I’m usually a less-is-more listener, but when we’re talking about bit-reduced files played on necessarily compromised earphones or computer speakers, I admit that there's room for improvement. All three of these applications were able to enhance my listening for much of my music collection, though my propensity to engage one or another was in inverse proportion to the quality of the original production, and of the speakers or headphones I used.
As to whether or not there was any “un-compressing” of MP3 or AAC data going on, I’ll leave that judgment up to you. (Not really: Regardless of marketing hype — for example, most AV receivers now have a feature called “Restorer” or some-such — once them bits are gone, they’re gone, and no amount of wishing will bring them back.) But I will quickly point out that none of these three apps makes any such overt claim.
So which one — DPS, iWow 3D, or Hear — “sounds best?” This puts me on dangerous ground, because there simply are too many variables. Were I to buy one with my own money it would be Prosoft's Hear, because I found it the most configurable and most ready to make the kind of subtler sonic changes I prefer. That said, both iWow 3D and DPS are simpler to set up and use, and I suspect either would meet less resistance from many users — and both can achieve much the same results, albeit with less user control over the fine points.
But saving the best news for last, you needn’t take my word for it: DPS, iWow 3D, and Hear all offer time-limited, fully functional free demos, so you really can make up your own mind (and ears) with no downside.
What are you waiting for?
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