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Author Topic: New snake oil? FiDef  (Read 1169 times)

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Offline Ben Turnbull

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New snake oil? FiDef
« on: June 16, 2017, 03:37:34 PM »
http://www.fidef.com/

You read it and see what you think.
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Re: New snake oil? FiDef
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2017, 04:17:48 PM »
Quote
In the never-ending quest for better sound, inventors, scientists and engineers have consistently ignored the most important, most sophisticated processor in the entire capture/playback chain:

THE HUMAN BRAIN

Seems like a good place to close the page.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: New snake oil? FiDef
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2017, 04:23:17 PM »
Looks pretty sketchy.  The website is nothing but flowery audiophile language terms with zero explanation of its audio engineering basis.

I thought it was anther robo/auto-mastering service (checked a few of those out and none are much to write home about), then found the only seemingly factual information on the site on their technology page which basically says nothing of substance about it except for this list of what it claims not to be:

Quote
What FiDef is not:

3D or spatialization effects
Active noise control/cancellation
Amplitude manipulation
Chorusing
Compression, limiting or dynamics processing
Dithering or redithering
Echo or reverse echo
Encoding or decoding
EQ or filtering
Flanging
Harmonic manipulation/restoration
Modulation
Phase or power factor manipulation
Psychoacoustic masking
Repacking
Resynthesis
Sample rate or word length change
Tape or analog simulation
Time domain modification
Wave field synthesis

I then found this, which is pure insult-

Quote
We know that, for many people, it’s hard to believe anything that isn’t in line with the knowledge handed down from past practitioners. Especially for hard science-based engineers, such as those in electrical, mechanical and materials disciplines, if it’s not in a text book, it’s suspect at best and simply dismissed at worst. At FideliQuest, we all have healthy skepticism but are open to new concepts even if we have not yet fully characterized all the underlying science. After all, that’s what discovery is all about.

Sounds like a cult!

Quote
Are you a healthy skeptic? Good!

More like- "are you a unquestioning blind believer?  Open your wallet!"

I'll hold on making final judgement, supposedly files can be uploaded for trial processing, but their woo-woo pseudo-science approach and total lack of any info on what it really does raises huge red flags and makes me quite suspicious.
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Offline capnhook

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Re: New snake oil? FiDef
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2017, 04:34:56 PM »
Just sent in a single track.  Sez they'll send me one back.

I'll arrange a WeTransfer of the before and after tracks, if they send one back to me.

I should be able to invert the original, add it to the processed, and see what the resultant "null" information they are adding is.

Standby for a day or so....
« Last Edit: June 16, 2017, 05:16:37 PM by capnhook »
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Offline ~Jon Stoppable

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Re: New snake oil? FiDef
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2017, 06:45:39 PM »
Happily their site has two magic words:  "patent pending".  So, they have to pull down their pants and we get to look at them naked!

http://appft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PG01&p=1&u=/netahtml/PTO/srchnum.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=20160240212

The opening salvo:

Quote
A general opinion among audio engineers is that sounds recorded and reproduced with analog techniques give a more lifelike reproduction than do sounds that are recorded and reproduced with digital techniques. To fix such problems, especially with digital recordings, some engineers digitally simulate the distortions of analog recording gear in their recording, such as recording tape saturation and vacuum tube non-linearities. Engineers may also add such distortions to an otherwise digital recording by inserting analog gear (e.g., analog summing busses) into the digital recording chain. In addition, recording engineers may simply increase bit-depth and sample rate in an effort to fix the problem by increasing the data content of the recording.

That "general opinion" ain't worth the paper the patent application isn't printed on, but it's clear this will be an analog tape simulator.

Next we read they are talking about adding low-level noise.  What kind of noise?  Any kind of noise, it's a broadly written patent application!

But much later:

Quote
The creation of the tag starts with a tailored random noise source or other non-harmonic noise source (the "seed noise"). The seed noise can include an amplitude that rises slightly with frequency (e.g., between pink noise, which has flat amplitude across all audio frequencies, and white noise, which rises 3 dB per octave). For each frequency component found in the audio event, a band-limited section of the seed noise is added to the tag at an amplitude relative to the amplitude of the component found in the audio event--but at a sub-audible amplitude.

