Old 10-10-2018, 05:47 AM   #1
Tubeguy
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Default Listenning VS. downloading music quality from YT

This has bothered me for a few years now. If I listen to music from YT and than I download it, the quality is always slightly worse. I don't do any conversions because those are even worse, just download the highest bitrate I can. From what I've found out, the YT audio quality doesn't go below 128k.
But when I measure the frequency response of played music, it is for example 15.8k. When I download it, it drops to 15k. Not much but I can hear the difference, so there must be something else going on. I find nothing on the Net, to explain this "phenomena".
Anyone knows more about this? Why directly downloaded file should sound different?

I download very little, usually an obscure music that's not available for sale. So far I've been recording to tapes, it still sounds better than downloads but would be nice to have files stored in the original quality even though it's only 128kbs.

Last edited by Tubeguy; 10-10-2018 at 05:53 AM.
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Old 10-10-2018, 06:04 AM   #2
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Streaming is adaptive. If the line is good, you can get highest quality. If the line is not so good, the streaming server will send you a lower bitrate file, to avoid dropouts.

I think Youtube also takes browser version into account, since older browsers don't support the newer codecs.

All in all, it's a pretty complex mechanism. And it isn't documented, AFAIK.

That leads us to the question: how do you download from YT?

I use a python script and that seems to download the best version. But I haven't really looked at it, since I don't download from YT a lot and when I do, I simply accept the quality I get. Years ago, It used to be a lot worse, IIRC.
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Old 10-10-2018, 11:48 AM   #3
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As far as I know you can't directly download from YouTube. So unless you download as a lossless format* you're getting lossy-to-lossy conversion... an additional generation of lossy compression. And, since it was probably uploaded in a lossy format, you're probably on the 3rd generation of lossy compression.

Quote:
But when I measure the frequency response of played music, it is for example 15.8k. When I download it, it drops to 15k.
Although many/most lossy compression algorithms throw-away the highest frequencies, that's usually not what you hear.

There are ways to make MP3 retain the higher frequencies but a low-bitrate MP3 will still sound like a low-bitrate MP3, and forcing it to retain frequencies that you're probably not going to hear anyway will force it to throw-away something else and it will probably sound worse!



* Of course, downloading as lossless doesn't mean you're getting a true-lossless file. You're just avoiding additional lossy compression.
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Old 10-10-2018, 12:12 PM   #4
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In Windows I keep a 32 bit portable install of REAPER setup with WASPI Loopback as the audio device. Then, I can open REAPER, arm a stereo track, and record anything I'm hearing, at the same quality as I'm hearing it. Only drawback is that it is real time, so to capture a 5 minute song, it will take 5 minutes.
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:04 PM   #5
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Right, so it sounds like it's not possible to download direct stream than.
I guess I could just record directly to PC but the reason I choose to go to a tape is because tape makes mp3 sound better to my ears. It smooths out the rough edges and re-EQs it. I believe that in a way it substitutes some of the lost MP3 frequencies with light distortion and saturation therefore filling the "holes". The HF does sound better but even than I can hear some information missing particularly on cymbals. It is an improvement though.
I use Nakamichi tape deck going through Soundcraft mixer to do it with.
Probably many would say this is degradation, not improvement but my ears like it so I do it.
It would be nice to be able to download original stream because even recording to PC is not exactly the same quality.
But I must say that some streams seem to be better than others. This would explain the adaptive stream "cyrano" mentioned. I never thought of that.

And just to add, I realized how lazy I got. Back in the day recording albums real time was normal practice. Now a download takes couple a seconds so recording has become tedious thing to do but in reality it shouldn't be. In a way I miss the days when I had to put some effort to things, it all had more value to it.

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Old 10-10-2018, 09:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tubeguy View Post
It would be nice to be able to download original stream because even recording to PC is not exactly the same quality.
If you use the WASPI Loopback driver in REAPER, it is capturing the stream digitally as it is being played.

In essence it is duplicating the stream and sending one copy of it direct to a wave file on your computer, and the other copy to your audio device to play it on your speakers.
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Old 10-11-2018, 04:29 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DVDdoug View Post
As far as I know you can't directly download from YouTube. So unless you download as a lossless format* you're getting lossy-to-lossy conversion... an additional generation of lossy compression. And, since it was probably uploaded in a lossy format, you're probably on the 3rd generation of lossy compression.
There isn't a lossless format on the server...

It's video, not audio. Video is always compressed and so is the audio in the stream.

"Direct download" is a bit of a semantic trap here. It doesn't mean much. Sure, there's no ftp, it's streaming. But most people use the word "downloading" to differentiate from listening to a stream.

And a stream can be damaged on it's way to the client. It's UDP, not TCP. No packets are retransmitted if they are lost on the way. But in general, packet loss isn't a problem and never has been, unless one of the routers or lines on the path between your computer and youtube is defective.

If you want quality, just avoid youtube.
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Old 10-11-2018, 06:19 AM   #8
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Wireshark say's it's TCP FYI.

I checked a couple videos I just uploaded this week. I uploaded them as 1080p/60fps/30000kbs and that is what shows when I play it and best I can tell (other than the video bit rate being lowered) that's what's streaming to me, however, if I go into video manager and download a copy, it's a different file @128kbs/1280x720 and not what I seeing when I stream FWIW.

