The Audio Xciter music player’s press release is full of the usual superlatives, and I quickly glossed over them in my usual cynical manner looking for something to make fun of (which I found – more on that in a bit). But one listen of the audio-processing iOS app is enough to make you sit up and, uh, listen.
It really is amazing.
Tune, Harmonics, AE Drive, BB Mix: These are all parameters that can be adjusted by people who know what they’re doing. For the rest of us, you can pick low, medium or high settings, and switch the Xciter on and off for comparison.
The DSP (digital signal processor) algorithms take your crappy MP3s and manages to open them back up. Bass becomes bigger and deeper, but not boomier. Small details become clear, voices more human and the whole sound stage opens up.
If you are old enough to have used a record player (or early CD player) with a great amp and big speakers, back before CDs and MP3s started shipping with horribly compressed audio, you will be familiar with the open sound, where loud things are loud and quiet things quiet.
Audio Xciter is based on studio processing tech from Aphex. Which brings us to the teasing. Here’s a snippet from the press release:
Legendary musicians such as Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, and Led Zeppelin have relied on the Aphex technology behind Audio Xciter for years and pay $30 per minute to use it for audio mastering.
$30 per minute?! That sounds like an old-school rip-off B2B model right there. And the actual iPhone app tries hard to ape this confusion: The free version limits you to 15 minutes of listening per day (a trial version, if you will), the Basic ($5) version removes this limit and the full version ($10) allows extra tweaking.
I’m impressed. I have tried other sound “improving” apps and found them pointless or worse. But Xciter really is pretty astonishing. If you do nothing else, download the trial and take it for a spin. And make sure you listen to an audiobook while you do it. The difference is like listening underwater, and then coming up into the air.