Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Music Listeners Test 128kbps vs. 256kbps AAC

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the perfect-pitches dept.

Media (Apple) 428

notthatwillsmith writes "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."

cancel ×

428 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

hello? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346067)

beuhler?

Double Blind? (0, Offtopic)

ReidMaynard (161608) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346231)

Why did I imagine a room of blind people, with blind guide dogs, all trying to find the iPods they've dropped.

Once every Blue Moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346267)

Yup, got lucky

Re:Double Blind? (0, Offtopic)

LearnToSpell (694184) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346409)

Hah! And the fortune at the bottom of the page right now is
When the blind lead the blind they will both fall over the cliff. -- Chinese proverb

Hmmm (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346069)

To the people who care about this, they'll have their minds set. To the people who don't, well they don't.

Re:Hmmm (3, Funny)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346485)

Hmmm I took the pepsi challenge and chose gif.

The results... (5, Informative)

Kagura (843695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346071)

Apple's iTunes store--in partnership with EMI--is now hawking DRM-free music at twice the bit rate of its standard fare (256Kb/s vs. 128Kb/s) and charging a $0.30-per-track premium for it. We're all for DRM-free music, but 256Kb/s still seems like a pretty low bit rate--especially when you're using a lossy codec.

So we decided to test a random sample of our colleagues to see if they could detect any audible difference between a song ripped from a CD and encoded in Apple's lossy AAC format at 128K/s, and the same song ripped and encoded in lossy AAC at 256Kb/s.

Our 10 test subjects range in age from 23 to 56. Seven of the 10 are male. Eight are editors by trade; two art directors. Four participants have musical backgrounds (defined as having played an instrument and/or sung in a band). We asked each participant to provide us with a CD containing a track they considered themselves to be intimately familiar with. We used iTunes to rip the tracks and copied them to a fifth-generation 30GB iPod. We were hoping participants would choose a diverse collection of music, and they did: Classical, jazz, electronica, alternative, straight-ahead rock, and pop were all represented; in fact country was the only style not in the mix. (See the chart at the end of the story for details.)

We hypothesized that no one would be able to discern the difference using the inexpensive earbuds (MSRP: $29) that Apple provides with its product, so we also acquired a set of high-end Shure SE420 earphones (MSRP: $400). We were confident that the better phones would make the task much easier, since they would reveal more flaws in the songs encoded at lower bit rates.

METHODOLOGY

We asked each participant to listen with the Apple buds first and to choose between Track A, Track B, or to express no preference. We then tested using the SE420's and asked the participant to choose between Track C, Track D, or to express no preference. The tests were administered double-blind, meaning that neither the test subject nor the person conducting the test knew which tracks were encoded at which bit rates.

The biggest surprise of the test actually disproved our hypothesis: Eight of the 10 participants expressed a preference for the higher-bit rate songs while listening with the Apple buds, compared to only six who picked the higher-quality track while listening to the Shure's. Several of the test subjects went so far as to tell they felt more confident expressing a preference while listening to the Apple buds. We theorize that the Apple buds were less capable of reproducing high frequencies and that this weakness amplified the listeners' perception of aliasing in the compressed audio signal. But that's just a theory.
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. Three of the four subjects aged between 31 and 40 correctly identified the higher bit-rate tracks with the Apple earbuds, but only two were successful with the Shures. Two of three under-30 subjects picked the higher-quality tracks with the Apples, but only one of them made the right choice with the Shures. All four musicians picked the higher-quality track while listening to the Apples, and three of the four were correct with the Shures.

Despite being less able to detect the bit rate of the songs while listening to the Shure SE420 earphones, eight of 10 subjects expressed a preference for them over the Apple buds. Several people commented on the Shure's ability to block extraneous noise. While listening to the SE420s, one person remarked "Wow, I'd forgotten that wood-block sound was even in this song." Another said "The difference between the Shure earphones and the Apple earbuds was more significant than the difference between the song encoded at 128Kb/s and the one recorded at 256Kb/s." One of the two people who expressed a preference for Apple's product told us "It seemed like I got better kick from the bass."

