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ReubenTobias
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5th March 2011
Old 5th March 2011
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Soundclouds effect on audio...

Has anybody else noticed that soundcloud had an adverse effect on the audio you upload?

Im not talking the usual loss of fidelity through conversion to mp3 before the upload, because I have uploaded .wavs in the past and noticed the same thing..

The site seems to add certain artefacts to the audio that are unpleasant and a strange 'mush' for want of a better word, a sort of blanket of distortion..

is it just me? Am I talking gobbledeegook?
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5th March 2011
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I've never uploaded anything myself, but I was under the impression that the streaming playback is mp3 quality, but the download quality is the same as the source upload? I might be wrong.
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You could download the WAV from Soundcloud then null it with the original WAV you uploaded and see what happens.
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Reuben,

This is one of those cases where you have to think about your wording a bit. Saying "The Site" adds artefacts to audio is most probably erroneous. My guess is that it's little to do with "artefacts" being introduced at the file level. I tend to think a null test with an original and a downloaded file will prove very little.

I've definitely noticed the issues you're talking about re : audio quality. To me, it sounds more like an issue with either a lossy codec, or an encoding-decoding issue that might affect the streaming process. I'm not literate at the coding level, so I'll leave it to anyone who is, to venture an explanation.

I know from user-experience that the Soundcloud media player is significantly more stable and faster than some of the other media players out there. The data stream is predominantly audio data. Still, sound quality is usually traded-off for stability and speed in lossy audio codecs. In contrast, MySpace is a good example of how custom coding and graphics heavy pages interfere with the performance of the data stream and the audio player.

Just a few thoughts. Cheers RAy
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5th March 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ray_subsonic View Post
Reuben,

This is one of those cases where you have to think about your wording a bit. Saying "The Site" adds artefacts to audio is most probably erroneous. My guess is that it's little to do with "artefacts" being introduced at the file level. I tend to think a null test with an original and a downloaded file will prove very little.

I've definitely noticed the issues you're talking about re : audio quality. To me, it sounds more like an issue with either a lossy codec, or an encoding-decoding issue that might affect the streaming process. I'm not literate at the coding level, so I'll leave it to anyone who is, to venture an explanation.

I know from user-experience that the Soundcloud media player is significantly more stable and faster than some of the other media players out there. The data stream is predominantly audio data. Still, sound quality is usually traded-off for stability and speed in lossy audio codecs. In contrast, MySpace is a good example of how custom coding and graphics heavy pages interfere with the performance of the data stream and the audio player.

Just a few thoughts. Cheers RAy
Hi, yeah i appreciate that my original wording may have been mis-informed, apologies for that man, what I have tended to notice is during streamed playback on the site..not when a file is downloaded and then listened back to.

In particular I have noticed that 'distortion' seems to be more noticeable (i use that term loosely) in low frequencies rather than highs, sub basses and kicks develop a 'fart' (haha, I really am bringing out the technical terms now! but thats what it sounds like!) when streamed through the sites media player.

I really do appreciate how great soundcloud is, and i understand how its player is one of the best out there..but as the site grows ever more popular not just as a place to listen casually to music but as a way to send private links to potential clients and labels..these are issues that need to be considered.
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5th March 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReubenTobias View Post
Has anybody else noticed that soundcloud had an adverse effect on the audio you upload?

Im not talking the usual loss of fidelity through conversion to mp3 before the upload, because I have uploaded .wavs in the past and noticed the same thing..

The site seems to add certain artefacts to the audio that are unpleasant and a strange 'mush' for want of a better word, a sort of blanket of distortion..

is it just me? Am I talking gobbledeegook?
Do you have a link to the track in question please Reuben? It'd be helpful if we could hear the artefacts you describe.
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5th March 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arthur Stone View Post
Do you have a link to the track in question please Reuben? It'd be helpful if we could hear the artefacts you describe.
North Sea - She Waves by Reuben Töbias on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free

thats a private link to the track that made me notice this more than usual, although there have been other where it is apparent..

its the bass in particular, when i listen to the mixdown in a lossless format (.wav bounce straight from my DAW) there is no distortion, but when streamed via soundcloud there is..

p.s. i am monitoring through yamaha HS80's
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LdC View Post
You could download the WAV from Soundcloud then null it with the original WAV you uploaded and see what happens.
To see if playback was altered, one would have to capture the playback stream and null that to the original WAV.

I would be very interested in such a test.
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I understand that without hearing the original file it is hard to tell what I am talking about, but I am not in a position to make this track public yet, or to give the .wav away..

if anyone else here is willing to carry out such tests it would be awesome!
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I too have noticed it & I think it must be something to do with the bit rate when streaming. It's like a flapping noise coming off powerful kicks or loud bass. I can confirm that if you download the track, the file plays back to the same quality as the DAW export so it only affects streaming. What it's made me do (on several occasions) is to tweak the low pass filters on the kicks & bass & really tighten them up. For the record I'm using NS10s.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atomicrecordings View Post
I too have noticed it & I think it must be something to do with the bit rate when streaming. It's like a flapping noise coming off powerful kicks or loud bass. I can confirm that if you download the track, the file plays back to the same quality as the DAW export so it only affects streaming. What it's made me do (on several occasions) is to tweak the low pass filters on the kicks & bass & really tighten them up. For the record I'm using NS10s.
would you suggest cutting some of the sub frequencies out of tracks then, specifically for soundcloud?
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5th March 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReubenTobias View Post
North Sea - She Waves by Reuben Töbias on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free

thats a private link to the track that made me notice this more than usual, although there have been other where it is apparent..

its the bass in particular, when i listen to the mixdown in a lossless format (.wav bounce straight from my DAW) there is no distortion, but when streamed via soundcloud there is..

p.s. i am monitoring through yamaha HS80's
Thanks for the link Reuben - BTW your music sounds great thumbsup
I'm not sure I know exactly what you mean about artefacts but I notice there's some slightly (glossy, plasticky) compressed area around the upper frequencies of the sub bass.
I'm interested as my sig track displayed some of those characteristics compared to the original.
It does something I can't quite put into words - I guess it's to do with the Soundcloud algorithm and hopefully this will improve over time...but it's not that crucial for me at the mo.

