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Hydrogenaudio Forum => General Audio => Topic started by: mannheim on 2011-07-21 18:49:07

Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: mannheim on 2011-07-21 18:49:07
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. (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=89819&view=findpost&p=763780)
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: Wombat on 2011-07-21 19:58:23
Interesting town name you choosed
With classical recordings you experience the most strange versions. I only can speak for some classical RCA recordings that were released as first release, at least 2x re-release in japan followed by remastered versions and now after sony took them over another version under their label!
I don´t know it helps here but your 2 versions may come from 2 very different masters. Judging the noisefloor of both my bet is on both being lossless. You may have the chance to get more info out of the bootlegs coming with the releases. Sometimes they name the mastereing engineers or studio.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: greynol on 2011-07-21 20:14:47
After looking at the two samples it strongly appears as if they were decedents from the same digital source.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: mixminus1 on 2011-07-21 20:23:31
Hmm, interesting, and I agree with Wombat (edit: and greynol), I think they both come from true lossless masters, as well.

The reason I don't think the Passionato track is sourced from lossy is that, in addition to what Wombat noted about the noise floors, the fluttering is fairly slow, but very rhythmic and consistent, which is usually not the case with fluttering/ringing artifacts in lossy encoding.  Yes, those artifacts can be somewhat rhythmic, but they're usually much faster.

I was going to guess wow and flutter (specifically wow) from an analog tape machine, but if this (http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=534075) is the release you're referring to, it appears to be all-digital, so that couldn't be the case (and all that hiss would then be coming from the mics and/or preamps).

Odd indeed...was there any liner note info included with the Passionato download WRT the mastering engineers or facilities?
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: mannheim on 2011-07-21 20:41:10
Hmm, interesting, and I agree with Wombat (edit: and greynol), I think they both come from true lossless masters, as well.

The reason I don't think the Passionato track is sourced from lossy is that, in addition to what Wombat noted about the noise floors, the fluttering is fairly slow, but very rhythmic and consistent, which is usually not the case with fluttering/ringing artifacts in lossy encoding.  Yes, those artifacts can be somewhat rhythmic, but they're usually much faster.

I was going to guess wow and flutter (specifically wow) from an analog tape machine, but if this (http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=534075) is the release you're referring to, it appears to be all-digital, so that couldn't be the case (and all that hiss would then be coming from the mics and/or preamps).

Odd indeed...was there any liner note info included with the Passionato download WRT the mastering engineers or facilities?


Thanks for these observations. The release isn't the one you linked to: it is this one (http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=4742). It was definitely an analog recording (from the 1960s). I agree with greynol: the two FLAC files clearly have a common digital ancestor somewhere down the line, because there's no way that the data could be so close otherwise.

If it was restricted to one instance, then maybe it might be a question of a different mastering. But the same problem is present on (nearly) all the downloads that I have from passionato that are on labels from UMG. Also, although the flutter is only clearly audible in certain passages (e.g. sustained woodwinds playing mezzo-piano), it is so obvious there that I can't believe it was ever present on an officially-released disk.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: greynol on 2011-07-21 21:04:49
It could be the result of noise reduction or perhaps some type of watermark.  I don't see anything obvious indicating lossy compression.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: mannheim on 2011-07-21 21:23:08
It could be the result of noise reduction or perhaps some type of watermark. ...


Ahh.

The noise reduction idea seems a bit unlikely in the circumstances (applied to all FLAC files in passionato's store). But watermarking would make sense (UMG adding a watermark to all the files they provide to passionato.com).

I wonder, could the effects of watermarking really be that bad?
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: evereux on 2011-07-22 17:16:37
I was going to guess wow and flutter (specifically wow) from an analog tape machine


That was my thought too.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: mannheim on 2011-07-22 17:44:00
I was going to guess wow and flutter (specifically wow) from an analog tape machine


That was my thought too.


I do have some entirely digital recordings from passionato.com with the same problem. For example, I have this version of Mahler 9 (http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/cat/single?PRODUCT_NR=4716242), in FLAC format, and it has the same sort of "flutter" effect (e.g very apparent in the horn phrases at 00:35 to 00:45 in the first movement). For this release, I do not have the corresponding FLAC file from the Universal Music web site (the link above), so I can't make a comparison. But I have listened to the clip of this track that is available on Amazon's MP3 web site. Although the streaming quality of the clip is low, it is good enough to be fairly sure that the flutter is not present.

Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: Wombat on 2011-07-22 18:16:40
One thing i noticed is the noise floor in the delta file looks like noise shaped dither. So one of these recordings must have gone thru some digital processing or downsampling different as the other file.
I wonder if one version was processed to correct the flutter. Imho this is pretty hard to repair. The other way around makes not much sense but who knows!?
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: mannheim on 2011-07-22 19:03:28
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.

I think the "flutter" is audible on some of the track sample clips on passionato's web site:

I don't have that Brahms recording, but I do have the Mahler in FLAC format from passionato (as mentioned in my previous post), and the FLAC version seems to be the same as far as the flutter goes.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: Wombat on 2011-07-22 19:23:23
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 i´d 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.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: mannheim on 2011-07-22 19:29:14
It also seems that passionato's files from other labels are not affected (or not all of them anyway). The second movement of Brahm's 4th symphony begins with horns then clarinets.

These clips are low bitrate MP3 obviously, so there may be other factors at play. I have the original CD for the first of those two Brahms clips, and the horns and clarinets are -- of course -- completely smooth.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: mixminus1 on 2011-07-22 19:34:39
So, because this is such a bizarre artifact, and because I'm also incredulous that an online music store with such an extensive catalog could be screwing things up this badly with lossless tracks, I decided to just pick a track at random that I could also find in FLAC form on Deutsche Grammophon's and download both.

I'm not much of a fan of orchestral or symphonic music (I consider The Beatles to be "classical" music  ), but I do enjoy medieval and Renaissance music every now and then, so I just picked an album at random - Cristóbal de Morales: Music for Philip II - Requiem - and checked a few of the samples on Passionato's website, to see if there was any sign of that vibrato-like artifact even in the samples.

Sure enough, it very much sounded like there was, so I picked track 07 - where it seemed very pronounced - and downloaded it from both Passionato and UMG.

I posted the first 15 seconds of each file to mannheim's original upload thread.

As the kids say these days:  O...M...F...G.

The music is just massed male voices, and the vibrato artifact is incredible, especially around the 0:09 mark.

As expected, the UMG file is perfectly clean, and while I'll leave it to the end user to do an inverted mix paste in his or her audio editor of choice, the remaining artifacts are identical in sound to the ones created from mannheim's sample files.

If that is indeed watermarking being applied by Deutsche Grammophon, it's shameful - indeed, scandalous, as Wombat said - and whether it's their fault or not, Passionato really has no right calling those tracks lossless.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: mannheim on 2011-07-22 19:38:23
If this comes thru to be true i´d 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 (http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/Defective-downloads-Passionato-and-iTunes) 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.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: mixminus1 on 2011-07-22 19:56:51
Oh, you're definitely not the one who's done something stupid here.

I just checked the samples of the Morales album on iTunes, and I'm not hearing any signs of that vibrato artifact.

Regardless of who's at fault, it's absurd for "legitimate" downloads - lossless or otherwise - to have this artifact added to them.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but I think it's safe to say you'd never find this kind of f**k-up on FLAC files "in the wild."
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: Wombat on 2011-07-22 20:10:17
Sure enough, it very much sounded like there was, so I picked track 07 - where it seemed very pronounced - and downloaded it from both Passionato and UMG.

I posted the first 15 seconds of each file to mannheim's original upload thread.

As the kids say these days:  O...M...F...G.

The music is just massed male voices, and the vibrato artifact is incredible, especially around the 0:09 mark.

Good find and easy to spot the "vibrato" effect. So your brought up samples, mannem did lead to something. Time to nag Passionata again. (mannem is mannheim for native speakers )
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: mixminus1 on 2011-07-22 21:06:51
Since the vibrato artifact was just as present in the streaming sample as it was in the FLAC file (also noted by mannheim), I clicked through another dozen or so samples of choral music from other labels, and never once heard a trace of the artifact.

On a whim, picked another DG release - Palestrina sung by the Westminster Abbey Choir (http://www.passionato.com/album-detail/AY14bdeb3ca1ee3/) - and clicked on a sample (http://www.passionato.com/preview/WY147a0c9f66172/):  sure enough, about a third of the way in, there was the vibrato, clear as day.

So, while this is very much looking to be specific to Deutsche Grammophon (at least, and perhaps other UMG labels, as well), Passionato isn't necessarily in the clear yet WRT the degraded audio - we'd need to know if they did any additional processing to the files they received from DG, and hopefully mannheim receives an (informative) answer from them.

