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iTunes volume


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From reading several topics I know not to use cross fade or sound enhancer in iTunes and to keep the volume set to 100%. As I play music from iTunes, however, the volumes for different ripped CDs varies rather widely. My questions:

Can I use the Sound Check which says it automatically adjusts volume to the same level?

Will this impact sound quality in any way, as I understand using the iTunes volume does?

If I use this feature will it work effectively to levelize volume on all music (to the highest, lowest or some other volume level)?



MBP13-128gb ssd using VoiceOver to hear the screen, iTunes, Ayre QB-9, McIntosh mx119 & mc207, Thiel CS2.4

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Hi Ray,


I have the same issue with my iTunes library. Volume levels vary and, in some cases, the differences are dramatic.


I’ve tried re-ripping CDs with different software, such as XLD, MAX and iTunes. The quality of the rip can vary, but differences in playback volume remain. Redbook and high resolution downloads can also vary in terms of playback volume. Differences also remain when using Amarra Mini for playback with volume in iTunes set to zero.


Given my experiences, I think that different volume levels are a function of gain settings at the time of recording, so please don’t think that you did something wrong when you ripped your CDs.


Since music will playback at different volume levels, what are our options?


As you indicated, Sound Check is an option. As per Apple, here’s how it works (http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2425):


“Sound Check is a feature that allows you to hear all of your songs at approximately the same volume.” “When Sound Check is on, iTunes scans the songs in your library and computes characteristics of their playback volume. As new songs are added, iTunes computes this information in the background. This data is stored in either the ‘normalization information’ ID3 tag or the iTunes Music Library database. The audio data in your music files is never changed. If you encode or ‘rip’ a song with iTunes, the sound check level is stored in the song's ID3 tags. For songs that were encoded with iTunes 1 or iTunes 2, or another application, the sound check levels are stored in the iTunes Music Library database.”


My take is that Sound Check is like playing music with an iTunes equalizer. I don’t recommend this approach for serious listening. If you’re after the purest possible playback, then don’t check the box for Sound Check or Sound Enhancer. I also don’t recommend using the volume control in iTunes. As Mr. C mentioned, these functions all affect the bits.


Since I don’t use Sound Check or digital volume controls, and my preamp does not have remote volume control, I’ve had to dash across the room to lower the volume at times. This can be frustrating. I’ve been tempted to adjust the volume setting for individual tracks…right click>Get Info>Options>Volume Adjustment. I choose not to do this.


Unfortunately, I don’t have a perfect solution for varying volume levels. In the end, I’m very careful when playing music at loud levels. Sometimes I create specific playlists and only include tracks that have similar playback volume levels...this is helpful when I’m having a party with loud music and multiple systems are playing in synch via Apple TV’s.


If anyone has additional advice on this, your thoughts will be most welcome and appreciated.


Best regards,




Amarra 3.0.3/iTunes-->AQVOX USB PS-->Acromag USB Isolator-->Ayre QB-9-->Ayre K-5xeMP-->W4S SX-500-->Tyler Acoustics Linbrook Super Towers-->SVS SB12-Plus (L&R). Cables: Nordost, Transparent, LessLoss, Analysis Plus & Pangea. Dedicated line with isolated power conditioning per component: PS Audio & Furman. Late 2012 Mac Mini 2.6GHz Quad-Core i7 (16 GB, 1TB Fusion, 6TB ext via Tbolt). External drives enclosure http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f7-disk-storage-music-library-storage/silent-enclosure-external-hard-drives-7178/

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