Thursday, 17 July 2014

MUSINGS: The Distortion of Truth... More obfuscation.

Guys, check out this video from Harman:

Check out the segments from 11:30. LOL. Somebody has to go back to school and learn the difference between data compression (ie. MP3) and volume compression (ie. crappy engineer) as demonstrated by those waveforms. On the one hand they say they want to sell "better" sounding recordings but they're obviously going after the scapegoat (MP3) instead of the real culprit - themselves. The ones who allowed their recordings to sound like crap. The ones who apparently never listen to their own recordings or allow their own engineers to volume compress to death in the "loudness war"... Geez... Hans Zimmer talking about "filling your soul" when his own Dark Knight Rises from 2012 has a DR of 7 for an orchestral soundtrack on CD and 24/48 HDTracks! Do you think that MP3 was to blame for that, Hans? Shameful.

What a joke. "Head bob test?" Four times more bobbing with higher resolution audio?!

Here's the final comment:

Folks, we have a problem here. Just who is the audience they're targeting? Why would Harman produce this video - they want to sell more CD players or something? I've seen some comments about this leading into their DSP Clari-Fi system which sounds like a fake surround algorithm to me - I want the real volume uncompressed audio, not a DSP reconstitution, thank you (here's another opinion). But with a general comment as in the screen capture, they seem to have a problem with downloads (presumably all downloads including lossless), and they have a problem with streaming (presumably all streaming no matter the bitrate and maybe including lossless). To obfuscate the term "compression" as both volume compression (poor DR) as well as data compression (MP3) totally damages credibility here and understandably would frustrate if not insult any reasonably knowledgeable music lover / audiophile (especially ones who have tried blind testing high bitrate MP3!).

In sum: "Please consumers. Audio files and streaming suck. Listen to albums start to finish because artists put a lot of work into sounding good. Buy physical." Somewhere in there is the allegation that the physical (LP, CD) sounds better with no real evidence (oh yeah... that non-scientific head bobbing observation). A desperate plea to increase physical sales?

Yeah... Good luck with that. What a mess of a "documentary".


  1. So Snoop Dog has something to say about the compression.

    I was (and still am) a big fan of his music, and I remember buying his first album "Doggystyle" on CD back in 1993. It sounded fantastic on my old stereo, and even today on my horn-tube-spoiled ears system album sounds pretty good (better than 99% of todays POP releases). No surprise! DR of that album is 11, min DR8, and max DR17!!!

    In 2001 comes Doggystyle [Remaster]. DR8, min DR6, max DR14. I dont have that remaster but I suppose it sounds like Doggystyle on steroids.

    In 2006 Snoop releases album "Tha Blue Carpet Treatment". I bought it. It sounds like crap. No surprise MkII ! DR of that album is 6!, min DR5, max DR7!!!

    After that sonic disaster I did not buy any more of Snoop's albums, YouTube is just fine for that kind of COMPRESSION! (to be honest my music taste changed a bit too)

    I am not sure he knows what he is talking about. Maybe it is time for yet another HiRes DSD *2014 remaster* with DR6. ;-)

    "What a mess of a "documentary". MkII

    1. Cool man!

      I too was into rap back in the day in my mildly rebellious teenage years... Snoop "Doggy" Dogg's Doggystyle was on rotation on the CD then too. Indeed, those old rap albums sounded amazing and still do. Although my musical interests have moved from that genre, those were good memories formed in a time when digital audio sounded *great* - ADC's finally improved, got away from mastering meant from LPs, no more pre-emphasis, and of course no crazy volume compression (late 80's, early 90's). How I wish all music these days could be like that!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This Harman add seems to be more of a complaint against uploads on Youtube and streaming with, shitty quality, low bitrates than anything else.

    The 'technical explanation' of the compression part is utter BS and VERY misleading.
    It is in line with the thoughts behind the video, i.e. the 'complaint' against youtube/streaming for which the artists receive no money.

    As Archimago already said, the clipped and filtered part affected with severe DR limiting that THEY claim is caused by file compression, as used in low bitrate streams and youtube vids, is actually the result of the producers and bands that made the recording and agreed with the poor sods/engineers that clipped the life out of the recordings so it sounds decent on the crappy earbuds and phone/laptop speakers they just complained about !

    Very low bitrates DO affect the sound quality in a negative way but do NOT compress the audio, only the producers/mastering engineers do this.

    They should rage war against 'loudness wars' and 'dynamic range limiting' instead.

    Sound quality begins at the recording and mastering stages.
    The replay chain, actually the transducers i.e. speakers/headphones, is the other major component that determines the sound quality.

    Agreed though that MOST of the youtube music has crap sound quality and uses ridiculously low bitrates.

    But... don't blame MP3 nor streaming for the lousy quality of most pop music out there today… blame the producers !

    1. Exactly. A straightforward summary...

      Sadly the music industry doesn't seem to understand the obvious. And the actual cure to sonic quality problems doesn't sell gear to the consumer. The idea that maybe we don't need Pono Players, or "new" 24-bit HDTracks remasters (just a good 16-bit remaster will do or just buy the first pressing assuming it was produced to high standard) doesn't sit well with the industry which will *never* see the heyday of financial profits during the height of the CD era.

      Attempts like this to some how drum up business without attempting to resolve the heart of the problem will only seem at best desperate - and at worse sounding confusing or worsening the situation with the public.

      The way I see it, the industry and artists like those in the video have to come clean with their "sonic sins" if they truly are honest about wanting better sound quality, Rock and pop from the 2000+'s need to be remastered with dynamics restored (if even possible depending on what the source files look like!); only then can these people be taken seriously.

  3. The irony is that MP3 stores data using 32-bit floating point ... so you can achieve a much higher dynamic range than CD.

    1. For those doubting xnor's reply and that want to read more about (audio file)compression I found this easy to read explanation:
      It has measurements as illustrations instead of 'dry' theory of operation and equations.

    2. Thanks for the link! Very cool :-)

      Indeed, the ability to encode high bitdepth isn't a problem for lossy compression algos...

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