Axon 7: AKM DAC not useable in hi-res

Such a disappointment; only ZTE's music app can use the hi-res DACs; and that one is ridiculously limited:

-can't play hi-res dsd files

-does not have a search feature

-all folders are listed in alphabetical order, which makes it an ordeal to locate an album or artist by folder

-within a folder or album, the songs are listed in alphabetical order only - so you cannot properly listen to an album

-even if you were to use an external file manager, and set ZTE's music as default player, when one sends a file to play, the zte music app does not open properly. This would be a first workaround to make it useable.



  • rupterrrupterr Posts: 92 ✭✭✭✭

    The DAC is working for me with PowerAmp alpha build 703. I think there are work around's to get other players to work with the DAC as well, including the regular build PowerAmp.

  • I am using Poweramp build 703; If you go to Settings, Audio, Output, Hi-Res output (Experimental), what do you see?

    I see : 'Variant: Snapdragon 24-bit PCM'.

    That is NOT the AKM DAC, it is a built-in DAC of the Snapdragon 820 processor. It is hi-res, but at least according to the ZTE's and AKM's hype, the AKM DAC should sound much better.

    You can test this by comparing ZTE's music app with Poweramp; ZTE's music app does sound better, but as I said it has all that terrible lack of other features that would make it in fact usable.

  • rupterrrupterr Posts: 92 ✭✭✭✭

    Yes. I got ya. It states just what you said. So it should say AK4490 32-bit? I notice the stock app playing louder but not necessarily sounding better. Were still getting 24 bit 192 kHz thru Poweramp and when I toggle the Hi-Fi super setting it does sound quite better.  You can't eq the stock music app unless you use Dolby Atmos, correct?  Trying to get a handle on these hi-fi dacs looks like it may take some time for me. It's really my first foray into this technology. I"m heading out for the evening but hopefully we can talk further about it later on, or maybe others can chime in as well to find out what exactly should be going on with the hi-fi DAC.

  • fzrrichfzrrich United StatesPosts: 4,257 mod

    Hey Guys!!!  Head on over to the Beta Lab and fill out a brief survey for a chance to become a Beta tester!! The new Beta Project is code named "Mercury" and should be out of this world!!! 

    "We are currently recruiting for ZTE Smartphone Beta Project "Mercury".  There are a limited number of spots to fill so please answer the questions honestly.  The Qualification Survey is located here: Beta Application Survey​ "

  • Imagine that with all the hype ZTE created around the sound DAC, the AKM DAC is either 'not necessarily sounding better' than the Snapdragon 820 or it can not be used!

    Probably if Poweramp would be able to use the AK4961 DAC it would sound even better than ZTE's music app.

    Nevertheless, the stock app would sound better on hi-res files [it can play flac 24/96, but not dsd]. But it is so rudimentary. Yes, the eq would be the Dolby Atmos app, which is quite good, actually.

    Briefly, this is what happens with audio [anyone please correct me or add clarifications if needed]:

    Axon [as any other 'audiophile' phone with Snapdragon processors] has two dac's available: the SN820 built-in, and their own - for Axon7, AK4961

    The android soundpath can be selected from settings | sound & vibration |  headset hifi . 'standard' is SN820, 'super' is AK4961.

    This does apply to all apps; however, normally audio apps go through android's standard interfaces - the best one being OpenSL - and all are at best 16bit 48kHz.

    As anyone who has used USB Audio player pro with a good external USB DAC can tell you, going above 16bit 48kHz does have a huge impact on audio quality.

    So this is the issue: normal sound apps do not make good use of the DACs.

    In order to send hi-res sound through the chain up to the output jack, an app needs to use the DAC's interface directly. This is what ZTE's app does for AK4961 and Poweramp does for SD820.

    There's a thread asking ZTE to 'make AK4961 available to all sound apps.' This is probably too difficult, as it would require replacing Android's sound libraries; but a reasonable compromise would be to kindly ask ZTE to improve its 'music' app and reach out to poweramp's developer team in order to make Poweramp work with Axon7's DAC.