THAT'S A WRAP!

To our subjects' ears, there wasn't a tremendous distinction between the tracks encoded at 128Kb/s and those encoded at 256Kb/s. None of them were absolutely sure about their choices with either set of earphones, even after an average of five back-to-back A/B listening tests. That tells us the value in the Apple's and EMI's more expensive tracks lies solely in the fact that they're free of DRM restrictions.

And as much as we dislike DRM, we just don't think DRM-free tracks alone are worth paying an extra 30 cents a track for.. It would be crazy to pay that premium if you're going to buy the entire album. We'd be more excited if Apple increased the bit rate even further, or--even better--if they used a lossless format.

In the end, Apple's move doesn't change our opinion that the best way to acquire digital music remains buying the CD: You can rip and encode it at any bit rate you want, you can transfer it to any device you want, you know you won't have any DRM issues to worry about, and you won't have to pay anything extra for it.

As for buying high-end earphones, eight of our 10 test subjects enjoyed listening to the Shure SE420's more than they did Apple's stock buds--an interesting finding since fewer listeners correctly identified the higher bit rate tracks with the Shures than did the Apples. We suspect that the performance of the Shures masked the flaws in the tracks encoded at lower bit rates.

Your audio system is only as strong as its weakest link, and if you're listening to cheap earphones, you're missing out on what your MP3 player is capable of delivering. The SE420's fit tight inside your ear canal, so they isolate your ears from extraneous noise. Many of our listeners found that they could turn the player's volume down significantly because the earphones weren't competing with environmental racket. That not only makes your listening experience more enjoyable, but it can also prevent hearing loss.

Despite what Apple charges for a set of its replacement buds, the earphones that come with 90 percent of the digital media players on the market are throw-away items--they're only in the box so you'll have something to listen to when you bring the player home. Do yourself a huge favor and dump 'em. Spending a few bucks more for something that sounds better, feels better, and will last longer just makes sense; after all, you only get one set of ears in life.

Re:The results... (5, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346287)

It would be crazy to pay that premium if you're going to buy the entire album.
DRM'd and DRM-free albums cost the same. There is no reason to buy the DRM, if you are buying a whole album.

In the end, Apple's move doesn't change our opinion that the best way to acquire digital music remains buying the CD:
They tested music ripped from CD and encoded by iTunes. That makes this test irrelevant to the music to the iTunes store, since that music comes from the original masters (higher quality than the CD) and is encoded using customised settings (per-album or per-song), while iTunes uses some fairly general settings.

On my own, completely unscientific, tests, the 256Kb/s tracks are noticeably better. I upgraded a couple of albums yesterday and discovered I could hear the lyrics clearly in a few places where they had been obscured by instrumentals in one of them. The difference is only noticeable if you are specifically listening for it though; I wouldn't be able to tell you the bitrate in a blind listening (hearing them one after the other I probably could).

Having the songs DRM-free is definitely worth it though. I stopped buying music from iTMS when I started owning multiple portable devices that could play back AAC, but not Apple DRM.

Re:The results... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346385)

Look you dimwit, the whole point of this was that it isn't about some guy on slashdot saying he can (in a superior tone) tell the difference between 128 and 256.

Secondly, I'd like to point out that just because you can tell the difference doens't mean one is better. I can tell the difference between cake and ice cream too. So ice cream is better ? WTF ?

Re:The results... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346633)

WTF indeed. low bit rate audio : high bit rate audio :: cake : ice cream. if it were aac:flak, then you might have something you fucking dickhead.

Re:The results... (4, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346323)

We're all for DRM-free music, but 256Kb/s still seems like a pretty low bit rate--especially when you're using a lossy codec.

Are they on crack? 256 Kbps is quite a high bitrate for a lossy CODEC. Their wording is also really bizarre. A low bitrate would be worse for a lossless track, because an uncompressed or lossless track, by definition, should have a much higher bitrate than a track compressed with a lossy CODEC.

Do they even know what they are talking about?

