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Young People Prefer "Sizzle Sounds" of MP3 Format

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the get-off-my-lawn dept.

Music 743

Hugh Pickens writes "Jonathan Berger, a professor of music at Stanford, tests his incoming students each year by having them listen to a variety of recordings which use different formats from MP3 to ones of much higher quality, and he reports that each year the preference for music in MP3 format rises. Berger says that young people seemed to prefer 'sizzle sounds' that MP3s bring to music because it is a sound they are familiar with. 'The music examples included both orchestral, jazz and rock music. When I first did this I was expecting to hear preferences for uncompressed audio and expecting to see MP3 (at 128, 160 and 192 bit rates) well below other methods (including a proprietary wavelet-based approach and AAC),' writes Berger. 'To my surprise, in the rock examples the MP3 at 128 was preferred. I repeated the experiment over 6 years and found the preference for MP3 — particularly in music with high energy (cymbal crashes, brass hits, etc) rising over time.' Dale Dougherty writes that the context of the music changes our perception of the sound, particularly when it's so obviously and immediately shared by others. 'All that sizzle is a cultural artifact and a tie that binds us. It's mostly invisible to us but it is something future generations looking back might find curious because these preferences won't be obvious to them.'"

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Like the phonograph.... The what? (4, Interesting)

suso (153703) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151369)

This is probably no different than older people who prefer the sound of a phonograph over modern high quality digital recorded mediums like the CD. Warmness of sound on phonographs may be the equivilent to the mp3 sizzle that he talks about. People are used to hearing music over lower quality mediums like FM radio, streaming internet connections and real player. Its good that he is doing this research though because its time dependent and you won't be able to do it later.

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (5, Insightful)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151395)

I think that it really just points more to the fact that most people can't tell the difference between what they like and what they are used to.

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (4, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151645)

that is an odd statement at best.

Most people like what they are used to and don't like what they aren't used to. Saying that can't tell what they like from what they are used to shows an in-depth lack of understanding of other individuals.

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27152097)

He could have phrased it better: People don't know why they like what they like, particularly they can't tell if they like something because they're used to it or because it has other likable qualities.

This is an important realization for requirements engineering: Don't ask people what they want. To want is to have an anticipation of liking. As people can't tell if they like something because they're used to it, they will often tell you they want something but later don't like what they wanted because, since it's new, they're not familiar with it. So either you give them something familiar with small tweaks or you have to use another way to find what people "really" want.

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (1, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152151)

OK, that makes a lot of sense. Thanks for clearing it up.

It's funny that people can't determine why they like something, but then again, people probably don't end up analyzing that stuff like I do.

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27151675)

What's the difference?

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (1, Funny)

spud603 (832173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151701)

I think that it really just points more to the fact that most people can't tell the difference between what they like and what they are used to.

Wait, that makes no sense. If somebody voices a preference for the "sizzle" of mp3, then isn't precisely because they like it?
Or is there an objective preference function somewhere deep in each of our souls that we need to learn to access?

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27151949)

What Dishevel is trying to say is that you plebs have no right to have an opinion about music unless you hear it, from uncompressed studio masters in 188kHz form, on his $45k audio equipment with gold wires, sound-dampened walls, perfectly tuned speakers, and cleanroom-like air filtering so that the very DUST ITSELF cannot disrupt the purity of the music (make sure to wear your protective suit as you walk into the studio!). Only then will you truly know what you "like", only if you agree with Dishevel.

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27152107)

ITT: Dishevel posts as AC to salvage poorly constructed thought.

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (1)

tulcod (1056476) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151977)

That makes it only more interesting to see how people evolve over time as they are being trained in music and audio (technology).

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27152037)

That's funny...I'm an audio engineer and I have been using both the WAV and MP3 formats for the past ten years. I used to listen to CDs but for the past 8 or so years I have been using Winamp to play MP3 and more recently the iPod.

Nowadays, when I finish a track, the wav doesn't sound right until I encode it to mp3. The mp3 sounds better to me. It's not due to a lack of knowledge of the distinctions between the two...I'm familiar with all the boring technical differences...it's due to ear training. You consistently hear your reference material (other well recorded and or well written songs on an iPod or some other device) in the mp3 format, and so you end up coming to prefer the mp3 format.

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (4, Insightful)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151511)

I think what it really points out, is that people don't or won't differentiate between what they're used to hearing and what really qualifies as "high quality". It's like an older person who has been drinking Sanka [wikimedia.org] all their lives not liking more expensive coffee brewed using a method like french press; the latter is acknowledged as infinitely better, but if it's not what you're used to then "different" is likely to be considered "bad", at least at first.

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (5, Funny)

Tikkun (992269) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151743)

French press coffee tastes horrible. The coffee at Denny's tastes better.

