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Digital Discernment

 
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sysop
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Joined: 24 May 2007
Posts: 9
Location: In a World Of Pure Imagination

PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 7:29 am    Post subject: Digital Discernment Reply with quote

"Maximum PC did double-blind testing with ten listeners in order to determine whether or not normal people could discern the quality difference between the new 256kbps iTunes Plus files and the old, DRM-laden 128kbps tracks. But wait, there's more! To add an extra twist, they also tested Apple's default iPod earbuds vs. an expensive pair of Shure buds to see how much of an impact earbud quality had on the detection rate."

Link to full article: http://www.maximumpc.com/article/itunes_256_vs_128_bit

Here's the part I found most interesting:

"LEAVE IT TO THE OLD FOGEYS

Age also factored differently than we expected. Our hearing tends to deteriorate as we get older, but all three of our subjects who are over 40 years old (and the oldest listener in the next-oldest bracket) correctly identified the higher bit-rate tracks using both the Apple and the Shure earphones." Very Happy
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GregBell
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Joined: 23 May 2007
Posts: 74
Location: A great place to live, but you wouldn't want to visit

PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a massive subject area. First off--
"Seven of the 10 are male." So what are the other three? They lose some serious credibility there. Mad

It doesn't surprise me one bit that folks got confused between the bit-rates with better headphones. The difference can be so significant that everything sounds much better, even 128kbs. Next, some folks LIKE distortion. They don't know that, but they're used to it and miss it when it's gone. It adds excitement. It psychoacoustically adds false volume. Queen's Night At The Opera producer deliberately added tons of distortion to Bohemian Rhapsody to energize the song and make it sound "loud" on the radio.

Better gear is better sound almost always. You'd be completely surprised if you could hear the diff between a portable device's DA converter and a professional grade one. But you won't hear it on a bad monitoring system. And with headphones, room acoustics and listening position are eliminated, and that's a big problem gone.

There's been generational loss since day one recording music. It surprised the crap out of me when Mae Pang said in an interview that by the time a Lennon album came out, neither she nor John could stand how bad it sounded compared to the original tracks.

I can hear the diff between 24bit and 16bit, and 256 and 128kbs. I'm not sure I've heard a diff in CODECS yet, but listening tests are hard and time consuming. I think I've heard a diff in different dithers (from each other), and also truncation to 16 bit.

OK, the can of worms is open and spilled with footprints in the mess.

Bottom line is that I'll ride an elevator extra floors to listen to 'Retha.
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Slim Volume
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Joined: 23 May 2007
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

GregBell wrote:


There's been generational loss since day one recording music


That's a good point. The loudness wars are a bigger problem than bitrates.

I can tell between 128k and 160k mp3s. I can now usually hear the diff. between bounce-to-disk and record-to-track in Pro Tools. But the one thing I can REALLY hear is the effect too many plug-ins have on cymbals and vocal air in Pro Tools. Hello ground glass. I'm trying to record drums at home with one condenser and one dynamic, and anyway I just can't use more than 3 plugs in the whole kit chain w/o starting to hear grit in the cans. I don't think it's "the mix buss" or 24-bit digital recording per se. It's the plugs. So I'm using mic placement and tuning and by golly, that's like herding gerbils but real fun too. Greg, I know you're like, "about time, slowpoke boy" and I agree. I'm finally starting to have standards.
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