Re:The results... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346347)

Eight of the 10 participants expressed a preference for the higher-bit rate songs while listening with the Apple buds, compared to only six who picked the higher-quality track while listening to the Shure's. Several of the test subjects went so far as to tell they felt more confident expressing a preference while listening to the Apple buds. We theorize that the Apple buds were less capable of reproducing high frequencies and that this weakness amplified the listeners' perception of aliasing in the compressed audio signal. But that's just a theory.
Yeah and 10 out of 10 terrorists agree that Linsux and Open Sores should be installed on all on computers so what's the big fucking deal?

Re:The results... (2)

SueAnnSueAnn (998877) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346417)

The whole test is a joke.
The sampling rate on a cd is 44.1KHZ not enough samples to properly reproduce the higher order overtones in the music.
Garbage in Garbage out.
A CD may have superior dynamic range over analogue recordings but they beat the pants off any standard digital recording in terms of frequency response.

The Day the Music Died was the day Digital recording entered into the scene.

Good Headphones or not anybody with good hearing can tell the difference between an analogue recording and a CD in terms or realism.

You will have to pry my Ampex from my cold dead fingers.

Sue

Re:The results... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346649)

You will have to pry my Ampex from my cold dead fingers.
Frankly, I'd rather they bury your Ampex with you.

Re:The results... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346463)

Many similar tests have proven that most humans have trouble detecting any change in audio quality above 160->192 Kbps or in mp3s. A quick web search will show that even "audiophiles" really can't discern the difference. 128 has a clear "tinny" quality that disappears as the bit rate goes up. Based on this, I believe that 256 tracks as compared with the original cds would never be accurately identified. Clearly this should have been a part of this test. The idea that "lossy" means "audible" has not been proven in any real world tests.

     

Re:The results... (4, Interesting)

Proudrooster (580120) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346607)

True, the only time you will generally notice the difference is if the track has a crowd clapping or drumkit (hi-hat) cymbals. At 128k I think cymbals sound horrible and undefined. At 192k I start not to be less annoyed.

Re:The results... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346477)

I purchased two pairs headphones several years back. One was a noise cancelling ear buds, while the other was noise cancelling headphones that cover the entire ear with a cushioned cop. The difference is astounding. The ear buds have really poor base response and the high end just plain sucks. The would be ideal for listening to talk radio and not much more. Meanwhile the full size headphones are a delight to listen to.

If you wish to get the most improvement in your audio listening, start with a good set of headphones. This is probably the most important finding in this article.

Re:The results... (5, Interesting)

tackledingleberry (1109949) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346569)

The MPEG community uses a MUSHRA test* to judge the quality of new codecs and to decide on bitrates etc. If there are n-codecs under test than the subject can switch A-B style between n+2 different versions of the same piece of music. These are the n-codecs and a reference or lossless version. He does not know which is which. He can also switch to one which he knows is the reference track (so the reference track is in there twice, labelled in one case and not labelled in the other). The task is to rate (0-100) each of the unknown tracks based on how similar it is to the reference track. One important thing to remember about the task is that the subject must rate similarity, rather than 'quality' or anything else. A certain codec could, for instance, add a load of warm bass to a piece of music making it more pleasurable (maybe) to listen to, but decreasing its similarity to the reference piece. The idea is that the subject should be able to pick the reference track from the unknowns (giving it a score of 100) and then rate all of the other unknowns in terms of similarity to the reference. The codec with the highest score wins. This type of test would be carried out for each of a number of pieces of music, with a lot of listeners.

* sorry, I've no good link- it's in ITU-R BS.1534-1 "Method for the subjective assessment of intermediate quality level of coding systems".

Re:The results... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346593)

You can buy the FULL album DRM free for the same price as the DRM one last I seen.

Methodology is flawed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346647)

It should not be a test concerning whether listeners "prefer" the lossy sound versus the original sound. The test should be whether listeners can pick apart the lossy from the original, such as in the ABX tests employed by Hydrogen Audio and their listening tests. -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ABX_test [wikipedia.org]

Extreme PC's results concerning the ear buds aren't that surprising. It's well known that junk gear with uneven frequency response can heighten compression artifacts.