Also, get off my lawn.

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (5, Insightful)

spud603 (832173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151789)

french press ... is acknowledged as infinitely better

... by those that prefer french press. Those that prefer Sanka clearly do no acknowledge french press as infinitely better.
Your argument is totally circular: You should prefer french press because if you prefer french press then you'll find that you prefer french press.
(not to mention the hints of elitism).

Taste is subjective, Sound waves aren't (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152017)

I don't think that's a good analogy. There is no accuracy in coffee that expensive coffee is closer to than Sanka is.

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (5, Insightful)

johnlcallaway (165670) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152169)

Since there are no real standards that define one taste as being better than another, such remarks are an attempt to justify that the one making them is somehow superior to others. I prefer to use the words 'I prefer this food over that one' rather than 'This food tastes better'. I would rather offer my personal opinion about something that is purely subjective, than act like an oaf and state as factual something that isn't.

Wine and cigar aficionados have certain standards they use, but it is only within that circle they are true standards. Outside that circle they are irrelevant. Saying one has to be 'educated' to appreciate it is also elitist. I smoke plenty of cigars, and use the ratings as a guide to try new things, not as 'oh ... I must really like that one' and then pretend to enjoy it.

I love high-end tequila and bourbon, but that doesn't stop me from having a shot of Sauza or Wild Turkey sometime. There is something about their bite that I love. Given the choice between Red Breast or Wild Turkey it would be unlikely for me to choose Wild Turkey. But that doesn't mean it doesn't taste good to me.

What I have found is people assign 'fine' standards to items that are expensive, rare, or seem to be liked by a few people. Lobster used to be used as fertilizer because it was deemed 'trash food' and apprentice contracts were written that forbid having to eat it more than a few times a week. Now it's a 'delicacy' to some. As someone who lived in Maine for 20 years, I think it tastes like crap except in a lobster roll with plenty of mayo.

I can enjoy an Oscar Mayer bologna sandwich on white bread with store brand yellow mustard as well as I can a fine steak served with a blue cheese butter. Neither taste is better than the other, they are tastes and I am perfectly capable of finding something good in both of them.

Maybe those that don't like the bologna sandwich just don't have as refined a palate as I do to appreciate the subtle flavors and textures.

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (2, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151581)

Personally, I have no idea what he's talking about in the first place. Unless it's an abysmally low-quality rip, MP3 sounds just like any other format. No sizzle, nothing.

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (3, Insightful)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151651)

Personally, I have no idea what he's talking about in the first place. Unless it's an abysmally low-quality rip, MP3 sounds just like any other format. No sizzle, nothing.

Play that decent-quality song over a set of high end speakers, then play something in FLAC and you will hear the difference.

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (5, Insightful)

svendsen (1029716) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151947)

Except most people are playing their music through basic headphones while going to work, school, gym ,etc. and all the background noises associated with the activities. They are not sitting in a sound proof room with the best speakers, amps, etc. to notice a difference.

For those that might notice the difference I bet you the marginal benefit of getting to the next level does not out weight the marginal cost so people don't care.

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151965)

true, but I always thought of it as being 'muffled', rather than having any 'sizzle'. Well that's what I've found while listening with decent headphones and comparing my 192kbps rips to the 128s. If anything the higher quality rips have more 'sizzle' just because they're nice and clear!

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (1)

greg1104 (461138) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151715)

The preference was for a 128Kbps MP3 rip, which is abysmally low quality and sizzles like bacon.

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151895)

I used to think that. Then someone gave me a £70 sound card, and I bought spent £300 on an external amplifier and a couple of decent speakers.
Switching between the on-board sound and the decent sound card makes a massive difference, the on-board sound is really flat.
I can tell the difference between a normal (128, 192) MP3 and FLAC. It's even more noticable to compare FLAC with something from YouTube.

People don't all care as much about their music though -- my flatmate was pleased with her £1 speakers from the pound shop, but I thought they sounded awful.

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151959)

You seriously can't hear the harshness and near-flanging sound that you sometimes get in the high end? Yeeps!

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (1)

flitty (981864) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151593)

I also wonder how much the Input matters. A highly digitized version of a bass drum sound that replaces the dynamic analog version probably doesn't sound as bad compressed, along with cymbals and all other digitized, manipulated current recordings. IIRC, a compression of digital information is cleaner/less noticable than the compression of an analog signal. The 128 Mp3 preference probably comes from a simpler signal that is easier for your ears to process, in such noise-heavy music as Rock.

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (1)

Mprx (82435) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151811)

All mp3 compression is digital. Whether the audio was originally analog or not is unrelated to hard it will be to compress. The 128kbps mp3s were preferred in the case of music with a lot of high frequency content, which is hard to compress. Because of this it is more distorted, and this "sizzle" distortion if what some people prefer.

