This creepy video shows you what your favorite songs lose when compressed to MP3s

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Many of us take MP3s for granted without realizing it’s not actually how a musician wanted their music to sound. MP3s are so successful as an audio format because of their compact size, which is achieved by compressing the waveform into something 10 times smaller, thus losing many nuances that can only be heard on the original finished track. Thus we bring you news of The Ghost In The MP3, a site created by Ryan Maguire, who is a Ph.D student in Composition and Computer Technologies at the University of Virginia Center for Computer Music. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate just what is lost in translation when you convert a song to MP3. Maguire explains:

“‘moDernisT’ was created by salvaging the sounds and images lost to compression via the MP3 and MP4 codecs. The audio is comprised of lost mp3 compression material from the song “Tom’s Diner” famously used as one of the main controls in the listening tests to develop the MP3 encoding algorithm. Here we find the form of the song intact, but the details are just remnants of the original. The video is the MP4 ghost of a corresponding video created in collaboration with Takahiro Suzuki. Thus, both audio and video are the “ghosts” of their respective compression codecs.”

For reference, here is the original (compressed) song Maguire used, “Tom’s Diner” by Susanne Vega:

And now, his version: