Youkill Audio Youtube

lossless-jpg

Lossless data on the left. The right side is a visual representation of what we’ve been listening to for 20 years now.


Deets on Youtube’s audio handling:

Audio is streamed at either 128k or 320k mp3.

Everything defaults to 128k. You can only get the 320k audio stream by selecting the HD video quality. Some videos start in HD but most don’t. It’s also hard to embed HD youtube into other sites since it seems to default to the basic stream.

It appears there’s no FLAC streaming allowed and no lossy streaming of any kind.

The 320k mp3’s can sound decent, especially coming from 128k, but once you go lossless you won’t want to listen to lossy anymore.


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Which is better? Neither. The compression on the left appears to have slightly fewer artifacts but neither is close to the original.

Youtube’s Audio Specs

Finally got my answer about Youtube’s audio specification — there isn’t one, really.

The only have a video policy.  Audio stream quality is a part of the video spec.

So here’s the details:

  1. Audio streams as 128k or 320k MP3 only
  2. 320k is only played during videos streaming in HD of 720p or higher
  3. The video must start in HD to get the 320k audio, and most players will not reload the higher audio stream if the user switches video quality during playback.

The end result is that most of youtube is streaming 128k mp3 audio, aka garbage.

The high quality portion of youtube can get 320k MP3 to you but it’s not automatic. They have to force the player into high-quality, which is against the youtube platform defaults.

Low-vs-High-Quality-Image

The FLAC folks on Youtube? They force the 320k MP3 and perhaps they are encoding the video with a high resolution flac as the audio source? Or they are just misrepresenting themselves?

The two I contacted about their sources never answered me, so I don’t know. From what I’ve read youtube cannot stream FLAC or even lossless audio.

262px-Flac_logo_vector.svg_

And yes, 320k MP3 sounds pretty good, it’s almost CD quality. But there’s still digital loss, artifacts, and a fatigue from listening.

CD’s usually push about 800k bitrate at you, so the perceptual coding at 320k sounds pretty close to the original.

But once you up that lossless original to between 2000-6000k (24bit audio) you really hear it pop and become realistic as compared to 320k.

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Relatively accurate representation of some of what is LOST: things masked by louder sounds, aka the feel of the space as the note plays.

Here’s to hoping youtube allows lossless streaming soon, or at least defaults to 320k mp3.

 

Music Business vs. Youtube

The battle for pennies is heating up. The 3 major record labels are supposedly fed up with Youtube’s lame attempts to monetize their content, feeling that Google, who owns Youtube and the entire ad network and search engine that drives it, has been less than honest about their intentions and more than willing to keep most of the generated revenue for themselves.

SilvertoneRecordLabel

No record label supports free music, and no music lover should either.*

 

As Apple was prepping their streaming service they poured gas on the fire by trying to convince the Big 3 to pull their content from Youtube, even reportedly going so far as to offer them compensation for lost revenue.

The labels did not go with Apple’s plan but according to latest reports are continuing their talks regarding how to negotiate with Google, including a nuclear option where they pull their entire catalogs at the same time and make a big stink about it, leaving Google to act on either increasing monetization or going on without official releases.

Of course Youtube will continue to host all variety of bootlegs until they are taken down by the copyright police.

*Of course I’ll continue to link to free youtube stuff for your pleasure, hoping they soon work out their royalty problem. As always, I recommend you buy the music you love in the highest quality possible from stores like PonoMusic, HDTracks, and ProStudioMasters, and if the artist is still working then support their efforts monetarily as much as you can.

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Youtube’s Version of HD Audio – My Realtime Review

Oh damn, the internet generation strikes back against pono!

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I just fired up my old iPhone 4, hit youtube, searched for flac, found ihearttflac and flacsgreatesthits, and was forced to admit after a day of reflection and jamming on my beloved PonoPlayer that I needed to be real about Pono’s chance for success.

This youtube FLAC stuff, whatever it is, sounds pretty good. I didn’t know the Apple/Youtube/mainstream ecosystem could deliver good audio over my average home setup, but I hit it with my PS4 over speakers and then iPhone in headphones and they both are showing a marked improvement over mp-anything. It’s real music, alive again, and it got me moving and emotional like no other youtube video or mp3 has. CD’s sometimes can, but not really. Only vinyl and pono, so far.

Hear My Pixels

Early 21st century art

If this Youtube FLAC is actually CD quality or below perhaps my excitement that is was working at all enhanced my experience. [Edit: a few days later and I still am not sure what Youtube was delivering me. I am still researching this]

So then I went looking for my precious, the PonoPlayer that the tech press is fawning over right now (gee, little old me managed to jump a trend for once!). Except she had a dead battery and this battle of “cool thing” -vs- “thing already in everyone’s pocket” was looking grim for the yellow triangle of pleasure.

Which was actually a good pause because it gave me a few minutes to collect my thoughts on what I had just heard:

The cloud is capable of delivering higher-quality audio over the existing mp3 infrastructure, something I was unsure of. All of my speakers are wired and not noise canceling, I don’t mess with junk on my audio. So I’m focusing on the delivery from network to device, if you go wireless on the speakers that’s another set of problems.

