Horrible iTunes Audio Quality Fix

In Blog by Jerad Hill36 Comments

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.


  1. 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.

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

  3. 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

  4. 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.


  5. 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.

  6. 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.

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

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

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

  11. 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.

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

  13. 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.

  14.  i just deleted the com.apple.itunes.eq.plst, and it fixed it and didn’t have to go through the setup again

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

  16. 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.

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

  18. 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 😀

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

  20. 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!

  21. 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.

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

  23. 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)

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

  25. 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!

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