Google Play Music - Sound Quality
Oct 9, 2016 at 2:12 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 4

abm0

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Has anyone else heard clipping distortion in albums bought/streamed from Google Play Music? Since they're offering 320-MP3s for download I thought this was legitimate high-quality music they were selling here, but I've got at least 3 albums now that have substantial clipping in the downloadable sound files themselves (checked with ears and confirmed with Audacity's clipping detection functions), which can also be heard when web-streaming the same songs or playing the corresponding free samples, regardless of playback volume or device.
 
Two clear example tracks would be "Power-Trip Ballad" by Maria Mena, from the "Cause and Effect" album, and "365 Days" by ZZ Ward, from "Til the Casket Drops".
 
Oct 9, 2016 at 5:52 PM Post #2 of 4

abm0

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Never mind. I've loaded up a lot more songs bought off GPM in Audacity and I think I've figured out what's going on: the infamous Loudness Wars. *sigh* Google probably just got overcompressed releases from the studios themselves. I just hadn't realized overcompression could lead to clipping in extreme cases, or that some studios had actually gone that far, had actually sacrificed that much quality for loudness.
 
Nov 1, 2016 at 4:38 PM Post #4 of 4

abm0

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Nope, it wasn't (just) the Loudness War, Google is definitely doing crap work converting their music to MP3 (or - but I think this is far less likely - they're not getting updated masters post-Loudness-War from the studios while other shops are). I've found a clear example that only has distortion in the Google copy but no distortion on Bandcamp: Sara Tavares' song "Bue (voce e...)" from the album "Xinti".
 
https://play.google.com/music/m/Tolqi2h526jp4nzz5fkblak6sny?t=Bue_voce_e_-_Sara_Tavares
 
https://saratavares.bandcamp.com/track/free-download-bu
 
Listen to these and tell me the Google copy is fine, 'cos to me it sounds absolutely destroyed (I have the full thing and it sounds just as bad as the sample).
 
 
LE:
It's getting a bit ridiculous, but I have to correct myself again: it wasn't a problem with Google's MP3 encoding but a combination of the exaggerated dynamic compression and undersized dynamic headroom from the studio master, on one hand, and the negligent implementation of lossy file decoding and/or software volume controls (especially the "100%" volume setting) in many (most?) digital players. These two combine to produce ugly audible distortion that could've been prevented by either side.
 
Details here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/704065/usb-audio-recorder-pro-uapp-24-and-32-bit-playback-ubiquitous-usb-audio-support-for-android/975#post_12982141
 

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