iTunes radio sounds awful

Discussion in 'Apple Music, Apple Pay, iCloud, Apple Services' started by jeff92k7, Sep 19, 2013.

  1. jeff92k7 macrumors member

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    Dec 14, 2012
    #1
    I don't see an iTunes or iTunes radio forum, so I'm not sure where to put this post.

    iTunes radio sounds awful. It sounds like they are using a very high compression rate. All the music sounds flat and lifeless. It's nowhere near as good as normal iTunes content - which is also compressed but doesn't sound this bad.

    I suppose it will suffice for streaming in the car or something like that, but at home I find it very hard to listen to.
     
  2. Eitel macrumors regular

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    Sep 20, 2012
    #2
    Seems like you need better speaker/headphones. Using BT headphones it sounds great.
     
  3. eclipse01 macrumors 68020

    eclipse01

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    #3
    sounds better then SiriusXM and Pandora for me.

    I beleive you internet connection could make or break the quality as well
     
  4. Godzilla71 macrumors 6502

    Godzilla71

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    #4
    I agree It sounds great to me. I am just now being able to check it out a bit and I was adding some genre stations on my iMac and when I went to add them to my iPod touch my stations were already set up as I did on my Mac. I thought that was pretty cool. :D I am enjoying it so far. :)
     
  5. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

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    #5
    Our most appropriate forum for iTunes Radio is iCloud and Apple Services. I've moved your thread there.
     
  6. jeff92k7, Sep 19, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2013

    jeff92k7 thread starter macrumors member

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    #6
    I've been an audio engineer for well over 20 years. I guarantee my studio monitors are good enough.

    In fact, the exact opposite of your statement is true...the worse your speakers/headphones are, the more they mask the deficiencies in compressed music. The better your stuff is, the more you can hear the little subtle differences that make uncompressed music so worth it. You can also tell, just by listening, that some music is being compressed at a higher rate.

    Some compression is fine and perfectly understandable considering internet bandwidth limitations. Too much compression and the music loses all vibrance and life. You can most easily hear this in cymbals. They very quickly lose their shimmer when they are compressed (bit rate compression, not dynamics compression).

    My argument is just that they should ease up on their streaming compression rate a bit.

    ETA: I never used pandora or any other streaming services so I can't compare the quality of iTunes against other services.
     
  7. ascanu macrumors newbie

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    Sep 19, 2013
    #7
    Which app exactely is the new iTunes Radio?

    I have a red "Music" icon with a note on it, but no radio feature. Anyone?
     
  8. jeff92k7 thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 14, 2012
    #8
    Open the music icon (or go to 'Music' in iTunes) and the radio option will be alongside the album/artist/songs/etc. You can set up and customize your own "radio" station to play the kind of music you like. You can even set up multiple "stations"
     
  9. ascanu macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2013
    #9
    Hmm, could this feature not be available in Romania? I guess the icon/section should be fairly visible, but I am not able to find anything.

    I've also tried a "trick", as shown on Apple's official page. I have activated Siri and said "Play country hits radio" (as shown), and Siri replayed "Sorry, I can't help you with iTunes Radio".

    Strange...
     
  10. jeff92k7 thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 14, 2012
    #10
    Ah...that's it. iTunes radio is only available in certain countries right now. I believe it will be expanded to more countries as the weeks progress, but it's not available world-wide yet. I'm sure music licenses and copyrights have a lot to do with that.
     
  11. ascanu macrumors newbie

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    Sep 19, 2013
    #11
    Thanks bro and sorry for diverting the topic.
    (Maps and weather also suck for my country. We basically cannot use Siri at all).
     
  12. rWally macrumors regular

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    Sep 17, 2006
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #12
    Has anyone out there been able to actually measure the bitrate of itunes radio? The paid version of Pandora is 192 kbps AAC which sounds pretty mediocre to me. My limited listening of itunes radio so far suggests that it is on par with that if not a little better.
     
  13. patent10021 macrumors 68020

    patent10021

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    Apr 23, 2004
    #13
    I cringe at anything below 320. I only use ALAC unless it's not available. MP3 @320 is my last resort. Used to own FLAC but never looked back after ALAC. Sure would be nice to have ALAC quality radio in soon to be 2014.
     
  14. rWally macrumors regular

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    Denver, CO
    #14
    Considering we don't even get ALAC in the itunes store I think the chances of ever getting ALAC radio are extremely slim.
     
  15. Alrescha, Sep 20, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2013

    Alrescha macrumors 68020

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    #15
    An unscientific look at my MRTG graphs indicates that it is at least a couple of hundred kilobits/sec. It sounds fine to me. There are no obvious compression artifacts during casual listening. I might feel differently after critical listening with headphones, but I haven't done that yet.

