The Distortion of Sound - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 07-13-2014, 07:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Arrow The Distortion of Sound


What do you think?
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post #2 of 13 Old 07-13-2014, 09:22 PM
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It is an enjoyable watch. Great production qualities. Technically of course there are a number of mistakes in it. And the business message is spitting in the wind. There is no turning back the "MP3s." Masses are about convenience and access first, quality second. And the quality here is by mass market standards, "good enough." Compare it to FM radio, cassette tape before it, etc. It exceeds their quality. If it were not "good enough" it would not have been adopted this wildly.

When you talk to musicians, you hear what is in the video. But ultimately they do nothing to make anything change. As they say they want their music to have maximum reach and that means compression.

For now, we can get CDs for 99% of what we want to hear. But that percentage is starting to shrink. Once every couple of weeks I hear a track I want to buy and it is only available in MP3 on Amazon and AAC on iTunes. No CD at all. When the massive shrinkages comes as happened with LPs, we would have to wonder what to do then if we want better quality than MP3.

This is why I support high-res/high-quality download initiatives. That is our only hope in the future of getting better quality. I think a world where 256 Kbps compressed file is the only thing that is available is dark and disappointing.

Here is something that the creative part of the music industry can do to better the situation: put compression as part of their production loop. Don't just compose and listen in uncompressed form. Listen at all times what it sounds like compressed. There are very simple mix changes that could make a drastic difference in fidelity. The video is technically incorrect with regards to what lossy compression does. A real-time compression loop would teach them what sounds bad and what sounds OK. Mastering after the fact for compression is not the answer.

Yes, that puts a burden on the talent. But they have many technological barriers which they deal with and is in the video. So this would simply be another.

To give you an example of this that is easier to understand, back in 1996 we were working with CNBC to stream their channel. This was the age of dial-up modems and broadband Internet was barely being talked about. They started the stream and video quality was rather poor. The reason was that they had the stock ticker running at the bottom just like they do on the broadcast. Video compression relies on pixels that does not change from frame to frame. Well, that ticker constantly changed the pixels. We asked them if they could give us a feed prior to that overlay and they did. The image quality immediately improved. They simply did not have knowledge of streaming to know what to do. Whereas they were experts in broadcasting through traditional means. Same here. Music industry needs to get savvy about what streaming/compression does to their content and do a better job of optimizing it. Complaining about this will get them absolutely nowhere. The people who pay their bills and $300K for that sport car, don't care about what they are talking about.
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post #3 of 13 Old 07-14-2014, 07:17 AM
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I think mp3 evolved a LOT since being first introduced. Nowadays almost no one can discern a 320kbps mp3 from the original, uncompressed material. I don't think this evolution in mp3 quality will stop anytime soon, so the "problem" will solve itself.

Of course, "true" audiophiles will never ever accept that, as they will never accept class d amplification, room correction or anything that makes life any more practical.
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post #4 of 13 Old 07-14-2014, 12:27 PM
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The video is true.

That said, I thought there has been many tests done with 20-20khz 320kbps mp3's vs CD and 99.9% of the population cannot hear a difference, only 0.1% can, with 3% of the songs.
When you stream, bandwidth-costs and download-time is critical, especially 5 years ago prior to 4G and high-speed broadband.
Also file size, mp3 players couldn't hold much data in 1998. At 9mb per song vs 40mb for CD or 20mb for flac, it's huge savings (double or quadurple the music on the device).

Our technology has improved, but people are still flooded with 128k 1-3mb mp3's; it's sad and shameful that services offer those as valid downloading options.
What is sadder is some people still have an old school 128k mindset, or are too ignorant to care for better quality. I think we should just leave those people in the dust; if they want to downsample their music to unacceptable quality they should have to go out of their way to do it rather than drag down the entire population of earth.

The catch 22 though, is that streaming services pay mostly for bandwidth, so smaller wins EVERY TIME.
It will be a few decades yet before the internet backbones get fast/cheap enough where that is no longer the limiting factor (I hope).
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post #5 of 13 Old 07-14-2014, 05:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Interesting thoughts Amir; thx for sharing them.

* I'm looking forward to Harman part two. ...Without going too far backward in a digital compressed world.