Synopsis (5, Informative)

sc0p3 (972992) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346075)

8/10 Picked High Bit Rate with Apple Headphones
6/10 Picked High Bit Rate with Shure Headphones


100% certainty that 10 people sample-set is too little for a Yes-No experiement.

Re:Synopsis (1)

spyder-implee (864295) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346151)

I agree. Also, 8 are editors by trade. Why is this significant for the test? Does being an over-opinionated internet columnist make a difference to your sound quality?

Re:Synopsis (1)

phasm42 (588479) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346205)

The result isn't as useful without knowing how those that didn't pick the high bit rate were split up. Out of the 4 that didn't pick high bit rate with Shure headphones, how many picked low bit rate, and how many couldn't tell the difference?

Re:Synopsis (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346301)


"The result isn't as useful without knowing how those that didn't pick the high bit rate were split up. Out of the 4 that didn't pick high bit rate with Shure headphones, how many picked low bit rate, and how many couldn't tell the difference?"

Why didn't they test in a mastering studio? Earbuds? Sheesh, seriously. Not only are they testing for something that is at or beyond the limits of human perception, but they are also degrading the signal confounding the test.

Here's a test I'd like to see done.

Have an orchestra in a studio, great room treatment and miking, etc. Have the listener in the control room doing blind A/B/X testing between the live orchestra through the monitoring system, and recordings of that same orchestra at various bitrates, dynamic thresholds, compression formats, etc.

It may be surprising that nothing like this has ever been done, and so in audio production discussions, the subject invariably comes up (whether 24 bits in the dynamic domain is overkill, whether 96kHz sampling is useful, etc.) but the arguments always go into emacs vs vi territory because there's no empirical study that anyone can point to where it's been shown whether and to what extent high headroom digital domains affect the listener.

It makes me sick that someone would do such a test with headphones. Just use the average mastering studio's monitors and room treatment, and take the listening environment out of the equation as much as possible.

*Anybody* can do the anecdotal thing with an iPod and "expensive" earbuds; sheesh.

Re:Synopsis (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346559)

You must be incredibly unhappy being such an idealist douchebag. I pity you.

Re:Synopsis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346665)

You must be increadibly naive if you think that stuido monitors are the end-all as far as speakers are concerned. They are great for their purpose (playback in a studio), but are useless as soon as you step away from their sweet spot or if you have more than 5 people trying to fit into said sweet spot.

Re:Synopsis (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346675)

Isn't the point of 96kHz sampling that you end up being pretty sure that you are exceeding the signal response of your microphone?

Or am I crazy, and there are microphones(and all the other stuff too) that good?

And really, if 86% of your listening time is with headphones, it makes a fair amount of sense to see whether the input matters and save a buck if it doesn't.

Re:Synopsis (1)

tooyoung (853621) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346213)

100% certainty that 10 people sample-set is too little for a Yes-No experiement.
The best part is that they actually drew age related conclusions from the results.

Re:Synopsis (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346289)

Also you've got a 50% chance of GUESSING the right one. Maybe the way to do it would be to play a number of songs with low and high bitrate versions of each several times in semi-random order and ask them to pick which bitrate they think it is. If the same song was picked for different bitrates on successive playings you'd at the least know that they didn't have a clue.

Re:Synopsis (5, Interesting)

no_opinion (148098) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346233)

Not only that, but audio professionals typically do codec and compression tests using an ABX test.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ABX_test [wikipedia.org]

This would have been more interesting if they had used a statistically valid sample size and not only compared 128 to 256, but also to lossless.

Re:Synopsis (2, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346377)

I agree the comparison to lossless would be interesting.

As for ABX, it seems like the most demanding possible test, which I agree makes it attractive in theory. But in real life, the relevant question is "does this sound good" without a back-to-back reference sample for comparison. I also keep my photo collection in .jpg. Can I see the jpg distortion if I do a 1:1 blowup and carefully compare to a TIFF image? Sure. But at normal viewing size and distance, it just doesn't bother me, and that's my personal benchmark. Neither am I shelling out big bucks for a Blu-Ray player, even though I can see DVD compression artificts if I really try.

