What audio files play on Android?

Android devices support a wide variety of audio file formats, allowing users to play music and other audio files from various sources. The core audio formats supported natively by the Android operating system include MP3, MIDI, FLAC, AAC, OGG Vorbis, PCM/WAVE, and more. Android’s audio architecture uses Stagefright media framework and OpenCore codecs to decode and play supported formats efficiently. Additional formats like WMA and WAV can also be played on most Android devices with support from external libraries or apps.

Overall, the extensive audio format support on Android provides flexibility and interoperability for users. From compressed formats like MP3 for music to lossless codecs like FLAC for high quality audio, the OS tries to cover common media use cases. Understanding the core supported formats as well as extensions via third-party apps allows optimizing audio files for playback on Android devices.


MP3 is the most common audio file format supported on Android devices. It stands for MPEG-1 Audio Layer III and uses lossy compression to reduce file size. MP3 gained widespread adoption in the late 1990s and has become the de facto standard for digital music files.

All Android devices have native support for MP3 playback. The MP3 codec is included in Android’s core multimedia frameworks. This means you can play MP3 files in Android’s built-in music apps like Music, YouTube Music, etc. MP3 support is also built into Android’s MediaPlayer and AudioManager APIs used by developers to add audio playback in their own apps.

Due to its universal support and small file size, MP3 is likely the best format to use for music, podcasts, audiobooks, or other audio content you want to play on an Android device. Nearly all apps with audio capabilities on Android will be able to handle the MP3 format without any extra work needed. MP3 is an ideal choice if you need an audio file that is portable and plays reliably across the Android ecosystem.

According to StackOverflow (https://stackoverflow.com/questions/28044949/mp3-files-suddenly-dont-play-with-kivy), “On Android, MP3 support is provided natively.”


FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) is a lossless compressed audio format that is supported on most newer Android devices. FLAC files are encoded in such a way that no audio data is lost, providing CD-quality audio in a compressed file size. According to Google’s Issue Tracker, FLAC file playback support has been added to Android as of version 3.1 Honeycomb.

FLAC files take up much less storage space than uncompressed formats like WAV and AIFF, while still retaining the high audio quality. The compression works by removing redundant information from the audio data. This makes FLAC a great format for storing and listening to large music collections on an Android device.

Some popular Android music player apps that support FLAC playback include Poweramp, Neutron Player, GoneMAD, and UAPP (USB Audio Player Pro). Many audiophiles prefer using FLAC files on their Android phones and tablets for mobile listening when audio quality is a priority.


WAV is an uncompressed audio format that is supported on all Android devices (Does Android Supports .wav Audio?). As an uncompressed format, WAV files contain raw PCM audio data that has not been compressed to reduce file size. This allows WAV files to contain CD-quality audio. However, the tradeoff is that WAV files are significantly larger than compressed formats like MP3 and AAC.

The advantage of using WAV files on Android is that you get lossless audio quality. There is no loss of audio fidelity from compression. WAV is therefore a good choice for listening to music tracks where quality is paramount. The downside is that uncompressed WAV files take up a lot more storage space. But storage is generally less of a concern on modern Android devices.

In summary, WAV is a fully supported standard audio format on Android that provides uncompressed CD-quality audio at the expense of larger file sizes compared to compressed formats.


AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) is a common compressed audio format that is supported on most Android devices. According to an article on DroidSome.com, “While Android’s AAC support has been improving, many devices still require extra steps to play these audio files.” https://www.droidsome.com/how-to-play-aac-files-on-my-android/ The issue stems from the fact that Android uses a lower quality AAC encoder compared to Apple’s implementation. As noted on ArsTechnica.com, “Apple uses AAC, but has a high quality encoder while Android’s AAC support is akin to low quality encoding.” https://arstechnica.com/civis/threads/why-wont-microsoft-offer-higher-res-bluetooth-codecs.1491116/ While AAC support varies across Android devices, most modern phones and tablets should be able to play AAC files without issue.


M4A is an audio file format that is commonly used for audio files purchased from the iTunes store. It utilizes AAC audio compression and can contain audio, video, and metadata like album art, chapter markers, and more.[1] M4A files are supported on most Android devices, making them a popular audio format choice for many Android users with iTunes libraries.


Opus is a newer compressed audio format developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) that offers good audio quality at low bitrates. Its main advantages are efficient compression and low latency suitable for real-time applications like videoconferencing. On Android devices, Opus file support depends on the Android version:

  • Android 5.0+ supports the Opus codec in the Ogg and Matroska containers, with the .opus and .mkv file extensions.
  • Android 8.1+ also supports Opus in the WebM container, with the .webm extension.
  • Older Android versions have limited or no native support for Opus files.

So Opus audio playback capability varies across the Android ecosystem. While newer devices can handle Opus, compatibility issues exist on older versions. Android’s fragmented nature means Opus support is uneven for now.


WMA stands for Windows Media Audio, which is a proprietary compressed audio format developed by Microsoft. WMA files are encoded using Windows Media Audio codecs. The format was created as an alternative to MP3 and other popular audio formats.

Support for WMA files on Android devices is limited. While some Android devices may be able to play basic WMA files, support varies across different device models and Android versions. Issues with WMA playback on Android can include:

  • Inability to play files encoded with DRM (digital rights management)
  • Lack of support for newer or more advanced WMA codecs
  • Playback issues such as skipping, stopping, distorted audio

Because WMA is a proprietary Microsoft format, it has never been fully supported on Android. Other audio formats like MP3, AAC, FLAC, etc. generally have better compatibility across the Android ecosystem.

Overall, while basic unprotected WMA files may play on some Android devices, support is unreliable. For consistent audio playback on Android, it’s better to use open audio formats like MP3 instead of WMA.


ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) is a lossless compressed audio format developed by Apple. Unlike lossy formats like MP3 and AAC that remove data to compress the file size, ALAC compresses audio without losing any information. This allows you to retain the original quality of the audio when decompressed.

However, ALAC is proprietary to Apple and is not natively supported on Android devices. Android cannot play ALAC files without converting them to a supported format first. There are third party apps that can play ALAC, but support is limited compared to formats like MP3, AAC, FLAC, etc.

Overall, while ALAC offers high quality lossless audio, its limited compatibility with Android makes it a poor choice for Android users looking for the best audio file format. Source


Android offers wide compatibility with common audio file formats. Here are some key takeaways:

  • MP3 is the most widely supported audio format on Android.
  • FLAC and WAV offer uncompressed CD-quality audio.
  • AAC and M4A provide efficient compression while maintaining good audio quality.
  • Opus is great for voice and low bitrate audio.
  • WMA and ALAC have more limited support.

For most users, MP3 and AAC offer the best combination of compatibility and audio quality. FLAC or WAV can be used if audio quality is the top priority. Avoid WMA and ALAC unless needed for compatibility with other devices.

When choosing audio formats for Android, consider your priorities – compatibility, audio quality, and file size. Select formats that provide the right balance for your needs.

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