Author Topic: Slight saturationn while playing  (Read 1926 times)

Zelda7

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Hi,

I noticed that sometimes, when I play music, especially loud, busy and saturated (such as rock, metal, industrial etc...) I can notice some slight saturation/cracking in MusicBee. Only happens sometimes, on one particular moment of a song, not that noticeable but yeah I can definitely ear it, and I guess it's not normal.

Especially since it doesn't happen when I listen to the exact same song/moment on Youtube or Spotify.  :-\

So I guess the problem doesn't come from my computer, settings or headphones.

Is there any way to slightly improve Musicbee's sound, by basically reducing this kind of saturation/noise ? I've checked the equalizer, tried some changes but I can't really hear any difference. Also checked the software from my soundcard (an external one, Asus Xonar U5)...

What about some plugins or DSP ? I don't know a thing about that, so I ask you !  :D

frankz

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Best use of an equalizer is to reduce certain frequencies, not to increase them.  If you increase frequencies to the point that the playback volume for the file goes above 0dB, you will hear the clipping you describe.

Pre-amp will also have this effect.  You don't want to use pre-amp except to compensate for having decreased the volume somehow else (like through ReplayGain) and never to the point that things go above 0dB.

If none of your EQ settings could be causing the clipping, What is the source of the song when you listen to it in MB?  Is this from streaming radio, a CD, or a file that you have on your system.

If it's a file on your system and it's not due to the EQ settings above, I'm guessing you or whoever ripped it from CD made some mistake that caused the file to go above 0dB in volume.  Look at the file in a sound editor and you'll probably see that the waveform is clipped in this spot. There's no way to fix this besides re-ripping.

In any case, using digital signal processing to compensate for a problem created by other digital signal processing is kind of circular.  You should correct the problem at its source. End user DSP is antithetical to sound quality.
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captain_paranoia

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> Look at the file in a sound editor and you'll probably see that the waveform is clipped in this spot.

Or it could be that the source CD is a victim of the dreaded 'loudness wars', where CDs were/are mastered with a lot of clipping.

frankz

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> Look at the file in a sound editor and you'll probably see that the waveform is clipped in this spot.

Or it could be that the source CD is a victim of the dreaded 'loudness wars', where CDs were/are mastered with a lot of clipping.
Were that true, it would be present when listening on YouTube and Spotify too.
A smile is happiness you'll find right under your nose.

redwing

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I noticed that sometimes, when I play music, especially loud, busy and saturated (such as rock, metal, industrial etc...) I can notice some slight saturation/cracking in MusicBee. Only happens sometimes, on one particular moment of a song, not that noticeable but yeah I can definitely ear it, and I guess it's not normal.

Try with Controls> ReplayGain Off setting to see if that makes any differences.

captain_paranoia

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> Were that true, it would be present when listening on YouTube and Spotify too.

Not if the YouTube or Spotify tracks were taken from a source that hadn't been Loudness Wars mastered; there are lots of different mastered CDs around.

frankz

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Ok. Yeah, it's the CD. Throw it out and get a new one!
A smile is happiness you'll find right under your nose.

Zelda7

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If none of your EQ settings could be causing the clipping, What is the source of the song when you listen to it in MB?  Is this from streaming radio, a CD, or a file that you have on your system.

The few songs I've noticed some artifacts and saturation are basically MP3s I have on my computer, yeah.

And to be honest, I've tried those songs on other players (Windows Media Player, AIMP4 and even VLC) and the sound is the same than on MusicBee, there are the same passages that sound slightly bad.

That's why I don't get it, why does it sounds right on Spotify, but not on media players ? I get that the songs can come from different sources, and I may have some shitty albums rips for sure, but honestly I don't have just one song that have that problem. Really seems my system/defaut setting can't handle perfectly some frequencies.

Anyway, I'm also going to check some of the songs with a sound editor, thanks ! (Audacity will do ?)
Last Edit: October 09, 2018, 06:44:38 PM by Zelda7

Zelda7

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Try with Controls> ReplayGain Off setting to see if that makes any differences.