    I don't agree with the OP's judgement of "awful".

    A.

    Addendum: While streaming iTunes Radio and not doing much else, my MRTG graphs show traffic around 300 kbps.
     
  16. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

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    Dec 17, 2009
    #16
    And therein lies the problem. No streaming service will ever be as good as a lossless format. Apple has to pay for bandwidth; therefore, the higher the bit rate the more it costs Apple to deliver the content (and then factor in the royalty rights they also pay). Any streaming music service has to find a balance between cost and quality. Same goes with video. Streaming Netflix/Amazon/Hulu will never be Blu-Ray quality, because the higher the bitrate the more it costs. If you have X bandwidth and you want to play Y videos/audio at any given moment then X/Y = Z which is the maximum amount of bandwidth each video/audio can have before you max out your bandwidth.

    Maybe to your ears it sounds awful, but as your post above clearly alludes to you have nothing to equate the quality to. You wouldn't compare a Ford Focus to Ferrari 458 Spider would you? That's pretty much what you are trying to do. I pay for Pandora and I would say it is on par if not above. Granted I probably don't have the trained ear you do (I'm also partially deaf in one year, so I got that going for me!), but it's very passable and compared to the competition I would say it is as good, if not better.
     
  17. Sinandgrin macrumors newbie

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    Sep 20, 2013
    #17
    While I do agree with the OP, my main concern is in the volume of playback of iTunes Radio. I find that it is easily 15, 20% mote quiet than other audio playback. I've noticed this behavior on my PC desktop, MacBook Pro, iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV so it's not something just limited to one device. It must be some feature or done by design for some reason, but as an audiophile it annoys the S!@t out of me. Maybe they lower the volume to hide the poor compression quality of the music. I spent a lot of time finding the best quality audio solutions for my needs and until this is resolved somehow I can't see ditching my current streaming services for this, which is too bad since it seems to have a lot of integration appeal for me.
     
  18. ElectronGuru macrumors 65816

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    Sep 5, 2013
    Location:
    Oregon, USA
    #18
    Also known as reference monitors, as in good enough to find the flaws in material before it gets shared with millions of people. When MP3 first came out I was playing with reference headphones and kept boosting the rate until I could not hear any loss. Stopped at 192 and ripped my whole library at that rate. It 'sounds' like they are using something under 100.

    Comparing incentives, apple has every reason to skimp on the bitrate for their radio service and few reasons to invest. For one, few listeners have reference speakers. For another, the stuff you pay for should sound better. They don't want dudes recording the streams and getting CD equivalent in the bargain.
     
  19. Primejimbo macrumors 68040

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    #19
    My wife said it's "quite" when she's plugged into her external speakers at her work. She loves it, but I bet it will get better in time.
     
  20. Alrescha macrumors 68020

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    Jan 1, 2008
    #20
    I can't reproduce this on my desktop. Switching from local AAC files to iTunes Radio produces no apparent change in volume.


    As I mentioned earlier, when I'm playing iTunes Music, my Mac is downloading *something* at the rate of ~300 kbps. There is no evidence of any "poor compression quality". Other people have made the same observation in other threads.

    A.
     
  21. patent10021 macrumors 68020

    patent10021

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    Apr 23, 2004
    #21
    Well we're only talking about radio quality and not files so if iRadio was comparable to 256 or better that would be a good start.
     
  22. Sinandgrin macrumors newbie

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    Sep 20, 2013
    #22
    On your desktop in iTunes - preferences - playback, do you have "Sound Enhancer" and "Sound Check" turned on or off?
     
  23. Alrescha macrumors 68020

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    Jan 1, 2008
    #23
    Neither, but the music I tend to listen to is more often boosted by Sound Check than cut, my turning it on might cause the problem you describe. On the other hand, you might get more consistent results by using it.

    A.
     
  24. Sinandgrin, Sep 21, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 23, 2013

    Sinandgrin macrumors newbie

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    #24
    No I also have those options off, I do not want them enabled, there should be no need to have them on to "fix" anything here. I made a quick video to show a simple comparison of what I am talking about.

     
  25. Alrescha macrumors 68020

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    Jan 1, 2008
    #25
    I don't think anything needs fixing. I suggested Sound Check because it might provide you with the behavior you prefer.

    If, as you suggest, iTunes Radio runs at a slightly lower level than your music collection, it may be an attempt to preserve quality. Running at a lower level helps to ensure that the loudest tracks will never run out of headroom and suffer distortion. It costs nothing. Distortion caused by running at too high a level can't be fixed after the fact. If you think they chose wrong, you might consider that they erred on the side of caution.

    A.
     

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