We've received a number of tips about this one, and it's definitely a bit annoying: the Google Pixel appears prone to producing harsh clipping or distorted sound through its speaker when playing certain audio at maximum volume. This trailer of The Mummy demoes the problem well - the first clip you'll hear is around 10 to 11 seconds in, and the issues continue thereafter. The problem appears to be widespread and currently is part of a post on r/android with nearly 1800 upvotes, as well as a long thread on the Google Product Forums. The issue does not seem to affect all Pixel handsets - some do not produce the distorted sound even at maximum volume, and there does not seem to be any consistency in terms of Pixel versus Pixel XL handsets being affected.
You can see the problem demoed in the video below.
It is hard to say exactly what could cause such an issue without undertaking complex electronics diagnostics. The harsh noises generated by affected phones could be a result of the speaker driver getting too much voltage, exceeding its designed limits, but that's sheer speculation. The issue also only seems to occur in a small number of videos where extreme and sudden changes in the audio push the speaker very hard, very rapidly. The fix, perhaps unsurprisingly, is simply to turn the volume down a single "notch," after which most owners report the distortions disappear entirely.
This would strongly suggest that the problem can be resolved in software - either by limiting the Pixel's maximum volume slightly or by applying some sort of filtering or compression at very high volumes. According to the thread on the product forums as of yesterday, Google is aware of the issue and currently investigating.
- To all who sent this in