Core Machine (Operating system/System info/Roon build number)

Network Details (Including networking gear model/manufacturer and if on WiFi/Ethernet)
AT&T Wifi

Audio Devices (Specify what device you’re using and its connection type - USB/HDMI/etc.)
Bose Soundtouch 10 Wifi/bluetooth speakers and/or Hyundai stock stereo/speakers

Description Of Issue
I’m sure most of you know more than me about the issue, but I’m trying to educate myself as I go along.

A lot of my audio files (AAC/MP3) are too compressed. Think of “Fade To Black” by Metallica when it goes from quiet to loud on FM radio or any hard rock song where a lot is going on. At the loud parts, the compression puts them in a chokehold. It’s probably a bad audio file.

Most apps on my iPhone and even the Roon software don’t help the cause. But when I was tinkering with an app that had the option to downsample the music, the compression was less severe.

After I lowered it from the standard 41000 to 16000 or even 8000, the sound was quite amazing. I always thought the higher the sample rate, the better the quality.

Maybe it’s a placebo effect. But anyway, if anyone can enlighten me, could it be a ruined audio file, the system it’s playing through, or the speakers?


Subscribe to Tidal or Qobuz and find the equivalent music there and give it a listen in CD quality would be my advice. An MP3 files is beyond recovery as maybe 80% of the musical information has been discarded and very likely the files are highly compressed to sound loud on cheap equipment.
GIGO is the computer phrase…

Tidal and Qobuz both offer free trial periods, so I’d echo Chris’ suggestion. Make sure it’s the same master if you can.

Just a note though - and sorry if I’m teaching you to suck eggs - but don’t confuse ‘compression’ as in ‘dynamics processing’ (bad when it’s loudness wars, arguably good when you otherwise miss the quiet bits listening in a car) with ‘compression’ as in ‘lossy data reduction’ (eg mp3, where some data is discarded; increasingly audible with increasing compression, but at 320kbps ‘most’ people can’t tell the difference and may even prefer it to ‘cd’ quality. Perhaps needless to say ‘most’ people don’t post on audio forums… ).

Not sure what’s going on with the bit-reduction software, but at an 8KHz sample rate I’d expect it to sound like a bad telephone…

Edit: I’ve just looked. There are at least two masters of Ride the Lightning; the remaster is significantly more dynamically compressed, but by no means as bad as some!

A lot of my heavy metal files are badly distorted at the loudest parts. I blame a conversion software for the problem, not that the files were perfect beforehand. When a Slipknot song reaches the peak at the chorus, it gets muffled and switches back and forth like a warped cassette. I guess I’ll need to start from scratch. Neither Tidal nor Quboz impressed me enough for a subscription.

Remove enough information from the file and eventually the fatiguing effect of the compression artifacts, which you’re identifying as “a chokehold”, will go away. This doesn’t mean that it “sounds better” because, technically, it sounds worse but to your ears it is a more enjoyable listen. You’re removing more and more of the frequency range and detail but if those things were destroyed, to the point of being distracting, when the MP3 was created then making the file, technically, worse can trick the listener into thinking the overall playback sounds “better”.

As others have said… give-up on your MP3 collection and go stream the CD quality. Your ears will thank you.

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So you’re recommending the subscription services too?

Yes, absolutely. I might miss most of the 384 AAC to CD A/B comparisons but a random 128k MP3 I can identify every time. They sound terrible. If you don’t have the original CD to re-rip everything you own then the most cost-effective solution is to stream the CD quality (or better). Tidal has a 30 day trial. That cost you nothing to test.

Yes, but I’m a sucker for rare b-sides and out-of-print recordings, and YouTube has everything. You can rip them with software. Shh, don’t tell anyone. A lot of them aren’t the best quality. I wish Tidal and Quboz had more settings. A representative at Quboz reached out to me after I quit the trial, and I told him what they were missing. He said he would speak to his team about it. We’ll see.

oh, yeah. I get it. There isn’t an alternative and most of those recordings sound terrible. There really isn’t anything you can do to fix them other than throwing them into something like Audacity and learning how the effects and plugins work. Some can be cleaned up a bit but the old saying will always hold true… garbage in garbage out

This isn’t a Qobuz or Roon or Tidal or anyones problem. If the recording is garbage it is going to continue to be garbage. You’re not talking about a label delivering a poor quality file to a streaming service. Some of the uploads on YouTube are purposely borked to get around the copyright filters. I, personally, don’t listen to any music on YouTube because I think it all sounds terrible; even the stuff that does come from the labels.

That’s why we have Tidal and Qobuz.

Oh no. I agree 100%. But now that record stores are extinct, I can’t think of another place to find a lost stone temple pilots track. As long as it isn’t full of background noise and has a semblance of bass, I can live with the imperfections.

You can do it all, stream and find your music, rip what you like and keep it on a hard drive, combine it all through Roon.
If your fav music is badly handled in the Loudness wars battles, that’s a shame, no I’ll go stronger, it’s a crime against art, but I don’t see what you can do until some decent re masters come to light.
The streaming services (including Youtube) and their volume normalisation makes the loudness wars a thing of the past. Now you have to have dynamic range to make your music stand out.
I posted a link to a video explaining this elsewhere on this forum.

Found it

I’m not sure about that at all…
During the last week I have done intensive tests on this and the result is the opposite of the information in the link. At least TIDAL is performing a strong boosting on loudness, that is very bad for sound quality (but it is good for non-HiFi consumers). QOBUZ is much better.

I’m not clear what you mean - can you explain please?

I did comparative tests, using the same tracks, but from multiple sources:

  • Local FLAC purchased from HIGHRESAUDIO, HDTRACKS, QOBUZ.
  • The local FLAC made by me from the CD.
  • FLAC / MQA streaming from TIDAL.
  • FLAC streaming from QOBUZ.

I used several genres, more FLAC formats (44.1 kHz - 192 kHz), and more systems (DAC1 + speakers, and DAC2 + headphones).
For me and my system, TIDAL clearly sounds different from the other three (which are about identical): the dynamics are diminished, and the bass are boosted.
This is my personal experience in this regard. I encourage you to carry out your own experiments / tests.

I don’t know what you mean about the loudness wars. Are you for or against normalization? I’m all for it if a program can adjust the volume to my files, so a loud song won’t blast me out of the room after a quiet one. Would that reduce the quality? The sound check on iTunes is unreliable. It doesn’t work for all of the files, and it changes the volume too late into the songs. Roon does a superb job at this.

The loudness war was (is) about making your track as loud as possible by means of compression, so that it gets people’s attention when listening to the car radio, in the kitchen,and other places where music essentially is background noise. Widely available volume normalization hopefully will put an end to it.
Wikipedia has a decent introduction:

BTW, I’m amazed nobody has commented yet on how cutting the frequency range to 8 kHz or 4 kHz makes Metallica songs sound better :rofl:

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Me? For…

Have a look at this article…

It won’t make a difference to older Hot masters and that’s the issue, going forward it’s high dynamic range that will make the difference.
The HOT MASTERS are the problem and until they are replaced, they best you can do is listen on cheap equipment.

Could you point me to a track where you hear this? I’d like to understand what’s going on…