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ITUNES sounds horrible????
Old 11th July 2007
  #31
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lord_bunny's Avatar
 

huge fan of itunes, a great resource for a quick check against a wide range of material. I also listen to most of my music in the control room with itunes through my monitors. i make records for people who are going to rip it to itunes anyway, so i always check how it's going to affect my stuff when it does a conversion.

any medium whether vinyl, tape, mp3 etc is going to impose it's character on the mix, but we're in a much better place being able to throw our mixes into itunes and shuffle around than the old days of having to pull out a bulky cd collection and rumage around... the a/b'ing is so quick you can get a great sense of where you stand.
Old 11th July 2007
  #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by halcyo View Post
iTunes on a PC having problems?! No WAY! (sarcasm)

It's kinda like the flawless performance of Windows Media Player on a Mac! (also sarcasm)

It's almost like they are trying to sabotage each other....imagine that!

Also, I was interested to hear that it is best to leave iTunes volume slider all the way up. I've always kept it around halfway. Glad to learn a new tip!



halcyo
interesting. i have no such problems and use itunes on the dell pc at work, and wmp on my macs at home. of course, i only use the wmp for viewing porn on the internet, so "critical viewing" isn't really the point, i suppose...
Old 11th July 2007
  #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitrate View Post
This makes perfect sence, but I often turn the volume fader in iTunes/Winamp/MediaPlayer down because the music (mp3 etc.) is so high...(pumping away at 100%) and I have a feeling it's distorting the signal....btw. I use a M-audio Firewire 1814 external soundcard....I just don't like that the level meter in the m-audio control panel is peaking on red constantly and on some tracks I could swear that it sounds a tiny bit distorted and doesn't when I turn the fader down a bit. Is it just my mind playing a puzzle or can there be fact to this?
i don't know about distortion, but i too experience itunes' volume to be several orders of magnitude higher than logic, when i want to switch out of logic to listen to a CD. i usually run the volume on itunes between 1/3 and 2/3. and i'm running everything through motu 2408, 24i/o and 24i, into a presonus central station. not to pile onto that, but the central station has to be dimmed with the volume way low to not be screaming loud, either. it's not like i'm living in a monastery, but wow is some of this stuff ever flaming loud!

v
Old 11th July 2007
  #34
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octatonic's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by AMIEL View Post
so Sound enhancer On is the Itunes default???
Yes it defaults to on.
Old 11th July 2007
  #35
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdg View Post
they added after ry cooder asked for it.
heh heh heh
Old 11th July 2007
  #36
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackcatdigi View Post
This is an odd statement, Max.

iTunes doesn't do anything if you import full-bandwidth files as AIFFs. All these negative statements amaze me. I think it's a great utility with excellent codecs. A couple of days ago, when comparing an Apple lossless file to full AIFF they nulled 100%. Try that with any other encoder.

I'll run a little test today. I'll take a track off of a CD, import it into both iTunes and PT, export back out of iTunes and bring these two files up in a session for the old null test.

I'll report back this evening, but I'd wager they cancel completely.
Hence the term, "lossless."

This should work with any lossless format, FLAC, etc.
Old 12th July 2007
  #37
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alfonso's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by blackcatdigi View Post
Ditto that here. The files completely null. That's pretty much the end of discussion for me.

Just now, I imported a file from a CD into iTunes. Imported the same into PT from the CD. Then export/imported the iTunes version into PT. Inserted eq on each, flipped polarity on first, hit play, and silence occured. Absolute null. Here's a pic:
This test doesn't take in account an eventual flaw in the playback stage.
Old 12th July 2007
  #38
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blackcatdigi's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
Hence the term, "lossless."

This should work with any lossless format, FLAC, etc.
HAH!

Well, there's "lossless" and then there's "lossless"...

I think of "lossless" as more descriptive and relative, as opposed to absolute. IOW, market-speak. It 'sounds' lossless.

I mean, where does all that extraneous data go, and why was it there, anyway?

heh
Old 12th July 2007
  #39
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blackcatdigi's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by alfonso View Post
This test doesn't take in account an eventual flaw in the playback stage.
Huh? Eventual flaw?

Complete null is absolute. Com-plete.


