Five Tips For Better Sound For $30 Or Less

One of the most compelling aspects of computer audio is the ability to get significant improvements in enjoyment for very little money and sometimes for no money at all. Here are five easy pieces.

BitPerfect: iTunes on Steroids

Price: $4.99

There are people out there whose mission in life is to design software that will make iTunes sound more musical. Apparently Apple doesn’t have the time, money or resources to do what these guys have done (you think I’m kidding?). Mac owners are in luck because there’s an iTunes add-on from Tim Murison that runs in the background (you won’t even know its there) and gives iTunes some great sounding musical legs to stand on.

The Recording Angel

Price: $19.08

I can’t think of anything more harmful to the enjoyment of listening to music on the hi-fi than unrealistic expectations. Misguided ideals are the number one cause of audiophile angst according to 4 out of 5 dentists surveyed. Author Evan Eisenberg takes the hot air out of the bloviated premise that hi-fi’s job is to fool us into thinking we’re at a live acoustic concert.

Lose The Remote

Price: Free

There’s no better way to get into a record than to get into a record from the first track to the last. One of Computer Audio’s greatest attributes is also one of its greatest hazards. Lose your remote for a night and go all the way.

Buy Some Music You Don’t Know

Price: Less than it’s worth.

The brain gets heavier as we get older so lighten your load with some new musical connections.

Cables Matter

Price: from $20 to $20,000+

Some very smart people believe that cables don’t matter because sometimes even very smart people are mistaken. Here's two cable tips - when using a USB DAC, use shorter USB cables and longer interconnects and if you have an external hard drive (everyone does, right?) with USB and Firewire ports use a Firewire cable to connect it to your Mac.

I’ll throw in one for extra credit: dCS Guide To Computer Audio

The dCS Guide To Computer Audio contains detailed setup tips for Macs and PCs that are useful even if you don’t have the stack to afford a stack. Includes a nice intro to jitter, USB modes, and more.

deckeda's picture

Mac users interested in more detail would be interested also in Channel D's primer:

No affiliation other than a satisfied customer. Proprietor Rob Robinson is that very rare individual that knows both hifi and the Mac very well.

satkinsn's picture

There was a flurry of books over the last couple of years about recorded sound, but 'The Recording Angel' remains the standard.

Great pick.


nunh's picture

Great article - I love that movie - Five Easy Pieces! Present to myself this year will be The Recording Angel - thanks!