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Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30), Was: FLAC file with artefacts not present on original CD?
mannheim
post Jul 21 2011, 18:49
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This is my first post in these forums.

Can anyone help me guess the source of some audible artefacts in some downloaded music?

I have two FLAC files for the same classical track (Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony, Markevitch, on a Philips label). One was purchased from Passionato, the other was purchased from UMG's web site. Although both are supposed to be lossless copies of the data on the original CD, the FLAC file from Passionato actually has a clearly audible sort of "flutter" in some quiet, sustained passages. It is not the same as the UMG file. The difference isn't subtle. (Having read the TOS, I did do an ABX test. But it hardly seemed necessary in this case: I got 10/10 without difficulty. I will upload the short samples that I used.)

My guess was that the Passionato download was actually derived from a compressed audio file, converted to FLAC. But I'm puzzled. Compressing the UMG file and then converting back to FLAC did not give me a result that was in any way comparable, whatever compression I tried. The UMG and the Passionato file have exactly the same number of samples, and the difference of the two wave forms has a spectrum which is mostly in the range of about 1000 Hz - 2500 Hz, with very little above that.

Another possibility is that both FLAC files were obtained from some (fairly high quality) compressed source -- say MP3 -- but that the Passionato file was decompressed using software with a bug. I have quite a few FLAC files from Passionato. All the files from UMG labels exhibit this "flutter", with the exception of the most recent one I purchased.

I will edit this post when I have a link to the samples. I'll upload 7 seconds of each of the two FLAC files, and also the difference of the two wave forms (amplified). The difference sounds like fragments of the original tones together with higher "chirps". (I read the TOS concerning differences of wave forms, but I think the difference is interesting in this case.)

Edit: The uploaded FLAC samples are here.

This post has been edited by mannheim: Jul 21 2011, 18:56
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Wombat
post Jul 22 2011, 19:23
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QUOTE (mannheim @ Jul 22 2011, 19:03) *
I guess I am leaning to the explanation suggested by greynol: some sort of watermarking. Reading around, it seems that Universal Music do add watermarks to the files they provide to online music stores. And perhaps heavy-handed watermarking might lead to these artefacts


If this comes thru to be true iŽd say this is scandalous!! Why to pay for a lossless version that adds much more noise as any modern lossy encoding does?
Time to write an Email and complain directly at them asking for clarification. Will be interesting how they explain it to you.
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mannheim
post Jul 22 2011, 19:38
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QUOTE (Wombat @ Jul 22 2011, 13:23) *
If this comes thru to be true iŽd say this is scandalous!! Why to pay for a lossless version that adds much more noise as any modern lossy encoding does?
Time to write an Email and complain directly at them asking for clarification. Will be interesting how they explain it to you.


Well I don't want to rush to judgement. I did send three emails to Passionato, without any reply. If there is a watermarking problem, then I think it is more Universal's fault. But perhaps it's just me and I've inadvertently done something stupid? [Edit: Okay, I just read mixminus1's post, above; so I'm probably not crazy.] The only other thing I've found on the web that says someone else has had this problem is this thread on computeraudiophile.com. The orignal poster over there found the problem present in files from passionato but also from iTunes. All the tracks that are mentioned in that thread are on labels belonging to Universal.

