• iTunes 8

    The anticipated iTunes 8 release is now available for download. So far the updates appear mostly cosmetic despite Apple's insistence that this is a big release deserved of the 8.0 version number. Audiophiles will most likely appreciate the new Grouping feature. According to Apple, "If you’re a fan of classical music, you know that certain works — whether symphonies, concertos, operas, or oratorios — should be played together. And they can be with Grouping. Select the tracks you want to group. Choose Get Info from the File menu. Enter the name of the work in the Grouping field and click OK." Read more for some other bits of iTunes 8 info and screenshots. 

    Computer Audiophile reader Jim (jrebman) also pointed out that iTunes has made some serious headway in the accessibility department. From Apple.com

    "Enhanced Screen Reader Support

    iTunes 8 enhances screen reader accessibility. With VoiceOver in Mac OS X or Window-Eyes for Windows XP and Windows Vista, browse and play everything in your iTunes library. You can also purchase and download content from the iTunes Store, including iTunes U. And create and maintain your iTunes Store account."

    The major focus for iTunes 8 appears to be the whole Genius sidebar. So far I'm not that in to it, although I do see some merit in the concept.

    Other items to note:
    The CD import settings are now on the General tab of iTunes preferences. This moved from the Advanced tab.
    The new Grid view has been a long time coming and offers a nice alternative way to view your library.
    Lastly, there are some interesting visualizations with iTunes 8. I'm not sure if Apple is trying to take us back to the Windows Media Player 9 days when visualizations were pretty cool. It seems like Apple needed a few more features to make the release part of an event.




    iTunes 8
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    iTunes 8
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    iTunes 8
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    iTunes 8


     


    iTunes 8
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    iTunes 8
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    iTunes 8


     


