Customizing Music Playback

iTunes provides extensive control over how its window looks and how your music sounds when you play it. You can customize the iTunes window itself, and there are two general ways you can control how your music sounds. You can configure the iTunes effects preferences, and you can use the built-in iTunes Equalizer.

Configuring the iTunes Window

There are several ways in which you can customize iTunes for music playback.


Remember that you can control iTunes from the Dock. Sometimes, hiding iTunes and just using the Dock controls to control your tunes is most convenient.

If you click the Maximize button (the green one), the iTunes window shrinks down so that only the playback controls and display area are shown (see Figure 16.21). You can use the resize handle to reduce the size of the window even further until only the playback, window, and volume controls are shown. Click the Maximize button again to restore the iTunes window to its full size.

Figure 16.21. In this mode, the iTunes window takes up much less screen real estate.


Of course, in the full-size mode, you can manually resize the window by dragging its resize handle. Making it larger displays more information; making it smaller displays less. The window has a minimum size that is quite a bit larger than the reduced size you get with the Maximize button.


If you click the Close button in the iTunes window, its window disappears but the music continues to play. When you move from iTunes into another application, such as the Finder, and then back into iTunes, its window appears again. You can also display the window by selecting Window, iTunes.

Using iTunes Effects

iTunes includes three effects preferences you can set to control how music sounds. These effects are configured on the Effects pane of the iTunes Preferences dialog box:

  1. Open the iTunes Preferences and click the Effects icon.

  2. Use the Crossfade Playback check box and slider to control the amount of silent time between songs in your playlists. To control this time, check the box and use the slider to set the amount of silent time. If the slider is set to 0, there will be no silence; one song will fade directly into the next. Set the slider to a value up to 12 seconds to have that amount of silence between tracks.

  3. The Sound Enhancer check box and slider enable iTunes to apply digital effects to your music to improve its quality (that is a matter of opinion, of course). To use this feature, check the Sound Enhancer check box and use the slider to set the relative amount of enhancing iTunes does.

  4. To have iTunes automatically adjust the volume of each song as it plays to the same level, check the Sound Check check box. This avoids dramatic changes in volume level when you listen to various music.

  5. Click OK. The effects you configured are applied to all your music as you play it.

Using the iTunes Equalizer

iTunes includes a graphic equalizer you can use to fine-tune the music you listen to. As with hardware graphic equalizers, you can adjust the relative volume levels of various audio frequencies to suit your preferences. Unlike with hardware graphic equalizers, you can select different preset configurations and create your own configurations. You can apply an equalizer configuration to your music even down to individual songs so each tune can have its own equalization.

To work with the Equalizer, perform the following steps:

  1. Click the Equalizer button or select Window, Equalizer(graphics/mac.gif-2). The Equalizer window appears (see Figure 16.22).

    Figure 16.22. These Equalizer settings are designed to maximize bass and emphasize treble frequencies.


  2. To activate the Equalizer, check the On check box (it is on by default).

  3. Select the Equalizer preset configuration you want from the pop-up menu. All iTunes music you play is adjusted according to the preset you selected.

Use the following ideas as you equalize your own music:

  • Use the Preamp slider to change the relative volume level for every song. This is useful when a piece of music is recorded at a particularly high or low volume level.

  • Create your own Equalizer settings by first selecting Manual from the pop-up menu. Then drag the slider for each frequency to the volume level at which you want that frequency to be played.

  • Add your custom Equalizer settings to the pop-up menu by configuring the Equalizer and selecting Make Preset from the pop-up menu. In the Make Preset dialog box, name your preset and click OK. Your preset is added to the list and you can choose it just as you can one of the iTunes default settings.

  • Edit the list of presets by selecting Edit List from the pop-up menu. The Edit Presets dialog box appears. You can use this to rename or delete any of the presets, including the default presets.

You can also associate Equalizer presets with specific songs:

  1. Select the song to which you want to apply a preset.

  2. Select File, Get Info (graphics/mac.gif-I). The Song Information window appears.

  3. Click the Options tab.

  4. On the Equalizer Preset pop-up menu, select the preset you want to be used for that song.

  5. Click OK. When that song plays, the preset selected is used.

If you frequently apply equalizer presets to songs, use the View Options dialog box to have the Equalizer column displayed in the Content pane. This column includes an Equalizer preset pop-up menu from which you can choose a preset for a song.

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