Debunking needed – anomalous mp3 recording distortion

Thomas1982

New Member
Hi,

I have a material that needs deeper explanation and help from Metabunk community. One of my acquaintances is a firm believer in paranormal (together with her family). She has had several strange experiences. Most of them could be explained by psychology. However, she gave me a recording which I would like to analyze with your help.

It is a cell phone recording of a song, which was played on a mp3 file stored in a personal computer. She has played this song many times and everything was normal. However, one time when she started it she has noticed that the whole song changed and sounded very strange. Vocals sounded distorted and ‘dark’. I am not buying her explanation – that something otherworldly has changed that recording, but I don’t have sufficient knowledge how mp3 files work and what technical problem could have caused this occurrence. This event happened to her twice while listening two different songs. At that time, she had an ordinary speaker attached to PC, which worked just fine and had no connection problem, as she claims.

I have compared undistorted version of the song with the distorted one. To me it seems that the distorted version is much slower than the normal. Therefore, the speed of playing the song may influence vocal distortion sound deeper and ‘darker’. However, I am not sure what technical process could influence and ‘change’ stored mp3 file. I would like to present her with explanation that is more plausible.

As a reference I am posting un-distorted version of the song: Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YTpjQLUwvM
and the distorted version: Source: https://vocaroo.com/i/s1q2SeLVOVDz

Please compare the part 1:44-3:05 of the undistorted version with the part of the distorted version 0:18-2:30.

I would like to hear your opinion.

Thanks.

PS – sorry for grammar, as I am not a native English speaker
 

DasKleineTeilchen

Active Member
To me it seems that the distorted version is much slower than the normal.
and I believe thats all there is. I sped up the file to 1.5X and it sounded almost like the original one. contrary I slowed the youtube original in browser and that on the other hand sounded almost like the "distorded" one. do you know which player she used on her PC? because sometimes its easy to mistook some playerelements as something what theyre not, like for instance slow/fast-play buttons as skip to/back-to-song-buttons as illustrated here with VLC-media (a very popular player):

vlc.jpg

and as it turns out, one click on the slower-button at youtube aka one on the faster at VLC, and they sound identical vice versa

speed.jpg
This event happened to her twice while listening two different songs.
I could bet that she just accidently hit the slow-button. or she just messes with you.
However, I am not sure what technical process could influence and ‘change’ stored mp3 file.
None. its a file which doesnt change itself just-like-that at random to suddenly sound different with the same parameters at playing. and thats the only thing that can change, the parameters of the player which plays that file, like increasing the speed.
I would like to present her with explanation that is more plausible
thats all I got.
 

Thomas1982

New Member
and I believe thats all there is. I sped up the file to 1.5X and it sounded almost like the original one. contrary I slowed the youtube original in browser and that on the other hand sounded almost like the "distorded" one. do you know which player she used on her PC? because sometimes its easy to mistook some playerelements as something what theyre not, like for instance slow/fast-play buttons as skip to/back-to-song-buttons as illustrated here with VLC-media (a very popular player):

Thanks for the effort. I thought that mp3 files could have technical malfunction that would slow the recording. However, it seems that the answer lies in a player. If she didn't played it at slow speed maybe it was some other problem, who knows. I will ask her what player she uses on her computer and did she accidentally played it at slower speed but I doubt that she will remember or admit something like that.
I have played the un-distorted version of the song slower and vocal do get distorted. And when I played the distorted version faster the rhythm sounded more similar to the un-distorted version, however vocals remained distorted. I guess that by playing the recorded version of the distorted song you want get vocals sound un-distorted. I think that part of the problem might be also in quality of speakers.
I guess that psychology also play an important role in this case. As my acquaintance is convinced that the distorted voice if of foreign origin to me it seems that it is just a distorted version of the original vocals.
 
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Whitebeard

Senior Member.
MP3 files can be corrupted, but this normally only when being transfered from one device to another, if there is an interuption in the transfer process; or if they are being converted from one format / bit rate to another - normally this is a user error caused by mismatched settings or the like. However the normal result of this corruption is that the file wont play full stop and an error message on the play back device / software.

