The Acoustic Guitar Forum

The Acoustic Guitar Forum (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/index.php)
-   RECORD (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=43)
-   -   The problem with soundcloud... (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=637835)

Doug Young 01-22-2022 11:58 PM

The problem with soundcloud...
 
2 Attachment(s)
Not sure what group this belongs best to, but I suspect it'll be most understood by those of us interested in recording...

Just saw something very enlightening. I was looking at a track Barry posted using soundcloud using the spectral view in iZotope RX. And it looked rather odd. So I did a quick exercise to see just how much soundcloud's streaming mucks with the sound quality. I took the first few seconds of a demo I posted a few days ago and compared what the spectrum view looks like of my original vs what comes back from soundcloud. Hope you can see this with an embedded image.

Here's my local, original track:

Attachment 68618

If you don't know RX, what this shows is time on the X axis, frequency, 0 to 20KHz on the Y axis, and color is intensity or volume. This is just the left track. The sort of vertical stronger lines represent the attack of notes, and you can see the tails of the notes as they decay.

Now here's what comes back from soundcloud for that same few seconds:

Attachment 68617

it's hard to see the detail in what's getting posted here, but look closely. Everything's cut off the extreme highs, no surprise - that's at about 15K. Not a huge deal, there's not a lot there, and you might not hear it anyway. But what's striking - and probably more so if you could see the full-resolution image is how frequencies and intensities are mangled across the board. It's like looking at a low resolution image that's all pixellated. The decay of notes in my original look nice and smooth, soundcloud's version has little holes everywhere. The transients are all smeared. What a mess....

I always try to make sure anything I post is also downloadable, which I believe gives you the original file (I guess I should verify that). Soundcloud's certainly convenient because we can embed it here and it's quick and easy to play a track in a post. But, clearly that convenience is coming with substantial cost. I knew it didn't sound as good, but even with that, this amount of file damage surprised me. Probably shouldn't have, but...

Aimelie 01-23-2022 03:52 AM

Does anyone have an idea for an alternative? Is this why some people use YouTube?

SprintBob 01-23-2022 05:59 AM

Doug,

I’m glad you confirmed what my ears always hear. Thanks for sharing this.

catdaddy 01-23-2022 07:20 AM

Doug, that's really insightful visual example of an audio problem, and one that was instantly recognizable to me as an RX user. Thanks for posting and for the soundcloud caveat.

hubcapsc 01-23-2022 07:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Aimelie (Post 6913807)
Does anyone have an idea for an alternative? Is this why some people use YouTube?

youtube mooshes everything down too.

-Mike

jklotz 01-23-2022 07:53 AM

I remember watching a video about a loudness meter plugin that optimized a track for various platforms. They had a few examples of of minimizing the effects by keeping the LUFS at a certain point and limiting the peaks to minimize the effect of the streaming algorithms "correction". Not sure if that would help in the above example? I'll see if I can find that video and post it here.

EDIT: I couldn't find the video, but I did find this:

"Although there is no absolute loudness to which you should master your track, a great range when mastering for Soundcloud is -18 LUFS to -10 LUFS. Keep in mind that Soundcloud will normalize your track to -14 LUFS, so keeping the loudness around this figure will work well."

Also, on this page, they do offer a high quality streaming service, although I'm sure you'd have to pay something for it:

https://help.soundcloud.com/hc/en-us...lity-streaming

KevWind 01-23-2022 08:56 AM

Couple thoughts and question
Question -Doug when you say "comes back from SoundCloud" can we assume you mean the realtime compressed streaming file

Yes all the small rectangle looking holes in the SC would seem to probably make the sound less smooth and more distorted (how much and if we would notice it is the question) But it has always seemed to me that SC streaming can get more distorted more quickly particularly in the highs compared to listening back on my system to the original WAV file.
I think Sound Cloud has switched to ACC 256 which is better IMO than the 128 bit they used to do But it seems still not up to uncompressed as per Dougs example .

Yes the Nugen MasterCheck plug in I use has settings for specific streaming platforms for example I think YouTube wants to see -14 to -12 LUFS max over that it will automatically reduce it
here is an excerpt from the Master Check web page

"Playout services essentially have a ‘letter box’ through which they deliver your audio; if it doesn’t slide through then the service will force it to fit. A super-loud master might win the loudness war on CD, but will simply be turned down on any major streaming service. This leaves valuable headroom which you could have used for transient detail and punch.

It is important to be aware of how True Peak clipping can cause downstream distortion in encoded audio. Heavy compression will result in audible 'fizzing' and loss of stereo definition, especially with lower quality codecs."

TBman 01-23-2022 09:36 AM

I had noticed that the differences in my recordings i.e. using large condensers vs small condensers, sort of faded away once I uploaded to SC.

