When I uploaded some videos to YouTube last year, I encountered some heinous audio problems. YouTube was forcing some really draconian compression on the audio, and it turned me off from the site.
After considerable uproar from users, the forced compression was removed. So I begrudgingly uploaded my videos again.
This past summer, I put new audio tracks on my videos, and I wanted to update them on all the sites to which I uploaded. The difference in user experience between then and now was drastic, and it forced me to update the 2008 shootout. High definition is now the norm, and each site handles it differently, some better than others.
This time around, I stuck with uploading MPEG-2 files, forgoing the comparison with MP4.
Here’s how each site performed.
YouTube has really stepped up. I was expecting my videos to look like total ass — and yes, the upload process does create low-quality versions for users with low bandwidth — but I was nicely surprised to see very little to no loss in picture quality. The audio also remained in stereo.
The best part of the user experience was not having to hack my videos to accommodate YouTube’s processes. My opinion has pretty much changed 180 degrees.
Myspace, on the other hand, is worse for wear. Myspace Video also supports HD, but the post-upload process is too dumb to figure out whether something is really in HD. My 4:3 videos were stretched to fit the 16:9 view port, making the videos look odd.
The audio quality remained high, but the fact YouTube and Facebook can get aspect ratios correct pretty much reveals how far Myspace needs to go to catch up.
In 2008, Facebook scored high on picture quality but low on audio quality. Now the audio quality has caught up with the video quality. Before, the audio was converted to mono, but now it’s kept in stereo, with little or no degradation.
Bandwidth issues pretty much took Last.fm out of the running. My video uploads timed out after a few minutes, and with an upload transfer rate easily a fraction of the other sites, Last.fm cannot be considered a serious contender in online video. So the old videos from 2008 are just going to have to suffice.
As much as I was surprised to praise Myspace last year, I’m just as surprised to turn around my opinion about YouTube.
YouTube effectively addressed the issues that hampered my user experience a year ago, and I don’t hate the site any more. (That’s not to say I love it, either.) Myspace, however, lost out, and I’m not confident in its ability to catch up. Facebook also gave some impressive results, so I’m more inclined to post on Facebook than to Myspace. Last.fm? It has bigger issues with its artists services on the whole, something the site has never really managed to address satisfactorily.
At some point, I may try other video sharing sites, but for my current needs, YouTube and Facebook suffice.