I mean, like: "How much more black could it be? None. None more. None more black."
Old 12th July 2007
  #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitrate View Post
This makes perfect sence, but I often turn the volume fader in iTunes/Winamp/MediaPlayer down because the music (mp3 etc.) is so high...(pumping away at 100%) and I have a feeling it's distorting the signal....btw. I use a M-audio Firewire 1814 external soundcard....I just don't like that the level meter in the m-audio control panel is peaking on red constantly and on some tracks I could swear that it sounds a tiny bit distorted and doesn't when I turn the fader down a bit. Is it just my mind playing a puzzle or can there be fact to this?
In theory the decoded digital can peak above 0dBFS on the analog side, particularly for frequencies approaching the Nyquist, and if the DAC has no headroom at all this could result in analog clipping. In practice this seems highly unlikely because you simply don't have that much high frequency energy, there's always *some* headroom on the analog side, and the frequencies of the distortion products would probably be up where they torture dogs.

It could just be that the flashing red light is giving you cognitive dissonance. Or it could just be that MP3s sound nasty when you crank them (if you turn it down on the analog side instead, does it sound the same?)
Old 12th July 2007
  #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackcatdigi View Post
HAH!

Well, there's "lossless" and then there's "lossless"...

I think of "lossless" as more descriptive and relative, as opposed to absolute. IOW, market-speak. It 'sounds' lossless.

I mean, where does all that extraneous data go, and why was it there, anyway?

heh
I assume your tongue is firmly implanted in your cheek, but truly lossless compression goes back decades. Conceptually, it's a matter of replacing some kind of repeating pattern with a shorthand for that pattern. A very simple example is run-length compression; if you have 50 zeroes in a row, you replace them with a special symbol and the number 50. Or you could analyze the data, notice repeating patterns, and put a dictionary on the front of the data that lists the patterns (once) with their translated shorthand symbol, and then replace the patterns with the shorthand.

Audio is a little tougher because it looks pretty random across short spans of data (as compared to text, for example.) But there obviously are some clever algorithms to deal with it.
Old 12th July 2007
  #42
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Hitrate's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dkatz42 View Post
In theory the decoded digital can peak above 0dBFS on the analog side, particularly for frequencies approaching the Nyquist, and if the DAC has no headroom at all this could result in analog clipping. In practice this seems highly unlikely because you simply don't have that much high frequency energy, there's always *some* headroom on the analog side, and the frequencies of the distortion products would probably be up where they torture dogs.

It could just be that the flashing red light is giving you cognitive dissonance. Or it could just be that MP3s sound nasty when you crank them (if you turn it down on the analog side instead, does it sound the same?)
Right.....for example my cd-player had ar high output going into my amp....I can't get the same kind of output out of my soundcard into the amp....with that explanation in mind it is probably just "cognitive dissonance". I do think it sounds less distorted if I turn the fader in winamp/iTunes down and turn up the volume on the amp to be at the level it was before....but now that I learned that the most true sound comes when you have all your digital faders at 100% I feel like wanting to do that instead and set my volume levels on my amp instead.

So, I should just realise that there is enough headroom that even fully pumped, compressed, and limited mp3's blasting away on red doesn't digitally distort less if I turn the faders down


thanks
Old 12th July 2007
  #43
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blackcatdigi's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dkatz42 View Post
I assume your tongue is firmly implanted in your cheek, but truly lossless compression goes back decades.
(As always) Absolutely tongue-in-cheek.

I'm aware of true lossless compression; I was attempting to inject a bit of humour.

My only reason for being on this thread is simply to refute the implication that iTunes somehow 'screws up' audio. I've tried to demonstrate that it does not, unless you so 'instruct' it to.
Old 12th July 2007
  #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackcatdigi View Post
(As always) Absolutely tongue-in-cheek.

I'm aware of true lossless compression; I was attempting to inject a bit of humour.

My only reason for being on this thread is simply to refute the implication that iTunes somehow 'screws up' audio. I've tried to demonstrate that it does not, unless you so 'instruct' it to.
Figgered as much. But digital technology is counterintuitive to most people, and I couldn't resist the urge to pontificate once again.
Old 13th July 2007
  #45
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soypancho's Avatar
 

Anyone who's ever dealt with DTS audio knows that if it is altered in ANY way before it is decoded, it comes through as loud noise. The fact that I can send a DTS encoded wave out of iTunes through the optical output on my MBpro into a home theater receiver to be decoded and hear music tells me that everyone complaining that iTunes as software degrades the signal is either still doing something wrong or is totally.

