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    How Well Can You Hear Audio Quality? Check this out on the NPR web site

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    Bob Latino
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    How Well Can You Hear Audio Quality? Check this out on the NPR web site

    Post by Bob Latino on Wed Jun 03, 2015 9:36 pm

    Can you really hear the difference between an uncompressed WAV file, a 320 KBps mp3 file and a 128 KBps mp3 file ? Mp3 encoding and decoding algorithms are getting better. Check out the 6 short pieces of music on the National Public Radio web site that are encoded all three ways, play them and see if you can hear the difference. Some browsers will not support the playing of an uncompressed WAV file. Google Chrome will. If the pieces don't play, download Google Chrome and use Chrome to play the 6 short pieces. How many out of the 6 did you get correct as being the higher quality WAV file? Be honest now ! lol Link below ...

    How well can you hear audio quality?

    Bob

    ArlanB

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    Re: How Well Can You Hear Audio Quality? Check this out on the NPR web site

    Post by ArlanB on Thu Jun 04, 2015 9:57 am

    OK I will be the first to come clean, I could not hear any difference in any of the music samples.  They all sounded the same, they all had good crisp highs, good mid, and strong bass.  I did not participate in the voting because it would be a total guess.  I like to think that my senior ears still have a good frequency range, however I may be wrong.  I took the listen using Grado SR 80 phones. I put this out there so that we will all know what equipment was used by each person for the listening test.

    hansfob

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    Re: How Well Can You Hear Audio Quality? Check this out on the NPR web site

    Post by hansfob on Thu Jun 04, 2015 10:04 am

    That was fun. Well I got three correct out of six using the internal speakers of my laptop which apparently is pretty good for internal laptop speakers. The Suzanne Vega piece was absolutely indistinguishable to my ears. I wish I had the hearing of when I was a young teenager like my kids who can hear frequencies way above my range.

    corndog71

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    Re: How Well Can You Hear Audio Quality? Check this out on the NPR web site

    Post by corndog71 on Thu Jun 04, 2015 10:17 am

    I tried it using RHA-450 ear buds on my iphone 5S and guessed 2 out of the 6. The music selections left a lot to be desired. Also, what threw me off was I was getting clipping on the wav files.

    I want to try it on my main rig to see if I can hear the differences better.

    anbitet66

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    Re: How Well Can You Hear Audio Quality? Check this out on the NPR web site

    Post by anbitet66 on Thu Jun 04, 2015 11:12 am

    Well, I guessed and only got one right.  I tried this last night as I saw it first on my yahoo home page.  I couldn't get IE11 to show the uncompressed files.  No Firefox or Chrome for me.  I ended up using my Nexus 4 with Chrome browser and a pair of purple RS headphones and was unable to distinguish which was the uncompressed file.

    I come into work this morning and see Bob posted it too.  My work computer (XP and IE8) shows nothing...  BUT - I have Firefox since support for anything to do with Windows must be current and supported.  I tried with some jWIN headphones (think dollar store like Coby, though they are not so bad) and... had to guess and only got one.

    If I couldv'e used my home PC, I would cheat and put it into karioke mode (L-R or something like that) and it would make all the imperfections stand out.  It only proves to me that I still prefer at least a CD for a physical copy, then rip it to mp3 at no less than 256kBps.  I have many songs I got at 128kBps, and they all have that shimmery, under water distortion in the background.  How these files don't is anyones guess.  Mp3 is still a fine format for on the go like the phone or in the car.  And it doesn't hurt that getting a CD is usually cheaper than buying an mp3 album, though I have no explanation for that.

    Tony

    baddog1946

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    Re: How Well Can You Hear Audio Quality? Check this out on the NPR web site

    Post by baddog1946 on Thu Jun 04, 2015 11:47 am

    "We listen to live music—also reconstructed music at home—to understand the performers’ intentions and to connect with the encoded emotions. In the end that’s more important than a lifelike experience.

    The live event is always tied to a particular time and place. As such it is a singular event. At home meanwhile we are in charge of the if, when and what.

    Our motivation and likely also our expectations are different. We look for the ‘magic’. Hence getting closer to that magic is the prime rationale for any playback chain."

    I posted this quote a while back but it is a good intro to my response to Bob's question of whether we can hear difference in quality between the encoding formats in this test.

    Perhaps a better audiophile question is what are the superior formats if we seek an experience that recreates the artist's intentions in the original live event.

    All compressed formats have losses from the original live data and format they were created in.
    Therefore from a technical point of view are not  reproducing all the original material in its entirely. That's why I like live recordings best. Less messing with the original message.

    If you use material in the test you have listened to before then it is 100% subjective. No way around it.
    Might work better with new unheard material  in some cases. First time listening cannot be subjective.

