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I am playing a 320 kpbs encoded music MP3 in iTunes and the sound is substantially worse than the exact same file played back in QuickTime Player (Max OS X 10.8.5). I have maxed out system volume and iTunes playback volume. I have disabled all the audio processing features in iTunes (equalization, sound enhancer, etc.) The audio coming from iTunes still sounds resampled and/or processed, whereas QuickTime Player appears to be playing it "as is".

Even when I Get Info on the MP3 file in Finder and play it back directly from the Get Info window it sounds good. It's just iTunes that seems to be mangling the song. I can notice a difference on virtually all my music, so it's not just one particular MP3.

I suspect the issue is that iTunes is doing some kind of audio processing but I can't find a way to turn it off. This is the newest iTunes (11.1), but the problem has probably been going on for a while... I just switched to decent earbuds and started noticing the difference.

What's the best way to force iTunes to play back the file as-is, or as close as possible to how QuickTime Player/Finder would play it?

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Perhaps the song you're playing in itunes was imported into the library and converted to a poorer quality? – Hefewe1zen Oct 19 '13 at 5:56
I don't think that's it. I can drag the song directly out of iTunes onto my desktop, play it from Get Info or QuickTime Player, and it sounds a lot better. – Gene Goykhman Oct 19 '13 at 13:27

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