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> Mp3s, Streamed Music And Quality, 'The distortion of sound' video
Saoirse O'Shea
post Jul 14 2014, 01:54 PM
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This may interest some:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDZcz-V29_M...eature=youtu.be


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Mertay
post Jul 14 2014, 08:43 PM
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Pretty good, not long and easy to understand for everybody. Let's hope it works smile.gif


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klasaine
post Jul 15 2014, 05:08 AM
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I agree 100% (you're preaching to the choir) but ...
Trying to convince someone that 'how they listen to music actually sucks all the life out of it' - while they are in fact listening to that commentary (and some music) with compressed audio on their computer - is gonna be an uphill battle. Not too mention .... pretty ironic.

It's like talking about a really great Paella or Fiorentina while you're (happily) eating at McDonalds.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Jul 15 2014, 08:06 AM


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jul 15 2014, 09:15 AM
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QUOTE (klasaine @ Jul 15 2014, 04:08 AM) *
...
Trying to convince someone that 'how they listen to music actually sucks all the life out of it' - while they are in fact listening to that commentary (and some music) with compressed audio on their computer - is gonna be an uphill battle. Not too mention .... pretty ironic.

It's like talking about a really great Paella or Fiorentina while you're (happily) eating at McDonalds.



Completely agree with you Ken - particularly given that youtube codecs can be particularly poor regarding compression. I guess though that here they'd argue that they want to target as large an audience as quickly and as effectively as possible and that this was the way to do it. Also, that they need to target those who do listen to music only on their computers etc rather than on CD/vinyl as they want to convert people rather than 'preach to the onverted'. If that's the case then then they've possibly missed the boat as most have probably moved on to listening to audio mainly/solely on their smart phones so they should have done an app rolleyes.gif .
The audio production isn't 100% all the way through either and that's not all down to youtube codecs. Now you'd think they'd have bent over backwards to ensure that it was A! given their remit.

A bit OT but McDonalds hasn't really taken hold where I am as most people here can eat tapas that is cheaper, better quality and served faster than anything they do. Sharing a paella with friends and/or family on a Sunday lnchtime is regarded as very much the thing to do as it's a social occassion - 8 people sharing a McDonalds just hasn't got the same cache smile.gif .


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jul 15 2014, 03:49 PM
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it's worth mentioning that there are several mp3 codecs around and the video kind of glosses over this point. Not all mp3 codecs are the same or sound the same for all audio projects. We compare different mp3 codecs before transcoding for those who want mp3s for the digital uploaders. As far as we know the digital distributors don't do this, very few mixing studios who 'master' do, and the 'home/projectmastering' files on soundcloud etc don't tend to do this.


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klasaine
post Jul 15 2014, 04:11 PM
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QUOTE (tonymiro @ Jul 15 2014, 01:15 AM) *
A bit OT but McDonalds hasn't really taken hold where I am as most people here can eat tapas that is cheaper, better quality and served faster than anything they do. Sharing a paella with friends and/or family on a Sunday lnchtime is regarded as very much the thing to do as it's a social occassion - 8 people sharing a McDonalds just hasn't got the same cache smile.gif .


And thank god for that!

Yesterday I had to transcribe a a couple of chord voicings from a Ray Charles 'big band' arrangement. I tried it via youtube because it's fast, convenient and usually I can hear most things fine. Not this time! I had to put a disc in the home stereo to hear those interior parts.


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jul 15 2014, 04:48 PM
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QUOTE (klasaine @ Jul 15 2014, 03:11 PM) *
And thank god for that!

Yesterday I had to transcribe a a couple of chord voicings from a Ray Charles 'big band' arrangement. I tried it via youtube because it's fast, convenient and usually I can hear most things fine. Not this time! I had to put a disc in the home stereo to hear those interior parts.


One thing I've started to come across are young engineers who just can't do that Ken. They just aren't able to here subtle differences in level and placement particularly concerning stereo depth of field rather than width. I've gotten used to those who like the glassy, coldness of digital over analogue - that's just subjective preference and actually does suit some recordings/projects but for engineers and musicians who can't hear subtle nuances in a recording...