Hearing capability is also very individual. I'll be the first to admit my hearing isn't great. Even a simple test on yourself is more valuable than a statistically large sample of people who aren't you.

As for Apple's new offering, I wouldn't pay 3x for a difference that I personally would only maybe be able to detect in a back-to-back comparison that will never happen.

Re:Synopsis (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346271)

They should have tested with different hardware as well. The playback platform can change the sound a lot. For instance, whenever I've played an MP3 on windows it sounds horrible compared to how it sounds under Linux media players. Not sure why though. But in a test like this you'd think they would want to remove the possibility that the hardware just sounds like crap no matter what you put in it.

Re:Synopsis (1)

bdjacobson (1094909) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346285)

8/10 Picked High Bit Rate with Apple Headphones

6/10 Picked High Bit Rate with Shure Headphones

100% certainty that 10 people sample-set is too little for a Yes-No experiement.
Did they let them play with the equalizer any? Or just leave it at the normal "flat/off"? Shure headphones are known to be lacking in bass response (I've got some E3c's). Bet you most of the people simply heard more bass in the Apples and thought "must be better". Nevermind that the Shures are 23234235235x better, block out other noise (they're earplugs + headphones combined), and when you _do_ turn up the base, you forget any other problems you had with them.

This is more a rant on general stupidity about sound quality than anything else though. Most people probably can't hear the difference.

Re:Synopsis (5, Insightful)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346317)

The new standard for research methodology: finding 10 people at the corner starbucks, asking them to help you for an "article" you're writing.

Oh ,and while we're at, let's throw another variable into the mix! That'll make it even more scientifical! (And that's not even getting into any other variables that slipped in thru carelessness.)

Frankly, I wouldn't trust these MPC bozos to tell me if it was raining while I was urinating on their backs.

Re:Synopsis (3, Interesting)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346529)

The new standard for research methodology: finding 10 people at the corner starbucks, asking them to help you for an "article" you're writing.

This is what the Internet has reduced us to: it does not matter if it is correct, so long as it is delivered quickly.

Re:Synopsis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346391)

100% certainty that 10 people sample-set is too little for a Yes-No experiement.

Ummm, no. If you took a statistics class, you would know that 10 people, if randomly selected, can provide useful information about the population at large.

Even with 10 people, you can calculate how confident you can be that a difference exists with the student t test [wikipedia.org] .

Only then can you say how confident you are that a difference exists.

Re:Synopsis (1)

noshellswill (598066) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346427)

Actually, five (5) will do fine if differences are night-and-day.

Re:Synopsis (1)

PyrotekNX (548525) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346451)

The sample-set should also include musicians and audiophiles into the mix. They are far more likely to give an objective opinion compared to people randomly pulled off the street. Both know what to listen for and are well tuned in finding the distortion which is inherit in lossy compression.

In my personal experience, I have listened to mp3 as well as other competing formats for over 10 years and it is very easy for me to discern the difference in bitrates. I wasn't able to do this at first, but I tuned my senses into it over time. I wind up hearing noise and distortion that almost everyone misses.

Re:Synopsis (1)

Ice Wewe (936718) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346503)

I know that most people listen to their iPod using the included ear buds *raises hand,* but let's face it, the sound quality sucks. Ear buds have almost no bass range, and aren't even that good in the midrange. So, tell me, why did they perform the test with headphones that ruin the sound quality? I know it was to test whether the MP3 sounded better, but why wouldn't you use Bose Noise Canceling headphones for that, at least then you'd actually be able to enjoy the music...
Perhaps I'm just old-fashioned. I still like the boom box on the shoulder...

Re:Synopsis (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346653)

100% certainty that 10 people sample-set is too little for a Yes-No experiement.

Probability that a bunch of editors will fuck up the statistical design of an experiment: 96.2% Seriously, you're writing for a magazine with decent readership, and you can't spend a week finding 90 more people at a coffeeshop who are willing to listen to music for 15 minutes apiece? Possibly get some statistical validity?