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151713)

Could it also be the difference between cheap ear-buds and good quality speakers?

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (1)

Deag (250823) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151749)

It is a pity though. This makes music fit into the frequency range that is compressing it. It could kill any music that uses a lot of symbol sounds, as they sound like crap in a highly compressed format.

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (5, Interesting)

ProppaT (557551) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151845)

Actually, that's a whole different ball of wax (bad pun intended).

Records provide analog sound which does sound more more natural and warm if the original recording was also analog (using good equipment). This is an extremely hi fidelity medium.

And 128 mp3's are an extremely lo fidelity medium. I can't stand listening to them because it actually cuts out audible portions of the music that I can hear if listening to the cd or a high quality rip.

I think a part of this equation that is being left out is the volume at which the listeners were playing the music. Also, with some of these kids doing nothing but listening to their ipods 24/7, I'm wondering if their earing isn't temporarily damaged.

I would be curious to see what these kids would think about the different samples if they went a month without listening to any music. They like the hiss because they're not used to hearing anything without it (on crappy headphones none-the-less). I wanna know what happens when they "reboot" their ears. This isn't just a matter of some people prefer sennheiser headphones and some people prefer grado headphones, this is a matter of some people liking how things actually sound vs. some people liking distorted music with hiss laid over it. That's kind of unsettling to me.

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27152135)

Their hearing isn't temporarily damaged: it's permanently damaged and will never recover.

I really don' think that's true (1)

wfstanle (1188751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151851)

If the older generation actually preferred the sound of records then why did they rapidly adopt CD technology? Records would still be king!

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151923)

People are used to hearing music over lower quality mediums like FM radio...

Not to mention that fact that many FM radio stations store their music in compressed formats these days. Also, many syndicated radio shows, and even entire programing for some stations, is produced somewhere else and streamed to local stations over the internet.

Thanks Clear Channel for degrading the quality of our FM radio even more.

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (1)

niko9 (315647) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152075)

This is probably no different than older people who prefer the sound of a phonograph over modern high quality digital recorded mediums like the CD. Warmness of sound on phonographs may be the equivilent to the mp3 sizzle that he talks about. People are used to hearing music over lower quality mediums like FM radio, streaming internet connections and real player. Its good that he is doing this research though because its time dependent and you won't be able to do it later.

I beg to differ. Do you have any evidence, anecdotes aside, to support your claim? The majority of people buying vinyl today are in the 14-25 year old range; they hardly qualify as old people. And vinyl sales continue to climb past CD sales every year. And this "warmness" that you speak of is nothing more that the recording sounding the way it was supposed to sound compared to the same 16 bit CD.

Also, I wonder if these subjects were given hearing test before partaking in the study. Could mild hearing loss be the reason they prefer "sizzle" with their music?

Please watch this video and hear the opinions of people in the industry have to say about the importance of sound quality; http://www.philoctetes.org/Past_Programs/Deep_Listening_Why_Audio_Quality_Matters [philoctetes.org]

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (1)

udamahan (468338) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152139)

Similarly, I think most people are unconsciously aware of technology used over the decades in recording studios. As recording equipment has evolved over time, periods of time have come to have their own sound that I think we easily pick up on. I'm not talking about the instruments, but the electronics that the signals pass through on the way to making an album. A solo guitar record from the 60s *sounds* different from one made in the 80s or 00s. (Maybe that's a weak example-- the more complex the recording, the more obvious the imprint of the gear, probably.) Its the microphones, the mixing board, the compressors, the mastering process, etc. All of it has, and will, change over time. I'm not a scientist but I think alot of people can tell in their gut what decade a song is from, even if they've never heard it before. And I think its really interesting that these differences can come through on even the crappiest of stereo systems.

Re:Like the phonograph.... The what? (2, Interesting)

AttillaTheNun (618721) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152155)

It's familiarity and nothing more.

A perfect example is the making of the Beatles Anthology last decade where producer George Martin insisted on remixing the 5.1 soundtrack using a vintage mixing desk of the late 60's period because it was part of "the Beatle sound".

You could argue that a modern/neutral desk would more accurately reveal the source material, but it wouldn't sound the same to the target audience who grew up on the original issues.

A counter-example is the Beatles Let It Be...Naked release, which was produced and engineered by a younger staff on Pro-Tools. It sounds different and is often criticized by the generation familiar with the vintage releases.

Cool news but... (5, Funny)

One Brave Prune (1470115) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151399)

I think the Jonas Brothers already proved this.

Digital Artifacts.. (2, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151405)

Annoy the hell out of me personally. Both audio and video.

