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[HARDWARE MOD] Volume Increase for Nexus 5 (13 db increase)

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AdamOutler

Retired Senior Recognized Developer
Feb 18, 2011
5,224
9,811
Miami, Fl̨̞̲̟̦̀̈̃͛҃҅͟orida
Introduction:
So the LG Nexus 5 speaker seems to be low volume for some people and not so much others. I spoke to @supercurio and he says that his device is as loud as a Galaxy S 4 and the volume appears normal. My device suffers from low volume. I fear that this is due to the construction process and the glue used to assemble the device may have leaked into areas which it obstructs the speaker port. It appears to be a manufacturer defect.

But, this is XDA, so rather than complain, here is a fix. We aren't just talking about a little bit of an increase though, Senior Member @Oli1122 measured a 13dB increase using this method with just one additional hole on the front and one on the rear. That's well over double sound volume!
Note: Only do this if your volume seems oddly low or risk damaging components for no reason

You will need:
Phillips #0 screwdriver
needle
lighter
guitar pick
case opener tool

Performing the mod
1. Remove back panel from device (case opener tool/gitaur pick).
2. Heat up the needle with the lighter.
3. Stick needle through plastic until you feel no resistance in one of the locations shown in picture below.
4. Wait 1 second
5. Move needle around to slightly widen the hole after it loses some heat to the housing
6. Once needle has cooled, twist and remove.
7. You can remove the speaker assembly by removing four screws , then pick a new location and perform steps 2-6 on the other areas of the assembly shown in the pictures below.
8. Reassemble device.
Reference pictures:
attachment.php

attachment.php



Theory behind it:
If you ask an audiophile, they will tell you that free-air speakers are louder than sealed or ported speakers. This works because the device has an almost sealed speaker and the intended ported output of the sealed speaker chamber is much smaller than the primary speaker output.

Further testing is required
Considering this, it may benefit unaffected users to perform this modification. I intend to feature this on XDATV in two weeks. I would appreciate assistance with quantifiable measurements. So, if you perform this mod, please get a video showing your desktop's sound-level input meter with a microphone positioned at a known distance from the Nexus5 speaker (located on the left side as viewed from the front). Windows Sound Level Mixer will work just as Ubuntu or Mac's will too.

Conclusion:
Your results may vary. If you try this, share your results and let people know if you tested before/after with a microphone, which locations you used, pictures, or if it just plain sounds louder. This issue affects several users and now at least I can watch YouTube videos comfortably now, without cupping the speaker or holding it closely outside.
 

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Last edited:

noodles2k

Senior Member
Aug 8, 2011
684
185
On my own Nexus 5 the speaker volume seems fine, but I like the idea of having the speaker open air. Won't the back cover just block the extra hole though?
 

AdamOutler

Retired Senior Recognized Developer
Feb 18, 2011
5,224
9,811
Miami, Fl̨̞̲̟̦̀̈̃͛҃҅͟orida
Thanks Adam! :)) Though, risky but worth a shot..

OT: Any Idea about Alsa Mixer app working to make it louder?
Regards

I doubt that would work as well as this.

@jlmcr87 never quote the OP in its entirety. If something needs to be changed, it can't be this way. Also, it makes it harder to read comments. But If you're going to quote the post, at least read it.

I plan to feature this on XDATV as I stated in the post you quoted.


As a side note, this makes the back panel vibrate with your music. For reference, it vibrates more than the keyboard when typing and I felt no such vibration previously... So I'm quite sure this is much louder.
 

br0adband

Senior Member
Mar 28, 2008
1,718
779
While I don't have a Nexus 5, my first impression - based on the rather MASSIVE amount of report discrepancies from so many various Nexus 5 owners - is that the audio problems are caused by something like this as Adam has just described. I remember when the original iPhone came out that it had somewhat crappy audio levels from the internal speaker, and I got one at some point and removed that plastic bottom cover and found the reason: the "dust shield" that Apple had put in place on it was incredibly thick material, much thicker than was actually required to keep dust out.