Yeah I've already disabled all these "enhancement" options, doesn't change a thing. I'll check again the equalizer deeper, later.

frankz

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Anyway, I'm also going to check some of the songs with a sound editor, thanks ! (Audacity will do ?)
Yes, Audacity (by default, I think, but you can turn it on under the "View" menu if it's not on by default) shows clipped portions as bright red vertical lines.  You won't hear every instance you see, but you'll definitely see the ones you hear.

Conversion to MP3 pushes some stuff that's passable on lossless into clipping for some reason.  I sometimes normalize to -0.5dB to compensate for this before converting hotly mastered discs.
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captain_paranoia

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> That's why I don't get it, why does it sounds right on Spotify, but not on media players ? I get that the songs can come from different sources, and I may have some shitty albums rips for sure, but honestly I don't have just one song that have that problem.

I'm not sure if you do get the bit about different sources (or, at least, different MP3 compression factors).

MP3 is a lossy compression format; it reduces the size of the file by throwing information away. If you have a highly-compressed MP3 (e.g. 128kbps), so much information has been discarded that it sounds muddy, especially in the upper registers. If you compare that to something streamed from Spotify, you need to look at the bitrate that Spotify is sending; if it is streaming 320kbps, you should expect to have a much better experience, as more information has been retained. You would also need to look at the algorithm being used for the MP3 compression, and the options selected; there are many MP3 compressors out there, not just one that everyone uses.

You may even be using a lossless stream from Spotify.

Zelda7

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> That's why I don't get it, why does it sounds right on Spotify, but not on media players ? I get that the songs can come from different sources, and I may have some shitty albums rips for sure, but honestly I don't have just one song that have that problem.

I'm not sure if you do get the bit about different sources (or, at least, different MP3 compression factors).

MP3 is a lossy compression format; it reduces the size of the file by throwing information away. If you have a highly-compressed MP3 (e.g. 128kbps), so much information has been discarded that it sounds muddy, especially in the upper registers. If you compare that to something streamed from Spotify, you need to look at the bitrate that Spotify is sending; if it is streaming 320kbps, you should expect to have a much better experience, as more information has been retained. You would also need to look at the algorithm being used for the MP3 compression, and the options selected; there are many MP3 compressors out there, not just one that everyone uses.

You may even be using a lossless stream from Spotify.

Yeah I don't know, I don't have any music in 128kbps, most of it is in 320kpbs. One of the tracks I noticed saturation even comes from a FLAC rip (not encoded by me) which is supposed to be the best quality, better than MP3. And still, it doesn't sound as clean and perfect as on Spotify.

Does that mean streaming has a better sound quality than compression, even lossless ? I'm puzzled.

frankz

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Does that mean streaming has a better sound quality than compression, even lossless ? I'm puzzled.
No, it means that someone converted the streaming version properly and your version improperly.  Something in your reproduction chain that isn't present in the streaming reproduction chain is introducing this distortion for these files.  It's clipping, not some mysterious scientific anomaly.  

You're getting bogged down in all sorts of side issues when the problem is very simply that the peaks of your files are going far enough above 0dB to cause audible distortion and the peaks of the streaming versions are not.

There is a very small percentage of people who can reliably hear the difference between lossless and lossy.  Less than 5% or something on any piece of audio equipment you'd buy for your home for personal use. Unless you're one of these so-called "Golden Ears" people, you will hear no difference between FLAC and 320kbps MP3.

Irrespective of that side issue, it's not a "sound quality" issue, it's a "rip quality" issue.  Either the source is clipped or clipping is being introduced as the source is being converted to the target format.  CDs that have audible clipping are out there but are pretty rare.  If it's the source, get a new source.  If it's in the conversion, find or make one that's converted correctly.
Last Edit: October 10, 2018, 11:03:55 PM by frankz
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captain_paranoia

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The other possibility is that the rip was simply bad; there were data errors when ripping. It's not that uncommon, and why I like EAC as a ripper, since it tells me very clearly about the rip quality.