    One other -even better- solution would be to work with Cyanogenmnod's team to a similar goal.

    Until one of these comes to pass, the 'ecxcellent sound' hype around Axon 7 is just that, hype. The emperor is naked.

  • I have just noticed this for the LG V10 (DAC Fix - Use the HI-FI DAC Everywhere! | LG V10 )

    A custom built app that enables the DAC to work for all music player perfectly. Can't this be done for Axon7?

    I really don't see why people claim making DAC available for all music app is "too difficult" when someone can build an app to fix it in no time.

  • Re. LG V10 fix  -Axon 7 already works as far that fix is concerned. It is the global switch in Axon: Settings, audio, set hi-fi mode to 'super'. It is this switch that did not work well in LG V10.

    After the fix in LG V10, one still needs poweramp build 703 to make complete use of the dac; which, if I'm not mistaken, for V10 works, so now V10 comes at an advantage.

    It can be difficult to really make the DAC available with all its capabilities because a lot of the android libs need to be replaced. The DAC is already available, but only using android's limiting api. That's why apps need to use another interface - like poweramp does. USB Audio Pro does something similar, but only for usb dacs. One of these need to be convinced to see Axon7 as well

    Don't get me wrong, although I say it can be difficult, I think it should be done; either in Android itself or in some mod; there are mods that do it. But they need to be made available. And I think it will (or it might) take a long time until ZTE or Cyanogen or ... will do it.

    So I point  to solutions thatare a lot simpler and therefore more likely to happen sooner:

    -improve ZTE music app

    -add poweramp support for Axon7

    -? some other app - USB Audio Pro?

    As a hint and proof for what I said above about V10's fix: look at post #111 in the thread you mention. THAT's the issue. Someone finally noticed the trick there. Only the stock app was made to work directly with LG V10's DAC. Same as in Axon's case.

    Also, post #112 in the same thread shows that they still need to use Poweramp, [which for V10 works] - and then it blows away the stock app. Unfortunately, that's not the case for us with Axon7

  • Make the DAC work anywhere! post #5 from sshasan gives us some hope:

    Please make it work in hi-res anywhere!

  • rupterrrupterr Posts: 92 ✭✭✭✭

    Thanks for the the post about what happens with the audio when using the DAC. It is the AK 4490 doing the audio output, not the AK 4961, which is for audio recording. Obviously, after further research and you pointing out the snapdragon chip doing the Hi-Fi processing in PowerAmp and not the AK 4961 we do need some other players to have the capability of the using the on board DAC since the stock player is not very good feature wise with it's current play options.

    I read on XDA that the hi-fi DAC is disabled when using Dolby Atmos with the stock player. I have no proof of this though, and it could be just someone talking, we need confirmation from ZTE on this aspect.

    When I engage Dolby Atmos it sounds very good with either player with my 24/192 flac files and it is hard to tell which one really sounds better to my ears. I'm using good Grado headphones for my testing btw.

    When I mean the DAC is not necessarily better than the snapdragon is because the volume is lower on PowerAmp compared to the stock player with the hi-fi DAC enabled and not using the Dolby Atmos feature. I can't turn the volume up further in PowerAmp to get them both equal in volume because I already have it maxed out. I agree that PowerAmp would most certainly sound better with the hi-fi DAC compared to the stock app simply because of it's EQ and separate bass/treble controls able to be used in conjunction with each other. This would be "without" Dolby Atmos engaged.

    Hopefully ZTE will improve the stock player and it's usability. (Max) the developer of the PowerAmp app is very good with support for his app. I have corresponded with him in the past and I think I will send him a message and see what he might be able to do to get the Axon 7's AK 4961 working with PowerAmp. After all this the Axon 7's audio output is still very good, but let's hope ZTE and other developers can make it sound even better by utilizing it's internal components to the fullest with as many audio player's as possible.