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Old 10-11-2018, 08:41 AM   #9
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You're probably right, as long as your provider doesn't fastlane youtube.

Mine does.

But it's interesting to know that they serve another format when you download your own video with the Youtube tool. At least, that's what I suppose "Video manager" is?

I've got just 1 vid up on the tube, so it's all speculation from my side
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Old 10-11-2018, 08:53 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyrano View Post

But it's interesting to know that they serve another format when you download your own video with the Youtube tool. At least, that's what I suppose "Video manager" is?
Video manager and creator studio are all the features to manage videos, downloading it is just one of those features which I didn't even know existed until the other day.
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Old 10-11-2018, 10:28 AM   #11
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It's a moving target, Karbo. I had to write a document with upload specs a few years ago. It was obsoleted in six months...

I wrote UDP, because I checked a while ago because my provider was doing odd things. A certain part of Belgium couldn't see new sites when we launched them. They had to wait several weeks. I suspected a local DNS that didn't update, but it wasn't as simple as that. In one case, several computers on the same local network couldn't reach the site, but one old lump could. I never found out exactly what was happening, but was told by a provider tech something went wrong with traffic shaping.

What I don't like about YT are the ads. They've become so intrusive that I often just close the window and don't bother with it. And then there's Google trying to patent open source codecs. I have no sympathy left for Google, hence also for YT.

If you're interested in quality, go watch Vimeo. I do watch YT, but for the oddballs, like Fran Blanche* and AVE and a few others. Quality of the vid is sufficient and as long as I can understand the narration, it's OK. If I'm feeling like seeing something, I turn to Vimeo and I'm amazed every time.

20, 30 years ago, I went to the movies several times a week. These days, I'm afraid to enter. Every time I come out of a movie theatre, my hearing needs an hour to recover from the sheer volume. And most movies suck, quite frankly, these days. It also seems I'm getting poorer, as I simply can't afford to go several times a week. 6 € parking, 9 € drinks, 16 € for a ticket, 30 € for a snack afterwards adds up like crazy. And the quality isn't there anymore.

* My memory's wasted. I remembered het as Fran Guidry... But that's a forum member here who also has a lot of YT vids worth watching. Luckily I checked first
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Old 10-11-2018, 10:32 AM   #12
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I have Vimeo (since 2008) but any worthwhile uploads exceed the free limits. Haven't seen an ad on YT for 2 years now, I purchased YT Premium since I use YT constantly and it's worth every penny to never see ads, ever - until you brought it up, I forgot they existed. I thought about upgrading my Vimeo account but my YT account is more for consumption and my Vimeo is just uploads etc. so it's harder to justify.
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Old 10-11-2018, 11:52 AM   #13
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When I need a YT download I'm using a command-line program called youtube-dl and Pazera Free Audio Extractor for lossless transcoding (webm -> Vorbis opus). (I'm sure there's also a frontend GUI for youtube-dl) Works like a charm. I've use a video from Fran Guidry in my example. Thanks Fran
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Old 10-11-2018, 12:18 PM   #14
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@Karbo

I've considered YT premium, but there's no sympathy anymore and I have to restrict paying accounts as I'm drowning in password management atm. Due to older & newer iOS devices, Macs and a few hardware key thingies. There's no solution that covers everything. I used to memorise all these passwords. That no longer works...
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Old 10-12-2018, 01:36 AM   #15
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I just don't understand why it isn't possible to capture what is being streamed to my PC. I mean it's there all ready, why can't the stream just be saved to a file instead of being dumped as it goes along.
I know nothing about programming, maybe it's not possible anymore for some reason. Some years ego I had some thing called Stream Capture that could capture any audio stream without converting it. Not a video though.
But I've spend a good time today looking for direct video streaming capture and came up with nothing.
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Old 10-12-2018, 02:42 AM   #16
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Capture it with OBS. the captured audio/video is same as the original but file size could be big.
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Old 10-12-2018, 03:00 AM   #17
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I dont' need the video just audio. But I've found something just now. It's a plugin for Firefox FlashGot. It can download MP4 video or m4A audio only.
It's a slow download so it looks like it captures direct stream. From one test I did, the audio was exactly the same as when streamed through browser.
Only problem is those are m4a files and for some reason I can't copy them to another directory. It's weird, not sure why. Also only WLC player can play them and they simply won't load to anything else, not even video converters. I'm dumbfounded by this.
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Old 10-12-2018, 03:49 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tubeguy View Post
I dont' need the video just audio. But I've found something just now. It's a plugin for Firefox FlashGot. It can download MP4 video or m4A audio only.
It's a slow download so it looks like it captures direct stream. From one test I did, the audio was exactly the same as when streamed through browser.
Only problem is those are m4a files and for some reason I can't copy them to another directory. It's weird, not sure why. Also only WLC player can play them and they simply won't load to anything else, not even video converters. I'm dumbfounded by this.
Load it into reaper and save it as a wav
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Old 10-12-2018, 05:21 AM   #19
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Reaper couldn't load the m4a. But I've found a solution so this might come handy for others. Using FlashGot to download the m4a file, than convert it to anything I want in VLC player. Slow process but works perfectly (so far while testing some smaller files). I'll report back if there is a problem with big files so fingers crossed.
Took me a while but will be worth it for those few normally unobtainable gems.
EDIT next day - did some large files without problems. It works well.

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