An Update on UMG Watermarks

Today, 8 years after first complaining about Spotify sound quality issues, I'm happy to report there may finally be some relief coming for audiophiles.

It appears that watermarks are gradually disappearing from the Universal catalog. The following tracks have undergone a marked improvement, first noticed in mid-June 2019:

They used to have a distinct watermark, and now they don't. Importantly, these tracks come from the back catalog. They're not merely new tracks that were delivered under the latest watermarking policy.

The following tracks, for example, have not improved:

(The Elton John track is one of my favorite specimens — absolutely disgusting.)

Hopefully this continues and watermarks will disappear from more of the back catalog.  I've got a lot of Stevie Wonder and DMX to catch up on.

4 ResponsesLeave a Reply

  1. RussellH

     /  July 27, 2019 Quote

    Wow, that's great news! I wish there were some way to catalog what has been fixed. It would be great to create some kind of detector/crawler to create a database of watermarked tracks.

  2. Chris

     /  August 19, 2019 Quote

    Thanks for this Matt. In your last post about this you referenced a MATLAB script to attempt to smooth out the watermark. Is that script open source? And would it be possible for that script to analyze an audio file and determine if the file contains the watermark?

  3. Moongrazer

     /  August 29, 2019 Quote

    I feel like I'm still hearing the watermark on Piano Concerto No 1. It's subtle - but it sounds like there's still some fluttering noticeable in those opening crescendos. Not having the previous version to compare it to, I don't know how much has changed.

  4. Hi Chris, just sent you an email.

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