 


 

As I listened to several songs, a couple of jams, some numbers, and a prelude I started to hear a buzz and a bit of flatness overall in the dynamic range, especially on the iPhone. I admit I turned it up and the music hit me pretty hard, dulled by years of suffering in this low-def world. But it wasn’t perfect, I felt some restriction and narrowness, some loss of a clear L/R/Center, and more fatigue than expected. I’m going to read up on what I was actually hearing after filing this true review.

Not sure if youtube cuts it to 16/44 or something lossy, not sure what’s going on but I appreciated the music and heard no obvious digital tells. Yet I felt I needed to turn it down by the end of the song. Most importantly I heard the music, felt the music, but was also aware that I was blasting music and fatiguing my ears a bit.

So the PonoPlayer charged and although I don’t have the same material as is streamed from above sources, I can’t wait to hear the PonoPlayer after the youtube challenge….

 


 

 

Bam! Knockout, Tyson style. This PonoPlayer sounds bad-ass, and you deserve to have one. Earn some tips, give up chocolate for a month, whatever, you should own one of these players if you need music to be you.

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The soundstage is HUGE. Crystal clear. Not just the entire drum set, the tuning and pan and wood of each drum. Amazing. Crash cymbals just decay perfectly, trust me I use them often. Bass is low and round and totally natural. To apply extra “boom” on bass is not the job of the player, you have various other ways to enhance the low end. Chances are the mix is perfect.

Tears again, damn this thing is really hitting me.

It really loves full volume, 70-100% really shines. And I’m just running straight through the single minijack output, unbalanced iPod/phone style. Every voice, every instrument just sits perfectly, nothing masks unless the player (or mixer) wanted it to.

Not a hint of digital tells, OK maybe still some hi-hat smashers like Chad Smith can make you think you hear digital, but it’s so rare and hard to track (at least at 24/96). Yeah no doubt, the PonoPlayer is still the best digital I have ever heard, anywhere.  Plus I have yet to hear it in balanced mode, which everyone swears is a major improvement.

 


 

So what to do about it?

  1. First, hear one for yourself and if you don’t hear it by the second song, sorry about your luck.
  2. Second, remember iHeartFLAC and it’s type on youtube and the fact that the “new school” method of streaming from the internet CAN provide a real upgrade from not only MP3, but the few I played surpassed most CD quality I’ve heard in nearly 30 years. So please let’s try to push that standard up, and if they can stream FLAC on spotify while still paying the artists, I guess I’m for it.

It’s not one or the other to me as long as everyone gets an audio upgrade. The MP3 trickery is real and subtle, but it’s robbing you of the full experience no matter how much they hype it. It was built for dial-up modems and we are so past that. This streaming FLAC thing is a bit of a game changer for me.

But does it sound better than a PonoPlayer? Oh hell no. PonoPlayer is the real deal, Holyfield and Tyson playing both the standard 16/44 files you already own (and are still the most common HD format, sadly) and true HD files. When you make that jump to 24/44, then up the sample rates to 96 or 192k, oh yeah, it gets intense.

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To those rare ones that scream(type) “yeah but when will it stop, 32bit, 64bit, 128bit?” I say chill. 24bit word length is plenty to blow you out the water.  There are limits to our natural hearing and emotional abilities. 16 million readings might be all the resolution our bodies have. My science fans should let me know on that.

MP3 built a horrible McMansion on a toxic 16/44 swamp pretending to be true audio and the whole investment is sinking slowly into oblivion. FLAC seems to be the first digital format for real music, and I suggest you get it while you still can.

The modern file formats.

The modern file formats.

 

 

2MERICA’S Top Network

Done a lot of video in the last couple years and have a few more ideas in the cooker for both the 2MERICA and Ezraz projects. Here’s the list of the video yayas we’ve posted as designed for musical and visual enjoyment.

 

Videos From 2MERICA’s 1st LP Record Profits:

Record Profits

2MERICA_LP1

“Indy Day” … “thinkin’ bout cashin’ in usin’ all these song lines”

“Green Screen” … “episode’s out the window, tracking’s well defined”

“Scribbling” … “contemplate what Sartre said” [featuring paintings by Jaimeson Lowell]

“Male Performance Issues” … remember the gapneck (minor key does not make it a rollerskating song)

“Night Talk @ The Mansion” … we are tonight’s soundtrack

“Zeestro” … he’s the maestro

 

 Videos From 2MERICA’s 2nd LP Sensors&Switches&Buttons:

Sensors&Switches&Buttons

2MERICA_LP2

“Regina” … “fakin’ neutral glares cannot hide you”

“Extraordinary Rendition” … “this problem is hard – c’mon, join the party”

“Boom Seattle” … “there’s sparkles everywhere” [featuring paintings by Jaimeson Lowell]

“Alfie” … “look at this place see how it’s changed”

“Who’s Feeling Who?” … “my little sugar triangles who’s feelin who?”

“Tha Cop(s)” … “all this lying all this trying”

“The New Guest Who…” … “eww, it’s much worse than I thought”

 

Videos From 2MERICA’s 3rd LP Scherzo Elskorpion (unreleased):

Mass Entertainment EP

2MERICA_EP

“Never Met Tomorrow” … “never know who to follow, never met tomorrow”

“Mass Entertainment” … “we are all instruments playing our part”

“The Blood & The Sweat” … my life is the mess only I can clean