It's probably too soon to suggest that it' down to people having been brought up listening on ear buds to mp3s but it does kind of worry me where we're headed.


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Mertay
post Jul 15 2014, 06:31 PM
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I also thought about the irony but the clip-to-nonclip example in the video translated very well


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jul 15 2014, 06:49 PM
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QUOTE (Mertay @ Jul 15 2014, 05:31 PM) *
I also thought about the irony but the clip-to-nonclip example in the video translated very well


Yes that one does smile.gif .

I also liked the comment about how we respond to quality issues if it's visual but fail to pick up on quality issues if they're sound. There's some great phenomenological works which hold that there is, and has been for centuries, a 'primacy of vision' so much so that we preference sight over all of our other senses. I come across a lot of projects where the band and producer spend more time and money on the record sleeve art than on either the mixing and mastering. Even more spend significantly more time and money on the video for the single then they do on mastering the entire album. It's quite telling in this vein that the piece here is presented as a video rather than say an audio soundtrack - I wonder why rolleyes.gif .


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klasaine
post Jul 15 2014, 07:10 PM
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QUOTE (tonymiro @ Jul 15 2014, 08:48 AM) *
aren't able to here subtle differences in level and placement particularly concerning stereo depth of field rather than width.


Interesting you mentioning that.
The sonic difference I notice most and that I miss the most - is the lack of depth and height. *Which can even be attained in glorious monophonic as well as in overdub sessions when the engineer is good.

I say this all the time and I have said it now for years ...
The quality of musicians and songwriters has not diminished, at least as far as I experience. But the 'art' of recording and playback is just going into the dark ages. I don't care how good the gear may be (and it is for sure), I don't hear any 'quality' advancement. There are a lot of really great records (using modern technology) that get made currently but nothing 'better' (sonically) than it was during the golden age ... and I guess that's why they call it the Golden Age.

Music is art.
Easier and faster should not be a focus point in the methodology of it's creation (and delivery) nor is it criteria for it to be judged.
Tools are tools. I don't care if it's a Pultec, a palette knife or an ipod. Don't just 'have' it and fetishize it. Learn to use it.

I'm totally convinced that lack of sound quality is why the average layperson today (not those that play even a little bit) is just not a music fan like they were up in to the early 90s.

*I'm sure somebody was waiting for a rant from me. There, you got it wink.gif

This post has been edited by klasaine: Jul 15 2014, 07:26 PM


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jul 15 2014, 07:32 PM
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Again I totally agree Ken.

It's a long time since i heard any release where there has been a really good 3d field - some are ok but just not great. it tends to be almost a mantra with me when producers and/or engineers ask me for critical feedback before we master - lack of field. Far too many sit between the monitors and are just lfat and 2D.

Some of the best recordings I can remember are oldish classical recordings from the 30s through to the 50s. Very simple techinically and equipment wise compared to wha we have today but they were just well recorded with v. good mic placement.

I keep coming across younger engineers and producers who can't tell the difference between a 3dB vox up take and the original. That worries me an awful lot as you have to wonder what they hear and focus on.

Another thing that intrigues me is that some are now quick to point out that vinyl had it's sonic limitations. That's very true but we learnt not just to work within those limitations but to push them. With DAWs a lot don't even seem to know the simple basic stuff never mind work to the limitations or push the boundary.

I'd aree also that the poor quality must be putting a lot of people off. What's the point in really listening to and loving a tinny, thin, compressed and distorted piece. Whilst you could get exctied by finding a rare Horowitz recording years ago i can't imagine anyone getting excited by finding they've still got Pharell's (Cut and Paste vocals) 'Happy' on their smartphone in a few years time.

Music is art - the rest is silence (to deliberately mis quot Jacques Attelier) wink.gif .


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Darius Wave
post Jul 16 2014, 10:32 AM
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Very nice vid. I think we have an ilness of focusing to make things perfect in case of recording less than giving it life. I guilty of a charge as well. I know what You mean and I won't try to excuse myslef. Something has went wrong these days ...
I'm sure. But at the same time I'm afraid this is going to be a standard as long, as some celebrities will create a new hype. And I mean not a single, respected musicinas know within the musicians closed circle, but people who affect masses. Like with cloths....