Edit: added links
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: mannheim on 2011-07-23 11:17:24
Many thanks to all of you here for helping me confirm this problem and narrow it down. I'll post back again when I hear from Passionato.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: sjwillis on 2011-07-26 12:43:38
Many thanks to all of you here for helping me confirm this problem and narrow it down. I'll post back again when I hear from Passionato.



@mannheim: I've asked our customer service person to get back to you. Apologies for the delayed response. Our resources have been stretched very thin over the past several months as we're in the process of making some major changes to Passionato.

W/r/t the Universal FLAC issue, Universal audio files purchased  from Passionato are received as FLAC files from UMG. Not all distributors offer their audio to us in FLAC (some offer WAV or AIFF and we then convert to FLAC). I strongly suspect the audio artifacts you are hearing are present in the files we've received from UMG. I will try to pursue an answer from someone within Universal but I suspect a response will be unlikely. If I do hear back, I will post a response here.

Thank you,
Jim Willis
Passionato

Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: mixminus1 on 2011-07-26 15:05:03
Jim, thank you very much for responding here.

Given that UMG has (apparently) willfully supplied you with degraded audio files, I won't be holding my breath for a response, either, but thanks again for posting.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: mannheim on 2011-07-28 22:31:18
Possibly related: there's some information here (http://www.umldigitalops.com/wnsupport/documentation/eFolioWaterMark.html#top) about "eFolio":

Quote
eFolio Watermark tool is the official file transferring tool for Universal Music Group. This service will transfer and watermark .mp3, .wav, .m4a and .aiff audio files


Hard to tell if this is still current information.

Then there's this (http://www.sidestage.fm/album-leak-preventative-concept-advancemix/), where the writer claims that eFolio watermarking is audible as a sort of "warble". Seems to fit, but who knows.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: pbryan on 2011-08-12 18:38:01
Since this was just covered by TechDirt (UMG Watermarks Audiophile Files, Pisses Off Paying Customers (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110809/04114515451/umg-watermarks-audiophile-files-pisses-off-paying-customers.shtml)), I'm curious if there have been any further developments in confirming this is UMG watermarking, and getting a position from Passionato (whom I think may be at more risk from all of this than UMG).
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: mannheim on 2011-08-14 11:50:10
I never heard back from passionato.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: evankk on 2012-03-27 23:24:23
I believe that the same thing may have just happened to me, looking for the best legal (finding a FLAC download link proved impossible) FLAC quality download of Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black" I eventually navigated myself to https://store.universal-music.co.uk (https://store.universal-music.co.uk) where it came to my surprise that FLAC downloads were available. Upon listening to the FLAC files I'd purchased I noticed terrible quality, it sounded as if they did not even take the time to rip a cd copy to 16bit FLAC, it just sounded like a terrible MP3, I found many artifacts in each track, and at many points a distorted sound was evident. I don't know if this is watermarking or just terrible audio quality, but being that this site is in the family of UMG I'm sure the problem is of the same nature. I just e-mailed them, although I'm sure I'll never get a response...
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: Wombat on 2012-03-27 23:34:33
I believe that the same thing may have just happened to me, looking for the best legal (finding a FLAC download link proved impossible) FLAC quality download of Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black" I eventually navigated myself to https://store.universal-music.co.uk (https://store.universal-music.co.uk) where it came to my surprise that FLAC downloads were available. Upon listening to the FLAC files I'd purchased I noticed terrible quality, it sounded as if they did not even take the time to rip a cd copy to 16bit FLAC, it just sounded like a terrible MP3, I found many artifacts in each track, and at many points a distorted sound was evident. I don't know if this is watermarking or just terrible audio quality, but being that this site is in the family of UMG I'm sure the problem is of the same nature. I just e-mailed them, although I'm sure I'll never get a response...

