Review: Fakin’ the Funk? Low-Bitrate Detection Utility
Your DJ music collection may be infected with tracks that lie about their bitrate. It’s not uncommon to discover MP3s, FLACs, or WAVs that say they are one bitrate, when they are really of a lower quality. But they can’t escape Dr. Funk’s diagnosis. The Fakin’ the Funk? DJ utility scans audio files for discrepancies between the encoded bitrate and the actual bitrate. The utility includes frequency spectrographs and automatic file renaming.
In today’s DJ Tools + Utilities review column, contributing writer Markkus Rovito takes the fake bitrate detection app for a spin. It may be what you need to banish the audio deceivers from your hard drive.
We’re giving away a free copy of this software, scroll down to the end to enter!
- Reviewed: Fakin’ the Funk?
- Price: 15.99 euros (~$20) to unlock unlimited use and lifetime updates. The free version identifies up to 100 fake files.
- Supported Audio Formats: Up to 24-bit audio files in MP3, MP4/M4A, OGG, OPUS, FLAC, WMA, AAC, ALAC, MPC, SPX, SFX, TTA, and WAV. (Does not work on DRM protected files.)
- System Requirements: Windows 7, 8, or 10; Mac OS 10.6 or later; or Linux Archlinux, Debian, Fedora, Frugalware, or Ubuntu.
The Problem: False Transcodes + Mislabeled Files
If you DJ with MP3s, and are careful to only have files of a certain bitrate in your collection, you’ve probably had some moments—perhaps many—when you play a track and make a face like you just smelled something funky. It doesn’t sound right. It’s too muffled—too dull. The problem is probably not with your ears, but with your song file. You’ve been faked!
(your song) doesn't sound right. It's too muffled—too dull. The problem is probably not with your ears, but with your song file. You've been faked!
If someone has a music file of a certain bitrate and then “converts” it to a higher bitrate, that file will appear onscreen as the higher bitrate, but of course the actual audio fidelity never improves from the original file. Unfortunately, some of these tracks get distributed out to the world and onto DJs’ hard drives. That’s why DJ Tech Tools decided to test Ulrich Decker Software’s Fakin’ the Funk, a program that analyzes imported music files’ actual bitrates to distinguish if they’re lower than the encoded bitrate.
Fakin’ the Funk quickly and automatically analyzes the bitrate of music files imported from internal or connected drives. It took about 3 minutes per 1,000 songs (mostly MP3s, but also WAVs and FLACs) from a connected USB 2 drive; it analyzes from internal drives even faster. The program builds a database of imported music; if you add more tracks to a folder, just choose “Rescan folder” from its contextual menu.
Analyzed songs show up in the browser as one of four Statuses:
- Fake (red)
- OK (green)
- Unreadable (yellow)
- Corrupted (orange)
You can also choose to search songs for clipping from the Settings. In the browser, you can show/hide the audio files based on their Status, and order songs by Status, Bitrate, Actual Bitrate, Artist, Title, etc. to pursue them.
If Fakin’ the Funk reveals fakes in your collection, you can:
- play them back in the software to hear for yourself
- view and save the frequency spectrum graph
- export a list of fakes as a text file
- and batch-rename the files with the bitrates at the beginning or end of the file name or with custom notes at the beginning or end of the Comment tag
I confirmed in my testing that even when you put an MP3 through an “optimizer” like Mixed in Key Platinum Notes, Fakin’ the Funk still finds its original bitrate. It also helped me notice that certain VBR files I’d bought from Amazon, which sells mostly 320kbps MP3s but also some VBRs, had bitrates as low as 234kbps.
Should you determine that a Fake file sounds fine, you can mark it “OK.” But if you’re ready to replace it, Fakin’ the Funk provides shortcut buttons in the toolbar to take you to the selected song at Beatport, iTunes, or Amazon.
You Want the Funk?
While you could just trust your ears and replace any music files that sound iffy, or use audio software that’s not automated to analyze your songs’ bitrate, Fakin’ the Funk was purpose-built for DJs to quickly find all your clandestinely low-bitrate tracks in one place, with helpful file renaming, text file exporting, links to digital music stores, and more.
Some DJs won’t feel the need for such a program, but Fakin’ the Funk really helped me to pinpoint all the music files that I suspected were phony, and I never believed that it gave me a “false positive” on one of the Fake songs. It made it easier to replace some of the garbage files that I’d been meaning to but never got around to, while renaming some of the less egregious and lower priority fakes with their actual bitrates, so I can replace those too later.