I'd give this shit the "honorable mention" you-suck ribbon at a 5th grade science fair.

I don't have to read this article... (-1, Flamebait)

dteichman2 (841599) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346079)

Let's just work off a gut feeling. Apple, being a corporation, loves to cut corners where people won't notice. Naturally they give people cheap-shit earbuds rather than spending an extra $4 of that $300 and giving them something resonably good for their money (like my Sennheiser MX-400s). So, the detection rate dramatically improved when people had listening devices that were more balanced and more accurately presented the audio.

At this point, everyone in the room said "I've gotta have a pair of these.. oh yea, and 128 kbit AAC (and anything else for that matter) sucks!"

Re:I don't have to read this article... (4, Informative)

Compholio (770966) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346115)

So, the detection rate dramatically improved when people had listening devices that were more balanced and more accurately presented the audio.
You should RTFA then b/c that's not what they found.

Re:I don't have to read this article... (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346161)

Or just read the post right before yours. Only 6/10 picked right with the $400 headphones. Thats only 1 better than guessing which track was which with no headphones at all.

Wrong! (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346187)

Read it: More people spotted the difference in bitrate with the Apple earbuds than with the $400 ones.

Re:Wrong! (1)

shird (566377) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346597)

But perhaps thats because the good earphones make crap sounds, sound good? You could argue that with the apple earphones, you need the higher bitrate to get a decent sound out of them.

Of course.. (1)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346085)

Test confirms the generally known (but debatable) points:
1. Not many can detect the improvement of higher kbps
2. Expensive earbuds are way better than the default ones.

But what do you do with this fanboi? "One of the two people who expressed a preference for Apple's product told us "It seemed like I got better kick from the bass."" I hope he was completely deaf.

Re:Of course.. (1)

dteichman2 (841599) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346107)

Hey.. even cheap earbuds [computerbrain.com] are better than the default ones.

Re:Of course.. (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346117)

2. Expensive earbuds are way better than the default ones.

They're both lousy for your ears. I never even tried using the ones I got with my ipod, I bought an old-fashioned over-the-ears pair; doesn't look cool but at least my ears should be (relatively) safe.

Re:Of course.. (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346361)

Safe? How so? Because your ears were otherwise exposed to too much UV light?

Sound is sound and damaging to the ears if played too loud.

Re:Of course.. (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346413)

I bought an old-fashioned over-the-ears pair; doesn't look cool

WHAT!?! Doesn't look cool? Huge, over-the-ear headphones are the height of fashion these days. Haven't you noticed?

The iPod revolution has caused a massive resurgence in big heaphones. In fact, in many ways it's a whole new trend. The big headphones, in the past, were usually worn at home, plugged into a nice amplifier. Or used in the recording studio, or for DJing. In the Walkman era, the headphones used were the cheap, compact outer-ear headphones. During the portable CD player era, it was black earbuds. During the first wave of iPods, it was white Apple earbuds.

But today, big outer-ear headphones have come out of the home and studio, and into the streets. I don't think this has happened in such mainstream numbers before. It's retro-cool, and it shows you that you care about the music and audio quality. It's also much more socially responsible, as there is far less leakage of sound. You don't look like an idiot who has their iPod turned up, with 50% of the sound leaking out and annoying others, rather than going into their ears. I wonder how many people realize how annoying their earbuds are when turned up on public transport. It's totally uncool. And they are spending amplifier & battery power creating that leaked sound.

Re:Of course.. (1)

Eideewt (603267) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346741)

Why would earbuds be bad for your ears?

Re:Of course.. (2, Insightful)

Divebus (860563) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346119)

Test confirms the generally known (but debatable) points:
1. Not many can detect the improvement of higher kbps
2. Expensive earbuds are way better than the default ones.

3. 128kbps AAC isn't all that bad.

It's fairly easy to detect the differences (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346105)

I can tell the difference between 192 and 128 kbps. It's all in the treble which sounds less bright at 128 kbps. It's very easy to detect lower bit rates if you concentrate on the treble.