    In the meantime I found a article on Android Authority that you and maybe some forum members might be interested in reading. It's about the Axon 7's DAC's, what they can or might produce sound wise in the real world. Especially with the internals of a cellphone involved. Here is a link to the article...

  • Thanks for your very good post and link to the excellent article. I do think that updating Poweramp for AK4490 is the best chance we got for enjoying excellent quality audio faster.

    A quick remark for now: you can increase considerably the volume in poweramp  by going to settings | audio | replay gain; there,increase  the two preamp values as needed.

    One more way is to engage the equalizer; you can leave it on 'flat', there's no need to change the curve just for this; but the leftmost knob is the preamp; you can raise that one, too.

    Once the gain is increased, you might want to go to audio | advanced tweaks and increase the volume levels, to make the vol adjust smoother.

  • Just gonna pile on here in hopes of getting some attention. Opening up the dac to all apps seems ideal,  but updating the music app to be a bare level of expected functionality would be nice.

    I'd settle for the first, but some ideas:

    Sort tracks within an album by track #

    Sort album tracks by name (respect numerald that start a track name 01_track)

    Sort artists and ignore "the" as first word in title

    Default to Artists view when loading

      Default to albums thereafer

    Ability artist view from "now playing"  with one tap (hyperlink artist)

  • rupterrrupterr Posts: 92 ✭✭✭✭

    Your welcome for the article alexp. I thought it was very informative about the technology and what it's capable of in most real world settings. Thanks for the pointers about the PowerAmp settings. I was aware of the preamp slider of course. I usually like to keep that in the middle. The two preamp values did the trick. I saw them in the settings at some point earlier but didn't really have a chance to test them. I specifically just got the Alpha build because of the new Axon 7, so I'm still leaning it's additional settings from the standard app. There's just not enough time in the day anymore for me after work, kids, and other duties of life.

    I'll keep testing the stock app and PowerAmp to find out which one I like best, since I can get the volume loud enough now on PowerAmp with the preamp settings. After further testing I believe the stock player might be disabling the DAC when you engage Dolby Atmos, but I'm not quite sure. If you engage Dolby Atmos while using the stock app and then go into and toggle between super and standard I hear no difference. It's either disabling the DAC or locking it "on" when Dolby Atmos is engaged. Either way it sounds tremendous with internally stored music on my Grado's. Very happy with the sound so far and it's only going to get better with all the tweaks available and possible enhancements from ZTE or others.

    I'll keep reporting my findings with my testing and if I hear anything from the PowerAmp developer about him possibly being able to get the AK DAC working with his app I'll report back.

  • So, what you are saying is that if I only play CD quality flac (16/48) then I dont need anything better than the DAC running through Android libs, because it is not higher res than their max so it would sound the same? It would only be an improvement if I was trying to play 24/32bit?


  • for me, using pandora, (I havent downloaded any flac yet, just got the phone) I notice clear differences in volume between standard, atmos and super. They get louder in that order. So atmos is louder than standard hifi but super is louder than atmos. And I found the same thing, that you cant hear any difference when switching between standard and super with atmos on, but if you switch atmos off, then super is louder than when atmos was on. I think atmos disables the function of super mode, or using the hifi DAC. Atmos sounds the same whether in standard or super, but super without atmos sounds better than either with atmos.

  • gaurab43gaurab43 Maryland, U.SPosts: 113

    Dolby atmos does not work with power amp if DVC is turned on in settings which stands for direct volume control  i think. However, if you turn that on the volume gets super loud but u will lose Dolby atmos. The volume on stock and google music is  is very low. There is no way to tweak this even with Dolby atmos on. Also for dac use, go turning the hifi on and off makes no difference for me. Also the alpha test i am using for power amp only show the snapdragon dac. I am going to contact the dev of power amp regarding this and see what they can do abt this.

  • I've turned everything off in Poweramp, including direct volume control. This disables Atmos (which I don't use) and I can hear a huge difference in volume between standard and super settings on the HiFi switch.

    Let's face it, no-one knows when the 32-bit dac is engaged and when it isn't. ZTE forgot the instructions.