    iTunes 8
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    iTunes 8
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    Comments 25 Comments
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Brian - I too am watching the development of Songbird closely. I think it has the most potential of all the applications available now.<br />
    1. airdronian's Avatar
      airdronian -
      had a quick look at the songbird site.. it does look good and strikingly like the view mode I use iTunes in.<br />
      <br />
      i'll keep an eye on this as well. I currently use amarok in the linux environment and am interested in media players that rise above the basic. Now, if they could manage the output to a remote device like the airport express.....
    1. bmerikal's Avatar
      bmerikal -
      The real genius of Genius is not in the sidebar: The Genius sidebar is just an update/reconfiguration of the old mini-store.<br />
      <br />
      The COOL new Genius feature has little to do with the iTunes store, rather it has to do with creating bitchen playlists: just select a song in your library that you want to listen to, and then click on the Genius button (the one that looks like an atom) in the lower right and iTunes will create a playlist of songs in your library that should go well with the song you selected. <br />
      <br />
      I imagine iTunes is using 'people who downloaded that song also downloaded these (or songs by these artists)' data from the iTunes store. I did a couple of random tests and definitely liked the results I got. <br />
      <br />
      I used to use <a href="http://www.beatunes.com">BeaTunes</a> to create these playlists, but this is so much faster and more convenient.<br />
      <br />
      However, since these Genius playlists are probably based on 'the wisdom of the crowd,' they might tend towards greatest hits while neglecting the more obscure gems in your collection (and tracks that are not for sale on the iTunes store). Apple says that as more people submit their libraries, the better Genius's results will become over time. <br />
      <br />
      Pretty cool stuff, if you ask me.<br />
      <br />
      Bill
    1. Labarum's Avatar
      Labarum -
      Genius is of no interest to Classical music listeners.
    1. Poo's Avatar
      Poo -
      ^ Cheer up mate... You don't like iTunes' "bells and whistles", but Foobar is "businesslike" enough for you, if a little "un-pretty". Maybe try making your own player or learn how to customise Foobar - it wasn't really designed to stay in its original state after all...<br />
    1. wappinghigh's Avatar
      wappinghigh -
      I decided NOT to accept the Genius conditions. It's all to much big brother for me. Why should you allow Apple access to your library? Don't get me wrong. I love apple and itunes. Use their products every day. But having to read a page of legal conditions before accepting genius, then effectively giving apple an insight into my music tastes for their own commercial benefits was too much for me. It's none of there darn business! Surely they could have written genius code to work within ones own library, without sharing with everyone. Call me paranoid but hell it's my darn personal collection! In any case, would Genius throw up the worlds best rock and roll tracks of all time:<br />
      <br />
      ACDC "long way to the top"<br />
      Queen "Bohemiun Rhapsody"<br />
      Nirvana "Smells like teen spirit"<br />
      Muse "Map of Problematique"<br />
      Radiohead "Lucky"<br />
      Deep Purple " Child in Time"<br />
      ...and the greatest of them all....Led Zepplin "Since Ive been Loving You"..<br />
      <br />
      I highly doubt it!<br />
      AB
    1. ironwood's Avatar
      ironwood -
      As noted above the Genius sidebar is a real disappointment if your music collection strays off the beaten path of popular music. I have a sizable jazz and classic rock collection which the genius conveniently shuffles into a playlist though it does not distinguish between vocal jazz and instrumental jazz which is a put off.<br />
      <br />
      If your music collection does not include a majority of pip chart busters then the feature is pretty much useless. I bit the hook and let itunes scan my 1.5 TB library which took around 5 hours only to find that the program only recognizes about %15 of my total music collection. All other songs and albums retrieve a generic error message.<br />
      <br />
      If this was to be on of the most touted features it really only works for the pop music masses.<br />
      <br />
      <br />
    1. chrille's Avatar
      chrille -
      I heartily agree with Brian. <br />
      Most of this is for kids!<br />
      Playlist, shuffle, most recently played and crap like that and now Genius are all things I find highly annoying and totally useless for serious music listening.<br />
      <br />
      If instead Apple had provided better sound through iTunes I would have been pleased.<br />
      From what I can read here no such thing has happened. <br />
      <br />
      Therefore I see no reason to upgrade, or should I rather say change from what I already have!<br />
      I don´t need Apple to tell me what to listen to and download!<br />
      <br />
      I have never ever downloaded anything from iTunes and until they actually start selling hi res files, I never will! <br />
      Chrille
    1. TheRocker's Avatar
      TheRocker -
      Off topic, but very pro looking website ironwood, are you really into jazz too? <br />
      <br />
      I like the article about werewolves.
    1. watchnerd's Avatar
      watchnerd -
      As a classical music listener myself, I wouldn't say Genius is of no interest to a classical listener. If it worked like Pandora (which can key off a period, say Baroque, or find other composer similar to another), I could find it fun, allowing you to create your own classical music radio station.<br />
      <br />
      The problem is that Genius doesn't seem to work very well for classical. About half of the tracks I've tried so far find Genius unable to make a playlist, presumably due to being unfamiliar with the work in question.<br />