Of course when I pull the volume down, engage the EQ, or use any degree of sound "enhancer", it sounds like I'm on hold with Digi.
Old 13th July 2007
  #46
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max cooper's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SoundEng1 View Post
Listen to a file in Protools and then listen to it inside Itunes and you will be blown away, Itunes sounds Horrible!
yeah, bingo. it's like night and day. you guys don't hear it?
Old 13th July 2007
  #47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stevil View Post
itunes & quicktime dont play nice on my PC system either. always scratchy, glitchy & stuttering. the mp3 cd rips i pull thru itunes sound fine in other programs & it communicates with ipod ok, but playback within the program is awful. dont have any problems with any other audio applications. i always assumed it was some sort of real time playback conflict with mac's audio driver/codecs.

here's what i'm talking about. here's the same mp3 of marilyn singing the bday song.
Take 1 was played on itunes & Take 2 was played on winamp.

Take 1 starts immedately & is all glitchy, take 2 starts @ about 44 seconds in & plays back as good as the song was encoded. can anybody explain whats going on with itunes? i'm guessing driver/codec conflict. all my other programs run awesome. only mac crap does this.

hopefully someone has a deeper technical understanding than "pc's suck".
Old 16th July 2007
  #48
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blackcatdigi's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by max cooper View Post
yeah, bingo. it's like night and day. you guys don't hear it?
No, I do not hear it on my S3As.

I monitor PT out SPDIF using DAC-1 for conversion.

I monitor iTunes out of the (built in) optical out on my G5, also using DAC-1.

I flip the input source on the DAC to go between iTunes and PT to A/B. It sounds identical.

As I've previously demonstrated, it also nulls completely when I compare files converted using iTunes vs. the source. IME, iTunes works fabulously, and is capable of bit-for-bit perfect playback.

Perhaps there have been some bugs in certain versions of iTunes, but I've never experienced any, myself.

Other than a bug, as is often the case when someone experiences radical and exagerated differences with (relatively) 'known good' quantities, I have to extrapolate that the issue is most likely a case of operator error.

Good Luck.
Old 16th July 2007
  #49
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FossilTooth's Avatar
 

Will there ever be a consensus on this?

I just A/B'd the same sound file through iTunes and Quicktime the other day.

They sounded a little different to me. EQ off, sound enhancer off, both digital faders at max.

The iTunes playback sounded a bit thinner a touch more grainy and aggressive in the highs and high mids. Quicktime sounded a little bit smoother.

My suspicion was verified through a blind test with another engineer. We listened though the output of the G5's soundcard.

Saying iTunes sounds "horrible" is a serious overstatement. I also don't get all these sound enhancer-bashers. If your mix sucks after turning sound enhancer on, it's because your mix sucks. I've never heard it 'ruin' a good mix. Used in moderation, it can actually sound pleasant on some songs.

Despite my listening test, I still like iTunes. I have all my music on there. It's organizational features, search functionality and compression codecs are better than any other program I've used. However, if anyone knows of another contender, I'd be happy to give it a try.
Old 17th February 2008
  #50
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I was listening to some CDs with my system until I almost gone crazy with iTunes and Quicktime, they sounded totally different to me.

My system for listening is simple, just Powerbook G4 and RME Fireface 800. I use Sennheiser caps straight from the phones output of the RME. I was playing Boards of Canada and Underworld CDs, stuff with a lot of bass in it. The Quicktime sounded full and powerful with smooth bass. The iTunes made bass sounds sounded pretty bad, kind of sounding like a badly recorded synth bass. In terms of stereo imaging, both players presented the audio as if they were mixed by different sound engineers! The left/center/right sound elements of a same song were totally A vs B with these players, making me totally confused. However, iTunes had a different clarity I must say, some sounds that I could not hear clearly with Quicktime were clearer on iTunes.

Then I came here and found out about sound enhancer being turned on by default. And so I went to the preference to switch that thing off!!!

