Sound quality problems reported for Nexus 5 devices


When the Nexus 7 (2013) was introduced earlier this year, it did not take long before reports of problems like touchscreen inaccuracies and GPS issues surfaced eventually leading to some fixes from Google. Another group of early adopters may be going through the same thing as Nexus 5 owners are discovering some problems with audio quality. The problems seem to be connected to the built-in microphone with the biggest impact being on call quality during phone calls.

The source of the problem, and whether it is a hardware or software issue, has not yet been identified. There is one theory that the problem lies in sound-canceling algorithms. The sound-canceling function is suspected because the problem seems to impact a wide range of apps like SoundHound or Google Now, along with the phone and recording apps. Some users have reported that apps that allow users to make recordings without the built-in noise reduction feature being activated are able to produce good clear audio.

Others think the problem lies with the hardware. One theory is that some glue used during the manufacturing process is somehow obstructing the built-in mic. This causes the noise reduction algorithm to have trouble distinguishing between background noise and what should be picked up because the volume of everything is reduced. The possibility of hardware problems would also explain why some users are having problems and others are not. Keep in mind though that Google claims to have fixed the Nexus 7 touchscreen issues with a software fix even though it too was a problem that only affected some device owners and not all owners.

There are a couple workarounds that have met with some limited success. One way to get around the problem, at least for doing things like making phone calls, is to use a headset. Whether wired or Bluetooth, these devices typically implement their own noise-canceling solutions and thus bypass the built-in algorithm. Users have also reported the speakerphone seems to be a good solution, especially for phone calls.

According to sources, some Google reps have acknowledged the problem exists as part of their efforts to provide customer support. An official position from Google is not yet known.

Have you had any problems with your Nexus 5’s sound recording quality or trouble talking with others on the phone? If so, share your tales with us in the comments.

source: Android Police

About the Author: Jeff Causey

Raised in North Carolina, Jeff Causey is a licensed CPA in North Carolina. Jeff's past Android devices include an HTC EVO, a Samsung Note II, an LG G3, and a Motorola Moto X Pure Edition along with a Samsung Galaxy Tablet 10.1. He currently uses a Samsung Galaxy S8 and (very rarely) a Nexus 7 (2013). He is also using a Verizon-branded Motorola Moto Z Play Droid supplied by his job. Jeff used to have a pair of Google Glass and a Moto 360 Sport in his stable of gadgets. Unfortunately, his kids have all drunk the Apple Kool-Aid and have i-devices. Life at home often includes demonstrations of the superiority of his Android based devices. In his free time, Jeff is active an active runner usually training for his next marathon, owns a MINI Cooper, and plays Dungeons & Dragons. Jeff has three mostly grown kids and a golden retriever.

  • rayo

    i have been experiencing problems with phone calls, calls break up sometimes

  • rakshith r.s

    I have been experiencing the same problem with calls and low sound clarity. On my nexus 5

  • macca

    I too had the problem and logged a case with Google. I was advised to perform a hard reset which I reluctantly did and it has resolved the issue. If this stays fixed permanently is anyone’s guess!

  • rodolfo cruz

    I have no problem on my nexus 5 sound or volume’ for me its a nice & simple pone but powerful.♣

  • dev

    wtf is “sound cancelling”?

  • Russell Brown

    The sound quality is the worse I have ever had. It’s not just the sound quality, with my phone the screen keeps locking up and the touch accuracies are terrible. I can’t even pay a game correctly. I am a nexus die hard but I’m beside myself st this point. I am being forced to buy another phone on my contact until this gets figured out. Hopefully it is only a software issue and not a hardware issue and I have to send it back.

  • Cliffy

    My Nexus 5 has issues with sound. There’s not enough loudness when holding it to my ear unless I’m in a quieter area. I only use it that way for private convos, so that makes me mad. Mostly, I use the speakerphone. At its loudest setting, it is way distorted. One bump down and it’s tolerable, but at all the louder settings it’s not what I’d call good quality, just fair. And I’d like it louder-like it gets with the Galaxy S III. That thing is loud AND clear.
    I’m p-o’d at every reviewer that touted great volume and call clarity for the N 5. I buy my cell phones on few qualifications, which are call volume using the speakerphone, and call clarity; second is how (Android) vanilla I can have it, and third is not having FaceBook preloaded.