    Just using Power amp as a player with all enhancements turned off sounds fantastic and nice and flat with bass in bassy songs but not just there for the sake of it. Unlike the stock player, it plays albums in the correct order rather than alphabetically.

    I have a grey EU model and am listening on Sennheiser HD25 and HD600. Better than any portable player I've owned and much better than any phone.

    Neutron Player sounded good during my trial but forced close so many times I gave up.

  • Wait, I haven't tried the stock player yet. Are you saying that instead of

    playing songs in order on an album, starting with track one and then two

    and so on, it plays them alphabetically by song title. So if the last song

    on an album starts with an a that song would play first. ?! Does it do this

    with all albums all the time?!

    On Wed, Sep 21, 2016, 7:10 PM [email protected] <[email protected]>

  • I exclusively use Google play music and have high quality setting music for streaming.  When I click on equalizer from play music settings, it opens the Dolby Atmos app.  While messing with the equalizer settings for music, while music is playing, the changes affect the sound.  Would this be using the AKM Dacs?

  • taotao Posts: 72 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I installed power amp and had the same thing happen (at least until I plugged in my headphones and it autoplayed music at nearly FULL volume!  To hell with Power amp, never using it after nearly blowing out my headphones!)

    Anyway I use Neutron and it does have the ability to select 32bit output, and shows 32 bit output, however doesn't have a confirmation in respect to a read out to the name of the dac being used.

  • This is a setting in PowerAmp that you can set, whether it autoplays when you plug in headphones or not.

  • adrbadrb Toronto, CanadaPosts: 719 ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    No, it uses the Android software DAC

  • taotao Posts: 72 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It is ON by DEFAULT which is the problem.

  • Please to explain. What is the "android software dac"?

  • Yes, the stock player plays everything alphabetically. Including playlists! It's ridiculous.

  • There can be no 'software DAC' by definition; however, we could consider this a name for accessing the (hardware) DACs through OpenSL ES - android's low-res interface. Which one to use is selected in the global settings | sound | Headset HiFi.

    Needless to say, the other two possibilities, directly accessing *any of the * two DAC's, lead to way richer sound.

  • Yes, that is correct.

  • Just a little more:

    -add ability to search by [---something---]

    -send songs from outer apps [file managers] to play or to queue. This will be a good and quick workaround to all the apps UI limitations.

    -ability to decode dsd files

    -bug fixes in how some formats are played.

  • eviloverlordeviloverlord New YorkPosts: 13 ✭✭✭

    Music Player DAC issue **Fixed**

    First off - I'm not sure what the policy is on linking to other forums here. Tried searching the forum for an answer. Didn't find any. Some forums don't allow it.

    Mods, apologies in advance. Please delete the links and/or the post if this is in violation, I'll repost with the missing info/collated solution minus the links then.

    Hi, I have a fix to using the DAC on non-stock music apps.

    So I received my Axon yesterday.

    Upgraded from the Lenovo Vibe X3. I first ran in on the DAC problem on the X3.

    In my experience all of these dedicated DAC phones follow the same approach, i.e., LG V10, Vivo Xplay 5, Vibe X3, Axon 7, and (I assume) LG V20 as well.

    There is already a thread on XDA explaining the solution to the LG V10 (also applicable to all dedicated DAC phones) ->

    For reasons mentioned here, I'm posting the content on this forum as well..

    In short, the apps listed on the V10 page will use the DAC (also see below). Although the Vibe X3 had a dedicated DAC toggle, and the Axon 7 doesn't.

    Below is the list from the XDA page, in case hot linking to other forums is not allowed & the link is deleted.

