Jump to content

How I Learned to Stop Worrying ...


Recommended Posts



... and Love iTunes EQ.


I read somewhere that one should not use iTunes EQ,

that it would muck up the works. Hmm.

Many of my recordings are kind of mucky by nature though,

and although I can't find remasters, assuming said remasters

would in fact be better ... I still like the music.


So ... in iTunes: Window > Equalizer.

Click checkbox for "On".

In iTunes main window select all, then 'Get Info', on the Mac: Command + i.

In pop-up windoid, click "Options" in top menu bar.

Click "Equalizer Preset" checkbox and in menu to right set

all to 'Flat'. This levels the playing field at playback time.


Then go at the mucky recordings and use iTunes EQ to improve them,

for you, for your room, your gear, and your amateur ears. ;-)

This is even better than the bass and treble knobs they've taken from us.

I have satisfied my tweaking urges in fulfilling ways,

without expense, and can roll back my amateurish

remastering with a click. Synergy by cut, no remorse! Way better

than swapping cables or isolation devices. ;-)





Link to comment

Sam Cooke never sounded so good over here!


Seriously, iTunes EQ is manna from heaven for those

wonderful but monochromatic recordings, IMO.

Not a transformation by any means, but a significant improvement.

Tons of fun, no commitment. What more could one ask?


Go ahead, push those slider buttons up and down. ;-)


Link to comment

I believe setting the EQ to Flat is the equivalent of having it off in iTunes. I could be wrong, hopefully someone can clear this up. If this is the case there is no need to select all and enable the EQ at Flat. Anyway, there is certainly nothing wrong with using the EQ. It obviously changes what the CD was intended to sound like, but who cares as long as you like it.


P.S. Ashley, it's good to see a photo (your profile pic) of you from your younger days :~)


Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems AudiophileStyleStickerWhite2.0.png AudiophileStyleStickerWhite7.1.4.png

Link to comment


Forgot to mention ...

I'm not 100% sure about this either, but my take is

that unless ones forces 'flat' on a track, if the EQ is

enabled, it will play through any 'EQ undefiined' tracks

with the EQ setting at hand. At least that's how it seems

to work for me. Hence my initial post in how to control

the EQ globally, to avoid this M.O.

( I read all about all this on the internet today, FWTW. ;-) )





Link to comment

I've been swapping settings and what I suggested

previously seems to be the case, at least here on my island:

an 'undefined' EQ setting plays through from the most

recent EQ setting, rather than 'flat'. A defined 'flat' setting

avoids this, and the recording plays back 'flat', according

to the iTunes EQ windoid. From what I can hear, using

challenged recordings, seems to confirm this.

So unless I'm mistaken, one needs to set all recordings

to "Flat", then tweak the outliers -- so that those recordings

that are fine 'flat' will play back "flat".


Link to comment

I, too, have mucked up a few perfectly good recordings with iTunes eq, though instead of fixing specific tracks, I have created presets in the eq menu bar that I can turn on and off as needed. They have names like "Anti-Glare" and "Anti-Glare Light," as what I want to do with eq, mostly, is turn down the treble on overcranked masters. I wish there was something in iTunes to restore the dynamic range.


By the way, if you could find contemporary re-masters, they'd probably sound worse. This is not exactly the golden age of mastering.




I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

Link to comment





If you're serious about manipulating the dynamic range, I believe you could accomplish this relatively cheaply and easily but using Audio Hijack Pro ($32).


Audio Hijack Pro is offered by Rogue Amoeba, the same folks who offer the indispensable Airfoil - which can route ALL of your system audio via AirTunes, rather than just iTunes output.


AHPro, as you might imagine, hijacks system audio on MAC OS X, typically for 'recording'. However, you can 'process' the sound by applying AU / VST plug-ins, with or without recording.


What does this mean? You can use the same plug-ins that the pros use in their DAWs to manipulate the sound ... between iTunes and the output port.


Here's an article that offers more detail.





I'm a big fan of Airfoil, don't use Audio Hijack Pro that much, but it does work.

Rougue Amoeba even supplies a starter set of plug-ins, including a 10 band EQ, etc.


Apple offers AU Dynamic Processor, probably in Garage Band, I don't recall.


might be worth a listen.





Link to comment

There are two ways to equalise in iTunes and it sounds as though these discussions refer to the main one in preferences that is better suited to correcting the vagaries of your system than individual tracks, since reset is required prior to a track change.


