I used to think my iPod touch was the bee’s knees when it came to digital music players. Exposure to true audiophile-friendly models from the likes of Cowon and Colorfly, coupled with listening to FLAC tracks on my budget Sony Xperia phone taught me better, and for a while I was incredibly frustrated with the shortcomings of Apple’s supposedly market-leading player.
I’ve since discovered that most of that frustration can be targeted at the frankly rubbish Music app that ships with iOS. And now I’m ready to embrace decent sounding music on my iPod touch thanks to a fabulous app called Accudio Free 1.0.0.
The biggest frustration with Apple’s Music player is its lack of configurability. Sure, you’ve got 22 basic presets to choose from (tap Settings > Music > EQ to access them), but they often make things worse, not better. Apply Bass Booster for example, and the mid and high levels become so muddied as to render most tracks unlistenable.
Accudio Free offers two key improvements over the default Music player. First, its developers have carefully analysed over 300 pairs of headphones and worked out the best sound settings for each. So your first task on firing up the app is to see if your headphones are included – all of Apple’s basic buds are there, along with a wide range of cheap and not-so-cheap models.
With your model selected, the app attempts -- with great success on the most part -- to provide Hi-Fi sound quality through those phones, resulting in an immediate improvement. But there’s more: Accudio also provides a “simulation” mode, which attempts to reproduce the sound quality from a handful of top-quality cans on your current model.
On its own, this makes a real difference to the sound, but Accudio goes further. The second improvement it offers is not one, but two full sets of graphic equalizer controls. A basic five-bar equalizer, covering sub-bass, bass, vocalist, sibilance and treble, allows you to tweak the reference mode further -- up to 10dB in either direction for each frequency.
And if that wasn’t enough, Accudio also provides you with a Custom Mode that allows you to completely fine-tune all the settings to your personal tastes with a 10-bar equalizer that allows you to pick 10 user-customizable frequencies and tweak them accordingly.
The Free version tested here limits you to just one reference mode preset and one customizable setting, but upgrading to the Pro version also unlocks some other juicy features, not least of which are support for OGG and lossless FLAC audio formats. Seeing as the true audiophile would pick these over MP3 or Apple’s AAC codec any day of the week, it’s the icing on the cake for frustrated iPhone/iPod touch users.
Accudio Free is available for free for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad running iOS 4.3 or later. Accudio Pro, available as an in-app upgrade via Settings > Etc > Store, costs $4.99.