    Music apps utilising the DAC on the LG V10


    N7 Player (only works with the 10-band equaliser disabled)
    PlayerPro (but NOT with the DSP installed!)
    Blackplayer EX
    Rocket Player FREE
    Spotify (only with cat game installed - see later in the thread...)
    Google Music (only with cat game installed - see later in the thread...)
    Neutron Player (only with cat game installed - see later in the thread...)
    Pulsar Music Player Pro

    GoneMad Music Player
    Stellio Music Player
    Rocket Player premium
    Most streaming radio apps, including: Simple TV, MX Player, Xiialive and Tunein Radio"

    Testing method is simply to install the app, play music and toggle DAC on/off to see if there was any interruption in the music (no interruption=no DAC)

    To test whether the DAC is being used by a music app on the Axon 7 is:

    1. Plugin high fidelity headphones (so you will be able to hear and verify the difference in music), if you can do it with regular earphones/headphones, good for you. and kickass hearing btw

    2. Play music on the music app you want to test. (Refer the LG link I posted)

    3. while the music s running in the background, go to Settings -> Sounds & Vibration -> Headset Hi-Fi -> and switch between Standard & Super settings.

    IF that app is using the DAC, you'll notice a slight pause (when the DAC switches on/off) and of course the difference in sound quality.

    Note: Switch Dolby off or ignore it when testing the app, cos for some reason switching Dolby Atmos on/off produces the same gap in playback as the DAC.

    On the Vibe X3 it didn't.

    I used to use PowerAmp earlier, cos I found that best for my taste.

    Then I discovered Neutron, and fell in love with that.

    However then I bought a DAC phone & both Poweramp & Neutron don't use the DAC(or I wasn't able to make them)

    As per a lot of users online "Poweramp Alpha" can be made to use the DAC on such phones, somehow. I tried fiddling around with it, got fed-up & left it.

    If someone has the patience to figure it out AND explain it to me, I'd be grateful, cos Poweramp is my player of choice in terms of UI & ease of usability.

    Neutrons latest changelogs mention it can use DAC usage as an update. But I can't notice the difference in the method listed above, or maybe its referring to USB DACs.

    Now my player of choice adter going through the list of DAC supported music apps is Pulsar. (Free works too). -

    Reason being, I found it to be the lightest/cleanest player which supports the DAC and can relatively smoothly handle my 10K+ collection of 320kbps MP3 & FLACs.

    You guys can go through the list of apps on the LG V10 page and decide. which suits you best.

    h/t @stupc over at XDA. I've found his thread to be the most informative and bang on in solving the problem of 3rd party DAC phones throughout the net. And trust me, I've searched. Went crazy trying to solve this when I first bought the X3.

    Hope this helps.

    Mods: Please move the post/thread to the appropriate section if required and close the thread as solved. I noticed multiple threads around the same topic.

    Hit Thanks/Upvote/Helpful if this helped.

    Just posted on XDA as well.

  • rupterrrupterr Posts: 92 ✭✭✭✭

    ^Good post, thanks for all the info. The DAC on my Axon 7 is working with PowerAmp Alpha build. If I toggle the super setting in the hi-fi settings of my Axon 7 I hear a pause and sound improves. You must turn on the high res output  in the audio settings of PowerAmp Alpha by toggling the wired headset/aux setting to "on", then Poweramp Alpha uses the AXON 7's AK4490 DAC.

    Alot of us have been confused by PowerAmp displaying the use of the Snapdragon 820's DAC and were thinking that was the DAC being used. I have been corresponding with the developer of PowerAmp and it is not always possible to detect and display the proper DAC name simply because it's nowhere there in the firmware.

    In fact, from his statement the snapdragon 820's audio DAC is not even connected and functional. ZTE could hopefully verify this? On devices with extra DACs, usually all audio coming to Headphones/Headset is via that extra DAC. He has verified this by connecting spectrum analzers to the Axon 7's 3.5 mm output jack and making measurements.

    I do hear the difference in sound quality using PowerAmp Alpha when toggling from standard to super which makes me believe that the AK4490 DAC on my Axon 7 is being used after corresponding with the developer.

  • celticchryscelticchrys Posts: 234 ✭✭✭

    Heh, I hadn't even gotten far enough to realize this, because it is unbearably laggy for me. Like, tap, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, action. No other audio apps have this problem, playing the same flacs off the same SD card. It's pretty much unusable.

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