[0051] Filters can be used to limit the seed noise to approximately one-half octave below the component to two-and-one-half octaves above the component (the bands in the bass region are from one-half octave below to one-and-one-half octave above, because of the steep frequency response slope of the human ear and the mild filter curves). The total amplitude of the tag is thus generally in the range of -45 dB to -50 dB relative to the audio event. The audio event tag according to certain embodiments can be about 10 milliseconds wider than the audio event at high frequencies, and about 150 milliseconds wider at the bass frequencies, and can be on a sliding scale between high and low frequencies.

And there's the smoking gun.  They want to add noise that is gated by the frequency content of the program material, with its amplitude also modulated by it.

Now, I haven't looked under the hood of every VST tape sim on the market, but I have to believe there is prior art here.  That's because this is a very well-known and described phenomenon of magnetic tape recording--it only records an approximation of the original signal.

http://blackmerdesign.com/resources/how-to-bias-analog-tape-recorders/

Quote
If you put a tone through a tape recorder and watch the output on a spectrum analyzer, you will see that as the signal level is raised the noise rises up around it in a mountain, with peaks at the odd harmonics. The truth of the matter is that tape recording is shaped noise. It is a non-linear transfer process that produces noise-like sidebands for every frequency in a complex signal. This is a major componant of the tape sound.

That statement, in and of itself, is not prior art, but I gotta believe that Waves, UA, etc., are well aware of that and incorporated it into their tape sims.

Oh, but whoops:

Quote
Many years ago my father David told me of another, purely electronic, way to produce analog asparity by feeding band-shaped noise into the control port of a VCA, so that it’s gain is wandering around at a noise rate. (Of course noise is generally considered to be a Bad Thing in a gain control circuit and is specifically warned against in the literature of  That Corp., the present makers of the DBX-Blackmer VCA and RMS modules, & a great company.) Shaped noise sidebands appear as the signal “lights up” these gain changes. The noise envelope decays with the signal, as with tape.

Ouch.  Sorry, FiDef, your patent app is toast, and your black box is probably not as good as Blackmer's!

Offline voltronic

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Re: New snake oil? FiDef
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2017, 07:50:47 AM »
Here's how I imagine the patent law folks representing the big plugin companies will be responding:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rzRH11G3vc
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Offline ~Jon Stoppable

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Re: New snake oil? FiDef
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2017, 10:35:17 AM »
Nah they will either choose to respond to the patent application (if they are aware of it), or if the patent examiner doesn't do his job (this is rarely the case anymore, they are way too overworked) and issues the patent, they'll just ignore it.  What is FiDef gonna do, sue them for a product they had on the market before 2016?

And if they don't have that feature in their tape sim yet, all they gotta do is follow Blackmer's description of how to make one, then they can prove it's based on prior art and not the FiDef patent.

Offline voltronic

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Re: New snake oil? FiDef
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2017, 05:55:51 PM »
Nah they will either choose to respond to the patent application (if they are aware of it), or if the patent examiner doesn't do his job (this is rarely the case anymore, they are way too overworked) and issues the patent, they'll just ignore it.  What is FiDef gonna do, sue them for a product they had on the market before 2016?

And if they don't have that feature in their tape sim yet, all they gotta do is follow Blackmer's description of how to make one, then they can prove it's based on prior art and not the FiDef patent.

I was thinking of litigation going the other way around, like Monster Cable used to do to other companies on connector designs, except this one with some actual validity.

But I was also being completely facetious, and just looking for an excuse to post that clip. ::)
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Offline ~Jon Stoppable

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Re: New snake oil? FiDef
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2017, 09:00:47 PM »
I was never a fan of South Park and that clip is a good example:  the line "I'll sue you in England" doesn't make any sense, because of the "English rule" of civil suits would heavily punish Scientology for their litigious behavior.  Compare the entries for the US and UK on this page:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientology_and_law

There's a legal reason for the difference.

Offline voltronic

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Re: New snake oil? FiDef
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2017, 10:07:10 AM »
I was never a fan of South Park and that clip is a good example:  the line "I'll sue you in England" doesn't make any sense, because of the "English rule" of civil suits would heavily punish Scientology for their litigious behavior.  Compare the entries for the US and UK on this page:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientology_and_law

There's a legal reason for the difference.

I took that line to be a complete non sequitur, like lots of other stuff on South Park, such as my favorite example: "You go to hell and you die!"

