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Foobar Vs. iTunes Sound Qualities - Page 2

post #16 of 24
Check and see that stuff isn't enabled by default that is causing a difference. That could definitely perceive that a player sounds better than another.

WASAPI works good for any player than can accept it.
post #17 of 24
Thread Starter 

Everthing is set to allow 24/96.

post #18 of 24

Bump. sorry for grave digging lol


Interesting thread. In the past I used foobar2k on win, but later I moved on mac and since I bought some idevices and ipod, itunes is my only best choice so far. on mac itunes is simply not laggy at all, and since I can't run foobar properly on it, I don't know how those 2 compare.

So, had anyone tried to compare these 2 software, with itunes running on osx and foobar on window? how's it turn out?


anyway, IMO the soundcard/dac/amp, the speaker/headphone and the music file play much bigger role in music quality than the software. of course the app certainly matter, it just don't seems to be that big (surely it's about itunes and foobar which is already good, not some chinese audio/video player with tons of useless feature and bad playback quality)

post #19 of 24

Foobar for Windows, iTunes for Mac. As far as convenience and usability goes, not just sound. If you have a Mac and more than one Apple device, iTunes is pretty much a must have, there is no replacement for it. foobar sounds great on Windows, iTunes on Windows certainly doesn't beat it, and I think the reason people have iTunes on their PCs is because they have Apple devices but no Macs or Macbooks. 

post #20 of 24
Thread Starter 

Since beginning this thread I have replaced my Dell with a Toshiba laptop and I am running a higher version of  iTunes. Interestingly, with the new computer, iTunes sounds better. Also, since HDtracks hi rez music is now downloadable as an ALAC file type, I do not need a player which will play flac files. I still have not figured out why I perceive foobar to  sound better than iTunes but since I now cannot distinguish ALAC downloads from SACD I  have moved on to other leisure activity. I am satisfied I hear as pleasing a sound from my computer as is possible from any media player.  

Edited by sterling1 - 2/19/13 at 3:59am
post #21 of 24

I think the main reason people use Foobar or winamp or anything like that is to get bit perfect playback using ASIO, WASAPI, KERNAL, etc... Because itunes does not have an extension for any of those drivers. I don't know really how those things work either though...like if you were using Foobar2000 and ASIO to listen to a track, and then paused it and opened a Google Chrome to watch a video, you might have to switch back to directsound.  This is speculation though...


It seems to me directsound is *way* simpler of a route.


Also, I didn't know the sampling rate could be changed in itunes or even Foobar for that matter.

post #22 of 24

I have Foobar and iTunes running on a HP Envy15 laptop routed to an external DAC then on to a dedicated headphone amplifier and I'd say the sound improvements are significant between Foobar and iTunes on a purely Windows based platform.


I may have some subjective biases tweaking my perception here and there... but with Foobar/ iTunes its an audible difference, not just an impression. I don't buy the big dynamic differences guys write about when switching from $400 DAC #1 to $750 DAC #2.... I think those differences are often hair splitting.... but Foobar does improve the sound. 


I don't really understand the behind the scenes stuff but think iTunes sounds a little grainy and congested compared to Foobar... It may have some to do with the better implementation of an Equalizer, some to do with Foobar having a smaller Memory footprint and so reducing jitter at the output but I can hear that difference.


From Foobar to JRiver... I can't really hear anything..... From JRiver to JRiver/JPlay I can't really hear anything.

I think JRiver is basically a good looking Foobar.... iTunes Look with Foobar Sound = JRiver.

post #23 of 24
Originally Posted by sterling1 View Post

 I still have not figured out why I perceive foobar to  sound better than iTunes


I was just playing with Foobar 2K and I don't know if this might be the reason that it's perceived to have a better sound than iTunes...


under Library on the main menu, click on Configure and under Playback, you will see that by default they apply a Replay Gain to the playback of the music which is probably why it sounds different. You can turn it off if you want and see if you notice a difference.


In iTunes (11, for me), I see this as an option you can turn on under Preferences called Sound Check. It sounds like the same thing but I don't know if it will make it sound the same since I have never used this feature.


Just an assumption.



"ReplayGain is the name of a technique invented to achieve the same perceived playback loudness of audio files. It defines an algorithm to measure the perceived loudness of audio data.

ReplayGain allows the loudness of each song within a collection of songs to be consistent. This is called 'Track Gain' (or 'Radio Gain' in earlier parlance). It also allows the loudness of a specific sub-collection (an "album") to be consistent with the rest of the collection, while allowing the dynamics from song to song on the album to remain intact. This is called 'Album Gain' (or 'Audiophile Gain' in earlier parlance). This is especially important when listening to classical music albums, because quiet tracks need to remain a certain degree quieter than the louder ones.

ReplayGain is different from peak normalization. Peak normalization merely ensures that the peak amplitude reaches a certain level. This does not ensure equal loudness. The ReplayGain technique measures the effective power of the waveform (i.e. the RMS power after applying an "equal loudness contour"), and then adjusts the amplitude of the waveform accordingly. The result is that Replay Gained waveforms are usually more uniformly amplified than peak-normalized waveforms."




post #24 of 24

I can't speak as to whether Foobar or iTunes are applying some sort of weird purposeful coloration of the sound behind the scenes, but that would be pretty weird.


If you are noticing a difference between the two, I'm not saying you're crazy, but double check the following:


Sound Enhancer is off in iTunes

Bit Depth and Sample rate are set in iTunes to the proper setting

No equalizer settings in either (their EQs are definitely different).

You are listening to the same track at the same volume in each player.


ReplayGain is a special "tag" that gets added to compatible sound files that some types of players are able to read and then adjust their overall volume behind the scenes by the DB specified in the tag. This way if two songs were mastered to be totally different loudness, you wouldn't have to adjust the volume of the player in between songs if you desired the same loudness. The trick is how to determine what your criteria will be to match one song's volume to another's. 


Sound check uses a different algorithm than ReplayGain does and saves the result in a different tag (ITUNESNORM something or other). When you import music to the library, you will see iTunes checking the sound levels of the new music. iTunes uses the ReplayGain value only if you have ReplayGain tags already applied to your music when you import them into your library, in which case iTunes will copy that value to its on ITUNESNORM tag (or whatever it's called). Otherwise it uses its own algorithm to normalize. 


If Sound Check is not enabled, iTunes basically ignores all of this and just plays whatever volume was originally written to the music.


You will also hear people constantly say that you should always have your iTunes volume set to max because lowering it will raise the noise floor. Technically that may be true but you have to realize that with "loud" recordings (where songs are mastered to hit 0 DBs at times) you are going to hear outrageous clipping from transients if you don't give the track any headroom. I turn down the volume slightly via the EQ preamp to give a couple of DBs of headroom.

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