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Has Apple lost interest in audio?


jeffca
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It's been almost a decade since Apple introduced Core Audio. After a really nice jump to the head of the class, Apple's efforts in audio have languished.

 

Unlike the Evil (some-what crumbling) Empire of MS, Apple hasn't made a single, substantive improvement in its audio infrastructure or improve the audio quality of iTunes. This is well documented in CA. And I'm not seeing much in the way of active development with Logic, too.

 

This doesn't impede me from producing high quality recordings because I use Cubase and MOTU's hardware snaps to the appropriate sample rate when a project is opened. It works flawlessly, but, when I'm using iTunes for listening, the system is less than ideal.

 

While Core Audio has a 32 bit, floating point pipe line, Apple's apps have a low quality, digital volume control. Of course, there is the whole deal with OS X's ignorance to sample rates. And when it comes to iTunes, there are a couple things to dislike.

 

Outside whatever sonic degradation may occur, I have two big gripes with iTunes itself. First, I hate the tone controls. I'd much rather have a high quality, 3 band parametric with a display (like WaveArts TrackPlug) than the 10 band graphic. And 15db boost & cut would be nice, too. And I really hate that, when you have the songs set to crossfade, that the EQ from the fading song (like a bass-shy, Van Halen tune from the 80's that needs a ton of low end EQ) has it's EQ blast into the beginning of the next song that doesn't need the boost. Dual channel stereo EQ would alleviate this (this is available in good DJ software).

 

The aspect of iTunes that I enjoy the most is that I can level match my 1700 favorite songs and EQ them so that "Talk to Ya' Later" by The Tubes (one of my favorite songs from the early 80's) has just a much ass-kicking, low bass as "Strip the Soul" by Porcupine Tree (one of my faves from this decade). I just wish that this active, non-destructive remastering (of a sort) was top quality.

 

I don't know about you guys, but I'd pay $50 to Apple for an iTunes Pro. Unfortunately, Apple sees iTunes only as a vehicle to sell music and iPods. I doubt that that will be changing any time soon.

 

If you feel the same way and would like to let the high-ups at Apple know about it, send your thoughts to [email protected] Even though Steve Jobs is on hiatus, his e-mail does get read. In the last decade, I've received 3 telephone calls from people at Apple at Mr. Jobs behest in response to e-mails to that address.

 

jeff

 

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Hi Jeff - Very interesting post. You really laid out some good facts about iTunes and Apple's lack of change / innovation in this area. I am going to craft an email to the address you've specified and let Apple know what I would like to see in its products. I do think Apple has left the door wide open for third party developers and manufacturers like Sonic Studio to develop better applications than iTunes. I do know there are some other applications coming down the road that will be very nice as well.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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I really enjoy your site.

 

If Sonic's Amarra system didn't run $4,000(?), I'd be pretty psyched about it. What I'd like is a software only solution for what ails iTunes. Hopefully, something will be coming down the tube to do just that.

 

Oh, one other thing: it better have a great visualizer. I love the Classic and G-Force.

 

jeff

 

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The cool thing about this medium is the musical tastes here. Way back when, as a guy with a bitchin stereo, I was usually only conversing with people who listened to either classical or jazz exclusively. Nothing wrong with that of course (I have Miles on as I type), but hearing you guys talk about the Tubes, STP, etc. makes me happy.

 

There was another forum regarding the use of EQ, and the loss of such in old "audiophile" systems. I ALWAYS hated that about my system, and as someone astutely remarked, was always trying to "tweak" my sound by substituting components, etc. i LOVE having EQ here (I agree Jeff, ITunes EQ sucks but it beats having nothing). Lets face it, most rock cd's (especially the newer ones) are absolute shit from an engineering/mixing/production standpoint. They NEED EQ. I agree that a three band parametric would be perfect, but I'll take what I can get for now.

 

On another note, I am using toslink out of a Macbook to a 24/96 DAC (Beresford 7520). All my files are 16/44.1. Do I need to change any settings in the midi? (Clock, rates, etc.). Any help would be appreciated, as I am clueless on this stuff.

 

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I don't think we can quite say they've "lost interest in audio" when they are the #1 music retailer in the world, and they just upgraded the quality of all of their downloadable files, but I get your point. I suspect Apple is just doing what any good consumer company would do - concentrating their efforts on improvements that will appeal to most of their customers. And I suspect that most are much more excited about cover flow than they would be about the addition of parametric eq. Thankfully, they leave the door open for third-party developers of niche products. If you find a good parametric EQ plug-in out there, let me know. I'd love to have one myself.

 

Tim

 

I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

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