My Reaper "Render to File" settings are:

Sample Rate: 44,100
Channels: Stereo
Resample mode : Sinc Interpolation 384Pt without any normalization
WAV bit depth: 24 bit PCM


I wonder if there is another public sharing site and if it even matters. They all must do some sort of file limiting.

islandguitar 01-23-2022 10:12 AM

When I posted things on Spotify, I was testing it out and after a time I felt that listening to Spotify slightly improved my sound. Went back and forth from Soundcloud.
I googled it, and sure enough they have info that I believe verifies this! And if you're at a higher level of membership in Spotify, they enhance this a bit further.
I was pleased that my ears didn't lie to me! LOL!

MikeBmusic 01-23-2022 10:15 AM

Maybe I missed it did you post WAVs to SC? What was the LUFS?

If you pay for premium SC service (whatever they call it), people can download the same files (WAV?) you uploaded, if you don't pay for premium, they can only download the SC-compressed file.

islandguitar 01-23-2022 10:42 AM

Thanks Mike,...interesting.
My SC is the "Pro", so it's above basic and below premium (good enough for me at this time!). Nearly All files are WAV and are mixed/mastered professionally and are at "commercial levels" when uploaded.

Glennwillow 01-23-2022 11:52 AM

Soundcloud does mangle the uploaded audio file quite audibly. I have noticed that I get a better sounding file on SC if I upload a Wave file. If I upload an mp3 file the SC result is really horrible.

- Glenn

KevWind 01-23-2022 12:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Glennwillow (Post 6914171)
Soundcloud does mangle the uploaded audio file quite audibly. I have noticed that I get a better sounding file on SC if I upload a Wave file. If I upload an mp3 file the SC result is really horrible.

- Glenn

Yes as as I noted SC now streams in AAC 256, so if you upload an MP3 it gets encoded twice

Doug Young 01-23-2022 01:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MikeBmusic (Post 6914032)
Maybe I missed it did you post WAVs to SC? What was the LUFS?


Yes, I posted a wav file, 24 bits, 44.1 (this was from the guitar comparison I posted a few days ago). LUFS for that track was -15.7. I suppose some of this could be from loudness normalization - tho it does not appear to me that they brought this track up to -14, but I suspect that it is more from the compression/bit-rate reduction.

I know we'd get something like this just from looking at mp3 vs wav, and that other services will have similar issues. The one that sounds noticeable worse to me is Spotify. But I was just surprised by the extent of the damage and that it was so clearly displayed by the visual.

Doug Young 01-23-2022 01:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by KevWind (Post 6913949)
Couple thoughts and question
Question -Doug when you say "comes back from SoundCloud" can we assume you mean the realtime compressed streaming file

Yes, I was capturing what was streamed.

Quote:

It is important to be aware of how True Peak clipping can cause downstream distortion in encoded audio. Heavy compression will result in audible 'fizzing' and loss of stereo definition, especially with lower quality codecs."[/I]
There was no clipping or overs on my example. True Peak is -2db.

Doug Young 01-23-2022 01:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MikeBmusic (Post 6914032)

If you pay for premium SC service (whatever they call it), people can download the same files (WAV?) you uploaded, if you don't pay for premium, they can only download the SC-compressed file.

Interesting. I don't have a premium account, but just downloaded the file from this same example from soundcloud. The downloaded file is 24 bit wav, and it NULLs with the original. Maybe because it's from my account? it'd be interesting to know if others get the same file when they download.

jim1960 01-23-2022 02:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Doug Young (Post 6914268)
Interesting. I don't have a premium account, but just downloaded the file from this same example from soundcloud. The downloaded file is 24 bit wav, and it NULLs with the original. Maybe because it's from my account? it'd be interesting to know if others get the same file when they download.

If you'd like, I can download the file and throw it in dropbox for you to grab. Just give me a link and your email address to set up the folder.

Doug Young 01-23-2022 02:18 PM

Great, just grab the file from this thread:

https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/...d.php?t=637531

if it's 23.8M, it's probably the original.

jim1960 01-23-2022 02:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Doug Young (Post 6914324)
Great, just grab the file from this thread:

https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/...d.php?t=637531

if it's 23.8M, it's probably the original.

You should be able to grab the file here:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/g1wwcdd11w..._Lick.wav?dl=0

I used the email address from your website.

Doug Young 01-23-2022 03:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jim1960 (Post 6914341)
You should be able to grab the file here:

Got it. What you downloaded is the full file, 44.1/24 and it NULLs against my original file. So I'm not sure you need to have a pro account to download full resolution.

jim1960 01-23-2022 03:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Doug Young (Post 6914417)
Got it. What you downloaded is the full file, 44.1/24 and it NULLs against my original file. So I'm not sure you need to have a pro account to download full resolution.

So the difference lies in what is streamed, not the file as it sits on their site.

Rudy4 01-23-2022 04:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Doug Young (Post 6914268)
Interesting. I don't have a premium account, but just downloaded the file from this same example from soundcloud. The downloaded file is 24 bit wav, and it NULLs with the original. Maybe because it's from my account? it'd be interesting to know if others get the same file when they download.