About the 3D in recording field. I like to make esperiments and notice how the frequency response of instruments act while changing distance from them. I try to adopt this in my recordings but still way too go


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jul 16 2014, 11:56 AM
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I had a chat with a friend who has been doing the live sound for James and we got to talking about our early experience of sound engineering ...

...years ago when I started my training one of the first things that I was was the importance of balance. It was considered so important that our senior engineer used to say that we balanced the track rather than mixed it. We were expected to learn how to position all the parts in the sonic field BEFORE we applied any effects or processing. In fact at that time that particular studio had a split console and not that much outboard so eq, compression etc were always secondary.

Nowadays the importance of balance seems a bit lost as many do a basic placement and go straight to using eq etc. It perhaps goes back to your comment Ken about people having lots of gear but not achieving much with it. In some ways it's as if balancing a track just isn't thought to be 'sexy' enough since you don't get to show off lots of outboard to the client.

Just on the subject of gear - vsts may well have a lot to answer for. It takes me 100s if not 1000s of hours to get used to a piece of hardware and to really know how it will affect audio. So I don't have masses of hardware, just a few mastering pieces that I know well and use regularly. With lots of people though they have literally 100s of vsts and it just seems unlikely that many really know the difference between them and when, where and how to use them. How many really know the basic difference between optical, vari-mu and VCA compressors let alone fine detail as to the differences between one optical comp and another? All they seem interested in is the badge on the front - 'hey it's a Manley software emulation so it must be good to use on the cymbals!' With the badge thing - how many use a pultec emulation without having ever heard a Pultec? If they've never heard the original just how can they know if the emulation is any good and worth the extra cash over a vanilla vst? Seems unlikely but you can easily and quickly find internet studios that list 100s of plug ins, the vast majority of which are emulations of Manley, Pultec, SSL and so on.

Last bit - take a look at those same studios and most also have mix monitors more suited for a home/project studio and the monitors are nearly always poorly positioned. I wonder what the chances of the engineer really being able to hear fine detail are especially as the audio and stereo field are compromised even before they start...


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klasaine
post Jul 16 2014, 04:07 PM
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In England wasn't the proper name (for a recording engineer) a 'balance' engineer?
I roll my eyes when I see a studio list VSTs as if they're the 'real' thing. "A full suite of Universal Audio plug-ins".

That which is known, is that which is liked - Teodor Adorno

This post has been edited by klasaine: Jul 16 2014, 05:04 PM


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Todd Simpson
post Jul 17 2014, 08:24 AM
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TAKE HEART FRIENDS!! smile.gif


There is GOOD NEWS on the horizon smile.gif As bandwidth continues to increase, and as streaming services become just another part of the plumbing (as it were), eventually, the standards will rise a bit just like they did when audio went from DVD to BluRay. Most folks didn't know or care, but it was improved none the less. smile.gif

Most folks just want stuff to work, and be easy. They listen on cheap ear buds in many cases or laptop speakers. So most of the work done on the front end is simply lost on them. So even when bandwidth increases start predicating higher bit rates and less compression, we still have the end user listening on ear buds. Hopefully, as time goes on, the earbud driver technology will continue to advance as well. Eventually, cheap headphones and high bandwidth will meet in the middle of audio consumer NIRVANA smile.gif Hopefully.


QUOTE (tonymiro @ Jul 14 2014, 08:54 AM) *



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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jul 17 2014, 08:26 AM
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Yes they were called balance engineers originally in the UK and arguably it actually described the role well.

I come across quite a few studios who advertise that they have items by Manley, Pultec, SSL etc when what they really mean is that they have software by UA, Waves etc Some of them even go so far as to include the Manley etc badges/brand signs on their sites. To me it's rather like claiming that you have a Ferrari when what you actually have is a computer car driving game. I guess it's easier to impress people with a claim of the former than saying that you spend your time hunched up in your bedroom in front of your computer screen playing by yourself in the dark (I chose the preposition carefully biggrin.gif ).