Bring back analog, the real thing.

Re:Digital Artifacts.. (1)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151501)

Speaking of which there is no comparison between a digital guitar amp and tube based amp. Tubes are so much better sounding, part of the reason they cost so much more.

Re:Digital Artifacts.. (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151567)

Speaking of which there is no comparison between a digital guitar amp..

I think you mean "solid state".

Re:Digital Artifacts.. (2, Insightful)

mrL1nX (798019) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151603)

Um... why not just get good quality ADCs/DACs, record at 192Khz sample rate, 24-bit (maybe even 32-bit...) resolution uncompressed WAVE (or FLAC)?

The quality won't deteriorate over time like your analog.

Re:Digital Artifacts.. (2, Insightful)

Ninnle Labs, LLC (1486095) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151865)

Because 192khz sampling rate is completely pointless outside of the processing studio? Anyone who claims they can hear a difference between 48khz and 96khz (let alone 192khz) is full of shit unless they have dog ears.

Re:Digital Artifacts.. (2, Informative)

Ninnle Labs, LLC (1486095) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152013)

Yes, let's go back to the glorious days of dot crawls, rainbowing, and analog noise. Oh wait, let's not because those analog artifacts were horrible looking.

Re:Digital Artifacts.. (1)

dfdashh (1060546) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152029)

Attempts to clone artists for personal, "analog" performances have largely been unsuccessful. The members of Led Zeppelin participated in cloning tests in 1975, but backed out after finding the process yielded 4 replicates of Barry Manilow instead of themselves. Needless to say, the focus groups were unimpressed.

Re:Digital Artifacts.. (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152093)

At high enough bit rates and hertz rates, the're effectively the same anyway. But I honestly doubt you can hear the difference between 16bit digital sound and analogue, and can you really hear past 44khz for the sample rate?

Deaf? (4, Interesting)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151429)

this sounds like a peference for high treble... probably related to hearing loss.

Re:Deaf? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27151599)

Huh?

I didn't catch that. Could you speak up?

Re:Deaf? (5, Funny)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151861)

I agree. WAY too many people are listening to iPods turned up to 11 on earbuds. I cannot imagine this is "good for them".

high freq is the first to go, so a distorted high end combined with a loss of any real soundstage (which is compounded by turning the LA2A compressors up to max to pump the sound even more at mastering) feeds the material effect of the sound for the sociological issues described in TFA.

In 30 years, when the oil's gone and hordes of cannibalistic zombies wander the ruins of Western Civilisation, these young punks will be easy pickins. Deaf as posts, obese, incapable of complex or convoluted thought, lazy, self absorbed, crybabies with a massive bolt of self-entitlement. Yep. They won't be able to feed themselves and will either join the zombie hordes or be eaten by them.

All thanks to the iPod and the Xbox.

Yep yep, I tell ya. Things just haven't been right since the Coolidge Administration. Zombie hordes back then? Fuck - we'd hear 'em from MILES away...

ghmgnghnhgmghhngmhngmhnmghng...

The sound of zombies. Heck - we'd just sit on our porch with a shovel and beat the fucking crap out of them. None of this "Oh, I'm sorry, did that hurt?"" No way. It's more like "I'M (smack!) GIVING (smack!) YOU (smack!) THE (smack!) BEATING (smack!) YOUR (smack!) MOMMY (smack!) AND (smack!) DADDY (smack!) NEVER (smack!) GAVE (smack!) YOU, (smack!)YOU (smack!) STUPID (smack!) FAT (smack!) FUCK! (smack!)(smack!)(smack!)

Yep. THAT would teach them fat zombie fucks a thing or two.

S, if you wanna do something for the future that's REALLY worth doing, do this to your kids:

1. DON'T be their friend. Be their PARENT. And sometimes the parent has to be the avatar of the kid's bad karma. Punishment is good when doled out judiciously and without mercy.
2. Take away the iPod. They want to listen to music? They listen over speakers and at a reasonable volume, because they have to live with others.
3. Get rid of your TV set.
4. Read books, and have your kids read books.
5. Teach them how to grow food gardens.
6. Teach them how to play an acoustic instrument.
7. Teach them to be as good as their word and to not lie. Ever. Their word must be their bond and they must be held accountable. No excuses.

That's a start.

The beatings will continue until morale improves.

RS

Re:Deaf? (2, Insightful)

jo42 (227475) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151991)

8. Invest in companies making hearing aids. I foresee the iPod generation needing these as they get older.

Re:Deaf? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27151955)

this sounds like a peference for high treble... probably related to hearing loss.

Why a preference for higher treble? The first thing to go is usually the upper range of hearing.