I will be uploading soon and will check this out a bit more.

Good luck with the music.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arthur Stone View Post
Thanks for the link Reuben - BTW your music sounds great thumbsup
I'm not sure I know exactly what you mean about artefacts but I notice there's some slightly (glossy, plasticky) compressed area around the upper frequencies of the sub bass.
I'm interested as my sig track displayed some of those characteristics compared to the original.
It does something I can't quite put into words - I guess it's to do with the Soundcloud algorithm and hopefully this will improve over time...but it's not that crucial for me at the mo.

I will be uploading soon and will check this out a bit more.

Good luck with the music.
Thanks for the kind words!

Im glad im not the only one hearing this, i tried to point out the problem to my housemate, and he thought I was plain crazy!

It is a shame if (particularly with dance music and bass heavy music) if we will need to start making separate mixes for use with soundcloud, because other than this small problem it is an outstanding service
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I remembered a thread awhile back that brought up some relevant issues: http://www.gearslutz.com/board/maste...ndcloud-2.html

Obrix looked up some stuff at Soundcloud: "...suggest uploading in 320kbps 44.1kHz with at least -3db of headroom.
This will produce the best results. MP3s will have more pronounced recoding artifacts and lossless formats will be slightly better."

Things might have changed by now. Some of the other posts mention 'pan modulation' effects...
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Here's a prime example of what Reuben is talking about. Play this track back then download it and play it. It's a good example because it's a real bassy track.

WARNING: It is total cheesefest stuff. I'd like to point out that I had nothing to do with the lyrics!

http://soundcloud.com/atomicrecordings/youre-coming-out-extended
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arthur Stone View Post
I remembered a thread awhile back that brought up some relevant issues: http://www.gearslutz.com/board/maste...ndcloud-2.html

Obrix looked up some stuff at Soundcloud: "...suggest uploading in 320kbps 44.1kHz with at least -3db of headroom.
This will produce the best results. MP3s will have more pronounced recoding artifacts and lossless formats will be slightly better."

Things might have changed by now. Some of the other posts mention 'pan modulation' effects...
I only use Soundcloud for streaming demos of works-in-progress for feedback/comment (because of the restrictions on number of DLs, etc), which it's pretty groovy for, since your visitors can add notes right into the timeline of the track in the online display.

But, for sure, re-encoding something into a lossy format that's already been encoded into such a format once will typically tend to produce far more noticeable effects than using a non-lossy format as the source. (Since converting an mp3, AAC, WMA, Ogg, etc, back into a WAV or AIFF format does not recapture lost sonic info, that does no good. Any conversion artifacts will remain and be 'multiplied' by further conversion. But y'all knew all that already.)
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5th March 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JEGG View Post
To see if playback was altered, one would have to capture the playback stream and null that to the original WAV.

I would be very interested in such a test.
Ohhh, I see, the OP was talking about streaming playback – I misunderstood the issue. In which case, yes, you could try capturing the streamed playback and nulling that instead. Although I'm not sure how useful that would be aside from confirming that there is definitely a problem (which it seems there is).

Has anyone tried experimenting with uploading a known-to-be-problematic file? Perhaps reducing the uploaded file's level by a few dB to see if that helps, as suggested in the other thread. If Soundcloud seems to be performing server-side normalisation, a few full-scale samples at the end of the file might be enough to fool it into not doing that.
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The way soundcloud works is that if you upload a wav file, it will be playing back the wav file. The only reason you tick the MP3 option is for
users who don't have connections fast enough to stream wavs and will stream an MP3 version instead.

I've never noticed any adverse issues while uploading my tracks to SC.
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I haven't noticed any issue w/ SC but sure have w/ MyS Player-so much so that I took all music off of it. It was cutting out at the front of a couple of songs. Its only started since they changed their profiles. It sounded like some sort of gate or limiter that had to kick in and out before the song starts-after the song already started-say after the first downbeat.
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whatever file you upload to soundcloud will be what's downloaded, if you stream it will be at mp3 128kbps.
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6th March 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by symmetricalSound View Post
whatever file you upload to soundcloud will be what's downloaded, if you stream it will be at mp3 128kbps.
i did not realise this, so if you know music is going to be predominantly streamed, it is excessive to upload at any higher quality?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReubenTobias View Post
i did not realise this, so if you know music is going to be predominantly streamed, it is excessive to upload at any higher quality?
well you could see it that way, personally i'd rather put it there as lossless for the people who do download. for those who just stream it doesn't really matter either way.
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Speaking of Soundcloud, anybody know if what you upload is normalized at their encoding step? For example, if I send a short clip that's averaging -18dbfs and another one at -6dbfs, the waveform will LOOK like they are at the same level graphically. But the sound you get when you stream the tracks doesn't SOUND like it was normalized.
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