    Using a Jabra BT unit for the car works well for me and the person I’ve called.
    I’ve also got the SMS exploit thing going on and have downloaded the workaround to mitigate that, so I’m not too thrilled as I once was going in to this phone.

  • Ashwin

    I usually connect my phone to the aux port in the car using a cable and talk. I used to have a really low end phone and that used to have no echo problems. With my Nexus 5 the other party seems to hear their own voice echoing. At my end, things are okay. But this is really really annoying for the that other party which is usually my wife

  • Brendon Shipley

    Looks like I may be one of the lucky ones. My nexus 5 works great. No sound issues, no screen issues. If it’s a hardware issue, Google is good for it. They’ll make sure a new phone gets to you. If it’s a software issue, there will be an update soon enough. It’s a bummer they let this massive issue slip past them.

  • unhappy nesux 5 owner

    I have problems with my nexus 5! Phone’s alarm system doesn’t work! well it does so long as the phone is on otherwise it doesn’t. The audio volume is far too low! Not happy at all with it.Battery! Google, you are useless man!I need to charge my phone twice a day and and I am not a heavy user by any stretch of imagination! but purely for web browsing experience, it is a damn good phone! hopefully, software updates will fix all of those issues!

  • Zen1

    I’ve had my Nexus 5 for a few days now and I’m afraid unless Google sort out some fixes for it I’m going to send it back for a refund.

    My issues with it are…

    1.Sound from built in speaker is far too low.
    2.The quality of this sound …say from a You Tube music video of known quality is very poor indeed.
    3.Calls I make are being received by others as low in volume and almost muffled.
    4.In a marginal 2/3G reception area this phone just isn’t interested where by my old trusty Android Motorola still lets me surf the net.
    5.The videos I have shot have distorted sound.
    6.Using it for car navigation is a non starter because of the low volume output from the speaker.

    The above is a major disappointment….and such a shame because there’s a truly wonderful phone in the making here.
    I have a window until the end of January before I need to return it…..get your skates on Google…….please….!!!!.

  • David Setton

    I have problems with the mic when recording video in a quiet environment. It produces lots of static and hissing in the videos.

    • Rance Heifner

      I noticed this shortly after updating to 4.2.2 on voxer

  • asterisker

    I had 2 android nexus 5 for my wife and I. We can call any other person or network and it works just fine, I can talk to my daughter with no issue but when I call another nexus 5 the sound is worst, muffle, distortion, we both complain as we sounded so far from mic. speakerphone produce the same echo. . I factory reset and got latest update but still nothing… Goo do something

  • Nick

    I’m so glad I found this I was beginning to think I was the only one having this problem. Two of my coworkers in my office were early adopters as well and neither have this problem. I’ve narrowed it down to not a cell service issue as it happens all over the country. The person on the other end of the phone call will often (but not always) get garbled, staticy or distorted sound coming from me which usually renders phone call useless. I’ve been trying to figure out a solution for a while now and am about ready to raise hell in a Sprint store (i bought it from them directly) until they swap out the phone.

  • Pran

    The volume of voice during the call keeps fluctuating. Therefore have to speak into the phone by moving it away from the ear and speaking directly into the phone.

  • Mike

    My fiancée and I both got Nexus 5s yesterday and since then have both noticed issues with our own voices not coming through properly, but we can hear other people just fine. I first noticed it when I was setting up my voicemail; I could hear the prompts loud and clear but when I attempted to record my name it came through very muffled. I later had a couple calls where I could hear the other person fine but they had a bit of trouble hearing me. Finally, my fiancée called me and mentioned having had some sound issues and we could barely communicate. We both went on speaker and things seemed to improve, though that’s hardly a long-term solution.

    We’ll mess with them a bit more since we’ve only had them a day but I’m pretty close to going in and returning these things.

  • Vishnu C Nair

    I’m also facing the same problem. video recording is a nightmare. Audio recordings is very poor. Only distorted sounds. During phone calls the other person doesn’t hear my voice clearly. Overall a stupid product from Google.

