Basics of surround sound and iTunes?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by 2Sunny, May 6, 2012.

  1. 2Sunny macrumors member

    Jan 7, 2007
    The woods just outside NY,NY.
    Forgive me if this has been asked and answered many times, but I'm trying to understand how best to spend my money and how to get the optimal audio experience. I have a new car with a killer sound system and I have some audio DVDs that have 7.1 surround sound capability. My questions are several:

    1) Do songs from Apple iTunes still come in only stereo?
    2) Can iPhones or iPods play 5.1 or 7.1 music with a factory installed iPod connection in my car?
    3) How can I tell what quality the music files are in my iTunes library?
    4) Is there someplace online that has a thorough article on digital music quality issues?
    5) If I want 7.1 quality music are audio DVDs my only choice?

    Thanks to any and all that can help!

    Joe in NY
  2. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    (1) If you care so much about quality buy the CD and rip the tracks yourself. All of the music on iTunes is compressed 256K AAC files. In a car you'd never notice but on a good home system you might. And "YES" almost all music is stereo, on iTunes and on CD. Movie soundtracks tend to be surround.

    (2) Music is stereo. Be it on MP3, CD, radio or iPad.

    (3) First just listen on good headphones. If you want to know the technical details open the file in Quick time and look at the inspector window, or do a right-click "get info" on the file. Also iTubes can list the bit rate and file format right in the big track list if you enable those column headings.

    Technical details to NOT give you "audio quality". As an example I have some 24-bit by 96K audio files that sound like crap because they were ripped from poor quality vinyl. The remastered CD version sounds much better. And I have some other files that sound astonishingly good. The format only tells you the potential quality not the actually quality.

    (4) Many places. But it is all "opinion". If you want to truly understand this stuff you may want to invest in books or other "real" source material

    (5) You keep thinking that 7.1 is better "quality" it is NOT. It is just more tracks and is mostly useful for movies so that the sound can match the picture. You almost never see "real audiophiles" massing with surround sound. Do not thing of it as better then stereo. It is different.

    Many people who are seriously into music and also movies will own two sets of speakers, A 7.1 system AND a stereo pair. Or they compromise and buy a 7.1 system but with some VERY nice and extra large left and right front speakers.

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