If you highlight a particular track and then click command/Apple and the letter I you'll find that you can program individual tracks using iTunes presets. IMO this is the really useful one, because it provides subtle help for problematical tracks.




Link to comment


I guess at the end of the day it's a case of 'let your ears' decide.

I'm sticking with Media Monkey - although I use iTunes to download the odd track now and then. It is very easy to use.




HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

Link to comment

A second vote for this brilliant bit of software. I use it for recording anything which goes through the Mac, usually internet radio broadcasts. I've also used it for recording interviews made over Skype. Very versatile and a doddle to use. It even works with iCal so you can set it to record internet streams at set times, although RADIOSHIFT (also Rogue Amoeba) a more specialised piece of software for internet radio.


Link to comment

Hey MP -


I think that using the EQ in iTunes is a fabulous idea, and set out to do what you have done with it, but with over 700 CDs stuffed into my iTunes folder, I would be fiddling with those knobs until the end of time. If the recording is really bad, I might tweak it, but this way lies madness I think. ;-)


Besides, now that I have system that doesn't make "less than perfect" recordings sound like arse, I can appreciate the "differences" in recordings more than I have been able to in the past. And that is what has made me less worrisome more than anything.


Thankfully, I find that when I do have the compulsion to remaster using iTunes EQ, I can apply the same EQ to the whole album rather than just one particular song since typically any deficiencies are common to all of the songs on a particular album.




- Tim


Cheers,[br] - Tim

Link to comment



I think I failed to explain this issue previously, let me try once more.


If one does start down the path of creating EQ presets in iTunes, and if one wants

to avoid having to make an EQ setting for each song, one-by-one ...


Assumption: one wants most of one's songs to play back "Flat", always, but wants to create

presets for certain CDs, or certain songs, and always have those presets 'take'.

One should then first "Select all" songs, "Get Info" > in windoid click "Options"

and set them all to "Flat".


Yes, the "None" setting is the same as "Flat", but iTunes

treats "None" differently than "Flat" at playback time. In one way this

makes no sense, but if one thinks it through to its logical conclusion,

one can see why iTunes must behave this way, to accommodate the various

ways in which the iTunes EQ can be applied: song by song, or on/off and

applied to all songs, etc etc.


This person describes accurately how iTunes behaves:




To avoid this, one must first tell iTunes how to treat each song,

and assuming one wants most to be 'un-EQ'd', one must do the Select all,

and set to 'Flat'. Hope that all makes sense.


I have created unique EQ settings for maybe 2% of my iTunes library --

the CDs that I avoided listening too because they sounded so awful:

in most cases, too bass-heavy, in some cases remasters that are too

exaggerated in both the bass and the highs -- ( for my tastes, with my gear,

in my room. ) The benefit is far from transformational, but it can sure help

take the edge(s) off. I would never go so far as to EQ the

remaining 98% of my iTunes library -- too much work, too little benefit.







Link to comment

... of explaining the need to set the EQ for all songs to flat. It only takes a bit of time playing with the EQ for individual tracks to realize that if you don't set the rest to flat, the unmarked tracks use the EQ setting from the previous track. My point was that it takes a lot for me to want to fiddle with the EQ rather than just accepting the quality of the recording (very much like you explain in your last paragraph). Still, having the iTunes EQ is a great tool, and as you said it gives more tangible control over the sound of your system than wires and isolation devices.


I should mention that I am an advocate of modern EQ and that I've gone to great lengths (using audio analysis software, and a lot of self teaching) to use the five bands of PEQ per channel in my prepro to improve the overall sound of my system. Took all the lumps and bumps out of the bottom end, and raised the level of the top end a bit to compensate for the distance I sit from my speakers (13 feet). Works great!


Cheers,[br] - Tim

Link to comment



The wonderful benefit with the iTunes EQ is, after having

balanced one's system, is that one can balance the recordings.


Just MHO but the pursuit of 'purity' that took our bass and treble

knobs from us, was a false presumption. Which recordings are 'pure'?

Some are better than others, but none will ever match our various

systems perfectly, assuming that none were recorded or mastered

perfectly. Mastered by what gear, on which monitors, in which decade,

by which 'genius'? Sort of like assuming investment bankers by definition

know what they're doing. We've all been cured of that presumption!


My local pro-audio friends gave me a big lecture on the vagaries

of recording and mastering -- all the variables. They have been at it

for over 25 years. One spent his spare time while in elec. engineering

school, building passive loudspeaker crossovers as a hobby --

so long ago the Linkwitz-Riley x-over was not yet widely available --

while also doing recording/mastering stints for spending money.

