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July 29, 2008

YouTube audio compression (volume, not bits) smashing up sound

Please note, this blog has been archived and now lives at www.discretecosine.com

Slashdot ran a story a few days ago, discussing the new audio compression filter YouTube seems to be using on content. Essentially, they're trying to get everything into a single intensity range to, presumably, make jumping between videos on YouTube a bit more pleasant. However, like anyone who uses a compression plug in for the first time, they've over done it. Waaaay over done it.

There's a thread on YouTube's forums discussing the issue, and a fellow named 'ccalam' has posted a video demonstrating what happens with and without the compression.

The fix, until YouTube does something, is to mix in some constant volume high frequency noise, which will get stripped during the bit-compression phase, but which misdirects the audio compressor enough to keep your actual audio safe.

I can sort of understand what YouTube is up against, as this is an issue I struggle with on Media Mill as well. There are lots of things I can do to make really bad videos look and sound better, but those same things will make good videos look and sound worse. You always try to walk the line between both extremes, but you always wish you could do more.

Posted by at July 29, 2008 9:16 AM | Misc

Comments

Thanks for the info. Could you please explain exactly what you mean by "mix in some constant volume high frequency noise". How exactly do I do this??

Posted by: Kelly at July 30, 2008 12:41 AM

The thread on the youtube forums mentions one way to do this - generate a 19,000hz sine wave using an audio editing program, and add it to your audio track with the volume set to whatever level you want to maintain - so probably set it to the highest level found within your audio track.

Posted by: Colin McFadden at July 30, 2008 7:31 AM