Re:Deaf? (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152087)

I've avoided getting any kind of portable music player, even though I'm only 22 and everyone else seems to have one. I listen to music at home (speakers), and sometimes at work (headphones), I think my ears should have a break in the in-between time.

I'll bet that hearing loss is much more common among teenagers now, compared to 10-20 years ago.

Public safety announcement:
- if your ears are 'buzzing' after you've been listening to music, you've done permanent damage
- shouting into someone's ear at a nightclub/gig will damage their ears (personally, this seems to be more of a problem than the music volume at most nightclubs)
- turning up the volume to drown out background noise (e.g. on a train) is bad for your ears. In some cases it could be dangerous (e.g. while walking or cycling). Use noise cancelling headphones instead, and set them to a comfortable volume before going into the noisy environment.

http://www.dontlosethemusic.com/ [dontlosethemusic.com]

Not Surprising (5, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151475)

This is not surprising at all. Talk with anyone who grew up listening to records and you'll hear a tale of music with character and soul. That "character" and "soul" is the pop and crack of dust, scratches, and whatnot that the record needle picked up - all the imperfections in the record player and record that we could hear. It's a comforting and familiar noise in the sound. The digital generation has its own pop and crackle and it should come as a surprise to nobody that their reaction to it is the same as the record generation's reaction to the sound of a record playing.

Re:Not Surprising (1)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151731)

Personally, I have no idea what he's talking about in the first place. Unless it's an abysmally low-quality rip, MP3 sounds just like any other format. No sizzle, nothing.

=Smidge=

Re:Not Surprising (1)

Ninnle Labs, LLC (1486095) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152125)

It is an abysmally low-quality rip. From the summary:

'To my surprise, in the rock examples the MP3 at 128 was preferred.

128kbit MP3 absolutely murders the waveform.

Re:Not Surprising (2, Interesting)

Wahesh (1492161) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151765)

This also seems to happen a lot with older movies. If a person grew up watching older films, they have no problems watching and appreciating classics. I've noticed this while watching Hitchcock films. The people who grew up with older films are on the edge of their seat with suspense, while the MTV generation folks are bored out of their mind.

Re:Not Surprising (1)

MountainLogic (92466) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151807)

Another example are tube amps (that would be valve amps to our British cousins). They impose a filter effect that audiophiles love - or at least used to love. Audiophiles complained bitterly about how harsh sounding even high resolution digital recording sounded when they first come out.

I recall something about tubes effecting odd and even harmonics differently and imparting an effect described as "warmer" on the music. Tubes have a non trivial variance in performance so don't get an audiophiles started on the Abby Road recording system.

we're doomed (5, Funny)

spykemail (983593) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151477)

Dick Cavett said "As long as people will accept crap, it will be financially profitable to dispense it." Little did he know that if all people know is crap they actually begin to prefer it.

If all they know is crap... (5, Insightful)

andrewd18 (989408) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151595)

Little did he know that if all people know is crap they actually begin to prefer it.

And that's why 2009 will not be the year of Linux on the Desktop.

Re:If all they know is crap... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27151723)

Describes the Linux community perfectly.

Re:If all they know is crap... (2, Insightful)

svendsen (1029716) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151855)

More likely it is because the Marginal benefit does not out weigh the marginal cost of the perceived "Value" of the next step up.

How much benefit do I really gain from switching over my digital collection (and the devices)so I can have a better perceived "Value" of sound?

What is the cost of this? First need to replace all Mp3s with a higher quality format. So this costs time and money. More then likely most people are listening to said music through crappy headphones or speaker systems. What will the cost be to get speakers to reproduce the sound from the now "better" music files?

Re:we're doomed (1)

Dotren (1449427) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151797)

Pretty much exactly what I was just thinking.. the recording industry must be ecstatic over things like this. They're learning over time that they can produce crap, in a crappy format, and people will happily buy it.

That or they've known it for quite some time and people are being trained to like it.

Re:we're doomed (0, Redundant)

Exitar (809068) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151805)

And that's why 2009 will be the year of Linux on the Desktop.

People tend to not prefer quality (4, Informative)

rbanzai (596355) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151525)

People have really weird internal processes that shape their preferences. Preferring shitty, hissy sounding music is just one of those odd results. I would not equate it with the perceived "warmth" of vinyl when compared to CDs. The warmth is not the snaps and crackles, but a different quality that I can't imagine anyone would think as a loss of quality. Just a change of tone.

The hissy music on the other hand is primarily as a result of poor or excessive compression that reflects a lost of information, not just a change in tone. And it just so happens that like in every other arena of human opinion most people prefer crap. :)

P.S. I am not an audiophile but I love clear, full range sound when it comes to music. I prefer digital over vinyl because I can't stand all the defects that come with vinyl, even though I grew up with them.

