Horrible iTunes Audio Quality Fix

Since I bought my Mac Mini I have experienced horrible audio quality out of iTunes. The issue was only with iTunes. In an attempt to narrow the problem down I downloaded Songbird, which is Mozilla’s version of iTunes. Audio was fine in all other applications. I would listen to the same song anywhere else and it would sound great. In iTunes it was crackly and hissy. On my MacBook Pro I had never had these issues.

Through a complaint I posted out on Twitter, someone suggested that I delete iTunes and reinstall it. The problem still persisted. I also purchased a USB audio adapter to see if that would help, no relief.

I had almost given up on the issue. I did not want to completely delete everything that had anything to do with iTunes because I have playlists, podcasts and a ton of other stuff I would not want to set up and organize again. Out of no where it came into my mind that I should trash the preference files. The preference files have nothing to do with playlists or any of the organization of my files. I decided to give it a try, so I quit out of iTunes, navigated to the Preferences folder in my User directory and trashed the preferences for iTunes (see the image, click it to view it large). I then emptied the trash and restarted iTunes. I had to go through the welcome setup of iTunes. When it asked me if I wanted it to search for MP3 on my home drive I said no and when it asked if I wanted it to keep my stuff organized I said yes. Then iTunes opened up and everything was just as I left it. The best part of this story is that the audio quality was fixed and I now have no problems. iTunes even quits and loads much faster. I am going to make it a point to trash my iTunes preferences files from time to time. I also had to go and reset the equalizer to “Rock” which is where I like it.

The reason I am posting this is due to the fact that I noticed many people complaining about audio quality issues in iTunes but there were no answers as to how it could be fixed. I hope this post helps someone having similar issues.


  • SLOphoto
    April 26, 2010 at 11:53 am

    The problem is with the equalizer. You should not have to trash the prefs, etc., if it is the standard bug with iTunes. Sometimes iTunes defaults to some strange setting in the equalizer when you tranfer things to a new computer. I found that all I had to do was choose ANY new equalizer setting manually, and then I could reset it to any other setting again after that and it worked fine. The original sound really was AWFUL, no kidding! Now it is spectacular.

  • Daniel
    June 7, 2010 at 7:40 am

    This worked perfectly =] And sped up iTunes too. Thanks

  • Chicagoray
    July 20, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    That was a good idea as it worked on both my PCs’ as I was having the same cruddy maxed out eq sound no matter what I set it at. I hate pre sets so I never thought of that. Thanks SLO and Daniel

  • jarett
    July 27, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    im having the same problem. i have the new aluminum mini & itunes sounds like crap. prob is only in itunes because movies in vlc sounds great but itunes sounds extremely crackly/buzzy.

    slophoto – i actually tried changing eq settings the other day & that didnt help.

    i cant wait to go home 2nite & try your fix. i will post if it worked.


  • Nick Foley
    October 6, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Thanks! I just got my mac back from the repair shop today (crashed HD) and thought they had not reassembled correctly. After taking my computer apart the sound was still terrible. Your solution was great! I love my MacBook, but I wish Apple software was not so evasive and controlling.

  • David Z
    November 7, 2010 at 6:19 am

    Super awesome post. Thank you very much it worked like a charm. I am puzzled as to what actually happen to cause my audio (only on itunes) to crap up like that. It sounded like itunes was trying to play my songs through a straw. But its all good now.

  • Mike
    November 10, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Wait, how do you get to the ”Preferences folder” and what is ”User directory”

  • Mike
    November 10, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    I’m using iTunes 10 fyi.

  • JJPanozzo
    January 10, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Perfect! I was about to blow up my computer as the sound from iTunes was awful and really struggled with a fix. This suggestion seemed to do the trick. Thanks for being a genius!

  • Twizzler
    January 29, 2011 at 3:30 am

    I have 25,361 songs and was a little worried. I googled. Your site came up. I followed directions, and presto-bingo, all fixed.

    Many thanks!

  • Brandon Cruz
    January 31, 2011 at 1:15 am

    Perfect! Was about to stop using iTunes altogether. Thanks!

  • Patrick
    March 20, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Thank you so much! Was going nuts over here as well. You’re a f*cking good man!

  • Ww
    March 30, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    THANK YOU FOR THIS WEBSITE – I went through everything in the entire world after Itunes updated, I reinstalled, did quicktime, was almost about to physically yank my sound card and then read this, it is easy for PCers to go to “View” in Itunes, and click on Equalizer, and uncheck the box so you have MANUAL equalizing settings, BANGO! It works! Thanks again.

  • Cyotech
    April 2, 2011 at 4:29 am

    Thank you sooooooooooo much! This did the trick! I was getting sooo frustrated with iTunes!

