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Apple Music Radio Normalizes Music Volume with Sound Check

A friend at a classical music label sent me an email this morning, saying that he was listening to an Apple Music Radio station based on a classical artist, and that he was hearing some distortion in the music. When he listened to the same track on Apple Music, there was no distortion.

“Aha,” I said, “Have you not read this article on my website?”

It’s worth mentioning again: iTunes Radio (now Apple Music Radio) Normalizes Playback Volume with Sound Check. It uses Apple’s Sound Check feature, which is designed to make sure there’s not too much difference between the volumes of tracks on radio stations. This prevents jarring changes in volume, but it ignores the often large dynamic range (the difference between the softest and loudest parts) of classical music.

Here’s one example, from the older article, of Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball. The first part of the waveform below is from the iTunes Store version of the track, and the second from the iTunes Radio version:

The quiet part of the song is much louder to match the overall loudness of the track, but also to be in line with the desired volume of the Apple Music Radio stations.

So be aware that when listening to Apple Music Radio, you’re not hearing the music unaltered; it can be louder or softer, and, for quiet music, there’s a good chance you’ll hear distortion.

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The Committed Podcast Discusses This and That

The Committed Podcast Icon 1400x1400 01In this week’s episode of The Committed podcast, Ian Schray, Rob Griffiths, and I discuss a few random things. After discussing some followup about Apple Music, we talk about Windows 10 upgrades, the Nike+ FuelBand settlement, and liquor.

Listen to The Committed, EEpisode 90: “Through Nefarious Means”

If you like The Committed podcast, you can subscribe or leave a rating or review on iTunes, or with your favorite podcatcher.

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Do You Use Keynote? Check out Joe Kissell’s New Book, Take Control of Keynote

Tc keynoteNeed to give a presentation, but worried about how you’ll do? Steve Jobs relied on Keynote for his famous keynote presentations, and while using Keynote won’t guarantee Jobs-level success, Joe Kissell’s advice in Take Control of Keynote will get you closer.

Drawing on years of speaking experience, Joe suggests you start by figuring out what you want to say — and he explains exactly how to accomplish this task, even though you won’t do it in Keynote. He then helps you work in Keynote with the right theme, and explains how to create slides by filling in placeholders, adding objects (images, movies, sounds, tables, and charts), and inserting and styling text. You’ll also learn how to add build effects to slides and transitions between slides, as well as how to make self-playing presentations designed for kiosks, and presentations with recorded narration or a soundtrack.

Finally, Joe offers real-world advice about delivering presentations, including tips on what to bring, making presenter notes and customizing the presenter display, setting up your display, and controlling your presentation.

Get Take Control of Keynote now.

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10,000,000 Apple Music Subscribers? Not So Fast…

Rumors suggest that Apple Music already has 10 million subscribers, according to “Inside sources at some of the major labels — who are bound by ironclad NDAs.” Really?

People are pointing out that this number is half what Spotify has as paying customers (20 million, out of a total of 75 million), but ignores the fact that Apple Music actually has no subscribers, only people using the service’s trial. I’m pretty sure you can’t start paying for Apple Music even if you want to.

10 million trial users is a good number, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that many people signed up for three months of free music. But it’s a meaningless number right now, at least until September 30, when paid subscriptions start being counted. (And that’s only for people who signed up on the first day.)

Given that more than 40% of iOS devices are running iOS 8.4, which is required for Apple Music, and gazillions of people have access to it via iTunes, the number might actually not be very high. I can’t imagine any serious music fan not signing up for the trial.

This said, it’s a large number of people who are now exposed to the concept of streaming music. We’ll have to wait and see how many of these Apple can convert to tithe-paying users after the trial. And then, of course, when Apple releases an Android app, we’ll see a larger pool of potential users…

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Why Not Use Spotify?

Over the weekend, Dave Mark of The Loop, was asking, on Twitter, about what people think of Spotify. He did an experiment, comparing it to Apple Music, asking So why don’t you just use Spotify?.

Dave’s article is insightful. He starts off with my biggest gripe about Spotify:

Spotify’s interface is complex and confusing…

But continues to say that it’s “no more so than Apple Music.” My biggest complaint about Spotify is one that’s really easy to fix: their white-on-black interface is very hard to read. It may be cool among young people with good eyes, but it’s a FU to anyone whose eyesight isn’t perfect. I find it hard to navigate, hard to read, and uninviting, and this both on the desktop and on mobile.

Dave says:

Spotify allows you to follow curated, active playlists. Apple Music has a similar feature, described here.

Spotify does this much better, and Apple will need to emulate them. What you can do on Spotify that you can’t do on Apple Music is follow playlists that anyone creates. Sure, you can follow mine if I share them with you, but you can’t search for playlists or users and add their playlists to your library (or, in Spotify, the hard-to-use sidebar). This gives Spotify a big advantage, especially if you’re interested in obscure music. There are lots of users who share their eclectic tastes.

Dave points out other areas where Apple comes out ahead, such as the price of a family plan. But he concludes:

Bottom line, Apple Music has a distinct home field advantage. If Apple can find a way to unify the iOS and Mac universes, sand off the rough edges from both interfaces […], this is their ball game to lose.

Yep. If.

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Writings about Macs, music and more by Kirk McElhearn