Turn off the iTunes Sound Enhancer.

Did you know that by default iTunes is mucking up the sound of your recordings? I’m not sure with what version this started with but iTunes when first installed has its Sound Enhancer turned on. This is fine for easy listening but if you don’t know it exists it can wreak havoc on you mind when you play your own recordings.

I first noticed this when I was mastering my last album. I was listening carefully to a song called The World Will Know Us which had some alternating panned tom fills. In my DAW the toms where perfectly tickling each ear as they bounced from left to right. Later I put all my mastered songs into iTunes and was playing with the order of the songs to see how the album should be best arranged. When The World Will Know Us came on something was very wrong because the panning was strange. The toms seemed pushed to the center right ear only. I rerendered and remastering the song and again the same thing. It was pure luck I discovered that the iTunes Sound Enhancer was on and it was the culprit causing the phenomena. One good fact is iTunes remembers your settings each time you upgrade to a newer version.

“Sound enhancer is absolutely the STUPIDEST thing… App-hole also have it set to ON by default.. I have to send the following disclaimer to all my clients who listen to mixes on iTunes “Please be aware that iTunes had a setting in the preferences, under the “Audio” tab which engages something they like to call “Sound Enhancer”. This setting will increase the L-R component of the stereo signal and supress the L+R component. What does that mean? It means that anything which is only on the left, only on the right or has significantly different information in the left and right channel will be made louder (cymbals, percussion, BGVs, guitars, ambiences) and anything which is identical in the left and right channels (therefore “mono”, Kick Snare, Bass, lead vocal, etc…) will be much quieter. Please be sure that the “sound Enhancer” is OFF before you call to complain that you cannot hear the lead vocal in the chorus, etc…” Apple are ****ing idiots about pro audio…” zmix, Gearslutz.com

Have you noticed this yourself?