      <br />
      Pandora works much better. Too bad it's low rez.
    1. ironwood's Avatar
      ironwood -
      Peter,<br />
      <br />
      I do indeed enjoy jazz and blues music in addition to the many underground genres represented in my international underground music magazine. The music covered in the magazine represents my musical roots in modern underground music while jazz, blues, classical, choral, blue grass and american roots music are musical styles I am currently just discovering and immersing myself in. <br />
      <br />
      I find pleasure in almost any quality music that has a sense of authenticity and creative excellence. Beginning my exploration of jazz and the other mainstream genres has been quite refreshing given the public appreciation these mainstream genres enjoy. <br />
      <br />
      It is surprising that more audiophiles do not deviate off the beaten path...<br />
      <br />
      Thank you for the compliment concerning HH as well. It has been a labor of love!<br />
      <br />
      <br />
    1. cubbie5150's Avatar
      cubbie5150 -
      iTunes has gotten so bloated over the past few years; it's starting to remind me of Windows apps... Why even have Quicktime anymore?
    1. mdunjic's Avatar
      mdunjic -
      I am using Mac Mini as a digital music server feeding into Quad 99 CDP2 DAC input, Krell KRC-3 pre-amp, 2xQuad 909 power amps bi-amping Neat Motive 1 loudspeakers.<br />
      <br />
      My iTunes libarary consists of around 7000 WAV files (uncompressed, original RED-BOOK quality).<br />
      <br />
      I have noticed that when I listen to my music through FrontRow I get noticeably better sound quality (more transparent in a way with no veil) than when listenning through iTunes. In both cases I am using Mac Mini's S/PDIF optical output, with Tosslink cable going into Tosslink input of my Quad 99 CDP2.<br />
      <br />
      Anybody has any idea why would this be the case?<br />
      <br />
      I would appreciate your opinion and comments about this interesting fenomenon.<br />
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi mdunjic - Welcome to Computer Audiophile. This is really interesting. I believe Front Row is just an interface to the iTunes / Quicktime engine behind the scenes. I don't use Front Row so I can't really give my opinion on the sound. I can't remember if there is a separate volume for Front Row only. That's about all I can think of at the moment. At least this is something everyone with a Mac can test for you. I'll let you know how it sounds on my system.
    1. mdunjic's Avatar
      mdunjic -
      Hi Chris<br />
      thank you for your welcome and quick response. Yes I thought the same about FrontRow. However it seems that FrontRow may be for some unknown reason to me more transparent to the signal than iTunes. <br />
      <br />
      Maybe because there is no volume control as part of FrontRow? Who knows? I also turned off all sound effects in FrontRow.<br />
      <br />
      On the other hand iTunes has volume control (which I keep up to the max volume anyway) but still the software volume controls are known for apparently affecting the digital sound somewhat.<br />
      <br />
      It would be great if you can let me know what you found out in your experiment when you have time. <br />
      <br />
      Regards<br />
      Milos
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Milos - Well, I just ran some tests using music very familiar to me and I can't tell a difference in my system between Front Row and iTunes. I was able to run some serious AB tests by launching Front Row and simultaneously controlling iTunes via the Remote application on my iPod Touch. As strange as it sounds you can actually play two different songs at the same time this way. One in Front Row and the other via iTunes. Must be the quicktime engine. Anyway, this made it easy to synch up the tracks and switch back and forth between them without closing the Front Row interface.<br />
      <br />
      I'll certainly try this again at another time to see if my ears are off today, but as of right now I am hearing no difference.
    1. mdunjic's Avatar
      mdunjic -
      Hi Chris<br />
      thanks for trying to help in this interesting matter. <br />
      <br />
      Well Front Row definitelly doesn't depend on iTunes and its audio settings for its own playback and it bypasses iTunes completelly - it probaly uses QuickTime engine directly. <br />
      <br />
      I will also keep comparing the playback of my WAV collection through both iTunes and FrontRow, but in my case I still consistently hear much more transparent and open sound going through FrontRow for some reason - maybe it is just my imagination, who knows. <br />
      <br />
      Never mind what's important is that in my system Mac Mini with FrontRow is an excellent digital source that is on par with my Quad 99 CDP2 when I use it as CD player when playing Red Book format files. <br />
      <br />
      Can you tell me how did you set iTunes preferences?<br />
      Regards<br />
      Milos<br />
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Milos - Here is an article I wrote a little while ago about iTunes settings. Version 8 changed a couple locations, but it's still relevant.<br />
      <br />
      http://www.computeraudiophile.com/node/255
    1. mdunjic's Avatar
      mdunjic -
      Hi Chris<br />
      thanks. My iTunes Playback settings are exactly the same. <br />
      Regards<br />
      Milos
    1. RC's Avatar
      RC -
      According to a 9/22/08 piece on Macfixit.com, the reliable Apple troubleshooting site, there are reports of "muddy sound" in iTunes 8.<br />
      <br />
      Apparently some users are finding the upgrade has reset settings in the iTunes equalizer and Audio MIDI setup. This article may be helpful to you, Milo:<br />
      <br />
      http://www.powerpage.org/2008/09/some_users_complaining_of_muddy_sound_in_itunes_8_ fixes_offered.html<br />
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