Reading the FA was a waste (4, Informative)

emptybody (12341) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346125)

that article doesnt provide enough data to make any conclusions.
maybe they should go back to statistics 101

Re:Reading the FA was a waste (1)

jcgf (688310) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346209)

This is maximum pc here. They're not about accurate statistics, they're about:

1. convincing everyone that they absolutely need to be concerned with details down to the areal density of their hard disks when building PCs to sell more expensive drives

2. complaining about inacurrate benchmarks, yet still using them to judge products

3. selling the latter half of the magazine for ads

4. ??????

5. profit

Not worth it? (4, Insightful)

Lost Engineer (459920) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346133)

FTFA

we just don't think DRM-free tracks alone are worth paying an extra 30 cents a track for..
Have fun buying your album again to play it on your cell phone's MP3 player.

MOD PARENT UP (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346309)

The fact I couldn't play the music on my (Nokia) phone's built-in music player was the reason I stopped buying from iTMS. I'll probably start again now. 256Kb/s AAC is the same quality as the music I've ripped from CD, and the convenience is a huge incentive.

Cost and quality (2, Insightful)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346149)

"Eight of the 10 participants expressed a preference for the higher-bit rate songs while listening with the Apple buds, compared to only six who picked the higher-quality track while listening to the Shure's."

I don't buy this. I have a friend who claims to be an audiophile - and he is - with sound equipment worth well over $40,000. He states that the more expensive and professional your gear is, the easier it is to spot low quality music.

So the article contradicts with his statement, and I have to agree with him on this one. Logically speaking, professional speakers should produce results far closer to the source than the ones that aren't.

Re:Cost and quality (0, Troll)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346193)

I have a friend who claims to be an audiophile - and he is - with sound equipment worth well over $40,000.

Clearly your friend has too much money... My music is not so important to me that I would spend more on it than your average sports car...

Whatever floats your boat (1)

Goonie (8651) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346459)

My music is not so important to me that I would spend more on it than your average sports car.

And in large parts of the USA you won't be able to use that sports car remotely as intended (woo-hoo, that road up to Mount Sunflower has my Ferrari convinced it's back on the [wikipedia.org] Stelvio Pass [wikipedia.org] ...). In that case, you may as well save your money on your sports car and buy the blow-your-house-down stereo.

I wouldn't buy either, myself, but different strokes for different folks...

Re:Cost and quality (5, Funny)

FightCopyright (1098295) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346265)

Yeah, well I used to have a gf who claimed to be a Scientologist, and she gave over $40k to the church. She states that some alien is responsible for blowing up volcanos that created humans, but you know what... the bitch is just wrong.

Re:Cost and quality (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346329)

You're assuming A) a minimum level of quality, so that "better" means "better in all areas" not just "better on average". and B) that it's impossible for deficiencies one area to compliment improvements in another. In short, while what you say is generally true, there are a lot of variables.

For example, the data loss in AAC encoding is most noticeable at higher frequencies; it's possible that A) the Apple headphones have better clarity at higher frequencies than the Shure headphones, or B) that the Apple headphones have less bass response and therefore more accentuated treble response, or C) that the Apple headphone require higher volume levels which when combined with the loudness filter on the iPod produce more attenuation in the treble range or D) a whole class of other interactions might make the encoding rate difference more obvious even though the overall quality of the headphones is lower.

Re:Cost and quality (1)

JRGhaddar (448765) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346363)

Well I think the big issue here is they are earbuds, not speakers. I work with closed heaphones pretty much all day and nothing beats the Sennhesier HD 650. It's pricey but it gives a me the absolute best sound when working with film. I'm not a sound mixer or designer but the ones I work with turned me onto them and I haven't gone back since. The close cups block out outside noise and help you focus on the sound.

Earbuds are tiny little speakers shoved in your ears the total amount of accuracy is hard to gage and there is very little difference between most earbuds. Now the Shure are ear canal earbuds but honestly its hard for me to tell the difference. No one in the editing room that I know uses earbuds for that reason. Now for just listening on your ipod an expensive earbud isn't going to make that much if any difference. Now comfort that is what I might pay more for.