I removed the original dust cover on the inside of the plastic housing, replaced it with a much thinner material (could have been something as simple as a small snippet of Saran-wrap to be honest but I found some very thin cloth material that was workable) and after reassembling things and powering up the phone, the difference in audio levels was pretty dramatic. Most people around were wondering just why the hell my iPhone was so freakin' loud compared to theirs and I told them, then I started making $20 a pop to do the same mod to theirs. ;)

Anyway, recently I owned a Galaxy S4 Active and noticed that the microUSB cover (which seals it to be water-resistant at the bottom) works in conjunction with the entire bottom assembly as a "speaker enclosure" of sorts: when the port cover is removed/open, the audio quality from the internal speaker is very low and rather tinny; putting the cover in place "seals" the housing and then wham, you get midrange and bass as expected which is pretty cool by design.

As for the Nexus 5, it's awesome to see this as a potential "fix" of sorts and it'll most likely get noticed quickly.

Good job, Adam, and even in spite of me not owning a Nexus 5 it's welcome to see people going that extra step to resolve things.
 
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Ricky Divjakovski

Recognized Developer / Recognized Contributor
Feb 4, 2013
5,216
7,617
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Sydney
Once the air escapes the speaker enclosure, it can use the entire body of the Nexus 5 for airspace and escape through various ports.

int theory wouldnt all the hardware etc, cause sort of a muffled sound from other ports and a slight distortion from the vibration? i watched a review on making suround sound louder and all they did was replace the screws with brass screws and add silicone around the edges?
interesting! would like to see the feedback :D :good:

Can you make a video of the process?

he is gonna.
 

AdamOutler

Retired Senior Recognized Developer
Feb 18, 2011
5,224
9,811
Miami, Fl̨̞̲̟̦̀̈̃͛҃҅͟orida
int theory wouldnt all the hardware etc, cause sort of a muffled sound from other ports and a slight distortion from the vibration? i watched a review on making suround sound louder and all they did was replace the screws with brass screws and add silicone around the edges?
interesting! would like to see the feedback :D :good:



he is gonna.

There may be ways to improve it, but like I said, the back panel forms part of the audio system now. This definitely increases the low frequency vibrations and high frequency sounds audibly louder.
 
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bradputt

Senior Member
Jun 16, 2010
1,336
296
mine suffered from low volume too.

but it's OK in utube but my ringtone and notification sounds are too low.

don't know if i should do this mod.



and why is there tape on your antennae ? did you break something?

AFXeXtF.jpg
 
Last edited:

jaggyjags

Senior Member
Dec 8, 2011
1,487
2,116
Murcia
gu3upa7a.jpg

dy3yta9a.jpg


Hack, done. I didn't measure sound values before but I notice a clear difference. It obviously working as sound doesn't mute nearly as much as it did before when blocking the speaker, so air is escaping. Thanks for the tip!

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
 
Last edited:

Mushroom.

Senior Member
Oct 28, 2011
572
83
Just finished this mod, and I'm happy with the results.
I wouldn't say my Nexus 5 was too quiet before, but this definitely increased the overall loudness.
At full volume, the device definitely vibrates more than before, but not enough to make a noise when sitting on a hard surface.
Also, now, when covering the speaker port with my finger, the volume is not decreased as much as before.

Tip: I had to heat the tip of my needle to the point that it was glowing red before it would penetrate the plastic. I used a sewing needle.
I also reccommend starting with less holes, and making more later if you decide it's still not loud enough. I could see overdoing this mod being a bad thing, as more of the sound would be leaking into the body than what's coming out of the speaker grille, which could make everything sound like it's in a tin barrell.

Thanks for the tip Adam.
 

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  • 78
    Introduction:
    So the LG Nexus 5 speaker seems to be low volume for some people and not so much others. I spoke to @supercurio and he says that his device is as loud as a Galaxy S 4 and the volume appears normal. My device suffers from low volume. I fear that this is due to the construction process and the glue used to assemble the device may have leaked into areas which it obstructs the speaker port. It appears to be a manufacturer defect.

