Making Your iPhone, iPad or Mac Sound Better

iTunes icon with blue sunbeamsAside from being made by Apple, what do an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and an iMac have in common? They all have tiny speakers. Even my Mac Mini has a tiny speaker, but it’s audio out is connect to a monitor – WITH TINY SPEAKERS. All day long, it seems that I’m surrounded by tiny speakers. They have a sound that rattles as if it was emanating from a tin can. Fortunately, there’s a setting to help mitigate that problem.

It actually is a bit miraculous how such a small device can make such a big sound. Sure, it’s not likely to lead to the cutting of cardboard refrigerator boxes and random breakdancing sessions on the street. This isn’t the 1980’s. However, the iPhone does the job of so many other devices. Quite often, it’s a music player. Since most people usually have their smartphone within arm’s reach for much of the day, an iPhone is good at breaking the silence. I’ve been known to just startup my playlist and play music – even without headphones attached. It’s like walking around with my own theme music.

The problem with listening to music from an iPhone’s built-in speaker, or even from many of the other tiny Apple speakers, is that it can get tiring. That tinny sound gets annoying. For years I just tolerated it. “Oh, it’s just a small device. It’s not supposed to sound much better.” But after messing with my iTunes settings on my Mac, I realized something. Hey… there’s an equalizer.

Screenshot of the Equalizer in iTunes on the Mac
Screenshot of the Equalizer in iTunes on the Mac

Growing up in the heydays of RadioShack, I associated equalizers with bulky black boxes. Forgetting how much technology has been miniaturized to fit inside my Mac Mini or iPhone, I didn’t realize that an equalizer would be in there too. With a simple switch to the “Small Speakers” preset, and then a delay of about a second, the sound coming from my computer monitor was so much better. That tinny sound was gone. Instead, the music was a rich and relaxing.

Oh sure, an audiophile will scoff at such a claim. Obviously, there are much better sounding speakers out there. But as the photography saying goes, “The best camera is the one you have with you.” It’s the same with speakers. These “Small Speakers” surround me everyday. A simple, and easily overlooked, setting can dramatically improve the sound. Basically, the “Small Speakers” setting is a preset to lower the treble.

The setting is easy to miss on iTunes. It’s under the “Window” section in the menu bar. I was even more pleased when I found the “EQ” settings on my iPhone – and it doesn’t stand for EverQuest.

settings - music - eq - small speakers
The equalizer is available through Settings > Music > EQ

Surprisingly, the EQ is even more responsive on my iPhone than my Mac Mini. Instantly, the sound quality changed. It was nice. I updated the settings on my iPad too. So when I tell Siri to play iTunes radio, it sounds a lot better. If you already know this, you might be like “Duh!” But if you don’t already know this, then welcome to a better sounding world.