Re:People tend to not prefer quality (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151887)

but a different quality that I can't imagine anyone would think as a loss of quality. Just a change of tone.

It's still a distortion from the original, not easily correctable. Overall, it's still a loss in information, just different than MP3

And it just so happens that like in every other arena of human opinion most people prefer crap.

People tend to prefer what they're used to. Witness building trends down in Florida. You get people building/buying cheap reproductions* of Northeastern style houses down there because that's what they prefer - despite that being a lousy way to build a house in Florida. As would the inverse of building a house suited for Florida in the North.

*IE missing the insulation, among other things

Re:People tend to not prefer quality (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152061)

People tend to prefer what they're used to. Witness building trends down in Florida. You get people building/buying cheap reproductions* of Northeastern style houses down there because that's what they prefer - despite that being a lousy way to build a house in Florida. As would the inverse of building a house suited for Florida in the North.

*IE missing the insulation, among other things

Wait, what? Now you've piqued my interest. How is no insulation a standard / good building practice in the NE? It seems to me that they have winters that are just as harsh as Florida's summers. Either way, you need insulation to prevent your house from being the same temperature as it is outside...

It depends on the methodology (1)

VerdantHue (1154045) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152179)

I infer from the article that the students were given two samples of the same music in different formats and asked, "Which do you prefer?"

As general preference is a subjective thing, it isn't surprising that students selected the more familiar format.

If, instead, students were asked, "Which track has more realistic sounding cymbals?" or "On which track do you hear more details in the saxophone?", you might expect different results. If experimental subjects are pointed toward a particular quality to assess, they are more likely to judge objectively.

Market-driven format (1)

orthancstone (665890) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151539)

Unfortunately, digital music formats are driven by the market and not by quality (mp3 would've fallen by the wayside years ago given that it was already inferior almost a decade ago).

Since people are willing to accept that (young and old), they're just going to adapt to it and enjoy what they have. Hopefully someday we'll see the market push better formats but, for now, I'm not counting on much to improve amongst music players.

(Full disclosure: After getting a 1TB hard drive, I go lossless or I don't bother at this point. Not everyone has that capacity but we are moving there quickly.)

Re:Market-driven format (1)

EmperorKagato (689705) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151795)

mp3 would've fallen by the wayside years ago given that it was already inferior almost a decade ago

(adding to the history of the mp3)

MP3s were driven by the darkest of markets due to its reduced size which allow more users to take advantage of downloading albums in the same time it would take to download a three minute WAV file. This was critical to its success since broadband for consumers was either expensive or unavailable.

Re:Market-driven format (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152167)

My first experience with MP3 was before I even had a 56k modem. By the time Napster came along MP3s were old news to me. I do remember initially being entranced by the idea of being able to download a song in a half hour or so for free. Of course, back then you actually had to surf around the net and find sites where people had posted a random assortment of MP3s they liked and wanted to share.

Back then I was willing to take the hit on sound quality because of the novelty. (Free music didn't hurt either!) I've long since grown out of that and now I buy CDs and rip them in a lossless format. MP3 sounds like crap. I don't understand the people that actually pay for it. It was only worth it back then because it was free and novel.

Young people likes it because.. (0, Redundant)

carlvlad (942493) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151555)

perhaps because that they're just used to it ?

Tubes vs Transistors (3, Insightful)

grapeape (137008) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151569)

Every generation has their favorite audio artifacts. Vinyl lovers like the warm sound despite the hiss and pops, im sure back in the day someone thought that wax phonograph cylinders sounded better than those new fangled gramaphone disks. Each generation gets accustomed to the sound they are most familiar with. I remember as a kid arguing with my dad who thought 8-track was much better than casette tapes.

Similar (4, Funny)

NineNine (235196) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151573)

I encountered the same feeling when I walked into a Best Buy the other day. I don't generally go into places like that, so when I did and I saw all of the flat-scren TV's, my GF and I couldn't get over how BAD we thought they all looked. The looked too sharp and too bright. I need another TV but I'm having trouble finding anyone that sells good CRT's any more!

Re:Similar (3, Interesting)

Sandman1971 (516283) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151893)

That has nothing to do with nor does it reflect the quality of flatscreens. Box stores are known to mess up the sharpness, brightness and contrast of their TVs on the showroom floor to make it 'pop' (heck, some TVs even have a demo or showroom setting that does it at the push of 1 button). I too personally think it looks like crap at those settings.

Its best to do your homework online, then when at the store ask the salesperson if you can adjust the settings to something that you find more acceptable. I've never been turned down when I've asked this. It gives you a better representation of the quality (but not a full representation, as the lighting at your house will be different).

