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Author Topic: The Distortion of Sound  (Read 1110 times)

Jonathan Goodall

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The Distortion of Sound
« on: August 25, 2014, 01:37:44 am »

Might have already seen this and it states what most of us already feel, but it's an interesting watch.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDZcz-V29_M#t=138
« Last Edit: August 25, 2014, 02:28:39 am by Jonathan Goodall »
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Paul G. OBrien

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Re: The Distortion of Sound
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2014, 07:50:01 am »

it states what most of us already feel,

No it's just more of the same misleading propaganda. Music file compression DOES NOT remove dynamics and high frequency content.. or at least it doesn't have to. You can go get your favorite CD or vinyl album and rip it to MP3 on your personal computer and hear for yourself, you can look at the resulting waveform in software and it won't look any different than what came off the original source. The dynamically compressed-all-to-hell music currently being released is a deliberate action by major record labels to degrade the product, they lost the file sharing war and have stated many times in the past that they don't want the public having pristine copies of studio masters because they know they will just share them with everybody else and cut the labels out of the profits they had become accustomed to. So they are giving the public a product that is just barely acceptable as music for the average listener... your typical ear bud wearing under 30, and I'm sure what the labels feel is equivalent quality for what the consumer is paying.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2014, 08:33:09 am by Paul G. OBrien »
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Lee Buckalew

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Re: The Distortion of Sound
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2014, 08:48:53 am »

No it's just more of the same misleading propaganda. Music file compression DOES NOT remove dynamics and high frequency content.. or at least it doesn't have to. You can go get your favorite CD or vinyl album and rip it to MP3 on your personal computer and hear for yourself, you can look at the resulting waveform in software and it won't look any different than what came off the original source. The dynamically compressed-all-to-hell music currently being released is a deliberate action by major record labels to degrade the product, they lost the file sharing war and have stated many times in the past that they don't want the public having pristine copies of studio masters because they know they will just share them with everybody else and cut the labels out of all that profit. So they are giving the public a product that is just barely acceptable as music for the average listener... your typical ear bud wearing under 30.

This is two different types of compression, audio vs. data.
Various codecs for data compression of audio files do exactly what they are designed to do. Throw away what was perceived in the testing of that codec information that was not needed.  It may not be needed for an anticipated use due to limited frequency response of anticipated playback devices, etc., or it may be that the data delivery system required smaller files. 
All of the data compression codecs change the original content.  Some remain closer to the original than do others. 
In recording for an internationally recognized symphony orchestra we provide the orchestra members with online MP3 copies of each concert for their review.  We also provide a lower quality MP3 conversion for any guest artists or conductors.  This streamlines their download and saves storage on the FTP server.  There is a significant difference between these two codecs in terms of audio quality.  We also provide CD copies of special concerts for their listening committee to review.  The balance of the orchestra as well as the frequency response and stereo imaging are changed when converting to MP3.  All conversions are produced from original source files.
The original file source for these conversions is stereo BWAV, 24 bit, 96kHz from our archival 2 track masters.

Lee
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Paul G. OBrien

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Re: The Distortion of Sound
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2014, 09:35:40 am »

This is two different types of compression, audio vs. data.

Yes. Just to be clear I'm not suggesting that MP3 conversion doesn't degrade sound quality, I'm just pointing out the all too common tactic of these special interest groups to suggest that audio compression is an unavoidable byproduct of digital audio conversions and the reason why we have so many bad sounding recordings in circulation.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2014, 09:41:26 am by Paul G. OBrien »
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Hayden J. Nebus

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Re: The Distortion of Sound
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2014, 01:53:25 pm »

No it's just more of the same misleading propaganda. Music file compression DOES NOT remove dynamics and high frequency content.. or at least it doesn't have to. You can go get your favorite CD or vinyl album and rip it to MP3 on your personal computer and hear for yourself, you can look at the resulting waveform in software and it won't look any different than what came off the original source. The dynamically compressed-all-to-hell music currently being released is a deliberate action by major record labels to degrade the product, they lost the file sharing war and have stated many times in the past that they don't want the public having pristine copies of studio masters because they know they will just share them with everybody else and cut the labels out of the profits they had become accustomed to. So they are giving the public a product that is just barely acceptable as music for the average listener... your typical ear bud wearing under 30, and I'm sure what the labels feel is equivalent quality for what the consumer is paying.

I'm sure the idea of allocating 2x-5x the bandwidth for lossless music downloads isn't very attractive to the likes of Apple or any of our ISPs, who also have to deliver petabytes of movies and apps daily. If you've used netflix on the big 2 U.S. ISPs , you've probably experienced the forced scarcity that peering agreements can create.   

