What's the name of the program that vastly improves Windows music quality?

There’s a program out there that supposedly greatly enhances music/audio quality either in Windows or in iTunes (I can’t remember which). It’s supposedly fairly popular and I used to know the name, but for the life of me I can’t remember it and my google-fu is weak.

Does this ring any bells for anyone?

Hereyou go.

I’ve been using the Izotope Ozone plugin for the last few years. It directly injects pure awesome into any piece of music. I couldn’t live without it now, and it’s probably the best piece of software I’ve ever purchased.

Ozone is probably what you are looking for (Songsmith is something completely different). However, I went from a cheap pair of $10 headphones to some ‘better’ headphones, and actually had to turn Ozone off - the sound is so much better now just because of the headphones alone that Ozone seemed to be overdoing things…

However, I’m not an audiophile so it probably just requires better tweaking on my part. Or wooden volume knobs.

Great work on the Ozone rec. I put it through the most rigorous test I have: making it play 8-year-old mp3s of mine that were ripped from and burned to CD-Rs at 128kbps. They sounded much better.

Hmm. Ozone chokes on videos and WMP for me. Maybe you guys try a different player’s plugin if you try it.


I think it might’ve been iWOW. So far that name sounds the most familiar.

Have you used it? How is it?

dunno. i don’t use it.

http://www.srslabs.com/ is the website. you can try the 14-day trial there.

http://www.fxsound.com/ for dfx.

Posting from cell so I can’t link, but check out Breakaway Audio Enhancer. It is amazing.

That looks awesome. No Vista support though?


hmm, I’ll take a look when I get home.

I’m having a hard time figuring out why you’d buy a program for this purpose. I mean, what these programs do is to distort the sound in ways that, to some extent, compensate for the deficiencies of bad hardware.

That Breakaway thing, for instance, makes quiet parts louder and loud parts quieter so it all stays in a constant dynamic range “like professional mastering tools do.” Which sounds impressive until you realize that a major gripe with CD mastering these days is that they use tools like this to strip out all dynamic range and resolution, and keep all sound in near-peak loudness.

And, right, if you have bad speakers where you can’t hear the quiet parts and the loud parts cause them to break up, a tool like this will “fix” the problem by removing all the stuff your speakers can’t handle.

But why not just buy better speakers/headphones instead? If you care enough about sound quality to spend money on making it suck less, spend it on things that actually make it better instead of just hiding weaknesses.

Where exactly can one get a decent audio hardware upgrade for $30?

HeadRoom (or Amazon, I suppose). The Sennheiser HD-201 headphones are supposed to be pretty decent for $20-$30. If $30 isn’t a hard limit, $70 will get you Grado’s SR-60.

they look hideous and are right out of the 80s but: http://www.koss.com/koss/kossweb.nsf/p?openform&pc^pt^PORTAPRO

I got a pair of KOSS KSC75 over-the-ear clip on headphones for $6 on sale at Radio Shack. Based on reviews, they are actually equivalent to other over-the-ear headphones in the $30-$50 range (just a touch ‘lesser’ than the portapros, I guess). I can’t confirm or deny that, but they are quite a bit superior to the standard crap headphones that come with your cheap portable CD players. For the price, I’m well pleased. As mentioned I no longer need ozone or the like - they actually make things sound ‘wrong’ now whereas before, there was a marked improvement to music quality.

If your music was ripped like crap good headphones only make it worse, so you’re spending money to make an even bigger problem. It sounds like the people who are using the plug-ins have MP3 files that don’t sound good, and the plug-in makes them sound better, which is worth the money.

I have pretty good speakers. I just remembered hearing about how iWOW supposedly greatly improved the quality of music and wanted to give it a shot.

Basically, what a program like Ozone does is the same thing that’s done at the “mastering” stage of production of a record. i.e., when a mix engineer mixes a track s/he gets the balance right between the musical elements (volume-wise and tone-wise, i.e. bassy or trebly) like bass, drums, guitar, voice, etc. That’s the mix. And then the final stereo mix is put through processes (overall eq, compression, limiting, other kinds of enhancers) that further enhance the mix as a whole - and that’s mastering.

In the days of vinyl, mastering used to be a highly specialised, somewhat voodoo process, because the mastering engineer’s job was not only to make the final mix sound as good as possible, but sound good on vinyl, a mechanical, quirky transcription process - and not only that, but to master the track so it sounded good on vinyl when played on radio (which until FM came along, was a very poor quality transcription process).

Nowadays, software mastering tools (like Ozone) are part of most music production packages, and because digital doesn’t have the same constraints as vinyl, you can pretty much master it how you like it to sound. (Which has its own downside - at the moment, there’s hot debate about “hard limiting”, which is something that makes the final mastered mix sound as loud as possible, there’s been something of a volume “arms race” in recent years, which has meant that modern masters tend to be “flat”, cranked up to the max, without much dynamics - also you can hear them “pumping”. Now a certain amount of “pumping” is desirable, especially in pop, rock and dance, and is indeed what in other contexts is called “phat”, but when it’s overdone it sounds overbearing and oddly lifeless and lacking in “transients”, which are the short, sharp, high volume “crack” at the very beginning of percussions sounds, snare drums, even the hard picky sound of guitar notes.)

So, if you run a track that’s already been heavily mastered through something like Ozone on a high quality audio system, it tends to sound overdone, but if your audio hardware is lower grade, it might sound ok - i.e. just like the old days when records had to be made to sound “big” when played on tinny radios, it might actually enhance the music a bit more so that it compensates for (i.e. sort of “punches through”) the lack of quality in the hardware.

At any rate, with most people listening to their music on the appalling mp3 format these days, most of these arcane audio matters are moot :)

As a general point, with electronic music or dance based music, lots of mastering and pumpage generally sounds good on a home audio system, whereas with acoustic-instrument or heavily vocal-based music with lots of dynamics and subtlety, its bad and obliterates a lot of the subtlety and sounds over-pumped.