1 2 3 4 Previous Next 55 Replies Latest reply: Nov 26, 2013 8:15 AM by abneyville
Aufklaer Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

Sounds muffled. Very poor quality. Can this be fixed or do I need to know how do I downgrade back to 10?


Mac Pro, iPhone PowerMac MacBookPro iMac
  • 1. Re: What is wrong with iTunes 11.0 sound quality?
    Mark Block Level 2 Level 2 (270 points)

    Aufklaer wrote:

     

    Sounds muffled. Very poor quality. Can this be fixed or do I need to know how do I downgrade back to 10?

    I intalled iTunes 11 on my laptop and kept iTunes 10 on my Mac Mini. If there is an audible difference, I don't hear it. I've monitored audiophile forums and have read no general complaints about the sound of iTunes 11. You may want to double-check your preferences within iTunes. Do you use the Equalizer? Sound Enhancer? Do you use a third-party app or plugin that may no longer be compatible?

  • 2. Re: What is wrong with iTunes 11.0 sound quality?
    Aufklaer Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks Mark for your response. Not sure how the equalizer could cause this problem, it just tweaks a bit and can change the problem, but not solve it. I tried correcting for the error with the equalizer, but I can still hear it. My installation is vanilla. On my computer, I listen to Pandora.com and sometimes youtube.com. No problems there, so it's not my speakers. The only connection I have come up with is iTunes does not like me using my bluetooth to listen to music. I use my bluetooth to listin to movies and not disturb others. I guess I will figure it out eventually.

  • 3. Re: What is wrong with iTunes 11.0 sound quality?
    woodmeister50 Level 4 Level 4 (3,745 points)

    I have done a test install on an iMac that I have

    (don't want to switch my other stuff yet) and seem

    to have a similar issue.

     

    On several songs that I have played back, some CD

    rips and 256kb AAC, it seems like the sound is coming

    from behind a curtain (do not use EQ).  When played back

    through another media player (VLC), sounds so much better,

    considering iMac speakers.  There also seems to be some

    minor distortion and swear that there is some sort of high

    pitched ringing in the background with iTunes that is not present

    when playing back in VLC.

     

    Will see what happens when I update my Mac Mini HTPC connected

    to my Yamaha Rx and Paradigm speakers.

  • 4. Re: What is wrong with iTunes 11.0 sound quality?
    topperdog Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)

    Also agree with the sound quality statement.  I have noticed the volume is significantly less because I have had to adjust all my airplay volume levels for the same devices I have been using for years.  The audio does hav a "muffled" quality to it.  What iTunes is doing to the digital audio data in the code is something we will not know, but my ears are telling me there is some kind of bad compression being put on the music before it leaves the software.  Dynamic range of overall audio has decreased along with the levels that were present in iTunes 10.7.

  • 5. Re: What is wrong with iTunes 11.0 sound quality?
    Mark Block Level 2 Level 2 (270 points)

    topperdog wrote:

     

    Also agree with the sound quality statement.  I have noticed the volume is significantly less because I have had to adjust all my airplay volume levels for the same devices I have been using for years.  The audio does hav a "muffled" quality to it.  What iTunes is doing to the digital audio data in the code is something we will not know, but my ears are telling me there is some kind of bad compression being put on the music before it leaves the software.  Dynamic range of overall audio has decreased along with the levels that were present in iTunes 10.7.

    That is not the case with my systems. I have a laptop on iTunes 11 and a Mac Mini on 10.7; the volume is the same as long as I've set each system to match. Further, the digital data stream is still bit perfect. Audiophile nuts are quick to pounce on updates that change the sound, and audiophile sites have praised the new iTunes 11. As to what's happening in the analog domain on your system -- and what's happening in the complicated Apple Lossless streaming via Airplay -- there are a number of variables and a couple of volume controls involved. Lot's to go wrong at the user end.

     

    Updates often reset preferences, so double-check all your iTunes 11 preferences, making sure that ALL signal processing features are turned off.

