Stop your Android phone converting your music

Android Music Player

Do you use your Android phone as a music player? Why not? These days they range from adequate to superb in their audio quality. The only real drawback might be running down the battery which you might need for other purposes. So, if you do, what music do you listen to?

I’m not talking Classical or Hip Hop, but streaming or local. If local, what quality are you using?

There was a time when you’d always go for MP3 in order to squeeze a reasonable number of tracks into the limited phone memory. But increasingly memory capacity is not a concern. I’m presently using a rather nice, new Android phone that costs $350 outright, and has 32GB or RAM built in. Plus a microSD slot. I purchased a respectable brand 128GB microSD card from a computer parts discount retailer for just $60, so now I’ve got room for CD quality FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Compression) music. Even a little high resolution music.

So how do you get it onto the phone? I do it the easy way: I just plug the phone into my computer and then drag the music files onto it. But there’s something you should watch for if you want higher quality music files.

First, what happens when you plug your phone into your computer? You’ll be using a cable with a standard USB plug on one end and a Micro USB B plug on the other. The latter plugs into your phone.  You will have to unlock your phone’s screen for the connection to be made, and it’s possible that you might have to give permission on your phone, or select a connection option. So the phone might ask whether you give permission to the computer to access its contents. The answer is Yes, of course. Or if you’re offered a list of options, choose “MTP”. When the connection is complete (it’s virtually instantaneous) your computer will show you a new ‘Drive’ bearing the name of your phone. Open it up and you’ll see a graphic showing how much space is available. Double click on that and you’ll see a bunch of folders.

So, navigate to the one that holds your phone’s music. How do you know which one? In my experience it’s always called “Music”. And then start dragging music from your computer into it.

This all looks pretty much the same as plugging in some USB flash memory, but it is actually different. The “MTP” we may have had to choose before stands for Media Transfer Protocol. While it superficially looks like a flash memory connection, it is actually more limited. Right click on a file on your phone and you’ll see a very limited number of options compared to doing the same with flash memory. It also checks the files that you are transferring to make sure they are compatible. At least, that’s what it purports to do.

In fact, MTP seems to be years out of date. It’s quite happy for me to drag in MP3 music, but if I try to drag in FLAC music, it objects with this message:

Convert and Copy

It does this even if you’re using a phone with a native music player that is perfectly happy with FLAC music files. Or, for that matter, the .M4A files that tend to be used by iTunes.

Now you may want to let the protocol convert your music to some other format. But if you’ve got plenty of storage in your phone and you want the original quality sound, ignore that stuff about “might not play on your device” and choose “No, just copy”.

To make things work smoothly, two tips: first, select lots and lots of music to drag in because the box will pop up each time there’s an unexpected file format and it can get tedious fast having to give approval. Second, tick the “Do this for all files”. That will stop the box jumping up for every track. Unfortunately, it will pop up again on the next copy operation.

Happy listening.