It is supposed to sound this way. You may call it art in this case.
There was much talk about how it sounds when it was new and came out on cd.
You may try some tool like audiochecker just to be sure if it gives you a high confidence about being lossless but don´t judge this recording by its sound.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: evankk on 2012-03-28 02:20:20
I believe that the same thing may have just happened to me, looking for the best legal (finding a FLAC download link proved impossible) FLAC quality download of Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black" I eventually navigated myself to https://store.universal-music.co.uk (https://store.universal-music.co.uk) where it came to my surprise that FLAC downloads were available. Upon listening to the FLAC files I'd purchased I noticed terrible quality, it sounded as if they did not even take the time to rip a cd copy to 16bit FLAC, it just sounded like a terrible MP3, I found many artifacts in each track, and at many points a distorted sound was evident. I don't know if this is watermarking or just terrible audio quality, but being that this site is in the family of UMG I'm sure the problem is of the same nature. I just e-mailed them, although I'm sure I'll never get a response...

It is supposed to sound this way. You may call it art in this case.
There was much talk about how it sounds when it was new and came out on cd.
You may try some tool like audiochecker just to be sure if it gives you a high confidence about being lossless but don´t judge this recording by its sound.


your probably right about this as i did some researching and apparently it may have been done to the album to make it sound better on "lower quality" setups (as most consumers own these days) and the copy i had prior was a 128kbps copy from when I didn't know any better (there was no distortion on there).
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: icstm on 2012-03-28 11:20:27
This is the craziest thing I have heard... they are mastering to sound good at ~128kps?
awesome - and hear I was reripping my cd collection using new LAME codecs rather than the musicmatch jukebox I used ten years ago and upping to 320kps for lossy formats...
(somewhere on hear I was informed of the improvements to the encoding process over the past 10 years)
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: evankk on 2012-03-28 21:44:39
This is the craziest thing I have heard... they are mastering to sound good at ~128kps?
awesome - and hear I was reripping my cd collection using new LAME codecs rather than the musicmatch jukebox I used ten years ago and upping to 320kps for lossy formats...
(somewhere on hear I was informed of the improvements to the encoding process over the past 10 years)


i mean yeah that could be it, considering that when this album came out popular music download stores like itunes were still selling songs at 128kbps-256kbps. Although I feel it was done to the album to give it the old and used vinyl sound, it could've even been a bad mic, or a badly mastered copy and they just didn't wanna go back in and re-record the whole thing.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: mmontag on 2012-04-04 12:26:19
I have some analysis of the UMG watermark here in case you guys are interested, and so that there can be no more question about the origin and nature of these artifacts. The watermark technology they use is criminally bad.
  http://www.mattmontag.com/music/universals-audible-watermark (http://www.mattmontag.com/music/universals-audible-watermark)
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: Porcus on 2012-04-04 12:44:40
The watermark technology they use is criminally bad.


In terms of what? Is there any technology to compare this to, or is it so that this could very well be the state of the art?
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: db1989 on 2012-04-04 12:44:47
Very interesting—thanks! I’ve edited this thread’s title to make it more fitting of a general discussion about this ‘technology’, now that its existence is confirmed and details are known.

I think I might well object to watermarking as a general concept, but when it’s implemented in as destructive a way as this, it’s complete rubbish. Do UMG think they’re promoting themselves with this? On the off-chance that a significant number of customers became aware of this, the result would be exactly the opposite.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: mudlord on 2012-04-04 13:41:36
Why complain?
The record producer has every right to implement this form of DRM. Especially since FLAC inherantly has none.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: richard123 on 2012-04-04 15:54:30
Why complain?
The record producer has every right to implement this form of DRM. Especially since FLAC inherantly has none.

Because they are degrading audio quality without warning.  Consumers expect FLAC to sound the same as the original and are getting something noticeably worse.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: andy o on 2012-04-04 16:16:04
There are inaudible watermarks perfectly available. There is one similar to the DVD-A one being used in blu-ray right now (Cinavia from Verance). This is just inept.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: Kees de Visser on 2012-04-04 16:26:50
I have some analysis of the UMG watermark here in case you guys are interested, and so that there can be no more question about the origin and nature of these artifacts. The watermark technology they use is criminally bad.
Interesting. Lossless downloads seemed such a great idea. Is there a quick test for end-users to verify if a watermark is present ?
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: krabapple on 2012-04-04 16:40:34
I have some analysis of the UMG watermark here in case you guys are interested, and so that there can be no more question about the origin and nature of these artifacts. The watermark technology they use is criminally bad.
Interesting. Lossless downloads seemed such a great idea. Is there a quick test for end-users to verify if a watermark is present ?



AIUI, the audible watermark is only present on digital versions UMG licenses to other distributors.  The OP says the download direct from UMG itself does NOT have the watermark.  So I would hope the CD does not as well!

Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: db1989 on 2012-04-04 18:05:05
Why complain?
The record producer has every right to implement this form of DRM. Especially since FLAC inherantly has none.
Because they are degrading audio quality without warning.  Consumers expect FLAC to sound the same as the original and are getting something noticeably worse.
The audio stream in a losslessly encoded file should be expected not merely to sound the same but to be the same, bit-for-bit. Otherwise, what’s the point of it?

Mind you, how confident are we in the ripping strategies of major companies? Destroid posted (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=94251#entry790990) in another thread recently with a good point, which I have considered before: Is there much point in being concerned about losslessness if the ripping process is insecure?

AIUI, the audible watermark is only present on digital versions UMG licenses to other distributors.  The OP says the download direct from UMG itself does NOT have the watermark.  So I would hope the CD does not as well!
This is interesting, in that it contrasts to what Matt Montag said in his article (http://www.mattmontag.com/music/universals-audible-watermark): “the artifacts are […] a result of audio watermarks that Universal Music Group embeds in all of their digitally distributed tracks.” If this definitely doesn’t apply to tracks sourced directly from UMG, please let myself or another member of staff know so that the title can be made conditional.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: greynol on 2012-04-04 18:45:04
The record producer has every right to implement this form of DRM.

...and we should have the right to our money back for buying something of inferior quality.  Yet it doesn't exactly work this way, now does it?
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: mudlord on 2012-04-04 19:05:00
Too bad. You get what you paid for.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: Porcus on 2012-04-05 00:42:19
Why complain?
The record producer has every right to implement this form of DRM. Especially since FLAC inherantly has none.


So ... someone is complaining about the record companies destroying the artist's work and selling them an inferior version without any warning stamp, and someone else chooses to complain about these customers ...
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: mudlord on 2012-04-05 01:49:43
Yes, DRM has its purpose in the world, even if you people hate it.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: krabapple on 2012-04-05 02:17:13
AIUI, the audible watermark is only present on digital versions UMG licenses to other distributors.  The OP says the download direct from UMG itself does NOT have the watermark.  So I would hope the CD does not as well!
This is interesting, in that it contrasts to what Matt Montag said in his article (http://www.mattmontag.com/music/universals-audible-watermark): “the artifacts are […] a result of audio watermarks that Universal Music Group embeds in all of their digitally distributed tracks.” If this definitely doesn’t apply to tracks sourced directly from UMG, please let myself or another member of staff know so that the title can be made conditional.



From mannheim's first post to this thread:

Quote
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.)
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: mixminus1 on 2012-04-05 15:05:00
...and I found the same with another pair of tracks downloaded from Deutsche Grammophon's and Passionato's website in post #14 (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=89818&view=findpost&p=763901).

@mudlord:  Do you not actually listen to music?  We're talking about *audible degradation* of the sound - DRM can be (Cinavia, noted above) and has been (FairPlay, PlaysForSure) implemented with no audible artifacts.  UMG's "DRM" is really nothing of the sort.  It does nothing to "Manage" playback of the files - it simply gives UMG a (very ambiguous) way to track where a given file came from, by cheating the consumer out of the original, unaltered recording, which had better damn well be what we're paying for.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: Rotareneg on 2012-04-05 16:41:10
Yes, DRM has its purpose in the world, even if you people hate it.


Sure, and Dracunculus medinensis also has a purpose in the world, so nobody better complain about when one of them comes to visit either. 
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: Porcus on 2012-04-07 02:26:22
DRM has its purpose in the world


Yeah, it provides periodic testing of my 'boycott the motherfucker already' reflex.


In this case though, I do on one hand suspect that plainly destructive watermarking is a way to either test the market ('do they tolerate this?') and also, when it is discovered, use it to scare, in which case I'm anticipating a 'sorry for this, we are now just rolling out the new and improved one you cannot hear'. On the other hand, it is maybe even more naive to attribute to malice what equally well can be explained by plain stupidity.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: lock67ca on 2012-04-07 03:25:05
Yes, DRM has its purpose in the world, even if you people hate it.



And it's that attitude which has caused file sharing and piracy to skyrocket.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: mudlord on 2012-04-07 03:53:08
No, its because people want everything free that causes piracy to skyrocket.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: Elbart on 2012-04-07 12:09:53
Yes, DRM has its purpose in the world, even if you people hate it.

