Sam Brown

iPod Sound Check

I have a lot of music on my 20gb iPod, and a lot of it is very different. From Rock to Classical, Radio Shows to Dance.. a very wide range. I recently got a copy of Tyler Hilton’s album The Tracks Of, which is good, not great, but I do enjoy listening to it as a change of my usual rocky albums that I love.

When you import a song into iTunes, whether you are ripping it from CD or importing MP3 files, iTunes (by default) does a Sound Check which “Automatically adjusts song playback volume to the same level.” An option that can be turned off in Preferences > Audio Tab > Sound Check.

It’s a very valid and worthy preference and of course, mighty useful. However, the issue only realy arises when you might be playing songs that you didn’t import together.. such as Shuffling or Smart Playlists for example, generally all of the tracks in an album will be at a very similar level. So Sound Check adjusts the levels of songs so that they are as close as possible.

The down side however, is that while it works in general, it does do the opposite of what you want it to do at other times. Going back to Tyler Hilton’s album, one of the tracks Our Time, track 6, is a very vocal and soft song with only an accoustic guitar and drums in it. While the majority of the other tracks are a lot louder and have more instruments playing at the same time.

The problem? In iTunes with my speakers, nothing! On my iPod with my headphones in, deafining Tyler Hilton singing into my head! Sound Check ups the overall volume off the song so that it is at a similar average volume of the other tracks.. annoying. Haven’t found a solution for it yet, there are a few other songs I have that do the same thing. iTunes is smart when it comes to “hidden tracks” that start after 2 or 3 minutes of silence, those tracks don’t seem to be boosted up to unbearable decibels!

Awesome new icon set iPod therefore I am from Icon Factory.

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Sam Brown co-founded Iterate, and was previously VP of Design at Foursquare. Based in NYC.