  • zulika permual

    Am happy to find this site. The phone is working quite OK with the major problem of not hearing I have to put the phone on speaker everytime am making or receiving a call. It’s so embarrassing especially when u are amongs people who listen to your conversation

  • Ales

    It’s frustrating when people I’m calling with tell me to talk clearly as they can’t hear me properly and think I’m either not talking to the phone or that I’m mumbling myself. It is so lame that Google hasn’t done anything about it yet.

  • Joe in Oz

    Using the Nexus 5 as a phone, speaking and listening is a frustrating experience. The other people can never really hear me. Nexus 5 comes with bad voice-sound quality. When I speak on the phone
    people hear my voice as if from a distance. The recurrent term is
    muffled. On speakers is slightly better. I tried recording messaging on
    my voicemail both using the landline phone and nexus or three different voicemails, just to check the
    differences. Well the quality is really bad. When i use the video camera, even if it is still and in a sound proof environment the recording comes out
    with a strange sound, almost static. The sounds from the videos is

    I ordered a replacement and the copy i got is ever worst than the one i had. Appalling.

    Using the nexus 5 for internet is ok, but simply as a phone forget about it


  • kausar

    I am also facing the sound problem, other party hardly hear my voice. Also Signal problem in my cell. :( what to do?

  • John Stacy

    Just got my Nexus 5 last week, I make many phone calls using the auxiliary port, and am having the same echo problem everyone seems to be reporting. I love the phone otherwise but this is not acceptable. I’ve thought about buying a Blue Tooth to broadcast solution to test that out, but I really shouldn’t have to do that. I’ll have to check what the rules are on sending the phone back, seriously considering doing it though and looking at Moto X (will be testing one of those tonight). Would prefer keep my Nexus.

  • jr

    Yes got it the other day and it’s a rather annoying noise! I guess no one has any good tips on it?

  • shradhap

    I got my Nexus 5 in January. It worked completely fine for me except that the caller cannot hear my voice. Now since a couple of days my voice echos during the call and I can’t hear the person on the line at all, neither can the person hear me. This is happening while using my earphones as well. This is a really frustrating issue coz I work through phone most of the times. Any solutions ??

  • Scott Millard

    My Nexus 5 has been active for 8 days. All but one person I’ve spoken to has complained that I sound distant or muffled. On speaker, I sound louder and fine. I chatted with Google Support, and they had me reboot in safe mode (no third party apps). This actually solved the problem with a test call to the person who seemed to have the most trouble hearing me. Suggestion was that it is an app I downloaded, and I need to remove them one by one to see which is the culprit. Luckily, I only have about 75 or more to go through. WTF Google? Really, remove every app one by one. Come on, has somebody figured out how to fix this. I don’t want to talk on speaker phone like an asshole to everyone.

  • hossein

    that is true.i have a nexus 5 .it has problem when talking on phone that the sound is not clear.the person at the other dosent understand .
    what should i do?i am compeletly depressed

  • vivek

    im using Google nexus 5 one week, incoming call and receiving call are sound breaking cant hear propely , my network tower is full so no problem in network , please help me , how can i solve this .??????

  • Richard From The Gym

    I have just recently run into the same issue. It absolutely annoying because if I want a private call I used to be able to do so in a crowded bar with the noise-cancelling…but not anymore. It is almost the exact opposite, the speaker phone volume started to slightly get worse (aka quieter), leaving me to use the handset instead. Now, they’re both screwed…not to a point where I cannot hear completely like some people (knock on wood) but to the point where I can’t even really have anybody talking within a small radius of my location. Either way, the problem needs to be fixed. I would gladly send in my phone for research if they want it Lol. There’s literally nothing I can do to make things better and if I take apart the phone I will void the warranty I’m sure so of course I’m at the mercy of Google/LG :-/

  • kriti19

    I also encountered the same problem since two days. I cannot hear the callers voice neither can the caller.its like complete silence.I have to call three four times to wait for the successful call in which I can really talk.I called lg customer service and they asked to go to the service center. Can anyone please tell if there is any method that we can get our device replaced??