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Google Pixel 7a
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Google Pixel 7a Audio test

OTHER AVAILABLE TESTS FOR THIS DEVICE

We put the Google Pixel 7a through our rigorous DXOMARK Audio test suite to measure its performance both at recording sound using its built-in microphones, and at playing audio back through its speakers.

In this review, we will break down how it fared in a variety of tests and several common use cases.

Overview


Key audio specifications include:

  • Two speakers (Top front, bottom side)
  • No jack audio output

Scoring

Sub-scores and attributes included in the calculations of the global score.

Google Pixel 7a
Google Pixel 7a
132
audio
133
Playback
129

158

128

149

149

162

126

162

99

157

131
Recording
126

147

123

146

97

159

89

170

133

145

140

166

Playback

Pros

Cons

Recording

Pros

  • Bright, pleasant timbre
  • Very good and consistent dynamics performance
  • Precise localizability and accurate distance rendition

Cons

  • Monophonic recordings with memo app
  • Generally underwhelming performance at high sound pressure levels

The Pixel 7a delivered a decent performance in our DXOMARK Audio tests, with playback results that were in many ways very similar to the Pixel 6a, and recording results very close to the flagship device Pixel 7 Pro. The overall score is slightly lower than on the predecessor Pixel 6a, though.

In playback we found the Pixel 7a to be most suited for watching movies and listening to music. Sound was punchy, but the sound signature with the built-in speakers was slightly thin and resonant, which isn’t great for gaming. Recording results were best when shooting video with the main camera app in landscape orientation, with bright recordings that were nice to listen to. Front-camera sound was nice as well but offered a narrower sound scene, while  the default memo app is limited to mono recordings only.

Test summary

About DXOMARK Audio tests: For scoring and analysis in our smartphone audio reviews, DXOMARK engineers perform a variety of objective tests and undertake more than 20 hours of perceptual evaluation under controlled lab conditions.
(For more details about our Playback protocol, click here; for more details about our Recording protocol, click here.)

The following section gathers key elements of our exhaustive tests and analyses performed in DXOMARK laboratories. Detailed performance evaluations under the form of reports are available upon request. Do not hesitate to contact us.

Playback

133

Google Pixel 7a

163

Black Shark 5 Pro
How Audio Playback score is composed

DXOMARK engineers test playback through the smartphone speakers, whose performance is evaluated in our labs and in real-life conditions, using default apps and settings.

In playback, the timbre was overall average and quite similar to what we had previously seen on the Pixel 6a. Our testers found it rather thin and midrange-focused, lacking bass and low midrange body, as well as high-end extension. In terms of dynamics, attack was often rounded but consistent across volume levels, and bass precision suffered from a lack of sustain. On the plus side, the 7a was quite punchy at all volume settings. Localizability of individual sound sources in the scene was great, but our experts found the balance to be slightly offset to the right. Overall, the sound scene created by the built-in speakers was slightly narrower than on other devices with similar dimensions.

Volume steps were distributed in a consistent way, and the Pixel provided good loudness at maximum volume, but the minimum volume step was a touch too quiet, making it hard to hear soft-volume sections in classical music for instance. Unwanted audio artifacts were overall managed pretty well, with only some bass distortion noticeable. We also observed some pumping at maximum volume. It’s worth mentioning that our testers found the speaker on the right be easily covered by accident with your fingers when holding the device, resulting in an even thinner tonal balance.

Listen to the tested smartphone’s playback performance in this comparison with some of its competitors:

Google Pixel 7a
Google Pixel 6a
Samsung Galaxy A54 5G
Recordings of the smartphones playing some of our music tracks at 60 LAeq in an anechoic environment by 2 microphones in A-B configuration, at 30 cm
Here is how the Google Pixel 7a performs in playback use cases compared to its competitors:
Playback use-cases scores

Timbre

129

Google Pixel 7a

158

Black Shark 5 Pro

The Timbre score represents how well a phone reproduces sound across the audible tonal range and takes into account bass, midrange, treble, tonal balance, and volume dependency. It is the most important attribute for playback.

Music playback frequency response
A 1/12 octave frequency response graph, which measures the volume of each frequency emitted by the smartphone when playing a pure-sine wave in an anechoic environment.

Dynamics

128

Google Pixel 7a

149

Black Shark 5 Pro

The Dynamics score measures the accuracy of changes in the energy level of sound sources, for example how precisely a bass note is reproduced or the impact sound from drums.


Spatial

149

Google Pixel 7a

162

Black Shark 5 Pro

The sub-attributes for spatial tests include pinpointing a specific sound's location, its positional balance, distance, and wideness.


Volume

126

Google Pixel 7a

162

Black Shark 5 Pro

The Volume score represents the overall loudness of a smartphone and how smoothly volume increases and decreases based on user input.

