The closest I could think of is "low quality" but that is not as specific as I'd like, it could also mean that the music is bad.
I like this song, but you should really get the CD. This sounds _______
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Lo-fi, from low fidelity:
a type of sound recording which contains technical flaws that make the recording sound different compared with the live sound being recorded, such as distortion, hum, background noise, or limited frequency response.
In digital audio, the term "lo-fi" usually refers to an audio file with a lower bit rate or sampling rate, and thus a lower sound quality.
From The Free Dictionary (emphasis mine):
- (Electronics) electronics a. an undesired change in the shape of an electromagnetic wave or signal b. the result of such a change in waveform, esp a loss of clarity in radio reception or sound reproduction
Distortion can be caused by a variety of methods, one of which is downsampling (which is digitally analogous to pixelation). Overuse of lossy compression can also cause distortion. It covers all use cases of "bad audio" that is not related to the actual music being played.
Another (slightly more technical) option is "lossy". Reference
You may be listening to a sound that has been bitcrushed. This is an effect that can make something sound like it has been produced with an 8-bit or 16-bit soundcard. Listen to the sounds from this video for an example of what I'm talking about.
This is the generic term, applicable to any digital medium when describing some artefacts of low resolution.
More technically, aliasing is the stepping between one digital sample and its neighbour. In imaging, it manifests as stepping from a pixel of one colour to the next pixel ("pixellated"); in audio, it manifests as stepping from one displacement to the next.
Source: any good dictionary
- simple past tense and past participle of overcompress
Since data compression is the actual phenomenon that causes the "audio pixelation", this is what you should refer to.
I humbly submit warbled. I can't find a dictionary definition, but as the Google search shows it is definitely in use as the kind of thing you're looking for, and to me personally it refers to the kind of distortion you get on a bad GSM connection.
Pro: Unwanted artifacts of digital storage and processing of music are often called glitches and are highly analogous to pixelation in practice: usually to be avoided, but occasionally used for effect.
Pro: The meaning of glitchy is quite intuitive, even when encountered for the first time.
Con: Not really analogous to pixelation from a technical standpoint.
The first word I thought of was "grainy". This is often applied to pictures rather than sound, and some of the dictionaries I looked at only had the visual definition.
From the Oxford Dictionaries:
(Of sound, especially recorded music or a voice) having a rough or gravelly quality: the grainy sound of bootleg cassettes
As "image is to pixalated" is an expression of an image in binary pixal (vs. point) and a song's equivalent of a binary digital representation of song is also 'digitized'
If pixelated is used as an adj. E.G.;'Man that image is totally pixelated, it looks like a bunch of blocks". In that case pixelated to image would be like distorted to song:
I believe the most commons sense iterpretation is the first answer though: DIGITIZED
Per Oxford Dictionaries, meanings 1.1 and 1.2:
The meaning presumably comes from the mechanical analog audio storage medium, but also carries forward to the CD (optical medium) reference given, e.g. due to scratching.
It may be less applicable for a digitally recorded file stored on another medium (e.g. a flash disk), as the distortion usually occurs during read from the moving medium's player.
An image becomes pixelated when the density of pixels becomes low enough for humans to see them. An audio becomes decimated when the speed of samples become low enough for humans to hear them.
"Decimated" is the most semantically correct term, IMHO. Though I've never heard an audio engineer or musician use the term.
I'd say "Down/Under-sampled is the next closest that would be used by a non-scientist. It's meaning is further away because it implies a comparison to another state. Under what? Where "Pixelated" and "Decimated" do not.
"Aliased" is more general, and able to refer to both pixelated and decimated. "Low-fidelity" is much more general referring to any number of defects.
Anything to do with compression or bit-crushing are good guesses. But they refer to reduction of precision in other dimension. Image analog to that is messing with the number colors that can be present in an image.
I would say that "pixelated" refers to an image that is "low resolution", which could be for a variety of reasons. So comparing an image to a song using "pixelated" for the image would be looking for a property of a song (music or generically "audio") that describes its "resolution". While such a property probably exists (I am not an audio engineer or even a hobbyist), it's probably not the property the OP really means to describe.
"Low quality" works for an image, and even works well when describing "audio", but as @Shel points out, it is not specific enough to describe the music or the song because a "low quality" song would most certainly be thought to describe the song in a different way than intended.
But taken in the context of the statement in the question:
I like this song, but you should really get the CD. This sounds (like a) "low quality" (recording).
almost works because the statement is clearly a recommendation of the quality of the song itself.
Some alternate wordings could be:
I like this song, but you should really get the CD. The sound of this (recording) is "low quality".
I like this song, but you should really get the CD. This recording is "low quality".
In a different context, the simple statement "This sounds low quality", may not work:
Oh, this song, I don't like it, it sounds low quality.
"Rough", "scratchy", "distorted" all work seem to work pretty well in most cases, but again, not related to "pixelated".
The correct answer is, of course, simply
or perhaps "poorly compressed"
If you have to compress a track to send to a friend, and it turns out crappy, ie if you compressed it too much, there is one - and only one - phrase you use to describe that, you say
Occasionally the word "overcompressed" might be used. 90% of the time a simple phrase like "compressed to much" or "made too small" is used.
Adding this answer for completeness:
Source and SO moderated discussion here:
However, it doesn't fit with the example sentence, as CD's are sampled themselves...
Also, 'sampled' can refer to sampling in the spatial domain, i.e. pixels themselves.
I maintain that the (+17 votes) question itself is ambiguous.
Downsampled or Bit crushed
The difficulty when comparing the qualities of an image and a song is that they do not equate on a fundamental level. Therefore this comes down to interpretation.
A simple black and white image is a 3-dimensional signal. These three dimensions are x-position, y-position and brightness at this coordinate.
One way of representing a song, is by making an audio recording. A mono audio recording is a 2-dimensional signal. Where the dimensions are time and amplitude.
Pixelation of an image (or video) is a result of quantising the x and y position values. A piece of audio does not have these two traits, but the amplitude and time values can be quantised. Quantising the amplitude is known as amplitude resolution reduction or bit depth reduction in the digital audio domain. Quantising the the sample rate is known as decimation or sample rate reduction. Quantising of both at the same time is often referred to as bit crushing or downsampling a signal.
This video from an installation explores the analogy of video pixelation to audio bit crushing: http://tmblr.co/Z-a4pt1CeJ8B7 (most prominent after 2:30).