20170509 Spotify Review

I've been loving having access to the extended catalogue that Spotify offers. But I'd also been feeling somewhat ripped off as the music sounded life-less. What I was hearing was bass-pumping of a really bad compressor and smashed transients. It took me a while to get my head around that this was due to the normalisation feature of the player pushing the levels into a (shit) limiter.

Ian over at production advice explains this far better than I can. In short, Spotify have implemented a rather crappy non-musical limiter in their player to deal with inter-sample peaks. I think this is probably a sensible move on their part, but I wish they would put some effort into making the limiter a bit more transparent. Even better would be to introduce a "hi-fi" option in the decoder which drops the level by 1dB. This would also make the inter-sample peaks not matter.

Now that I've worked this out I'm actually enjoying listening to Spotify. I've just got to get used to the level of some tracks being louder than others.

High Definition Audio

With the release of Pono, quite a few journalists have decided to destroy it. I think this bad, Pono is quite a unique product in the market and I would like that it has every chance of success.

Personally, I have no intention of buying a portable high definition audio player. To be honest, I source most of my music from iTunes. Sure it’s only 44.1kHz, 16bit with 256kbps MPEG2 compression added. Sometimes I get music from other channels which use 44.1/16/320kbps MPEG1. I love it that sites like bandcamp give me the option of downloading FLAC or uncompressed at 44.1/16. This is good enough for most cases, plus I get the advantages of portability. I’m speaking as an audio engineer and a pragmatist.

The purpose of this article is to point out that there are some checks, balances and common-sense in this equation. My perspective on this issue is that of an audio engineer, (repressed) hi-fi dude, musician and DJ.