When people get a better version of the track for "free" from god-knows-where compared to the exact same track with destructive watermarking from a legit source for money, that kind of "DRM" has failed its purpose completely. Especially when it is degrading the very product. And as I've read through the thread UMG hasn't even told Passionato (and ultimately the customers) about this, correct? Shady.
UMG (and other labels) can put all kinds of nasty DRM, watermarks and whatnot on the files they're selling, but at least be open about it. Then "you get what you paid for" would be a valid argument.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: Porcus on 2012-04-07 12:39:29
No, its because people want everything free that causes piracy to skyrocket.


And pissing on your paying customers, that surely solves the problem


Now off to download a random Universal album, just for the hell of it.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: LordWarlock on 2012-04-07 14:26:24
I thought the troll was obvious from the first post already, interesting how he's been fed for so long already.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: andy o on 2012-04-07 15:58:10
It's been long enough and the evidence is mounting that offering less expensive, DRM-less media makes people buy it. iTunes, Amazon, and even for video, the recent Louis CK special (https://buy.louisck.net/news) (read the couple of posts there). I would have never bought a $20 DVD, and I never do, I always rent, but for $5 I did buy the thing, and I can view it anywhere I want. On the other side of the coin, I know of no one who can play blu-ray easily on their spanking new blu-ray "capable" PC, without buying tools to break the DRM, and even that includes some level of knowledge that the average consumer doesn't bother with.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: copperears on 2013-11-18 18:12:46
Note: some other albums you can clearly hear this audible watermarking effect on:

1. Krystian Zimerman, Chopin Ballades, Deutsche Grammophon -- right there from the first note
2. Elliott Carter, Clarinet Concerto, BBC Symphony - quite audible in the clarinet in the 2nd movement
3. Verdi - Great Operas from La Scala, Deutsche Grammophon - should be renamed Warbly Recording of Great Operas from La Scala
4. John Dowland - The Collected Works, L'Oiseau-Lyre - quite noticeable on any solo vocal or lute tracks.
5. Bernstein Collector's Edition - Stravinsky, Deutsche Grammophon
6. Mahler - The Symphonies, Leonard Bernstein, conductor - Deutsche Grammophon
7. Solti - Wagner - The Operas - Decca

I've looked around the internet and it sounds like UMG's audible watermarking is far more pervasive than the above list, and may extend to CDs as well as digital streamed or downloaded files (mine are all from iTunes purchases).

I am ceasing all further purchase of UMG downloads - or, indeed, CDs or any other media format - until I see an official acknowledgment from the company that this technology has been removed forever more, and that all downloads available from the iTunes Apple Store published by UMG have been replaced with versions without this horrible, audible watermarking.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: Wombat on 2015-12-23 00:01:39
Today i got me an old classic at Qobuz and when i was at it i got me a High Bitrate version since they have it at offer for 12€
Frank Sinatras "Strangers In The Night" by Universal: Link to Qobuz (http://www.qobuz.com/de-de/album/strangers-in-the-night-frank-sinatra/0060254719724)
On first listen it becomes clear it is far from a good sounding album but while i listened on i always had a very confusing feeling in my ears i may have related to some worn tape but different.
After a simple google i did hit Hydrogenaudio and the exclusive Universal Watermark tremolo may be it
Is this a victim of that Watermark crap? I really can't imagine someone sells something as Studio Master with that in.
In the DR database is the same album provided by Prostudiomasters and the Peak Numbers are somehow different. Is this a sign of added WM?
Could be interesting to have someone with the Prostudiomasters version to compare.