Generally, flatscreens are better than CRTs when calibrated properly. I know you couldn't pry my DLP out of my cold, dead hands (though DLPs are not true flatscreens). For true flatscreen, you can't go wrong with a properly calibrated Sharp Aquos.

live music is so much richer (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151619)

Listening to electronic mediated music - amplified, broadcasted, analog or digitally recorded always loses something. I try to listen to live performance whenever I can.

not just audio (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27151623)

When I lived at the geek compound, Malda brought home a toilet slave one day. He (the slave) wasn't particularly happy about it, having been abducted while he was waiting for the bus and all, but he learned to love it. By the time he turned 14 and was too old (Rob like em young), we let him go but he came right back a couple days later. Anyhow, that's how kevin dawson joinced the slashdot crew.

Hisss of the 80's (4, Insightful)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151655)

Pops of the 70's phonograph
Hiss of the 80's magnetic tape
Sizzle of the 00's MP3s.

Sounds like we had a perfect format in the optical disc - now we just need audio engineers that don't fuck up the mastering with everything cranked to 11.

Re:Hisss of the 80's (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152051)

I still buy CDs since they're usually the highest quality source I can get my hands on, but I'm not going to pretend like they're amazing. We can still do better.

People just moved to MP3s because they're more convenient. When storage and bandwidth become cheaper, I fully expect lossless, 96kHz, surround-mixed audio to become prevalent. Maybe. Someday. :)

Previous Generation Tube Amps (3, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151671)

This is probably why the previous generation preferred tube amps to transistor ones - and gave you all kinds of arguments just why one was "better" than the other one, most of which were meaningless.

Re:Previous Generation Tube Amps (1)

justleavealonemmmkay (1207142) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151979)

Does this mean a company will create a hardware gold plated CODEC/Filter and sell it to future audiophiles for 500 bucks ?

Re:Previous Generation Tube Amps (2, Interesting)

peachboy (313367) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152009)

It's not just previous generations that prefer tube amps to transistors. The differences are not obvious until you try to overdrive them, at which point they break up very differently. Tube amps distort with a lot of coloring overtones that you just don't get from a transistor amp, which tends to sound crunchy and just plain distorted. The advantage of transistors is reliability as tubes will eventually blow out and need replacing. When I play my guitar, I almost always use tube amps for recording and personal playing for pleasure due to the better sound, but I usually use a solid-state amp for gigging due to the reliability.

Re:Previous Generation Tube Amps (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152175)

That's a little different. With guitars, THE ARTISTS add effects because the basic sound can be unexciting. Distortion/overdrive doesn't produce a high-quality, clean tone... but we don't want a clean tone. Likewise, we don't want the clean tone of a solid-state amp. We know what we're doing.

With MP3s, it's THE LISTENERS that don't want the sound that the artist intended. Because they're dumb motherfuckers!

What sizzle? (1)

zbend (827907) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151705)

What Sizzle? I don't hear anything, I usually can't tell the difference between 128 bit MP3 and anything else, but perhaps I'm deaf. I might prefer it because its small plays on any device, but I'm not (consciously at least) enjoying me some sweet sizzle cause I don't hear it.

lack of detail (3, Insightful)

junkgoof (607894) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151763)

I suspect that when you miss some details things appear better. People tend to look better at a distance before you get detail. Lowered senses probably contribute to "beer goggles" as well, though there are other factors.

Stripping detail does not make art but it may make pop.

Re:lack of detail (1)

KlaymenDK (713149) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152039)

Stripping detail does not make art but it may make pop.

+1, That quote is very in tune with the present.

Re:What sizzle? (1)

nbates (1049990) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151909)

I was actually wondering the same thing. I always wondered why some people said mp3 didn't sound as good as CDs.

Maybe it is that we have some auditive deficiency?

Re:What sizzle? (1)

Kentamanos (320208) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152057)

You definitely notice it most on CD's you've listened to a lot on headphones. Cymbals are the most obvious place you hear it. A MP3 will have "wispy" sounding cymbals. It's sort of like a flange effect but not as pronounced. On songs I've heard an insane amount of times on CD it drives me crazy. These days I buy a CD and immediately convert it.

Re:What sizzle? (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152119)

Consider getting your hearing checked.

Egads! (1)

OldFish (1229566) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151725)

That's like saying you prefer a house that smells like cat piss because you grew up in one or that you prefer your food to be semi-rotten because you didn't have a refrigerator when you were a kid. Gimme a break.

Could a similar phenomenon (1)

onemorechip (816444) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151837)

be behind the preference of some people for LPs over CDs?

