That's an interesting development! I've discovered that myself recently: the separate Ballades CD by DG doesn't have the audible watermarks so apparently they've reuploaded the content (most probably with a non-audible watermark), however the 17-CD Complete Chopin set that includes the same recording is still entirely messed up with the watermarks.
What's odd is that while the IDAGIO version used to be OK, it has apparently been replaced with the bad one! I canceled my IDAGIO subscription long ago due to it being buggy, the interface not intuitive and the still widespread lack of "album" notion seriously preventing me from liking it but it's disappointing that they were given the bad-watermarked DG-releases 😞
Seems like I will stick to Apple Music and might un-ban UMG releases.
This whole "crisis" actually opened my ears a lot to so many rather unknown musicians and labels and taught me there's probably too much big-name prejudice in the classical music world.
BTW, I am really impressed by the Harmonia Mundi label it is now my favorite. It would be hard for me to point a single record by that label which isn't excellent.
What a coincidence! I've also started with the Beethoven/Berg and Isabelle Faust. It's not surprising she now happens to be my favorite violin player! Everything she recorded is fantastic. Her Brahms, Dvorak, Mozart and the recent Mendelssohn concertos are my reference records for those concertos.
I'm so glad that I'm not alone on this. For me the issue has been most noticable on Decca recordings. And no, you don't have to be a audiophool to hear it. Dedicated listening in a quiet space or with headphones, reveals it clearly, particularly in sustained strings passages.
At the other end of the music spectrum, just started playing Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter “1 + 1” on my iPhone speakers (Apple Music) and since it begins with an introspective piano improvisation I could immediately hear even through the iPhone speakers the nasty sound trembling. Looking at the album info what a “surprise”: The Verve Music Group, a division of UMG.
FWIW the issue seems to be mostly fixed on Google Play Music, unfortunately it still exists on Youtube Music which is supposed to replace GPM at some point... but we at least have proof that it can be done, come on Spotify!
Being an audio engineer with years of experience in listening for small unregularities in audio content, I must admit that more and more and more songs reveal some disturbing artifacts on Spotify, which I've been using for many years. I have recently discovered a degrade in quality (as premium user) for instance in this song: https://open.spotify.com/track/2c3pvppnBfFRad6gOoMoJQ?si=jJ-qi0W0Ru-S_MIlijstTw
I definately cannot live with this, if it is deliberate degredation using watermarks - it is so Spotify??
I cancelled my Spotify account mainly because I get Google Music for free with my YouTube Premium subscription. However, for a while I had both and kept noticing how Spotify's audio quality sounded so much worse than Google's. It wasnt until trying out Tidal that I learned about the watermarking and realized that was what I was hearing on Spotify. The Spotify tracks I thought sounded terrible sounded just as bad on Tidal.
I'm not going to claim that Google Music doesnt have any watermarked music, but at the very least the tracks I've noticed the watermarks on with Spotify and Tidal dont have the watermarks on Google. I haven't come across any new watermarked tracks on Google either (for the genres I listen to).
So I guess I'll be sticking with Google Music unless the watermarking trend ever goes away. I really do miss Spotifys radio and discovery algorithm as they are far superior to Google's radio algorithms, but music quality means far more to me than those features.
I support record companies' rights to protect their intellictual property, but this is not the way to do it. Punishing people who are obtaining musically legally through streaming services is not going to reduce piracy, but instead is going to push those people to use less than legal means to obtain the undamaged versions of the music.
I stumbled upon this after getting pi$$ed off listening to DGG recordings on Spotify with what I hear as a weird warble. Especially noticeable on vocal and quiet strings. Same thing as this watermark discussed here?
There isn't a whole lot Spotify can do here afaik, they upload what they get, if it is watermarked, that's because the distributor/artist wanted it so. I could be wrong, but this is how I see the situation
Absolutely right @cryticalace, this is the label's mistake and shows a lack of respect for their wonderful recordings and listeners. I'm just hoping that one day Spotify will have sufficient influence to request the labels re-upload non-watermarked content. Fingers crossed!
I even listened to the "deluxe" version of the album, that is more well balanced than the original album. The audio quality is much better when listening to the same release on Apple Music - WHAT ARE YOU DOING SPOTIFY?? - forcing us to leave you?
Totally agree—with Coltrane it is criminal to be distracted by watermarks.
iTunes even has a "mastered for iTunes" version of this record, where the 24-bit masters have been directly converted to the AAC version. Not sure how important that is but it shows more respect for the music than watermarks.