(As usual Adorno pretty much nailed it.)


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klasaine
post Jul 17 2014, 06:43 PM
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QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ Jul 17 2014, 12:24 AM) *
Eventually, cheap headphones and high bandwidth will meet in the middle of audio consumer NIRVANA smile.gif Hopefully.


I hope so too.
My optimistic prediction is that the demand for ever increasing image/video quality will by default improve the delivery of audio quality.

Attached Image

This post has been edited by klasaine: Jul 18 2014, 03:35 AM


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Todd Simpson
post Jul 18 2014, 07:02 AM
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Even if the demand for quality remains slack (as it is currently) the standards will hopefully continue to rise as bandwidth and processing power continues ever upward. Almost by default, things should get better smile.gif Almost despite the consuming audience.

I saw some news about the new "super high fidelity" digital audio player that Neil Young is involved in. It seems he's taken over the company? I can't help wondering who the product is actually for? I guess they are hoping for the "lossless" crowd to come on board. But as it stands APPLE is embracing "lossless" codecs and 24 bit files with "iTunes Plus" so trying to launch an entirely new platform just seems like spitting in the wind. But hey, it takes all kinds smile.gif




QUOTE (klasaine @ Jul 17 2014, 01:43 PM) *
I hope so too.
My optimistic prediction is that the demand for ever increasing image/video quality will by default improve the delivery of audio quality.

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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jul 18 2014, 09:18 AM
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QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ Jul 18 2014, 06:02 AM) *
Even if the demand for quality remains slack (as it is currently) the standards will hopefully continue to rise as bandwidth and processing power continues ever upward. Almost by default, things should get better smile.gif Almost despite the consuming audience.

I saw some news about the new "super high fidelity" digital audio player that Neil Young is involved in. It seems he's taken over the company? I can't help wondering who the product is actually for? I guess they are hoping for the "lossless" crowd to come on board. But as it stands APPLE is embracing "lossless" codecs and 24 bit files with "iTunes Plus" so trying to launch an entirely new platform just seems like spitting in the wind. But hey, it takes all kinds smile.gif


I love N Young as a musician but he and his company pono are talking bull. There's been lossless codecs like FLAC available for years for personal players, long before he got involved. Unlike pono you can get flac files from a lot of different online retailers. If you want an mp3 type player that is near cd quality than use flac or one of the other open lossless codec that don't force you to a single source.

Here's a quote from Young in The Guardian:

"Go back to your digital masters and see what they sounded like compared to what was released. Now, if you want to, they can all be released in their original glory," he said. "You can talk to your producer or record company and learn how to make that available to your listeners on Pono... Record companies, this is an opportunity to rescue the art of recorded sound..."

What a load of bull. The redbok PMCD is not different to the commercial CD that is released. Besides in domestic situtions a CD is more than sufficient to capture the audio quality of a 'digital master', if there is an audio issue it's not the CD format that is at issue but the quality of the domestic replay ystem. If you want an mp3 type device then use one that has FLAC and you will have CD quality near enough so as not to be noticeable on domestic headphones and particularly on earbuds. The issue is with how well the music is recorded, mixed and mastered and not the delivery format.

As for Apple and MFiT - mp3s should be transcoded from the 24 but anyway so there is no advantage/difference there. What Apple want with MFiT is to be sent the orginal 24 bit wav for them to transcode to ALAC rather than to be sent the 16 bit PMCD. Apple want to move to ALAC rather than the lossy AAC format. It's worth stating that AAC is better than many mp3 transcodes anyway.

I believe that Apple has something in the region of 98% of all digital AAC/ALAC music sales for iplayers because the platform is pretty much/supposedly locked to itunes. What pono want is to do the same and lock lossless codec sales to it's own platform. It's about market share and getting rid of the competition by locking them out with a technological barrier.


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jul 18 2014, 10:01 AM
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By the way - none of my rant is aimed at you Todd - I'm just irritated at the amount of ill conceived drivel that has surrounded the media hype for pono.


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