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Audio Playback Low Quality when played in Web browser [compared to when downloaded]

Explorer | Level 4

Hi, 

We are having a problem with auditioning audio through Dropbox on a web browser being really low quality (which it never used to be)

We've recently (the last week) been sending audio to clients, and when they click on the link to check it and play it it sounds terrible and distorted.   When the file is downloaded it sounds perfect.

I've had some clients also send me audio files to check and we experience the exact same problem (i.e. sounds super low bit rate when played through web browser, but perfect and high quality when we download and play).

Is there any way around this problem?
We need to be able to get clients to audition audio online for sign off rather than download it each time.

22 Replies

Re: Audio Playback Low Quality when played in Web browser [compared to when downloaded]

Dropboxer
Dropboxer
Hi Chris, we’d like to investigate this matter further. Would it be okay if we message you at the email associated with your forum profile?

Jay
Community Moderator @ Dropbox
https://dropbox.com/support


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Re: Audio Playback Low Quality when played in Web browser [compared to when downloaded]

Explorer | Level 4

Yes, please do slightly smiling face

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Re: Audio Playback Low Quality when played in Web browser [compared to when downloaded]

Explorer | Level 3

Hi, we have exactly the same issue, fine on desktop pc but sound awful on i pad / i phone.

 

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Re: Audio Playback Low Quality when played in Web browser [compared to when downloaded]

Helpful | Level 5

Adding to the list here.

Even with the quality set at maximum 256kb, the playback sounds awful. My ears know what low bitrate sounds like, but I can't say the same for my clients. I get similar responses of distortion issues, or lack of treble etc., and I have to make it habit now to always ask people not to preview the audio file using Dropbox.

My question is why such lossy compression on the audio?? Even when on an internet connection well capable of streaming 4k resolution video with no buffering issues, so don't see why audio should be a problem.

Issue appears to be global, but most users I work with run MacOS or iOS devices.

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Re: Audio Playback Low Quality when played in Web browser [compared to when downloaded]

Helpful | Level 5
Hi Jay – I’m experiencing this too. I’m a record producer, so I’m usually on the sending end, sending people things to listen to, not the one listening to things in Dropbox. But we have someone making a music video for us, and so I’m on the receiving end for the first time in a while. And the phased, low-bitrate thing is happening to me too. I went down this whole path thinking the student filmmaker was exporting the audio wrong, but it’s Dropbox that’s mangling the audio. I started googling, and I found this thread. Has there been a solution in the last year? I’ll keep googling in the meantime, but please let me know - thanks!
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Re: Audio Playback Low Quality when played in Web browser [compared to when downloaded]

Helpful | Level 5

I spoke direct with support on this which ended on the following reply:

"I will be sure to pass this along to our development team, for consideration on future improvements to our platform. 

When sharing a link with someone you will notice the URL ends in dl=0, this will bring them to the previews page. If you change this to dl=1, then it will download the file when they click on it rather than bringing them to the previews page. "

So there's a workaround - just ditch the web player all together.

I tried to dig deeper on WHY this was happening. As we know, a 256kb AAC should basically be at 'CD quality', which made me think that perhaps that's not what we're hearing even with the web player quality set to High - 256. After inspecting the active stream though (see screenshot), it appears the web player is doing its job correctly and playing the bitrate / quality selected. So that leads me to believe that all the nasty artifacts and low bitrate we're hearing is actually coming from a conversion process occurring prior. Which completely defeats the purpose of that quality control on the web player. Very frustrating.

Screen Shot 2019-07-27 at 2.55.11 PM.png

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Re: Audio Playback Low Quality when played in Web browser [compared to when downloaded]

Super User II

@aaronphshort wrote:

So that leads me to believe that all the nasty artifacts and low bitrate we're hearing is actually coming from a conversion process occurring prior.


That's correct. When viewing or listening to files on the Dropbox website, you're getting a transcoded preview of the original file; not the original. This is by design. If you need to view or hear the original file in its unaltered state, it must first be downloaded to your computer and then opened.

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Re: Audio Playback Low Quality when played in Web browser [compared to when downloaded]

Helpful | Level 5
@Rich wrote:

That's correct. When viewing or listening to files on the Dropbox website, you're getting a transcoded preview of the original file; not the original. This is by design. If you need to view or hear the original file in its unaltered state, it must first be downloaded to your computer and then opened.


Of course transcoded, you wouldn't want a 80MB WAV buffering in the player. Just transcode at a slightly higher bitrate that's of reasonable listening quality Dropbox!

If a low-quality transcode is by design then people should not be mislead with a 256kb quality control on the player.

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Re: Audio Playback Low Quality when played in Web browser [compared to when downloaded]

New member | Level 2

I've found this thread after noticing a huge difference in preivewing quality over the last week or so.

My first question would be — Why, if I'm uploading 256kb VBR mp3s, would the player further compress that — if 256 satisfies its own streaming quaity standard (albeit the top tier)?

Second, is there a best practive work around for this in terms of the quality to upload at (I use these files as previews for clients and embedded streaming links on my Web site)?

Third, is this a limitation of a free account? I may be willing to upgrade to resolve this issue. I specifically use Dropbox over Gdrive as I find the web/mobile player preview is easier for end users to listen to the files without downloading. 

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Audio Playback Low Quality when played in Web browser [compared to when downloaded]
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