So I have been runnning a perfect blend of technology and old school. I currently use iTunes to store all my music - in lossless format on an external hard drive. I play the music and direct it out via the fiber optic jack on my MacBook to an external DAC where the S/PDIF signal is decoded and then off to the Thick and Juicy amp.
Recently I had a party where one of my guests hijacked my MacBook via their iPhone and set their phone up as a remote.
Doing so put some piece of software in the loop that took the natural brilliance out of the music and made it dull.
I have experimented with rolling back to earlier versions of iTunes to rectify the situation with no success but on re-installing iTunes (current release) after attempting the roll back - the system somehow got restored to it's previous luster.
So thanks for the help Mac Genius - not for solving my problem but for putting me on a path to get it solved.
In the mean time - Apple - don't muck with success and keep iTunes great.
P.S. Don't EVER mess with the volume control in iTunes - keep it maxed out and you should be good to go.