    Unfortunately this test did not also include the highest quality uncompressed formats.

    I tried it but  I included some others as a control base line for the test on my gear (I refer to ASIO, WASAPI and FLAC) all were noticebly better than the compression formats in the test.
    That made a more useful test result for me. Degrees or differences in poorish quality is not what I am looking for.

    My conclusion was there are indeed differences between formats especially between uncompressed and compressed formats but not any of significance in the compressed formats used in the test.

    Whether any individual is capable of hearing between any of them is subjective. So many  variables always assure an endless variety of opinion and commetary.

    A good point is also made about hearing loss as we age. My take on it is that hearing capability and loss is unique to an individual therefore so we can never render an objective comparison about what we are hearing in any given moment. Hearing capacity and our state of mind when we are listening especially in a test where we are challenged and biased by the rules of the test will always be subjective and that will invariably affect our experience. The best we can expect is a consensus to corroborate our impressions.

    That is what is exploited in all the product claims of gear manufacturers. Subjectivity guarantees a variety of opinions and consensus guarantees sales.

    I subscribe to the idea that what we believe beforehand will always color what our experience will be.

    If there is no measurable differences then you may be making them up for your own reasons. That's why I find all compressed formats inferior to the uncompressed formats and it easily detected.
    I listen to MP3 on my car stereo and when I want a quality audio experience I do not look for it in a compressed format.

    "If the first watt sucks then all the others will too. (Steve Deckert).

    GP49

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    Re: How Well Can You Hear Audio Quality? Check this out on the NPR web site

    Post by GP49 on Thu Jun 04, 2015 12:42 pm

    While we are dragging National Public Radio through the muck...

    Here is an audio excerpt, about a minute long, from a Minnesota Orchestra broadcast on NPR just last week. Note the severe ground loop hum/buzz (should we call it Huzz, or Bum?) in the quiet/silent portions.  It can be notch-filtered so it isn't obvious but the filtering must
    be done VERY carefully because significant levels of unwanted noise extend out to the seventh harmonic: 420Hz, which is in the middle
    of the fundamentals of musical notes!

    For a limited time, download or play (if your browser permits) the clip...it's a 96Khz mp3, no need for FLAC or another lossless format to hear a ground loop...at:

    NPR_GroundLoopHum_Excerpt

    I think here we have the NPR pot calling the NPR kettle black.

    Dallas

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    Re: How Well Can You Hear Audio Quality? Check this out on the NPR web site

    Post by Dallas on Thu Jun 04, 2015 4:25 pm

    Well, I only got 3 out of 6. However, the other three ended up being 320kbps. So, I feel pretty good about that.

    (USB->y2 DAC (Wolfson WM8742) ->PPA headphone amp (B&B OPA627 L/R & OPA637 return signal) ->Grado GS-1000)

    Really, though, I had to seriously listen for missing artifacts between the samples, cymbals, harmonics in the strings (piano & orchestra), etc. rather than dig on the groove.

    128mp3s do seem to fatigue me more than other bit rates for some reason I cannot find an explanation for. I think most of my stuff is normally ripped in the AAC format. But I have a few albums I ripped at lower bit rates in the less-than-recent past. I notice it sometimes if I mix them with higher quality coding of the same artist. (Zeppelin would be one of those; I have everything ever recorded in digital format but some are 128mp3s and other are WAV. Anything from an AAC and up, I can't tell the difference readily.

    Bottom line: I can fit more music on my phone than I could if I had better ears. (I blame seven tours in the infantry over three land wars for that damage! Although, from what my doc tells me, driving with the window down for a year of normal commuting dwarfs most sources of ear damage. I thought it was because I never wore an earplug on my non-firing side.)

    anbitet66

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    Re: How Well Can You Hear Audio Quality? Check this out on the NPR web site

    Post by anbitet66 on Thu Jun 04, 2015 5:15 pm

    Ok,

    I tried one more time at home but I could only do the mp3's not the lossless file (Internet Explorer) but in karaoke mode I could easily tell the lower bit rate file from the "shimmery" effect I could now clearly hear.  Always present in the 128k files, not always in the 320k files.  I rushed and got 5 out of 6.

    Tony

    Dallas

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    Re: How Well Can You Hear Audio Quality? Check this out on the NPR web site

    Post by Dallas on Fri Jun 05, 2015 11:56 am

    Heck, I spent about an hour and half with a note pad to try this!

    zx

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    Re: How Well Can You Hear Audio Quality? Check this out on the NPR web site

    Post by zx on Fri Jun 05, 2015 5:10 pm

    MP3....Do we miss a lot?....ck this out..if you havent

    http://www.altpress.com/news/entry/hear_all_the_sounds_you_lose_when_music_is_compressed_to_mp3





    thanks for the site Bob.................

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