    But, this is XDA, so rather than complain, here is a fix. We aren't just talking about a little bit of an increase though, Senior Member @Oli1122 measured a 13dB increase using this method with just one additional hole on the front and one on the rear. That's well over double sound volume!
    Note: Only do this if your volume seems oddly low or risk damaging components for no reason

    You will need:
    Phillips #0 screwdriver
    needle
    lighter
    guitar pick
    case opener tool

    Performing the mod
    1. Remove back panel from device (case opener tool/gitaur pick).
    2. Heat up the needle with the lighter.
    3. Stick needle through plastic until you feel no resistance in one of the locations shown in picture below.
    4. Wait 1 second
    5. Move needle around to slightly widen the hole after it loses some heat to the housing
    6. Once needle has cooled, twist and remove.
    7. You can remove the speaker assembly by removing four screws , then pick a new location and perform steps 2-6 on the other areas of the assembly shown in the pictures below.
    8. Reassemble device.
    Reference pictures:
    attachment.php

    attachment.php



    Theory behind it:
    If you ask an audiophile, they will tell you that free-air speakers are louder than sealed or ported speakers. This works because the device has an almost sealed speaker and the intended ported output of the sealed speaker chamber is much smaller than the primary speaker output.

    Further testing is required
    Considering this, it may benefit unaffected users to perform this modification. I intend to feature this on XDATV in two weeks. I would appreciate assistance with quantifiable measurements. So, if you perform this mod, please get a video showing your desktop's sound-level input meter with a microphone positioned at a known distance from the Nexus5 speaker (located on the left side as viewed from the front). Windows Sound Level Mixer will work just as Ubuntu or Mac's will too.

    Conclusion:
    Your results may vary. If you try this, share your results and let people know if you tested before/after with a microphone, which locations you used, pictures, or if it just plain sounds louder. This issue affects several users and now at least I can watch YouTube videos comfortably now, without cupping the speaker or holding it closely outside.
    12
    since, well, would it work? i haven't torn my device up to see what it looks like inside but maybe it is the same?

    Instead of assuming it is the same, just Google the ifixit tear down & you will know for certain.

    TO the others, those whining & the naysayers, this is XDA. My three month Nexus 7 died during the 4.4 update, as you can see in the pic.
    IMG_20131116_115847.jpg


    Even though it is covered by warranty & I have a valid RMA, I opend the device, found a bad clip on the display ribbon cable, reattached & reinforced it & voila... a working Nexus 7 without paying postage or waiting weeks for Asus to get around to fixing it. If it weren't for risk takers, you all might as well be using feature phones, iPhones or Blackberries. Finding new ways to destroy & then fix devices is what XDA is, why it was created & what makes it more that another useless Android blog.
    11
    So all this thread is about some support to advertise it in xda tv? Kinda lame. But I guess that is how low some people can go. Also have fun ruinning forever your 2 week old phone's warranty.
    what's this? I do a video every two weeks. This isn't a hard concept and I'm not advertising for XDATV. Its going to be a mention after I edit the teardown footage and give my hardware review as I always do for XDA Unboxings

    The idea behind this mod actually has been around for a long time. When you go back to the OG iPhone 4 they sometimes had problems with this, and a similar fix was issued. Great find adam!!!

    For those of you who are scared of doing this, I would wait for a couple of months until the replacement parts are readily available, and usually run 20-30$ for a new speaker if you bouch yours.
    parts are available right now from UK.

    I read it and I hit thanks because I appreciate his effort but not clearly stating in the op that this forever and definitely voids your warranty is sketchy. Also saying wait 2 weeks to see how you do it just because I am desperate for some visibility and have to post it on xdatv is kinda lame too as I previously mentioned. I mean it is 2013 there is youtube google+ facebook and everything why be so desperate about some xdatv visibility. If your intention was to help the community just do it as soon as it came to your mind instead of holding a video for that long for lame intentions and hope android press talks about some adam guy fixing the speakers of the giant tech company google hahahaahaha...some people....
    Again, I do a video once every two weeks. It takes me about 8 hours to edit. I'm busy with other projects like CASUAL. https://code.google.com/p/android-casual/source/list

    This mod should not affect your warranty except for the speaker module. If you need to send it in you shouldn't bave any problems. If it is found that there are problems, I will recommend buying a new $12 speaker module or a new , more undetectable way of performing the mod.

    This IS XDA-Developers though. First thing we do around here is void our warranties. If I got a nickel for each method of voiding your warranty I come up with, I'd be a rich man.
    11
    I've recorded a video with the process, easy way and posted it in YouTube:


    More info: http://www.xatakandroid.com/tutoriales/mod-del-altavoz-de-nexus-5-para-conseguir-mas-volumen-video

    What the hell? You wrote two articles, made a video, used my ideas, instructions and pictures but you didn't mention me once..... Seriously? I get paid absolutely nothing for this. You should really, give a bit of credit where it is due.
    9
    English version -