First Look: Can You Hear Me Now?

Leslie Ayers's picture

First Look: Can You Hear Me Now?

Choose Music > Pop-H when you're rocking out to Abba with headphones. Sure, it's easy enough to do, but we were too lazy to change Hear's preset to Hip Hop / Rap-H when the song switched to Akon's Smack That.

 

Even nonaudiophiles can appreciate an app like JoeSoft's Hear, which, for $49.95, boosts the sound quality of your entire digital music library - and any other audio you care to listen to on your Mac.

 

After an admittedly quick look at the app, however, we found ourselves wishing JoeSoft could build in a few more features that cater to lazy mousers like us. To wit: With its dozens of music presets - from Alternative / Punk to Hip Hop/Rap to Techno, all for both speakers and headphones, choosing the one you want quickly is, well, a challenge.

 

One potential solution is to tell Hear to choose a preset based on a song's genre as dictated by iTunes. We don't trust iTunes to always get that right, however, and we don't have time to go through and update each song's genre in our entire library.

 

 

 

Music presets anyone? We appreciate Hear's depth, but this is too many preset choices! You can set the app to change the preset based on a song's genre as categorized by iTunes, but you're trusting iTunes to get the genre right, which it doesn't always do.

 

In our automated Fantasy Land, Hear would be able to "read" each song's audio profile and select an appropriate preset to optimize the sound. But back to reality. You can edit all pre-existing presets in any number of ways, which for non-audio experts actually serves as a fun crash course in the concepts behind editing and manipulating digital audio.

 

One interesting feature that we haven't had enough free time to explore is the BW tab (which, randomly, stands for brainwaves. The idea behind this feature is to filter your favorite music so that listening to it promotes relaxation. We don't pretend to understand how Hear does this, and we're not even sure we noticed the difference it made on our music when we toggled it on and off. But it's an interesting idea, and relaxation, deep concentration, even meditation, are all things most denizens of the modern world could use more of.

 

Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, and Allison Krauss singing folk music is pretty relaxing, but Hear's BW tab can help us go even deeper into a state of calm.

 

JoeSoft offers a full-version free trial of Hear on its website, so you don't have anything to lose by giving it a try. If anyone out there can meditate to death metal using the BW tab, we want to hear about it.

 

 

Look for a full review of Hear 1.01 on our site soon, and in the August print issue of Mac|Life.

 

 

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RBB

Hear may be "fun", but it is not omniscient- it can add harmonics in, for example, but doesn't know what proportion those harmonics were in in the original source material. To quote an issue of the Audio Basics audio newsletter published by avahifi: "In audio, there is a name for any difference between input and output. It's called distortion."
Put another way, have fun with this but don't expect miracles.

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