Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › iTunes/Foobar Users Audio Quality Guide
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

iTunes/Foobar Users Audio Quality Guide

post #1 of 91
Thread Starter 
iTunes is one of the best programs for organizing music, but limits your ability to get the most out of a high-end soundcard/DAC. Foobar, meanwhile, lets you maximize the potential of your soundcard, but it not all that fun to organize your music with.

Some of you are familiar with how to combine the two via the itunes multi-plugin, but for everyone else I though I'd post a basic FAQ. I'll show you the best settings for foobar, then how to get those same effects in iTunes.

What's the problem?
On PCs iTunes uses Windows kernel mixing, which processes your sound file before sending it to your sound card. For example, if you lower the volume in iTunes, the kernel mixer will process and in essence resample your sound file at a lower volume, before sending it on to your sound card and applying whatever (other) volume controls you have enabled there.

iTunes isn't the only program that does this, but it does seem to make a difference. Some Macs don't work like this, and before this was discovered I know that some people complained outright that iTunes on windows seems to sound a bit worse than the Mac version.

How can it be fixed?
You have to pass iTunes audio to another music player that can stream it directly to your soundcard. Fortunately, there is exactly one plugin that can do this: the Multi-Plugin, which uses passthru to foobar2000, one of the fastest and easiest soundcard-maximizing audio players. Foobar runs in the background when you open iTunes, so it's completely unnoticeable, though it adds just a bit of lag when you are messing around in iTunes, in my experience.

How do I get it?
Getting these two programs working together used to be a little complicated - there were different versions for everything, and none was compatible with the latest iTunes (7.1+). As it stand now, you need to get and configure foobar, rollback iTunes to 7.0, and install the multiplugin. It's not that hard! Here's is my fullproof and bugproof method:

Step 1: Get foobar2000
You can download it here. After you install it, we're going to want three foobar plugins: (1) Kernel streaming support and (2) ASIO support, both can be found here. The third a resampler, can be found here.


Step 2: Configure your sound card
First step is to get foobar to resample as it plays your files. I believe this is the way to go, unless you have a very high-end soundcard or dac, and are able to get bit-perfect output. In that case,why are you reading this guide?

Your mp3, wavs, and other files were all ripped at 44.1 khz. The reason resampling is necessary is that most soundcard's (including those that brag about 128khzs/24-bit abilities) have digital-to-analog chips that actually resample everything themselves to 48 Kkhz, and do a poor job of it. Foobar can do better.

Go into your sound card's settings and make sure they are set to 48khz and 24 bits, if available. For most creative cards this is done in the Device Control program of the Creative program folder. Here's a screenshot.

Now start foobar and go to preferences and "DSP Manager" under "Playback." Move "Resampler (Secret Rabbit Code)", the foobar plugin you downloaded earlier, under "Active DSPs." Hit the "configure" button and make sure it's settings match those you've enabled for your soundcard (preferably 48000hz). Here's a screenshot.

Step 3: Enable foobar streaming
Next we'll need to choose one of two ways for foobar2000 to bypass the Windows kernel mixer: (1) kernel streaming or (2) ASIO streaming.

ASIO streaming: The M-Audio card, Creative Emu, and a few other musician-oriented soundcards do (check Google). Most others don't, or don't do it well - I know the whole Creative Soundblaster line doesn't. If you want to try ASIO, download ASIO4all, a standalone program. Start foobar, go to preferences and follow this screenshot. You should see your soundcard under "Add new."

Kernel streaming: The safer option. Since you've installed the foobar kernel streaming plugin, go to "prefences" and "output" in foobar. Select KS:Your Sound Card from the menu. If you've set your card to 24 bits earlier, go ahead and match that in the foobar settings. Here's a screenshot.

Step 4: get the iTunes multiplugin
Unfortunately, the multi-plugin isn't compatible with iTunes 7.1 or later. Luckily you can rollback itunes and get multi-plugin working bug-free, without losing anything.