Code: [Select]
Qobuz:
DR        Peak        RMS    Duration Track
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DR10      -0.50 dB  -13.40 dB      2:36 01-Strangers In The Night (Album Version)
DR12      -0.35 dB  -14.66 dB      2:54 02-Summer Wind
DR12      -0.35 dB  -15.18 dB      3:57 03-All Or Nothing At All (Album Version)
DR12      -0.35 dB  -15.84 dB      2:46 04-Call Me (Album Version)
DR12      -0.50 dB  -15.55 dB      2:16 05-You’re Driving Me Crazy! (Album Version)
DR13      -0.49 dB  -16.78 dB      3:18 06-On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever) (Album Version)
DR12      -0.35 dB  -15.15 dB      2:31 07-My Baby Just Cares For Me (Album Version)
DR12      -0.35 dB  -13.44 dB      2:10 08-Downtown (Album Version)
DR13      -0.35 dB  -14.80 dB      2:09 09-Yes Sir, That’s My Baby (Album Version)
DR12      -0.78 dB  -14.59 dB      2:26 10-The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Album Version)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Prostudiomasters:
DR        Peak        RMS    Duration Track
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DR10      -0.42 dB  -13.40 dB      2:36 01-Strangers In The Night (Album Version)
DR12      0.00 dB  -14.66 dB      2:54 02-Summer Wind
DR12      -0.28 dB  -15.18 dB      3:57 03-All Or Nothing At All (Album Version)
DR12      -0.37 dB  -15.84 dB      2:46 04-Call Me (Album Version)
DR12      -0.55 dB  -15.55 dB      2:16 05-You’re Driving Me Crazy! (Album Version)
DR13      -0.51 dB  -16.78 dB      3:18 06-On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever) (Album Version)
DR12      -0.17 dB  -15.15 dB      2:31 07-My Baby Just Cares For Me (Album Version)
DR12      -0.15 dB  -13.44 dB      2:10 08-Downtown (Album Version)
DR13      -0.02 dB  -14.79 dB      2:09 09-Yes Sir, That’s My Baby (Album Version)
DR12      -0.56 dB  -14.59 dB      2:26 10-The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Album Version)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Somehow i can't upload a 14sec, 5MB sample in the Uploads forum "413 Request Entity Too Large"
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: Wombat on 2015-12-23 01:12:55
Upload still doesn't work. Temporarily here: http://www62.zippyshare.com/v/DDv8G3En/file.html (http://www62.zippyshare.com/v/DDv8G3En/file.html)
Edit: Most prominent on seconds 3-5
Did i read correctly that this Watermark is different for every reseller?
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: Wombat on 2015-12-24 14:46:12
Qübuz support answered and claims no watermarking is used. Still 2 questions left. Why are the files different at Prostudiomasters against Qobuz and why does it sound so bad to me. Anyone did a listen? Moderators may remove the link i gave abvove.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: Porcus on 2015-12-25 01:24:42
Qübuz support answered and claims no watermarking is used.


How do they know?

(I have not listened, I do not have any other version.)
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: greynol on 2015-12-25 01:42:37
Moderators may remove the link i gave abvove.

I don't see why if it's under 30 seconds.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: Wombat on 2015-12-25 01:55:29
How do they know?

I don't trust anyone from these resellers anymore also. I have a really high amount of reclamations cause of lack of QC.
Even if someone knows i doubt they will admit it. From the links i did read Universal uses different watermarks for every reseller
to have some kind of control and didn't offer to stop this procedure.

I don't see why if it's under 30 seconds.

Ok, i just feel uncomfortable to have anything at such a hoster. I really want to know why i couldn't upload it here. I tried with Edge and firefox but the same error.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: greynol on 2015-12-25 03:57:14
You should be able to upload here:
https://www.hydrogenaud.io/forums/index.php?showforum=35 (https://www.hydrogenaud.io/forums/index.php?showforum=35)
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: Wombat on 2015-12-25 15:33:31
Somehow i can't upload a 14sec, 5MB sample in the Uploads forum "413 Request Entity Too Large"


You should be able to upload here:
https://www.hydrogenaud.io/forums/index.php?showforum=35 (https://www.hydrogenaud.io/forums/index.php?showforum=35)

Where do you think i tried before? Still the same error...
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: eric.w on 2015-12-25 20:41:33
Wombat, there are two versions of Downtown on iTunes: "Strangers in the Night" and "Strangers in the Night (Expanded Edition)".

I listened to the 30 second previews, and the "Expanded edition" one has a significantly different EQ than your clip, but the other version sounds close to yours. Maybe it's worth ABXing the iTunes sample against your copy.

I don't hear anything wrong with your clip but I'm not really sure what to listen for.
Title: Universal MG embed an audible watermark in downloads (article@post#30)
Post by: Wombat on 2015-12-25 21:00:58
Like others before descriped it something like a vibrato added. In this case we have an old tape that is far from perfect so the problem may be already embedded and not something additional so i may be completely wrong.
I have no other version and the best would really be to have the Prostudio version to compare.
I find it strange they have different peak values against Qobuz.
There is a page with a clear sample to try: http://www.mattmontag.com/music/universals-audible-watermark (http://www.mattmontag.com/music/universals-audible-watermark)
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