     

    As far as compression, Airplay involves a conversion to Apple Lossless on the fly, then a D/A conversion on the receiving end. There is no lossy compression or dynamic range compression involved, unlesss Sound Check and Sound Enhancer are enabled.

     

    From what I've heard myself and what I've read, iTunes 11 remains a bit-perfect playback system -- if you want it to be, which means turing off all signal processing and all volume controls.

  • 6. Re: What is wrong with iTunes 11.0 sound quality?
    topperdog Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)

    Settings are identical to 10.7.  Nothing changed.  I am long time audio engineer, and i never use any signal processing on anything in itunes.  The volume has drastically changed since switching to version 11, and i know what i am talking about.  I would not put money on the concept itunes is bit perfect playback.  The volume also changed on the playback on my system i have hooked up to the computer with digital cable with no airplay involved.

  • 7. Re: What is wrong with iTunes 11.0 sound quality?
    Mark Block Level 2 Level 2 (270 points)

    topperdog wrote:

     

    Settings are identical to 10.7.  Nothing changed.  I am long time audio engineer, and i never use any signal processing on anything in itunes.  The volume has drastically changed since switching to version 11, and i know what i am talking about.  I would not put money on the concept itunes is bit perfect playback.  The volume also changed on the playback on my system i have hooked up to the computer with digital cable with no airplay involved.

    OK, good to know. My high-end system, hooked up to an expensive DAC, is still on 10.7. When I get a chance I'll hook my laptop running iTunes 11.0.1 to that system via USB with a 24/192 interface and do a comparison. However, other audiophiles have already done this and concluded iTunes 11 is fine. That's not to say it's fine on your system, and (as I said) I haven't done an exhaustive comparison. All I can say is that I've listened to high-res files in iTunes 11 via Sennheiser HD-600 headphones and it sounds excellent. I've also streamed music via Airplay to my small system and it didn't seem different than it used to.

     

    The old iTunes has been verified as bitperfect on a Mac by audio recording and mastering engineers who rip CDs of their own recordings, play them out of iTunes digitally to their 24/192 recording systems, then do a "null" test. The output of iTunes nulls with the orignal, so there is no question about the bit-perfect nature of iTunes. (Again, assuming all signal processing, including volume, is turned off.)

     

    But I'll ask around. I know a few people in the audio industry who use iTunes on their Macs.

  • 8. Re: What is wrong with iTunes 11.0 sound quality?
    Aufklaer Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I like that, you know of no problem, so there is no problem. Visualize world peace for us. ;-)

     

    It still is a problem, although it does come and go. I turned off Java and bluetooth and it seems to be gone. I don't know how Java was turned on as I turned it off before and I don't use it and I only use bluetooth intermittently. Also 11.1 came out. But for now it is not there.

     

     

    Edit: and now bluetooth works fine.

  • 9. Re: What is wrong with iTunes 11.0 sound quality?
    Aufklaer Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Well. Now I'm wrong. When I went back to speakers after using bluetooth, it was all fuzzy again.

     

    I can definitely hear the difference between my speakers/iTunes and my iPnone side by side. ...and I noticed that using the preamp and setting it to the highest gain made the sound better, but still could detect the fuzziness. Quitting and relaunching iTunes cures the problem.

     

    Message was edited by: Aufklaer

  • 10. Re: What is wrong with iTunes 11.0 sound quality?
    Mark Block Level 2 Level 2 (270 points)

    Aufklaer wrote:

     

    Well. Now I'm wrong. When I went back to speakers after using bluetooth, it was all fuzzy again.

     

    I can definitely hear the difference between my speakers/iTunes and my iPnone side by side. ...and I noticed that using the preamp and setting it to the highest gain made the sound better, but still could detect the fuzziness. Quitting and relaunching iTunes cures the problem.