Occasionally a softwear glitch can corrupt a file, eg I sometimes have issues with Power MP3 converter that causes the MP3 to phase badly after conversion. But I agree with Mick, this sounds like this being played at the wrong speed, it also sounds to me like this an 'airchecked' recording of an MP3 rather than the original, as I'm sure I can hear other ambient noise in the 'corrupted' version and maybe even some handling noise. Could this be an attempt at a deliberate hoax?
 

Thomas1982

New Member
Occasionally a softwear glitch can corrupt a file, eg I sometimes have issues with Power MP3 converter that causes the MP3 to phase badly after conversion. But I agree with Mick, this sounds like this being played at the wrong speed, it also sounds to me like this an 'airchecked' recording of an MP3 rather than the original, as I'm sure I can hear other ambient noise in the 'corrupted' version and maybe even some handling noise. Could this be an attempt at a deliberate hoax?

Yeah, I also thought that she maybe deliberately made that recording, but I am not good at detecting a lie. She seems to me very convinced at what she says.
What do you mean by 'airchecked'? Ambient noise in the background is probably because the sound was recorded with a cell phone so quality is low.
 

Tumeni

New Member
An 'aircheck' usually refers to a recording taken of a live radio broadcast, recorded over-the-air - i.e. the radio station has transmitted it, an end-user has received it with a receiver, and they've either placed a microphone in front of the speaker, or connected a recording device to a line output
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Here is additional info:

- distorted recording (recorded with cell phone while playing mp3) is 5 years old
- mp3 was played on windows media player
- 'incident' happened twice with two different songs

I don't think you are going to get any firm answers if it was five years ago. I think it's sufficient to say that playback speed can be changed, and this might have been done accidentally, or as a prank. Your friend seems predisposed to interpret things as being paranormal, but there's far more likely technological explanations that need to be eliminated before going there.
 

Thomas1982

New Member
I don't think you are going to get any firm answers if it was five years ago. I think it's sufficient to say that playback speed can be changed, and this might have been done accidentally, or as a prank. Your friend seems predisposed to interpret things as being paranormal, but there's far more likely technological explanations that need to be eliminated before going there.

I think that is a good and fair remark. I doubt that she will change her view on that case. Maybe I am to eager to debunk this one...
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Here is additional info:

- distorted recording (recorded with cell phone while playing mp3) is 5 years old
- mp3 was played on windows media player
- 'incident' happened twice with two different songs
windows media player can be changed too. although it's not quite 'accidental', unless her kid (or someone) was playing with it without her knowledge.
3-9-2018 3-40-11 PM.png
 

Svartbjørn

Senior Member.
Thanks for the effort. I thought that mp3 files could have technical malfunction that would slow the recording

Easiest way to test that would be to have her send you the file itself and you listen to it on your end. If its not distorted then you can rule out tampering with the file. If it is, then youll have the file available to open up in audio software to see if someone's changed the playback speed or otherwise messed with the recording.
 

Thomas1982

New Member
Everyone, thanks for the help. You really did help me sort out possible solutions of the problem. It seems to me that we are left with four scenarios:

1. Mp3 file was corrupted - I can't check that as she doesn't have it anymore. She claims that before that incident and after it the song was ok. I think this scenario is not likely.
2. Mp3 was deliberately played on slow motion so it sounds 'mysterious'
3. Somehow she accidentaly played the file on slow motion - that would explain a lot, but how would settings go back to normal after that as she didn't mention that she was changing player settings after the 'incident'. I doub't that someone messed wit her as she doesn't have kids, sieblings or roommates living with her.
4. There was somekind of a player/computer technical bug that caused the song to sound distorted/garbled - (if you google 'windows media player plays slow' you get articles which say that wmp can occasionaly play slow due to various factors). Who knows what was done on a computer during the 'incident'.

I would go with the number 4 (with this I presume that she is not a manipulator but I can't be 100% sure of that).
 
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