This post has been edited by mannheim: Jul 22 2011, 19:44
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Posts in this topic
- mannheim   Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)   Jul 21 2011, 18:49
- - Wombat   Interesting town name you choosed With classical ...   Jul 21 2011, 19:58
- - greynol   After looking at the two samples it strongly appea...   Jul 21 2011, 20:14
- - mixminus1   Hmm, interesting, and I agree with Wombat (edit: a...   Jul 21 2011, 20:23
|- - mannheim   QUOTE (mixminus1 @ Jul 21 2011, 13:23) Hm...   Jul 21 2011, 20:41
|- - evereux   QUOTE (mixminus1 @ Jul 21 2011, 20:23) I ...   Jul 22 2011, 17:16
|- - mannheim   QUOTE (evereux @ Jul 22 2011, 11:16) QUOT...   Jul 22 2011, 17:44
|- - Wombat   One thing i noticed is the noise floor in the delt...   Jul 22 2011, 18:16
- - greynol   It could be the result of noise reduction or perha...   Jul 21 2011, 21:04
|- - mannheim   QUOTE (greynol @ Jul 21 2011, 14:04) It c...   Jul 21 2011, 21:23
- - mannheim   I guess I am leaning to the explanation suggested ...   Jul 22 2011, 19:03
|- - mannheim   It also seems that passionato's files from oth...   Jul 22 2011, 19:29
- - Wombat   QUOTE (mannheim @ Jul 22 2011, 19:03) I g...   Jul 22 2011, 19:23
|- - mannheim   QUOTE (Wombat @ Jul 22 2011, 13:23) If th...   Jul 22 2011, 19:38
- - mixminus1   So, because this is such a bizarre artifact, and b...   Jul 22 2011, 19:34
- - mixminus1   Oh, you're definitely not the one who's do...   Jul 22 2011, 19:56
- - Wombat   QUOTE (mixminus1 @ Jul 22 2011, 19:34) Su...   Jul 22 2011, 20:10
- - mixminus1   Since the vibrato artifact was just as present in ...   Jul 22 2011, 21:06
- - mannheim   Many thanks to all of you here for helping me conf...   Jul 23 2011, 11:17
|- - sjwillis   QUOTE (mannheim @ Jul 23 2011, 05:17) Man...   Jul 26 2011, 12:43
- - mixminus1   Jim, thank you very much for responding here. Giv...   Jul 26 2011, 15:05
- - mannheim   Possibly related: there's some information her...   Jul 28 2011, 22:31
- - pbryan   Since this was just covered by TechDirt (UMG Water...   Aug 12 2011, 18:38
|- - mannheim   I never heard back from passionato.   Aug 14 2011, 11:50
- - evankk   I believe that the same thing may have just happen...   Mar 27 2012, 23:24
|- - Wombat   QUOTE (evankk @ Mar 27 2012, 23:24) I bel...   Mar 27 2012, 23:34
|- - evankk   QUOTE (Wombat @ Mar 27 2012, 17:34) QUOTE...   Mar 28 2012, 02:20
- - icstm   This is the craziest thing I have heard... they ar...   Mar 28 2012, 11:20
|- - evankk   QUOTE (icstm @ Mar 28 2012, 05:20) This i...   Mar 28 2012, 21:44
- - mmontag   I have some analysis of the UMG watermark here in ...   Apr 4 2012, 12:26
|- - Porcus   QUOTE (mmontag @ Apr 4 2012, 13:26) The w...   Apr 4 2012, 12:44
|- - Kees de Visser   QUOTE (mmontag @ Apr 4 2012, 13:26) I hav...   Apr 4 2012, 16:26
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (Kees de Visser @ Apr 4 2012, 11:26...   Apr 4 2012, 16:40
- - db1989   Very interesting—thanks! I’ve edited this thre...   Apr 4 2012, 12:44
- - mudlord   Why complain? The record producer has every right ...   Apr 4 2012, 13:41
|- - greynol   QUOTE (mudlord @ Apr 4 2012, 05:41) The r...   Apr 4 2012, 18:45
|- - Porcus   QUOTE (mudlord @ Apr 4 2012, 14:41) Why c...   Apr 5 2012, 00:42
- - richard123   QUOTE (mudlord @ Apr 4 2012, 08:41) Why c...   Apr 4 2012, 15:54
- - andy o   There are inaudible watermarks perfectly available...   Apr 4 2012, 16:16
- - db1989   QUOTE (richard123 @ Apr 4 2012, 15:54) QU...   Apr 4 2012, 18:05
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (db1989 @ Apr 4 2012, 13:05) QUOTE ...   Apr 5 2012, 02:17
- - mudlord   Too bad. You get what you paid for.   Apr 4 2012, 19:05
- - mudlord   Yes, DRM has its purpose in the world, even if you...   Apr 5 2012, 01:49
|- - Rotareneg   QUOTE (mudlord @ Apr 4 2012, 19:49) Yes, ...   Apr 5 2012, 16:41
|- - Porcus   QUOTE (mudlord @ Apr 5 2012, 02:49) DRM h...   Apr 7 2012, 02:26
|- - lock67ca   QUOTE (mudlord @ Apr 4 2012, 20:49) Yes, ...   Apr 7 2012, 03:25
- - mixminus1   ...and I found the same with another pair of track...   Apr 5 2012, 15:05
- - mudlord   No, its because people want everything free that c...   Apr 7 2012, 03:53
|- - Porcus   QUOTE (mudlord @ Apr 7 2012, 04:53) No, i...   Apr 7 2012, 12:39
- - Elbart   QUOTE (mudlord @ Apr 5 2012, 02:49) Yes, ...   Apr 7 2012, 12:09
- - LordWarlock   I thought the troll was obvious from the first pos...   Apr 7 2012, 14:26
- - andy o   It's been long enough and the evidence is moun...   Apr 7 2012, 15:58
- - copperears   Note: some other albums you can clearly hear this ...   Nov 18 2013, 19:12


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