Here are a few sound pressure levels (SPL) measured when playing our sample recordings of hip-hop and classical music at maximum volume:
Hip-Hop Classical
Google Pixel 7a 74 dBA 69.5 dBA
Google Pixel 6a 74.1 dBA 69.1 dBA
Samsung Galaxy A54 5G 75 dBA 71.3 dBA
The following graph shows the gradual changes in volume going from minimum to maximum. We expect these changes to be consistent across the range, so that all volume steps correspond to users’ expectations:
Music volume consistency
This line graph shows the relative loudness of playback relative to the user selected volume step, measured at different volume steps with a correlated pink noise in an anechoic box recorded in axis at 0.20 meter.

Artifacts

99

Google Pixel 7a

157

Asus ROG Phone 5

The Artifacts score measures the extent to which the sound is affected by various types of distortion. The higher the score, the less the disturbances in the sound are noticeable. Distortion can occur because of sound processing in the device and because of the quality of the speakers.

Playback Total Harmonic Distortion (Maximum Volume)
This graph shows the Total Harmonic Distortion and Noise over the hearable frequency range.
It represents the distortion and noise of the device playing our test signal (0 dB Fs, Sweep Sine in an anechoic box at 40 cm) at the device's maximum volume.

Recording

131

Google Pixel 7a

157

Black Shark 5 Pro
How Audio Recording score is composed

DXOMARK engineers test recording by evaluating the recorded files on reference audio equipment. Those recordings are done in our labs and in real-life conditions, using default apps and settings.

The performance in recording was overall very close to the Pixel 7 Pro. Timbre was very good, with a nice tonal balance in all use cases. Our testers noted a satisfying brightness, especially when recording video with the main camera. Dynamics performance was great as well, and consistent across use cases, with an accurate envelope and a pretty good signal-to-noise ratio keeping background noises at bay. Localizability in recordings was great, making it easy to pinpoint individual sound elements, especially when using the main camera in landscape orientation. In this use case, the wideness of the recordings was very good as well. Selfie recordings in portrait orientation featured a narrower sound scene, while the default memo app only records in mono.

Recording loudness was acceptable, but our experts found it to be weaker than on previous Pixel phones. The Pixel 7a also struggled with recordings at high sound pressure levels, for example concerts, where we observed unwanted artifacts, such as excessive compression, pumping and distortion. Microphone occlusions were not an issue, but slight finger noises and timbre changes could be observed when recording selfie video or using the memo app. The background was pretty much free of artifacts and, thanks to its pleasant and unintrusive tonal balance.

Here is how the Google Pixel 7a performs in recording use cases compared to its competitors:

Recording use-cases scores

Timbre

126

Google Pixel 7a

147

Honor Magic3 Pro+

The Timbre score represents how well a phone captures sounds across the audible tonal range and takes into account bass, midrange, treble, and tonal balance. It is the most important attribute for recording.

Life video frequency response
A 1/12 octave frequency response graph, which measures the volume of each frequency captured by the smartphone when recording a pure-sine wave in an anechoic environment.

Dynamics

123

Google Pixel 7a

146

Black Shark 5 Pro

The Dynamics score measures the accuracy of changes in the energy level of sound sources, for example how precisely a voice's plosives (the p's, t's and k's, for example) are reproduced. The score also considers the Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR), for example how loud the main voice is compared to the background noise.


Spatial

97

Google Pixel 7a

159

Vivo X Fold

The sub-attributes for spatial tests include pinpointing a specific sound's location, its positional balance, distance, and wideness on the recorded audio files.

Recording directivity
Directivity graph of the smartphone when recording test signals using the camera app, with the main camera. It represents the acoustic energy (in dB) over the angle of incidence of the sound source. (Normalized to the angle 0°, in front of the device.)

Volume

89

Google Pixel 7a

170

Black Shark 5 Pro

The Volume score represents how loud audio is normalized on the recorded files and the how the device handles loud environments, such as electronic concerts, when recording.

Here are the sound levels recorded in the audio and video files, measured in LUFS (Loudness Unit Full Scale); as a reference, we expect loudness levels to be above -24 LUFS for recorded content:
Meeting Life Video Selfie Video Memo
Google Pixel 7a -28.7 LUFS -22.3 LUFS -20.6 LUFS -23.4 LUFS
Google Pixel 6a -27.6 LUFS -19.3 LUFS -17.8 LUFS -20.9 LUFS
Samsung Galaxy A54 5G -25.8 LUFS -22.2 LUFS -20.9 LUFS -21.1 LUFS

Artifacts

133

Google Pixel 7a

145

Black Shark 5 Pro

The Artifacts score measures the extent to which the recorded sounds are affected by various types of distortions. The higher the score, the less the disturbances in the sound are noticeable. Distortions can occur because of sound processing in the device and the quality of the microphones, as well as user handling, such as how the phone is held.

In this audio comparison, you can listen to the way this smartphone handles wind noise relative to its competitors:

Recordings of a voice sample with light background noise, facing a turbulent wind of 5 m/s

Background

140

Google Pixel 7a

166

Black Shark 5 Pro

Background evaluates how natural the various sounds around a voice blend into the video recording file. For example, when recording a speech at an event, the background should not interfere with the main voice, yet it should provide some context of the surroundings.

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