    Just tried it. Side by side, my iPhone and my laptop sound the same when streaming to my small system in the kitchen. I put the volume at max on both devices, setting an appropriate level in the analog domain at the stereo system. The volume controls in iTunes on my laptop and the Music app on the iPhone are digital volume controls; by definition, at any setting less than full volume bits must be thrown away, so I put them both at max, with all signal processing off. When streaming via wi-fi, the Airport Express (or other Airplay receiver) will be getting Apple Lossless at full resolution; Bluetooth doesn't have a lossless codec, so Bluetooth streaming will always be compressed. I almost never have Bluetooth turned on, and I have no Bluetooth recievers. I'm using wi-fi with various Airport Express and Apple TV units hooked up to stereos and video systems.

     

    I don't doubt that you're hearing a problem, but I can't duplicate it, and very few iTunes users have complained about it. Is your system expensive, with high resolving power? My kitchen system has a pair of B&W speakers worth about $400 hundred dollars, so it's not high end. Maybe the system you're hearing the problem on is much better than the one I'm using. I can't check this on my good system until this weekend. If you figure it out, I honestly want to know what the cause is.

  • 11. Re: What is wrong with iTunes 11.0 sound quality?
    woodmeister50 Level 4 Level 4 (3,745 points)

    I finally loaded iTunes on my HTPC setup yesterday. 

    My connection to my Yamaha Rx is via HDMI so audio

    and video are delivered to the Rx as a digital stream.

     

    What I found was a noticably decreased volume

    (~4-6 dB dB) versus 10.7 or other players (VLC, PLEX, etc.).

    Also, it seemed like there was some highend roll off.

    However, I didn't detect any distortion to the audio.

    It just sounded quieter and muffled compared to other

    players.

     

    The tracks I listened to were CD rips and one was an LP

    rip I did at 24bit/96 kHz.  They were ALAC encoded but

    that is "supposed" to be lossless and "unmanipulated".

  • 12. Re: What is wrong with iTunes 11.0 sound quality?
    Mark Block Level 2 Level 2 (270 points)

    Because several people here who seem to know what they're talking about reported a sound-quality issue, I did a test. I ran 10.7 on my Mac Mini and 11.0.1 on my MacBook Pro into two different stereo systems: direct into my high-end system's Bel Canto DAC using it's two S/PDIF inputs, and streaming through an Airport Express into my home-theater system's Onkyo preamp using the Toslink connection. I played the same 16/44.1 AIFF tracks from each version of iTunes. For good measure, I played -20dB uncorrelated pink noise ripped from a test CD, measuring the SPL and frequency response with the Audio Tools app on my iPad. No touching the volume. Conclusion: No audible or measurable differences between 10.7 and 11.0.1 when configured identically and output digitally. Your mileage may vary.

    iTunes 10.7 versus 11.jpg

  • 13. Re: What is wrong with iTunes 11.0 sound quality?
    Chris Tabarez Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    I am a recording engineer by trade. Never liked mp3's or AAC music, but I do listen to it. I always listen flat. Here is what I noticed..

     

    Compressed music sounds best on iPad, then iPhone. Sounds horrible in iTunes. If you listen to the same file in the Mac OS via finder, highlight it and press space bar, sounds better than iTunes. VLC sound much best! The lower bit rate files on a track seems to increase the distortion on the bass and top end in iTunes. I'm guessing they tried to make it sound better and are using different processing to get it to sound good? There is also an issue with gain staging. Sounds better with the app near 100% volume, and the output of the Mac variable.. This problem is worse in the 11 version. It is hyped and sounds generally terrible playing an ordinary 320 mp3..

     

    Interestingly using an external audio interface, 192i/o, mbox, m-audio interface through core audio produces the same result. Just points towards application processing problems..

     

    Even uncompressed files sound better from finder or vlc. Image is clear and free from distortion. Play it in iTunes, image is flat and distortion is higher..

     

    My opinion is that something has changed, and not for the better. I am an apple fan and heavy user. Music business runs on apple platforms. I hope someone looks at this critically at Apple.

     

    Best,

     

    Chris

  • 14. Re: What is wrong with iTunes 11.0 sound quality?
    Chris Tabarez Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Pardon the grammar. Typed with one finger in an airport on my iPhone..:)

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