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sir42
May 8, 2004, 02:34 PM
When I playback my iTunes songs through my headphones, the sound is great. But when I hook my stereo into my iBook, the sound is really off. It's a little muted and the vocals scratch. Is there anything I can do to improve the output when connected to my stereo? I don't know quite where the problem lies. Could it be the cables?

Thanks!

mkrishnan
May 8, 2004, 03:37 PM
When I playback my iTunes songs through my headphones, the sound is great. But when I hook my stereo into my iBook, the sound is really off. It's a little muted and the vocals scratch. Is there anything I can do to improve the output when connected to my stereo? I don't know quite where the problem lies. Could it be the cables?

Thanks!

You're using a headphone jack -> RCA plug cable, right? Try jiggling the cable at both of the plug points, or maybe at a few random places between the receiver and the iBook...if its your cable, you should probably find a place where its really sensitive -- where sometimes it sounds good and sometimes it doesn't bc you shake it.

sir42
May 9, 2004, 02:09 PM
So I tried an experiment to try to isolate the problem. I bought gold plated cables and plugged them from the iBook into the stereo and the audio was still awful. Then, I decided to compare the ripped version of the song with the cd. I put two different CD's into the slot loading drive, and in both cases, the sound that came out of my stereo was crisp and rich. And then I switched between the CD and the version ripped into iTunes, and the difference was unmistakeable. I'm not an audiophile, but the sound coming from the iTunes files was mediocre at best. I am using the AAC encoding at 128 kbps. I am fairly certain at this point something is going screwy in the importing processs. Is anyone else having this problem?

titaniumducky
May 9, 2004, 03:17 PM
So I tried an experiment to try to isolate the problem. I bought gold plated cables and plugged them from the iBook into the stereo and the audio was still awful. Then, I decided to compare the ripped version of the song with the cd. I put two different CD's into the slot loading drive, and in both cases, the sound that came out of my stereo was crisp and rich. And then I switched between the CD and the version ripped into iTunes, and the difference was unmistakeable. I'm not an audiophile, but the sound coming from the iTunes files was mediocre at best. I am using the AAC encoding at 128 kbps. I am fairly certain at this point something is going screwy in the importing processs. Is anyone else having this problem?

I think your stereo just replicates the errors caused by lossy codecs better than your headphones (meaning that your stereo merely reproduces sound better).

mkrishnan
May 10, 2004, 06:58 AM
I think your stereo just replicates the errors caused by lossy codecs better than your headphones (meaning that your stereo merely reproduces sound better).

I guess we neglected to ask you, titaniumducky, when you say that the sound is muted and the vocals are screechy, how bad exactly do you mean it sounds? I guess without starting a flame war, I think most people would agree that when AAC at 128k is working correctly, you should usually get sound that sounds fairly close over good speakers to the original. If you have good ears, you will hear differences, but if it sounds dead wrong right from the start, it sounds like something else might be wrong.

Occasionally I've had specific cd's that rip in very poorly for reasons I don't understand. But this was 2 cds out of about 220. So if all of yours do this, I would try:

1) Rip in the new Apple Lossless and see what you think
2) Assuming you don't have the hd space to spare to rip everything that way :), try higher bitrate settings like 192 to see if you like it
3) Try the MP3 rip option...now I personally definitely think 128k MP3s have evident distortion, but I would be curious as to the possibility that there's something corrupt in your software and it is not ripping the music correctly...

Also as for the sound being flat, the iPod I've noticed definitely doesn't seem to produce a flat signal, in the sense that the sound equalization sounds off with comparison to the CD. I think iTunes does this too, and tends to weight the music towards the low end and have suppressed treble. Try playing with the equalizer (it is the leftmost of the three buttons at the bottom right of the iTunes window).

telecomm
May 10, 2004, 07:13 AM
Another thing that might help, make sure that Sound Check is deselected (in the Effects Preferences). Sound Check can really screw up the sound on some songs—I noticed that ambient music got really screwed up, Sound Check modifies the preamp settings and produced horrible distortion on some recordings. This could be more noticeable on better speakers.

JFreak
May 10, 2004, 07:30 AM
problem lies in the ibook's headphone connector - the levels are WAYYY too high for a line-level input (of your home stereo system for example). try setting the itunes volume to 50% and the osx system volume to about 20% (or even lower) and drive the volume up from the home stereo system. that should help.

sir42
May 10, 2004, 12:28 PM
Thanks for the help everyone. Telecomm got it right...I deselected Sound Check and now my ripped songs sound just like the CDs (as much as these ears will ever be able to discern). I'll also try playing with the volumes levels as per JFreak's suggestion to see if there is any more improvement. But Sound Check seems to have been the culprit.

BrianKonarsMac
May 10, 2004, 12:42 PM
Thanks for the help everyone. Telecomm got it right...I deselected Sound Check and now my ripped songs sound just like the CDs (as much as these ears will ever be able to discern). I'll also try playing with the volumes levels as per JFreak's suggestion to see if there is any more improvement. But Sound Check seems to have been the culprit. sound check really is awful, i dont know why they ever added it. when playing DVD's as well, you should uncheck the setting for dynamic range compression (?) or else it will have the same effect. Its to prevent you from blowing your speakers if you have a poor quality set of speakers.

raynegus
May 10, 2004, 01:43 PM
Yes, sound check is likely the problem. Decent interconnects always help. Type "zu pivot" on an ebay search for a decent interconnect at a good price (expect to pay around $50). This is assuming you have a decent home stereo.

Most interconnects sold at local stores are crap (Best Buy, Good Guys, etc.). Also, rip at 256 kbps AAC and you won't hear ANY loss in quality from the original. Any one who says you will has not done a comparison test themselves using high end gear, or is lying.

Use Grado phones if you don't want to use a dedicated headphone amp. The SR80 is a good buy (about $85). But the RS1 is the best. I have both.

My 2 cents.