We also appreciate iTunes' new Sound Check feature, which evens out the volume among audio files (for example, with MP3s of varying quality) so that song transitions aren't jarring. We found Sound Check to be too neutralizing for classical music, but it did transform a range of rock downloads from file-sharing apps into a much more even-sounding collection. iTunes 3.0 also lets you combine tracks into one larger file so that songs will play without breaks between them. Unfortunately, you can combine songs in this way only if you rip them from a CD; you can't join songs that are already saved on your computer.
A few minor additions round out the iTunes 3.0 offerings. The Instant On feature lets you hear streaming radio stations right away, instead of waiting for a buffer to fill up. And visualizations now play faster--dizzyingly faster, in fact. The visualizer still doesn't let you control the patterns that you see, however, as does Windows Media Player.
The same old wish list
While iTunes added a variety of important features to version 3.0, it skipped the ones we most wanted. With better tagging, however, and nested playlists, iTunes could best any Windows jukebox. For now, it's still the best Mac option--after all, it's free.