If the file you get back from Soundcloud truly nulls with the original shouldn't it be identical?

It seems like if it didn't precisely match the original then you'd hear some artifacts of the difference when you play back the two files with one inverted, rather than silence.

Doug Young 01-23-2022 04:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rudy4 (Post 6914450)
If the file you get back from Soundcloud truly nulls with the original shouldn't it be identical?

It seems like if it didn't precisely match the original then you'd hear some artifacts of the difference when you play back the two files with one inverted, rather than silence.

The file that gets *downloaded* via the optional download feature is identical. It NULLs with the original. The one that is streamed - what you hear if you just click on play is the one I'm comparing in my original post. No way it would NULL, I didn't even try. It's obviously not the same audio, just from listening to it, but the analysis makes what's going on more visual.


What we're discussing now is whether someone who doesn't want to put up with the poor streamed sound can download the file (assuming the poster set it up to allow downloads) and get the full quality audio.

RodB 01-24-2022 02:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Aimelie (Post 6913807)
Does anyone have an idea for an alternative? Is this why some people use YouTube?

Some time ago I did a comparison of Soundcloud and Youtube, together with an mp3 of the original that I upload to my own website. Both SC and Youtube were noticeably degraded, Youtube seemed worse than SC, but could have been affected by my video production to mp4 (audio 181 kbps / 48kHz).

Because I am not always wanting to bother with video I use SC more than Youtube, but for friends and family (and my AGF sig !) I maintain a website.

Brent Hahn 01-25-2022 10:48 AM

Doug -- when you stream and capture, what's the audio passing through on its way to whatever you're digitally capturing it with?

Doug Young 01-25-2022 12:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brent Hahn (Post 6915656)
Doug -- when you stream and capture, what's the audio passing through on its way to whatever you're digitally capturing it with?

UA Apollo routing into Adobe Audition. Should be pristine, but I suppose it's worth checking against capturing an original copy the same way

ljguitar 01-25-2022 02:57 PM

HI all…

So is there an easy-to-upload, easy-to-access (and listen to on my phone) inexpensive alternative, or is SoundCloud it?

If I'm doing recordings and mostly they are for friends/family, or FaceBook (not downloadable for a price) I want simple (for listeners) and it sounds a cut above shooting a video with my phone's camera and mic.





Doug Young 01-25-2022 03:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ljguitar (Post 6915907)
HI all…

So is there an easy-to-upload, easy-to-access (and listen to on my phone) inexpensive alternative, or is SoundCloud it?

If I'm doing recordings and mostly they are for friends/family, or FaceBook (not downloadable for a price) I want simple (for listeners) and it sounds a cut above shooting a video with my phone's camera and mic.

Bandcamp can support streaming (tho likely just as low res) and can allow free downloads - just set the price to 0. Unfortunately, the interface still asks you to "buy" the track, even tho the price is 0. You Tube's another option, might actually be friendlier for listeners, tho more work for the artist - you can just have a "video" of a photo, or even a black screen. You could of course just post an audio file on your website, and people can just click to download and play, which is generally automatic. You can also set up your own streaming player, where you might have more control over the streaming quality. Of course these options won't work on facebook or here on AGF. Soundcloud and You Tube, or a link to click to download (which may be transparent, as the browser may present a player), like Rick-slo usually does, are the only AGF options as far as I know.

I'll get around to checking some of these other options (You Tube, BandCamp, Spotify) the same way. To me, You Tube sounds better than SoundCloud, at least when I upload HD or 4K videos. But others here have said You Tube sounds worse to them.

jim1960 01-25-2022 05:51 PM

The streaming industry is always in flux and that may be increasing in the near future with Apple moving to their Lossless Audio Codec and accepting music all the way up to 192/24.

ljguitar 01-26-2022 10:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Doug Young (Post 6915962)
Bandcamp can support streaming (tho likely just as low res) and can allow free downloads - just set the price to 0. Unfortunately, the interface still asks you to "buy" the track, even tho the price is 0. You Tube's another option, might actually be friendlier for listeners, tho more work for the artist - you can just have a "video" of a photo, or even a black screen. You could of course just post an audio file on your website, and people can just click to download and play, which is generally automatic. You can also set up your own streaming player, where you might have more control over the streaming quality. Of course these options won't work on facebook or here on AGF. Soundcloud and You Tube, or a link to click to download (which may be transparent, as the browser may present a player), like Rick-slo usually does, are the only AGF options as far as I know.

I'll get around to checking some of these other options (You Tube, BandCamp, Spotify) the same way. To me, You Tube sounds better than SoundCloud, at least when I upload HD or 4K videos. But others here have said You Tube sounds worse to them.

Hi Doug…

Thank you.






All times are GMT -6. The time now is 08:55 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, The Acoustic Guitar Forum

vB Ad Management by =RedTyger=