  • Jerad Hill
    April 3, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Glad it worked!

  • Jerad Hill
    April 3, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    I was too, glad I was able to help!

  • James Supercave
    April 7, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    You are a freeekkking genius! I love you. Thank you thank you thank you!

  • David
    April 22, 2011 at 12:05 am

    Incredible, that really worked. I have a Mac Mini and speakers from Bose – Bose Companion 5. I wanted send them back again. Loudness of vocals in all songs were terrible low. I did above fix and …. I’ll never give these damn good speakers back again.

  • Felipe souza elias
    April 25, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Thank you very much. this works like charm.

  • Clif Smith
    April 28, 2011 at 8:32 pm


  • Guest
    May 15, 2011 at 6:08 pm

     i just deleted the, and it fixed it and didn’t have to go through the setup again

  • Thank you!
    September 20, 2011 at 5:12 pm


  • Marjie
    September 26, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Thank You  – event the geniuses at apple couldn’t figure this out. 

  • jeradhill
    September 26, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Just as an update. I have not had this problem come up since I posted this blog. As new versions of iTunes are released I would proceed with caution. Always backup the files that you delete first in case that causes problems. You can always place the files back where they were.

  • Pete
    September 30, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Can this be done on a normal Macbook? My Itunes is soudning awful and I can’t find this ‘preferences’ bit on my mac!

  • Peter Rice
    September 30, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    you sir are a star!!! Just found it and now sound is mint! I thought until now that I had destroyed my Fostex speakers… so happy! Time to annoy the Neighbours 😀

  • Evan Edinger
    October 13, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    You sir have saved my ears. THANK YOU SO MUCH

  • uriel
    November 6, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Where do I find this on my PC??!?!

  • Meena Kadri
    August 15, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    OMG! You rock. I was going nuts and this totally got things sorted. Gracias.

  • Andrew
    March 12, 2013 at 8:37 am

    How do I fix this in Windows 7, anyone know? Thanks

  • Randy
    March 17, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Jerad, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! I updated the info because I could not find the file. I posted this on my Facebook page. You Rock!

    For Apple users. A couple of months ago, Apple pushed a new version of iTunes. After loading, the sound seemed like the singer was in a tunnel. I detest iTunes; however, over time my distaste has reached an all time high due to the music sounding horrible. The link below introduced me to a fix.

    I have added the steps in the order I took to delete the files from my computer. It helps you reset iTunes preferences and fixes the sound.

    To find the preference file
    1) click on Finder
    2) select go
    3) select Go to folders
    4) type in ~/Library/Preferences
    5) Scroll down and delete the following files
    6) Restart computer
    7) Open Itunes; sound should be better

    Thank you to Jerad Hill for exposing this to the world so we can keep some of our hair from turning grey due to crappy sound programs from Apple!

  • jeradhill
    March 17, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Awesome. Thanks so much for the update. I should now go and update this post as I discovered this a long time ago. I am surprised that it is still an issue in iTunes.

  • Leader Desslok
    August 29, 2014 at 10:12 am

    WOW!!! Thank you so much! This has immediately fixed my audio issues. I can finally listen to iTunes again on my Mac.

  • Rick
    April 11, 2015 at 10:09 am

    Thanks. I never found the preferences files that you mention on my desktop Windows machine (notebook is Mac). However, I did change “Preferences, Playback, Bitrate” to the highest setting (192 ksps) and this worked for me. It was set at the lowest setting (44 ksps). Why Apple would not simply play back the file at its native rate (on my desktop machine) is beyond my imagination. WHY do they have this option in the first place?? It would mean that they are downsampling or upsampling on the fly. Why? Perhaps deleting the preferences accomplishes something like this. (iTunes v12)

  • Georgilynn
    February 6, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    Thank-you so much. I spend a lot of time on this, but forgot all about preferences!! I was ready to forget about iTunes!

  • Randy
    June 26, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    Snap! I’ve gone through two sets of Bose speakers… and years of “man, this just does not sound right” feelings…. and finally, a fix! My music sounds good again!

  • sloppyunderfoot
    December 21, 2017 at 7:30 am

    My wife just bought a new pair of Sennheisers for me for Christmas 🙂 . Plugged them in, selected a song in iTunes and voila!, sounds like an earful of mud. This just after the update to iTunes I was not a happy camper. Just for the heck of it, I played the same song in VLC. It sounded fantastic! Decided it was an iTunes issue and started hunting for a fix. I found this one. Removed the two plist files and tried out iTunes. What an improvement. Still think VLC sound reproduction was better but at least I can now understand vocals when listening through iTunes. Thank you.

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