It sounded much better now, but it still doesn't sound like Quicktime does. (When I say better, I mean faithful reproduction of what is on CD, not a special "enhanced" version, I don't need that)

iTunes does sound slightly softer. I can't comment much on the difference between their stereo imaging. They are close but not quite the same. (Correction - my fatigue ears for saying that, they sound quite the same now)

Could someone tell me if it is possible to play CD audio straight from Logic Pro? How??

Last edited by ctrlplusf5; 17th February 2008 at 07:36 PM.. Reason: my fatigue ears
Old 17th February 2008
  #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctrlplusf5 View Post
Could someone tell me if it is possible to play CD audio straight from Logic Pro? How??
You could import the AIFF or WAV file into Logic, and then load it up in a stereo audio track. I do this in Digital Performer every once in a while, and it DOES indeed often sound VERY different, usually worse (but probably more accurate!).....


halcyo
Old 17th February 2008
  #52
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I never had any problems with iTunes, as long as the sound enhancer is off! Otherwise things start to sound sucky.
Old 17th February 2008
  #53
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If you cant hear how bad itunes sounds, thats bad
Old 17th February 2008
  #54
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ctrlplusf5's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by halcyo View Post
You could import the AIFF or WAV file into Logic, and then load it up in a stereo audio track. I do this in Digital Performer every once in a while, and it DOES indeed often sound VERY different, usually worse (but probably more accurate!).....


halcyo


Okie, I just imported the CD audio in, it changes to aiff automatically. Let me hear if there's any difference....... If there is a difference, I'll come back here and whine......

iTunes has enhancer turned on by default, like it or not the masses will hear music in "enhanced" mode. To us, it sounds really horrible because it adds something to our music. Just turn it off, it sounds as good as Quicktime, or rather no difference.
Old 17th February 2008
  #55
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I would consider myself to be a critical listener who will avoid compressed file formats. I don't hear anything funny about the way iTunes sounds (since I turned sound enhancer and EQ off).

My system is a G5 tower - Digi 002 - Mackie HR824 monitors.

I've been imporing nothing but AIFFs into iTunes for a while now. I rip everything into my library so I don't have to bother with CDs. It's a great thing - having hundreds of albums in one program. Personally, I think iTunes is a great.

I'm considering getting a decent stereo DAC for playback.

Any recomendations?
Old 17th February 2008
  #56
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peeder's Avatar
 

I suggest using default Itunes settings as a check on a mix...it may be even more important than checking on different speakers. I've had some mixes actually sound pretty good through it.

Anyone know if the ipod has a similar enhancer thing? I never got an ipod bion...

And for the offtopic below...I use a Lavry DA-10.
Old 17th February 2008
  #57
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kubimusik's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rich robinson View Post
I'm considering getting a decent stereo DAC for playback.

Any recomendations?
Benchmark DAC-1
Old 17th February 2008
  #58
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rich robinson's Avatar
 

Good stuff. Someone else mentioned the DAC-1 to me. I'll check it out. Cheers.
Old 17th February 2008
  #59
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rich robinson's Avatar
 

The DAC1 - Benchmark Media Systems, Inc.


Theres a link to an affordable audio pdf, where the rewiewer was recommended to use itunes to test the sound quality of the DAC-1. Interesting!


Ps. By the way, is there any way to control the headphone output level indipendently to the monitor level of the DAC... like the digi 002?

Cheers.
Old 18th February 2008
  #60
js1
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Audio sounds better in my DAW than with ITunes on the same PC. I may have an explanation.

If you're on a PC, Windows will do sample rate conversion if it sees a mismatch between the card sample rate and the source rate.

The windows multimedia audio software interface mixes multiple audio streams down to one, even if the sample rates of the different streams are different. But the D/A converter works at only one frequency (and often, that's 48Khz).

I had a particular combination of ITunes and EMU audio driver that wouldn't play without breakup. In desperation, I changed the sample rate setting in Quicktime for my card to 96K. ITunes still played back, breakup gone, and (unexpectedly) sounding the same as before. (In case it's not obvious, ITunes had to be using sample rate conversion to play back a 44.1 Khz file at 96 Khz) BTW, a subsequent ITunes release fixed the problem.

So, I know that ITunes on a PC CAN force sample rate conversion. And, Windows being Windows, I wouldn't be surprised if it does when it isn't required or desired.

js
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