Ask the Omnia Guy: How Do I Know if It's an MP3?

By Paul Kriegler on Oct 22, 2020 9:28:03 AM

Newsletter_Ask the Omnia Guy

Dear Omnia Guy,

My music director just downloaded a brand-new song from a record label. She swears it’s a WAV file. It sounds awful. We are using an Omnia.6 audio processor. Is there any way I can tell if a piece of audio was ever an MP3? A plugin or a program? 

Sorry to hear that. First off, kudos for being concerned about your source material.

While there’s no “automatic plugin” to detect if a piece of audio has been turned into an MP3, you can do spectral analysis.

Today’s DAWs/software editors allow you to look at the “Frequency Analysis” of the audio on the file if you select an entire file. On the left-hand photo below is a clean WAV copy of a song. On the right, a 192kbps MP3 file of the same file. While it doesn’t look like much of a difference, if you look closely at the “slope,” you can see a difference out past 18,000 Hz. This is what appears to be a mechanical “flatlining” of the audio.

omnia dude image 1 omnia dude image 2

If you’d like to use other programs, look for frequency analysis. For example, in Audacity, you would select the entire file and choose “Analyze” and then “Plot Spectrum.”

Of course, not having the original wave file to A/B against doesn’t help much, but if you see strange anomalies out past 18 or 19 kHz, and you hear “swishiness,” it’s pretty much a telltale sign, you may want to hunt for a better copy of that song. 

I wouldn’t be doing my job if I failed to mention that the Omnia 7, Omnia.9, and Omnia.11 audio processors, and Omnia Enterprise 9s, Omnia.SST, and the 9X/2 streaming software all have declipping or “undo” features that can help the sound of modern recordings that have been mastered with brickwall limiting or pure clipping. Fun fact: Our Omnia.SST software has a repair function called “delossifier.” 

Please email me, Paul Kriegler, aka the Omnia Guy, and ask your Omnia questions. We'll answer here in our Telos Alliance blog!  

Topics: Audio Processing, Omnia, broadcast audio processing

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