SRS Labs has just released MyTunes, a free iPhone app that rather dramatically enhances music playback on your iDevices. Instead of using the stock player provided by Apple, you launch the MyTunes app, select your playlists, albums or artists, and you're away.
The sound of most tracks transforms in an often spectacular fashion. Matt Yaney of SRS told me the app uses a variety of proprietary techniques to eliminate the degradation provided by MP3 encoding and produce a more natural and immersive experience, usually lost by the recording and compression process.
I have to agree. Listening to a variety of Rock, New Age, Jazz and Classical improved every track I tried. Bass was firmer, percussion was much sharper, and the position of instruments across the sound stage are more precise. The changes just aren't a matter of boosting high and low frequencies, there is a good deal of sophisticated audio processing taking place. I found the effects most pronounced on music that was recorded live with acoustic instruments, but as I said, just about every genre of music sounded better.
This app is a bit of a breakthrough for SRS Labs, because the only previous way to get this technology was with a hardware dongle on the SRS Wow! product. I've compared the 2 systems, and found the audio quality quite close. The SRS Wow! does have an actual hardware DAC (digital audio converter) but I was hard pressed to hear the difference when listening to MyTunes.
There are a few caveats. The MyTunes app won't work with any music that has DRM, and it won't work on any videos you have. Since the app only connects to your iTunes library, it won't enhance Pandora, Spotify or any online streaming services.
If you want even more features there is a US$4.99 in-app purchase that provides additional custom controls for audio enhancement, more EQ settings, volume leveling, and an simpler interface to use when driving. I didn't find the extra features all that compelling, but SRS Labs will let you sample them for ten minutes to see if they are worthwhile for you.
If you listen to a lot of music on your iDevice, and most of us do, I wouldn't hesitate to download MyTunes. The basic app is free. It takes a little effort to explore all the features provided, but if you try it I think it will have a permanent place on your iPhone or iPod touch. The app also will work on an iPad, but MyTunes is not universal, and a separate iPad app is coming later this year.
Give the app a listen and report your impressions in comments, and check the gallery out for some screen shots.