Last edited by NorthSky; 07-14-2014 at 06:01 PM.
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post #6 of 13 Old 07-14-2014, 06:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthSky View Post
Slickly done propaganda damning perceptual coding with a really broad brush.

Perceptual or lossy coding is a tool that can be used or abused. In my opinion the way it is used for so-called HD radio or by Sirius or XM radio's music channels is bad because there is clearly audible distortion.

That all said I've been building a music library with about 10,000 tracks from CDs I own which is encoded with Lame and 256k data rate.

I feel that I'm being logical because of the vast difference in the actual coding rate - at least 5:1 when even just a 2:1 upgrade is a very strongly audible improvement over the lower rates that are commonly used by the radio services that I mentioned.

My interpretation of the comments by artists and recording engineers should be interpreted as meaning that the big problem with actual realism of recordings is inherent in the process of trying to pick up singing and playing with microphones as we now do it, not true CD quality recording or the lossy approximations of it. I've been recording live performances for over a decade and I know that the sense of liveness is gone at the output of the microphone, and that reasonable processing after that point has negligible effects.
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post #7 of 13 Old 07-14-2014, 07:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthSky View Post
Isn't this just a promotional video for Harman's product Clari-Fi? Anybody have any comments about this product?

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post #8 of 13 Old 07-15-2014, 02:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DocCasualty View Post
Isn't this just a promotional video for Harman's product Clari-Fi? Anybody have any comments about this product?
Yes, that is what it is.

Compression. ...Instead of improving sound clarification it is promoting distortion through elimination of the essence, the music essence.

And I agree with Arny; "At the output of the microphone the sense of liveness is gone."
And if it's gone it cannot be recovered and improved upon, no matter what.

So instead of developing algorithms on a new product, get a mic(s), develop better ones that can capture the essence, the liveness...of the artist, of the musician, of the instrument, of the voice, of their soul, their emotional stance of the moment in time and space and dimension. ...The live impact in all its glory, power, resolution, revolving aura.

Yes, marketing propaganda, financial strategy of advertising.

The product? Don't know nothing about it, never tried it.

Last edited by NorthSky; 07-15-2014 at 02:17 AM.
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post #9 of 13 Old 07-15-2014, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by NorthSky View Post
Yes, that is what it is. . . marketing propaganda, financial strategy of advertising.
Appreciate your thoughts as that is what I thought was going on here. Rather disingenuous I would say, going on and on about "distortion" to ultimately promote a product that leads even further from the source material.

Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with digital signal processing; I use different forms of it all the time as I assume many/most others do as well, and usually to good effect IMO. Is it too much to ask for them to be honest about it? Look at those on this thread alone who thought they were promoting HiRes music.

Quote:
The product? Don't know nothing about it, never tried it.

A quick internet search came up with a couple of mixed reviews at best. Just curious, thanks!

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post #10 of 13 Old 07-15-2014, 10:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthSky View Post

What do you think?
22 minutes of my life I'll never get back.

Actually, more like 10 minutes. Kept skipping forward, hoping to land in a spot which would finally make clear the message or intent of the video or convey some bit of useful information. But it never became clear or useful. Just a muddled mess of vague intent.

Mourning the disappearing usage of the -ly suffix. Words being cut-off before they've had a chance to fully form, left incomplete, with their shoelaces untied and their zippers undone. If I quote your post (or post in your thread) without comment, please check your zipper.
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post #11 of 13 Old 07-15-2014, 10:50 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm sorry CruelInventions; next time I'll post shorter videos (less than two minutes or so).

* I agree with you; if I'm going to post some youtube videos here @ AVS Forum I might as well post something of true beneficial content (some' like in my sig for example).
Thank you for your cooperation.
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post #12 of 13 Old 07-15-2014, 11:17 PM
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You're welcome. I will follow where you lead.

Mourning the disappearing usage of the -ly suffix. Words being cut-off before they've had a chance to fully form, left incomplete, with their shoelaces untied and their zippers undone. If I quote your post (or post in your thread) without comment, please check your zipper.

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post #13 of 13 Old 07-15-2014, 11:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Perhaps I should start a new thread...

* I'm into Classical music myself (mainly), and Jazz, and Blues, and World, and New Age ...
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