But hey, if you want to take apart the legal discourse used by characters in a cartoon that includes singing Christmas poo and genetically engineered towels who like to get high, more power to ya.   
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Offline capnhook

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Re: New snake oil? FiDef
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2017, 10:41:13 AM »
Just sent in a single track.  Sez they'll send me one back.

I'll arrange a WeTransfer of the before and after tracks, if they send one back to me.

I should be able to invert the original, add it to the processed, and see what the resultant "null" information they are adding is.

Standby for a day or so....


Here's a track they sent back to me,  my original track, a "null" track of what they added to the original, a copy of this "null" track amplified +40dB, and a .jpg of their pricing.

Have fun, and make great tapes y'all.


https://we.tl/UG3ELl4vW2

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Offline ~Jon Stoppable

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Re: New snake oil? FiDef
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2017, 12:47:48 PM »
Well I guess if you don't expect humor to be clever--but then there is no joke in that clip at all really, other than the very predictable coming out bit.  Plus every lawyer would know that line didn't make sense, and about half of white males in America are lawyers, so that's a big chunk of their target market.

I just don't think they are good writers, the animation is terrible, and the VO work isn't very good either, except for the late Isaac Hayes.  Just never added up to much more than zero.

Anyway, on capnhook's sample, yeah they just added signal-modulated noise.  I wonder why their website says it wasn't tape simulation, when their patent clearly says that it is.  I guess if their website just said, "We're going to make your music noisier!" they wouldn't get too many sales.

If you want the extra lo-fi version, just master your recordings to cassette.


Offline Gutbucket

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Re: New snake oil? FiDef
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2017, 08:40:29 AM »
Thanks to Jon and Capt'n for the good sluth'n.
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Offline Ben Turnbull

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Re: New snake oil? FiDef
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2017, 06:41:57 PM »
Ding Ding. Everyone gets a cookie.  :yack:

Pretty much my take as to outcome but didn't have the "why" to back it up.

Thanks for the stimulating discourse.

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Re: New snake oil? FiDef
« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2017, 03:17:32 PM »
FiDef crafts cues that elicit a response in the brain. This has nothing to do with known audio science, rather a new form of neuroscience. Initial brain scan studies have proven the effectiveness of this process. This is just the beginning of what will be 50 years of research.

A tape simulator simply simulates the accidental distortions of magnetic tape. FiDef is not a tape simulator.

This first patent that you see printed is just a broad description of a first generation algorithm generator. Coming patents will reveal more detail; some proprietary information won't be placed in the public domain in the foreseeable future.

All the work we do is fine-tuned according to brain response. For more information surrounding the science, please feel to watch the TEDx talk that Dr. Roger Dumas (PhD, Cognitive Neuroscience) put on late last year.

Revealing our brain’s super-listening powers | Roger Dumas | TEDxMinneapolisSalon:
https://youtu.be/J4eOccE-rEY

Since the release of the TEDx talk, FiDef has hit the marketplace, and we continue to understand more and more about the implications of FiDef on the human brain.

To hear FiDef difference for yourself, feel free upload a track to be FiDef'd and emailed back to you via www.fidef.com

Offline morst

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Re: New snake oil? FiDef
« Reply #15 on: July 03, 2017, 06:51:46 PM »
This has nothing to do with known audio science, rather a new form of neuroscience. Initial brain scan studies have proven the effectiveness of this process.
Fascinating, thanks for stopping by to check in.
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Offline morst

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Re: New snake oil? FiDef
« Reply #16 on: July 03, 2017, 07:32:47 PM »
OK so it's all about this Principle of Inverse Effectiveness theory.
Quote
Definition
The principle that signals from different sensory modalities presented simultaneously will be integrated in inverse proportion to their effectiveness when presented in isolation. Effectiveness is measured, for example, by counting the number of neural impulses generated by a given neuron in response to a visual stimulus alone, a tactile stimulus alone, and a visual and tactile stimulus in combination.
https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-3-540-29678-2_2577

OK now that I got that out of the way... I'm going to take issue with an analogy presented in Roger Dumas' Tedx talk.
"Lossy compression is to music what pixellation is to art"

https://youtu.be/J4eOccE-rEY?t=12m28s

Around 12:50, he is talking about lossy audio compression and comparing it to lowering the pixel resolution of an image.

Lossy audio compression is more like going from millions of colors to thousands of colors, than it is like reducing the number of pixels.

I get it that in Ted talks you only have a small amount of time, but this is an oversimplification.

