I have been experimenting madly these past several days, in things wholly unrelated to Crescendo. Playing with different variations on compressor designs. And this morning I was listening to the iMusic track “Time” by Hans Zimmer on his soundtrack for the movie “Inception”.
Oh it is a great movie soundtrack. But toward the end of the track it started to sound horrible – rough and rhaspy, is how I would describe it. I started worrying… had I inadvertently broken Crescendo with these compressor experiments? I hadn’t meant to. But I got very worried.
The raggedness was down in the bass and midrange frequencies, so I disabled Crescendo and it still sounded awful. And other tracks in other albums sounded just fine, even with Crescendo running. So it didn’t seem like I had damaged Crescendo in any way.
So I went searching for other copies of this track, and I found some on YouTube, Spotify, and SoundCloud. All of those copies sounded really great all the way to the end.
So, I recorded the raw output from iTunes and the web to compare things.
Here is the version offered by Apple: (oy…)
And here is the version offered by YouTube:
So, what gives, Apple? How can the world’s wealthiest company, one that makes some of the coolest hardware and software, do such nastiness to a recording?
This wasn’t just a simple case of over-compression. There was nasty limiting damage, and fully clipped bass and mid-range waveforms in there. That’s why it sounded so awful.
It almost looks like some 12 year old kid made his first MP3 and then Apple grabbed that and turned it into AAC encoded for download from their iMusic servers. C’mon, Apple….
[ Needless to say, after finding many other great tracks there, I became a Spotify customer this morning… ]