1. Uninstall iTunes. It'll warn you that you are "uninstalling everything," but don't worry - you will not lose any of your iTunes settings, song ratings or play counts, playlists, or anything else. Go ahead and uninstall it. Do not delete the iTunes folder.

2. This is to take care of some potential bugs. Go ahead and download the latest standalone quicktime. You can get it here. DO NOT download QuickTime + iTunes or reinstall itunes. Just check the second option, to get JUST quicktime.

3. Okay, we're almost done. You can download a older (7.0) version of iTunes + the Multiplugin here. Just run the .exe file. Make sure foobar is closed and start iTunes, your music should be there and multiplugin should be enabled. Hurrah!

Under the "Menu" button -> Edit -> Preferences -> Multi-Plugin tab -> Other tab , "foobar2000 passthrough" should be checked.

Lastly, check to see if foobar passthrough is working. Play a song in iTunes, then close itunes and open foobar. That song should be queued up in foobar. iTunes settings that invoke the kernel mixer should now no longer work: including the volume bar, equalizer, ect. Use your soundcard's settings instead.

Congratulations! You've just noticeably improved your audio quality, and it didn't cost anything! Unless you want to donate to the creater of multiplugin (see the donation link in his thread).
post #2 of 91
Great post! I'd only add that for some users (it seems to depend on soundcard) Kernel Streaming may be preferable to ASIO. Either way, this setup guide will be very useful for people wanting to try foobarpassthru.
post #3 of 91
Excellent post, thanks for writing it! This solves a big problem for me.
post #4 of 91
Thanks for posting this. The only problem that you might want to be aware of is that most of your screenshots were unreadable at least on my computer (fairly recent dual core plus 21" flat panel monitor running XP).
post #5 of 91
that secret rabbit code site is confusing. Where is the resample ...dll ? All I found is the code and not the actual product.
post #6 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by aestuo View Post
What's the problem?
On PCs iTunes uses Windows kernel mixing, which processes your sound file before sending it to your sound card. For example, if you lower the volume in iTunes, the kernel mixer will process and in essence resample your sound file at a lower volume, before sending it on to your sound card and applying whatever (other) volume controls you have enabled there.
does winamp do this as well? winamp is my main music source..
post #7 of 91
Has anybody tried on Vista ?
I uninstalled itunes, installed quicktime, and running that package I get pretty quickly something like (translated from french):
'Error trying to apply the differences.
Verify that the access path to the transformations are correct'
Lionel
post #8 of 91
Anybody knows how to doanload a previous version of itunes ?
I am looking for the version compatible with the multi plug in, version 7.0.2. I belive.
Thank you !
Lionel
post #9 of 91
Save yourself the trouble and download iTunes with multi-plugin built in.
http://www.aqua-soft.org/board/showthread.php?t=41373
post #10 of 91
the combined itunes/plug in does not work for me, see above.
thanks !
Lionel
post #11 of 91
Itunes 7.0.2 can be found there : http://filehippo.com/download_itunes/?1774
Lionel
post #12 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Computerstud View Post
that secret rabbit code site is confusing. Where is the resample ...dll ? All I found is the code and not the actual product.
http://www.mega-nerd.com/SRC/fb2k.html
post #13 of 91
for some reason i can't play my pink noise files when i use KS or ASIO. i'm using a EMU 0202 so i don't understand why they won't play. all my other mp3's work though...anybody have any ideas?
post #14 of 91
what's the diff between the resampler (secret rabbit code) and the one that comes with foobar?
post #15 of 91
Most people think that the SRC plug-in is a higher quality resampler than the included PPHS resampler. With an AV-710 and a pair of computer speakers, PPHS actually sounded better to my ears! YMMV, though.

aestuo, you might want to make Step 2 a bit more optional. For many current sound cards including the AV-710, it's not necessary to resample.

Quote:
Originally Posted by driftingbunnies
for some reason i can't play my pink noise files when i use KS or ASIO. i'm using a EMU 0202 so i don't understand why they won't play. all my other mp3's work though...anybody have any ideas?
What format are the pink noise files and which player are you using to play them?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Computer Audio
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › iTunes/Foobar Users Audio Quality Guide