Golden ears have long groused about the inferior sound of streaming music and video. DTS, Apple and SRS are responding
DTS' excellent multi-channel sound encoding for DVDs and Blu-Ray video discs is widely hailed. Now a variation on the theme (can't be quite as good, but they'll try) will be part of a "cloud-based delivery service" that will be unveiled in "Q2" 2012, DTS CEO Jon Kirchner shared with stock analysts this week.
Acknowledging problems of distortion and over-compression in some music on the iTunes store, Apple has introduced a "Mastered for iTunes" program that starts out with the best possible source material and tweaks it in a number of ways. Artists and labels are invited to study up on the technology in a newly posted white paper . Some classical, jazz, pop and rock titles are already available in "Mfi" form - from Holst's "The Planets" to John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" to flavor of the month Lana Del Ray. While cordoned off in the Mastered for iTunes section at the site, the offerings sell for the usual price - $1.29 a track, $9.99 for the album.
Some headphone makers claim their "cans" and "buds" are specially tuned to bring out the best from the compressed music on your mobile device. But I've had better success with a little dongle - the SRS iWow3D - that plugs into the multipin jack of an iPhone/iPod/iPad. A headphone jack at the other end of the iWow3D then lets you connect any set of headphones. An on/off switch demonstrates the difference when the SRS sound tweaking circuitry is engaged. At first I thought it was just playing louder. But after a lot of back and forth, I could clearly hear more realistic detail and depth in albums like the new "Jim Hall & Pat Metheny" duo guitar session, which I'd downloaded to my iPhone from Rhapsody. The SRS iWow3D sells for about $50 from discounters, $60 direct from the maker at http://www.srslabs.com/