He explained how the team would master with B&W monitors,

then throw the recording at middle-tier floor-standers, then put it

on a cassette tape and take it out to his car radio. Entirely subjective, all of it.

Things are different now in some ways, but still ... iTunes gives

those of us who support this industry our due: we should each of us,

have the power to be the final arbiters. Why not, it's our nickel after all! :-)





Link to comment

I agree. What I struggle with is my utter incompetence at using eq. When I get it right, , I find it to be an exceedingly subtle and mostly reductive process. But it is so easy to get it wrong, finding that what seemed like a good idea was, in the end, a tedious one.


But it is still much better to have the tool in the box though. The audiophile abandonment of tone controls is a bit of mystery. Especially given that so many of them ultimately resorted to equalizing their systems in the most difficult, ineffective and expensive possible manner: through tweaks and upgrades under the guise of synergy. And before someone jumps on me, no, that isn't all audiophiles or all synergy. Just an awful lot of both. Present company excepted, of course.




I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

Link to comment

mpmct said: "Just MHO but the pursuit of 'purity' that took our bass and treble knobs from us, was a false presumption. Which recordings are 'pure'? Some are better than others, but none will ever match our various systems perfectly, assuming that none were recorded or mastered perfectly. Mastered by what gear, on which monitors, in which decade, by which 'genius'?"


I fully agree. My eyes were opened to the vast differences in recording quality the moment I first sampled through a number of recordings using my Mac Mini based music server. This sort of sampling simply wasn't possible with a single disc CD player, and I would think that even a multi-disc player still wouldn't give you the same picture.


Cheers,[br] - Tim

Link to comment

60-80 Hz is bass, 1.5 - 3 kHz is high treble and you won't hear much above this frequency.


In the UK very clever tone controls were designed by Peter Baxendell and Quad and I believe the BBC used them. They were intended to correct differences in the way records sounded before widespread adoption of the RIAA curve. Peter's ideas were much copied and admired, however because circuits then had so much distortion, you could immediately hear some deterioration in sound quality if they were used. I remember in recording studios that on an SSL console, if the button to engage EQ was pressed, the character of the hiss from the Monitors changed!


The great thing about the iTunes equaliser is that it is mathematical manipulation, so apart from the impact on phase that will be the same as an analogue set up, distortion does not increase.


Apple is a genius company for home Media. We introduced ADM9s with a USB DAC on the assumption that 95% of customers would use Windows. In the event 95% use Apple and the Windows users tend to be IT experts, so we had to switch to Optical digital input PBQ. Rumour now is that they may introduce and up-market TV with the functions of an Apple TV plus PVR in it. On Demand TV is the future because people, apart from 13-39 year old women, predominantly in low socio-economic groups who respond Bowel adjusting drug, cosmetics, hair care and other "personal item" advertisements, the rest of us are wholeheartedly sick of them and revenue is dropping. People prefer to buy TV programs and watch them when they feel like it without adverts. Apple TV was in at the start and they are likely to build on it's success. They are already the biggest online Movie rental and sales organisation on the Planet I believe.


Link to comment

It'll change it. With respect to eq how that change is perceived by the listener will be a matter of choice. Same as salt and pepper on the restaurant table - shouldn't be necessary if the chef did the job properly - but some people like a tad more/less seasoning than the chef. :)


With respect to volume, where it's done in software, it'll depend on the quality of the algorithm used. Some people will prefer the sound of volume adjusted at the amp, where it's done in the analogue domain. Others won't mind where it's done, or by what.


Link to comment



If a listener doesn't like the sound of his recordings and uses the iTunes equaliser to alter it, he will be doing exactly what a mastering does when he hears what a producer has done and he'll do re-assured with the knowledge that the best music software available is Apple's Logic Studio and that some Bands get by on the freebie that comes in every Mac, Garage Band. That's the great joy of Apple; it probably made the music, so if probably the best way to play it or EQ it.


Obviously if an amplifier has an equaliser in it, it will be analogue and there may be some degrading of the signal. That was the principal of Audiophiles of old and probably still is.




Link to comment

then, that less than 4.5% (4Q08 - Gartner) of the global pc market belongs to Apple! That's even less than Toshiba! Despite your best efforts, Ash, it seems that 95% of us are still buying those dang, pesky, inferior PC's!


What is to be done with us! ;)


Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...