How to make iTunes sound better

Learn some quick and easy ways to squeeze better audio quality from Apple's iTunes music software.

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Apple's iTunes software takes a lot of criticism from CNET readers. It's a gigantic memory hog of a program that attempts to do everything from downloading iBooks (e-books) to synchronizing apps with your iPad. For a piece of software named for its music playback capability, that feature seems to be a diminishing part of iTunes' appeal.

But groan all you want, iTunes is still one of the most popular ways to play music on your computer.

If you're one of the millions who get your daily music fix through Apple's ubiquitous software, here are a few simple tips for making your songs a little sweeter.

Photo of the equalizer available in iTunes.
The equalizer that's available in iTunes. Donald Bell/CNET

Add some EQ
Outside of CNET's software-savvy readers, I'm willing to bet that most people are unaware of the 10-band equalizer built into iTunes. Apple doesn't flaunt it the same way your boom box did back in the '80s. Instead, it's tucked under the Window menu. With it, you can dial in a personalized EQ setting, or select from one of the many presets.

Photo of the sound enhancement settings available in iTunes.
Sound enhancement settings available in iTunes. Donald Bell/CNET

Kick in the enhancer
Have you ever seen those car stereo buttons marked "Loud"? They punch up the sound with a little boost to the bass and treble and even make the stereo effect a little more dramatic. Well, Apple has one of those, too. It's buried in the Preferences menu under Playback settings.

Photo of Panasonic headphones.
You don't have to spend a lot on headphones to get a big improvement in sound quality. Sarah Tew/CNET

Upgrade your headphones
The weakest link I see in most computer listening setups is the headphones, and it is the last link in the chain before the sound hits your ears. You could be doing everything else above and beyond, playing lossless audio files output through an audiophile-quality USB audio card that was hand-wired by Gregorian monks -- but if your headphones are crud, then none of it matters. Flip the situation around, and even a modest headphone upgrade will make the worst system sound significantly better.

For some buying advice, check out CNET's best headphones under $50 , as well as our overall list of best 5 headphones.

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