Engineered Music (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27151849)

Lots of music is processed (before release) specifically to sound good played as 128 on a low quality stereo

Junk food (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27151883)

It's the same phenomenon as with junk food. People acquire tastes and can get to like any crap, as long as they are exposed to it continuously and it's advertised enough.

Were any of the kids surveyed members of HS bands? (4, Interesting)

Yewbert (708667) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151975)

No time to RTFA, but were any of the kids polled members of high school bands, or musicians on their own? As a drummer for 25+ years, I know the first thing I noticed about poorly encoded MP3s was how crappy the cymbals sounded. And I knew that primarily on account of knowing exactly how a real, live cymbal really sounds, in person, with the naked ear. Having been in a high school band, I know that the experience changed my own understanding of how all the instruments should really sound, as contrasted starkly against how they sound on many recordings, even pre-MP3 era.

The sizzle softens the cymbals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27151983)

I actually added some flanger effect to drum overheads because they sounded more rich that way. Lossy compression leads to similar effect and for some reason I prefer that sound to some extent.
One reason could be the clean machine hammered cymbals (zildjian mainly) that sound nice and clean, but do not have the richness of hand hammered ones.
I think that when it comes to production of music the outcome is all that matters.

No! (1)

Corticyte (1480075) | more than 5 years ago | (#27151985)

I can't stand low bitrates and 'earbud' headphones. I need my 20-80Hz, whether its 320 mp3, cd or vinyl though doesn't bother me!

Sounds are evocative (1)

KlaymenDK (713149) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152015)

I must admit that whenever I hear a song that's been poorly encoded or has obvious compression errors (the modern equivalent of a skipping record, I guess) I think of the first days at an old job position ... because that's what the state of the art was at the time.

That said, I do prefer high-quality Flac, Ogg, or analogue (ahh, the hisses and pops of an actual record player).

representative sample? (3, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152021)

I can't help thinking that this isn't representative of "young people". Though it probably is typical of the average "young person".

Were the to pool the opinions of students of Julliard rather than Stamford he'd likely get a completely different result.

If the young person in question is fond of mass produced music -- as most are I guess -- then the sound quality probably isn't important to them, just as tonal nuances wasn't important to the original musicians. For kids that are musicians themselves, and especially jazz or classical musicians, the sound quality matters a great deal.

Basically this is just a badly designed study, skewed in favor of the modal average.

I'm suspicious (1)

jalano (309339) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152053)

I'm suspicious of the quality of his results, especially his assertion that kids actually *preferred* the MP3 encoded results.

There are MANY explanations for why this could be occuring. For one, many MP3 encoders apply a low-pass filter to encoded data to smooth out artifacts. It's not clear that this professor's audio playback equipment is uniformly able to reproduce higher frequency sounds - very few people have that kind of equipment who aren't professional audio recording engineers.

I would believe it's just as likely that his "uncompressed" audio files actually SOUND WORSE because they are creating distortion in the playback equipment that the MP3 filtered files are not.

This reminds me of a story I heard once on NPR about audio engineers who worked on live audio feeds for music shows. They found that most people had crappy quality radios - they got the best response from supposed audiophiles when they applied a low-pass filter below 9KHz before it went out over the air waves.

Deep thoughts (1)

mr_josh (1001605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152055)

I need to re-evaluate my role in the world. I am 25 and try to consider myself young and relatively on top of things cultural... but this... this changes everything. I do not want to be either fuddy or duddy, but man, I think we need to consider ending the human race after this generation. Just, you know, give up.

Prefer sizzle sounds? O.M.G.

I, for one ... (1)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152067)

... find this article very interesting!

Why are turntables sales up? (1)

QuietR10t (1125965) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152105)

The old MP3 topic comes around once again. It's a pity the article doesn't give more data and how the research was conducted.

Indeed, people probably prefer what they're used to. No matter how many times people pronounce the death of high quality audio because of increasing sales MP3 players and music, an interesting side effect happens. Vinyl sales and turntables keep on going up. Sure, the new vinyl sales numbers are not stratospheric compared to digital distribution, it's, nonetheless, amazing that not only vinyl has survived, but it's growing amid all this. (Steve Guttenberg from CNet wrote about this today [cnet.com] .)

Mal Waldrom used to hang out in a 2nd hand audio store and no matter how hard the owner of the store tried to give him a proper hifi system, he persisted on listening to his portable CD player with plastic Sony speakers. He said that the music system was only there to remind him of the music that existed in his head. Admittedly, he had the advantage of having played with jazz greats and no matter which system, the music in his head was indeed better.

In other news... (1)

burris (122191) | more than 5 years ago | (#27152189)

Incoming freshmen also prefer burgers & fries to foie gras & truffles, The Daily Show to McNeil-Lehrer News Hour, Linkin' Park to Lincoln Center, etc...

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