This is why I try and use alternate services like Murfie (no affiliation, just my current favorite). For a price that's comparable to an itunes download, you get to own a pre-loved physical CD, which you can have if you want, or they will hold onto it for you, rip it to FLAC (or your choice of codec)  and send you a link. 


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Keith Broughton

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Re: The Distortion of Sound
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2014, 03:19:18 pm »

I'm just pointing out the all too common tactic of these special interest groups to suggest that audio compression is an unavoidable byproduct of digital audio conversions and the reason why we have so many bad sounding recordings in circulation.
I'm not sure if we watched the same video.
There was no mention of of audio compression as an "unavoidable by product of digital audio conversion"
I also did not see any "special interest group"
This is a  POV for the broad  acceptance of sub standard audio quality for the distribution and listening "convenience" factor.
I thought it was well done and not biased to a product or company.
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Tommy Peel

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Re: The Distortion of Sound
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2014, 04:10:17 pm »

My current "poison" for music is Spotify Premium. For $10 a month I can listen to just about anything I want and keep some playlists downloaded to my phone & computer so I can listen offline. Being that I listen to a pretty wide variety of music buying all of it wouldn't be feasible and Spotify has a great recommendation system for finding new music. I find that the sound quality is acceptable for most of my listening(mainly in the car and with cheap ear buds) and for music I really like I have some vinyl records at home. I also buy the occasional album on iTunes if it's one of my favorite bands and I want to support them.
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Paul G. OBrien

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Re: The Distortion of Sound
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2014, 08:42:37 pm »

I'm not sure if we watched the same video.
There was no mention of of audio compression as an "unavoidable by product of digital audio conversion"
Yeah you need to go back and have another look, in the section where they show music waveforms they illustrate the MP3 file as having a compressed and clipped waveform compared to the original and the speaker explains that when a track is converted it loses dynamic range and frequency response. These assertions are just wrong or misleading at best, it is only the lowest bitrate MP3 conversion that would exhibit any of these traits, any decent codec and higher bitrate conversion will produce results that are indistinguishable from the original in all aspects on everything but the most high end sound system. 

I also did not see any "special interest group"
Well like it or not the recording artists and producers appearing in the video represent a special interest group, so it is what it is.

This is a POV for the broad acceptance of sub standard audio quality for the distribution and listening "convenience" factor.
That I can agree with and the video was well done, it's just that I don't agree with what they blame as the reason why we have so many substandard audio recordings these days.
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Corey Scogin

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Re: The Distortion of Sound
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2014, 10:23:24 pm »

I'll say there certainly is a huge amount of false information there.  Take a look at 11:30.  Nearly everything said around that point is BS. 

It's ironic that at 11:30 they cycle between "compressed" music and "uncompressed" music yet, when listening on YouTube, all of the audio is compressed more than the typical mp3 or aac from any major music store so in theory, we should not notice a difference during their "comparison" if compressed audio (YouTube) is that bad.

From the video: "[mp3] is not what is faithful to the original recording".  I dare say that in the transition from 24-bit / 96kHz master tracks to 16-bit / 44.1kHz CD tracks more is lost than in the transition from CD audio to mp3 when encoded at a high bitrate.

That said, I would love for a lossless compression codec to become popular.  I don't think the mobile bandwidth limits would allow that right now though.  I do a little project studio recording on the side and recently I discovered one track that had serious artifacts when encoded to mp3 due to low level, high frequency noise at the beginning.  The song was tracked live and started out with a very soft vocal part so there was a little ambient room noise.  For some reason, no matter how I encoded it with LAME, those artifacts remained.  Apple's AAC handled it better in this instance though I've heard that sometimes the opposite is true.  This was the first time I have ever noticed any difference between a 16-bit/44.1kHz lossless track and a lossy one. 
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Lee Buckalew

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Re: The Distortion of Sound
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2014, 10:31:45 pm »

Yeah you need to go back and have another look, in the section where they show music waveforms they illustrate the MP3 file as having a compressed and clipped waveform compared to the original and the speaker explains that when a track is converted it loses dynamic range and frequency response. These assertions are just wrong or misleading at best, it is only the lowest bitrate MP3 conversion that would exhibit any of these traits, any decent codec and higher bitrate conversion will produce results that are indistinguishable from the original in all aspects on everything but the most high end sound system. 

Incorrect.  All MP3 codecs create frequency response changes and loss of dynamic range (lower bit depth) capability.  The reduction in bit depth may not be noticed depending upon the actual source but the frequency response shift is noticeable on all but the worst systems or earbuds/headphones.  There is also a shift in stereo imaging and tonal balance that is very noticeable and measurable compared to an original high resolution master.

Lee
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