Friday November 09, 2018

Music Engineer Analyzes Music Streaming Service Quality to His Original Master

Wytse Gerichhausen from White Sea Studios has conducted a scientific analysis of the original master file for Hibshi - Missing U (feat. Rochelle), one of his music tracks that he personally mixed and mastered, to the same song on Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal and YouTube. He then recorded the song from each streaming service as a WAV file and normalized the levels because music services lower the volume of the music. Next he used a combination of A/B testing and phase swapping to compare the differences in the WAV files.

The phase swapping allows the viewer to hear the "missing" information from the track that was either compressed or skipped over by the algorithms used by music streaming services. Tidal won by retaining 99.9% of the quality in the engineer's opinion. Spotify High and Low came next. Apple Music and YouTube came in dead last as both significantly altered the music. He then questioned why he can stream 4K video, but a simple audio file has to be compressed to the point where the quality is completely lost.

Isn't this a little bit over-exaggerated? Isn't this a bit too much like, like too much into the details? Yes, and no. So first of all if you compare them both with each other the details are pretty small. But our ears have a special feature built into them and that is that they can make up for mistakes in audio. Pretty easy. Pretty simple. The thing is that if your ears are correcting a lot for the audio that they are hearing, they are getting tired sooner. And this is bad news for listeners, but also for artists because we don't want people to get tired of our music. Or do we? That's what happening with streaming services.