He's talking about THE ORIGINAL using a digital image of the Mona Lisa as an example. I have never seen the actual Mona Lisa. Only representations of it. . . I'm just not sure this whole line of reasoning is not snake oil. Kinda smells like it...


While I'm here, I should not rip on him without balance. At 16:20, his slide suggests 5 ways to get more benefit from music, and I think that he's right on.

Live Music
Uncompressed recordings (he includes vinyl & cd's here, his perceptual issue seems to be mainly with lossy compression)
Loudspeakers
Group listening
Play an instrument


So you may be onto something... but to look more fully into the Principle of Inverse Effectiveness upon which FiDef seems to depend... I find this conclusion from Nicholas P Holmes's May 2009 abstract:
"I conclude that caution should be exercised when interpreting data that appear to follow the PoIE."
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19404728
Holmes, N.P. Brain Topogr (2009) 21: 168. doi:10.1007/s10548-009-0097-2

Oh and here's a previous one from Holmes 2007 published in Neuropsychologia:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0028393207002345
"I conclude that the law of inverse effectiveness only sometimes applies, and that the choice of statistical analysis can have profound effects on whether the data abides the law."



All the work we do is fine-tuned according to brain response. For more information surrounding the science, please feel to watch the TEDx talk that Dr. Roger Dumas (PhD, Cognitive Neuroscience) put on late last year.

Revealing our brain’s super-listening powers | Roger Dumas | TEDxMinneapolisSalon:
https://youtu.be/J4eOccE-rEY

Since the release of the TEDx talk, FiDef has hit the marketplace, and we continue to understand more and more about the implications of FiDef on the human brain.
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Offline admkrk

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Re: New snake oil? FiDef
« Reply #17 on: July 03, 2017, 09:40:11 PM »
I would take anything from TEDX with a grain of salt. I have watched a few, on various subjects, and do not find it very credible. Take this one, for example, on solar roadways:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvWTaqUvsfA
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Re: New snake oil? FiDef
« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2017, 10:38:47 PM »
FiDef crafts cues that elicit a response in the brain. This has nothing to do with known audio science, rather a new form of neuroscience. Initial brain scan studies have proven the effectiveness of this process. This is just the beginning of what will be 50 years of research.

That sounds to me like marketing speak for, "we're trying to market expectation bias."

If the process does something to the signal you should be able to demonstrate what it does. But everything, every sensory experience, including visual cues and the amount of money the product sells for "craft cues that [sic] elicit a response in the brain."

Are you willing to provide a sample for ABX testing?

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Re: New snake oil? FiDef
« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2017, 10:53:59 PM »
I don't doubt it has psychoacoustic effects.  That's not the point.  They stated clearly in their patent application that analog magnetic tape recording was perceived as euphonic, and they wanted to implement a noise-generating algorithm to enhance the perception of sound quality.  I don't think those facts are in dispute, since they are the basis of the patent application, in the plain (well as plain as patent apps get) English language.

So they can say that it's not a tape sim all they want, but it has the same stated design goal and an algorithm as stated in the patent application that achieves a very similar result.

So, practically, it's a tape sim, and even if they pretend it's not, the Blackmer page is prior art.  Period.  Take it to court, they will lose (well at least they should, juries are funny things).  Their patent isn't worth anything, in my not very humble opinion.

Now, if their current algorithm has proprietary stuff that's not in the patent, fine, but they either have to file a new patent app or keep that a secret forever, which is pretty hard to do given the quality of audio analysis tools these days.  Given that a member of TS already submitted a file and got the exact result anticipated by me based on their patent application, I kind of doubt their current algorithm is anything different.

It's fine if they want to say that adding noise to a signal makes it sound better.  Maybe I'd even agree with them (although I would not do so in the stated method myself, because I don't think that analog magnetic tape sounds better, but that's just me), but for some reason they are happy to say that in the patent application, but afraid to say that on their website.

They need to be honest with themselves, and resolve their gaping credibility gap between their website, the actual results of their processing, and their patent application.  Really, they are just one company in a very crowded market of plugin developers, many of whom are very happy to be completely forthcoming in the nature of their algorithms.

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Re: New snake oil? FiDef
« Reply #20 on: July 04, 2017, 12:13:25 PM »
Are you willing to provide a sample for ABX testing?

Yeah, they said send it in!



To hear FiDef difference for yourself, feel free upload a track to be FiDef'd and emailed back to you via www.fidef.com
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