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Re: WMA gets taken Down By The River

Posted by Don Pearce on 11/27/07 08:58

On Tue, 27 Nov 2007 08:54:13 GMT, "dadiOH" <>

>Don Pearce wrote:
>> On Tue, 27 Nov 2007 07:48:17 -0000, Jack <> wrote:
>>> I have been happy with WMA sound quality at 128 kbps (44 kHz CBR),
>>> believing it to be generally cleaner than its MP3 equivalent. WMA
>>> built a reputation as excelling at lower bitrates (i.e. 64 kbps)
>>> and was also said to surpass MP3 at 128 kbps. To my ears, it
>>> did/does have a more crystalline quality on a lot of music.
>>> Subjective? Maybe. I hadn't noticed any real distortion on my good
>>> quality car stereo (main usage for WMA) until the other day.
>>> I was stunned to hear how bad WMA 128 kbps sounds on Neil Young's
>>> "Down By The River." That track has repetitive dull cymbal/brush
>>> hits throughout and it's not a pristine recording to begin with.
>>> Apparently the WMA (9.2) encoder treats those hits as some sort of
>>> lo-res background noise. This may be compounded by distorted
>>> guitar harmonics that chase along.
>>> At certain points the hazy cymbals fade in and out with a
>>> breathing effect; an artifact nonexistent in the original WAV.
>>> It's quite evident between 3:30 and 4:00 in this 9-minute song.
>>> Parts of the song have crisper highs and those seem to be handled
>>> OK, but it's still a disappointment.
>>> When you increase the WMA bitrate to 160 kbps, it seems to lose
>>> this affliction, and at 192 kbps sounds close to the CD. But MP3
>>> (tested with LAME & FhG) handles that track noticeably better at
>>> 128 kbps. With a thousand songs encoded at WMA 128 kbps, I'm
>>> rethinking formats. This slush might show up elsewhere.
>>> Could this be a fluke or has WMA been using tricks to sound better
>>> than it really does? If anyone knows other "WMA torture tests,"
>>> please post song names.
>>> Jack
>> You see, what you are supposed to do at this point is post a couple
>> of ten second samples - one of the original wav and one of the wma.
>> That way we can do something a bit more helpful than sit here and
>> say "really?".
>The newsgroup name has "binary" in it? Binaries should be posted to
>binary groups, not text groups. Alternatively, they can be stashed
>somewhere and an URL posted.
>Besides, he is asking for other *title* examples.

Nobody should be posting binaries into news groups any more. Just
about every Internet account comes with free web space. That is where
postings should go. You just put a link in the news article.


Pearce Consulting



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