointed me that Android would drop such an important setting. I am now struggling with the fact that Moto G 2015 does not support mono audio out, and confirmed same with Motorola Tech Support. Nobody seems to have a Lollipop phone locally or conveniently to answer my questions. I found one store employee who was helpful. He whipped out his LG Leon(?) running Android 5.1.1, checked the Accessibility section and there they were, the two settings that I want. Before this observation, I was assuming that KitKat had the two settings, but that Android mysteriously dropped them in Lollipop and Mushroom. Now I am thinking that these two settings in Accessibility come as a special feature on LG phones. I also recall reading that Samsung has the two desired settings.

    So I need to know: Did stock KitKat have Accessiblity settings for Stereo/Mono selection and L-R Channel Balance? If so, why did Android drop the two Accessibility settings in Lollipop, and presumably Mushroom. If not, is this an exclusive LG feature? If Android never did provide these two settings, why not? If nothing else, it could have been included in the Hidden Menu, so that customers don't have to resort to buggy 3rd party apps or clunky adapters to acquire the functionality.

    You might say, well then, your problem is solved, go buy an LG phone. To which I answer, I got an LG phone. I want a better phone that has front-facing speakers and LTE speed. So you see, I bought the Moto G mostly for its audio features, not knowing that mono audio output is unsupported. I checked all the phones with front speakers, including HTC models, and I thought I had a winner with Moto G. But now I find I can't get mono audio out of the earbuds. Well, that's a deal breaker for me.

    Please give me a full clarification of this issue. Is it Android that doesn't support mono? Is it Motorola that doesn't provide the setting? Are the two settings provided in stock KitKat? Are the settings an exclusive benefit from LG? What other brands offer the two settings? Why can't Android provide these settings?

    What Players will output in mono as an option? (Not interested in PowerAmp, but I like MX Player.) Is there a third party app that will convert stereo to mono on-the-fly? Considering the Mono setting in LG phones, is the mono output lossy w.r.t stereo output? Will I have to root this phone in order to get mono out? Where can I get specific code to implement the settings? I can say, I am fairly happy with the mono sound coming out of the LG phone. If Android programmers would listen, they could just post a patch at Google Play Store for anyone who wanted Mono and Channel Balance settings? I've seen a hack for Mono Audio Out in less than 20 lines of code. What's the hangup?

    Can you recommend any other solutions, such as a Stereo-to-Mono adapter that will do the job? Is there a problem with impedance matching when using a simple adapter? Of course, it's very desirable to minimize the size of the adapter.
    10-26-2015 03:04 AM
  2. krobik's Avatar
    Anecdotal evidence: I went to a store where there were 4 or 5 clerks gathered around the cash register. I walked up and asked if anyone had a Lollipop phone. They all looked at each other and said, Nope. Well, I didn't leave right away and it turned out that one lady was holding out and felt reassured when I said I didn't want to touch it, I just wanted her to check for settings in Accessibility. She consented to check for me, and when I asked what brand phone it was, she said LG. I told her it would almost certainly have those settings I was looking for in Accessibility. She showed me anyway, and when she opened Audio Type, I could see that Mono was selected. By default, this setting is Stereo, so I'm pretty sure it was set to Mono on purpose. This lady was not hearing-impaired as far as I know, showed no sign of it either. I'm going to jump to a conclusion and say that if a normal listener has a choice of Stereo or Mono through earbuds, eventually the listener will choose Mono, because it provides a more even, consistent musical experience. At the time, my LG phone was set to Stereo because I thought I had imagined that a certain song was coming out in stereo even though my audio output was set to Mono, which, if true, would be a whole nuther can of worms. I don't really insert the earbuds all the way into my ear canal, just far enough for it to stay in, so it might have been the loose fit that was causing the discrepancy between right and left channels. Also, my left ear hears 10 or 15% less than my right ear, which requires the Channel Balance setting to correct. So I was trying to find that questionable track so I could hear it in stereo to determine if I had actually heard stereo when the Audio Type was set to Mono. I sort of lost track of that endeavor as I interacted with the sales clerk with a Lollipop phone. I was driving home and one of my favorite pieces started playing from my playlist. My phone was set to Stereo output, and I have to say that this wonderful piece of music sounded like crap in stereo. Mainly because the artist was ahead of his time, harmonically and rhythmically advanced, but he was playing with a rhythm section from his own period and the drummer's playing in particular was mediocre at best. Stereo put this drummer almost all alone in one channel playing with brushes which came across as very treble, and therefore distracting, if not downright annoying. The drummer was just time-keeping and it sounded awful when separated out like that. It was so awful, and I enjoy the artist so much, that I set the audio output back to Mono while I was driving home, and it made a big difference to get that drummer back in the band, where he really didn't sound that bad. I thus confirmed to myself that I was not imagining the improvement in listening when switching from Stereo to Mono. I need this Stereo/Mono setting. Music is very important to me. I bought the Moto G to listen to music, primarily. Another thing about stereo is the original intent of it. Back in the late 1950s, it was engineered to produce an illusion of spatial context for the music, in response to what? cinema? like make-believe theater? Stereophonic sound developed as a corollary to the development of cinematic sound production, and thus a visual element, whether cinematic or virtual, is implied in stereo production. That purpose is achieved to some degree when sound is propagated in a room, through the air. However, when the source of the sound is placed less than half an inch away from the listener's eardrum, the illusion of spatial context just doesn't happen because, for one thing, the sound is not in the space surrounding the listener anymore, much less in front of the listener as stereo was intended (as in a movie theater), rather, it's inside the listener's head. So stereophiles have to dream up another purpose for stereo such as playing little tricks with phasing, enough to make the listener dizzy. This can be a fun novelty, especially when it's well done, I could even see it as a specialty hobby. Recent stereo recording technique can be quite sophisticated and listenable. Maybe another dimension can be added with surround sound, which, incidentally, also requires a physical space to pull off the illusion. I ask you, can you hear in three dimensions through a set of earphones? But putting aside all the gimmickry, titillation, and marketing hype, stereo is unnecessary for listening to serious music, particularly through earbuds. Mono is more even, balanced, and consistently listenable than stereo, even if delayed timing between channels to fatten the stereo sound may introduce distortion when converting from stereo to mono. No one should be limited to one audio type or the other. Just make Mono an option. It's about choice.
    10-27-2015 04:11 PM
  3. Golfdriver97's Avatar
    Hello, Welcome to Android Central.

    I think there may be a little confusion here; we are not affiliated with Google or any OEM like Samsung or LG. We are a forum site connected to a blog for Android fans worldwide.
    10-27-2015 04:41 PM
  4. krobik's Avatar
    Thanks for your feedback. Where should I be posting this?
    10-27-2015 04:51 PM
  5. Golfdriver97's Avatar
    Thanks for your feedback. Where should I be posting this?
    Sorry about the delay. I'm not sure where as Google may have it the way you like, but OEMs can make almost any change they want. I would say both Google and Moto.
    10-28-2015 12:55 PM
  6. krobik's Avatar
    I could probably communicate my suggestions to Motorola. But I don't know a venue that would get my suggestion through to Google devs.
    10-29-2015 04:10 AM
  7. Golfdriver97's Avatar
    In Google settings on your device should be a feedback button in the menu. You can try that.
    10-30-2015 04:34 PM
  8. krobik's Avatar
    Done. Thank you for the tip.
    11-01-2015 02:32 AM

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