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That’s a Commercial, Not a Crash
The first time I experienced an ad on iTunes Radio, I thought my Apple TV crashed or my Internet connection dropped. At the end of a song, the music stopped and a video progress bar appeared at the bottom of the screen. Nothing happened for 30 seconds, and then a TV commercial appeared. Many of the ads are in HD video. Depending on your Internet connection speed, the ads may take some time to load. I don’t have an exceptionally fast Internet connection, so it takes a while. If you notice a long pause in between songs, it’s not a crash. In fact, iTunes Radio has never crashed on me.
There’s no official information as to advertising frequency. There seems to be about one ad every 30-60 minutes. That’s better than traditional radio and television. An iTunes Match subscription eliminates ads from iTunes Radio. It also allows you to host your entire iTunes collection (including imported CDs not purchased from iTunes) in the cloud. iTunes Match costs $24.99 a year. It’s possible that as more advertisers sign on to iTunes Radio, ads may become more frequent.
Sound Check, the Apple ecosystem feature that keeps audio levels normalized, is enabled by default on iTunes Radio. The feature is designed to keep the volume of music constant, so that you don’t have to fiddle with your remote. I’m a bit surprised that Sound Check is on by default, but it makes sense given that iTunes Radio is an Internet radio platform. Terrestrial radio stations have been normalizing audio levels for decades. Although Sound Check is configurable on Apple TV (Settings > Audio & Video > Sound Check), this setting will only work with your iTunes music purchases. Other programming, such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, and iTunes movies and TV shows are unaffected by Sound Check. For more information, check out this Apple support document.
Use Your Stereo!
iTunes Radio features high fidelity audio. The music is 256kps AAC, which is almost indiscernible from CD. I can’t tell the difference between 256kbps AAC and a CD, listening on high-end studio monitors via a digital Toslink connector. If you really want to enjoy iTunes Radio, connect your stereo to your TV or Apple TV. Apple TV even has digital audio out, making it easy to connect to home theater audio systems with just one cable.
The tips featured in this article should increase your enjoyment of iTunes Radio. I’m hooked on the service. With 27 million songs and great audio quality, this is the best Internet radio service available. It’s simply the best way to discover new music. I have to admit, I’ve already purchased a few albums from iTunes due to iTunes Radio. Between the iTunes purchases, iTunes Match subscriptions and advertising, iTunes Radio will be a profitable endeavor for Apple. That said, iTunes Radio is incredibly generous and even features songs that are not available for purchase on iTunes. iTunes Radio is another Apple creation intended to boost profits and build brand loyalty. Consumers may choose to buy an Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch specifically for this feature. I’m sticking with Apple products for many reasons, iTunes Radio being one. It’s that good.