If people want to know more about headphones

check out http://www.headphone.com/ [headphone.com] they have lots of info

Re:Cost and quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346389)

Its a fairly dodgy test from the moment they decided to use earbuds.

It would only be valid for people who wear earbuds as headphones and studio monitors are a lot better.

(And even in that situation its lacking because its such a quick and dirty test with some fairly weak results)

Re:Cost and quality (0)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346441)

He states that the more expensive and professional your gear is, the easier it is to spot low quality music.

Shouldn't it be that the more money you spend on your equipment, the better your music sounds in general?

I've been privy to some equipment much nicer than I've deserved over the years, and I have to say that the professional-grade equipment that I've used have made crappy recordings sound much better than they should have. I've had to drop back to the built-in speakers on TV's to see if things will sound right in a natural habitat, as they sound pretty darned good on professional monitors. Perhaps then the question isn't "Will a better speaker make the differences in sound more pronounced?" but "Will a better recorded audio track degrade more elegantly on bad speakers?"

Re:Cost and quality (2, Insightful)

pev (2186) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346445)

Logically speaking, professional speakers should produce results far closer to the source than the ones that aren't.

Er, WTF? Audiophiles don't use 'professional' kit they buy posh shiny Audiophile setups. If you want to listen to music as the recording engineer intended, buy a set of decent powered studio monitors for far less then supposed audiophile setups. You'll be far closer to the intended sound than any artificial response you get from consumer gear. And yes, audiophiles are consumers too, just consumers with more cash to blow than common sense.

As a bonus thought, instead of spending 10K on hardware, spend some thought instead on looking at the acoustics of your listening space.

~Pev

Re:Cost and quality (1)

Skippy_kangaroo (850507) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346575)

Kinda, sorta, but not really.

Many rercording engineers preview their mixes on the most attrocious speakers they can find to check that it still sounds OK on the kind of equipment. It will sound much better on better gear and they know it - but they know how 90% of people will listen to it and want to cater to that possibility. It's not about recapturing the way they intended it (that is in their head, not on a studio monitor or an audiphile rig). (Why else do you think pretty much all the CDs released have been compressed to within an inch of their life [wikipedia.org] .)

Re:Cost and quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346509)

I don't buy this. I have a friend who claims to be an audiophile - and he is - with sound equipment worth well over $40,000.

Do all of your friends suffer from brain damage, or is he the exception?

Re:Cost and quality (2, Insightful)

raehl (609729) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346551)

I have a friend who claims to be an audiophile - and he is - with sound equipment worth well over $40,000.

I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not. Assuming you're not... ...having $40,000 in sound equipment says about as much about your ability to judge sound quality as spending $300 on Celine Dion tickets says about your taste in music.

Humidity?? (5, Funny)

TopSpin (753) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346153)

Clearly these test are inadequate, or at least they haven't disclosed enough information on the testing conditions. As any true audiophile knows, headphone performance is strongly affected by atmospheric conditions; I'll bet that if they had bothered to maintain proper water vapor saturation levels in the test facility the complete the inadequacy of the ear buds would have been obvious to everyone involved, because sensory receptors (hair cells) in the human ear only achieve full sensitively under controlled conditions.

No doubt they also failed to account for magnetic field alignment; the flaws of low bit rate reproductions are much easier to perceive when the listener is not aligned with Earth's natural axial vectors. The solenoidal force lines ruin the high band pass attenuation of any digital audio and will make both low and high bit rate reproductions equally poor, so naturally there wasn't a strong correlation among the test subjects.

Idiots.

</sarcasm>

Re:Humidity?? (1)

vertigoCiel (1070374) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346207)

You should've left out the tag just to see how many people would've flamed you assuming you were serious.

Re:Humidity?? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346315)

That's called "trolling", you douchebag.

Re:Humidity?? (1)

Tickletaint (1088359) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346403)

On Slashdot, irony—when written for anything but the thickest of numbskulls—is considered trolling. Thanks for the tip.

Summary .... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346171)


The Maximum PC staff listens to some crappy bands.

Too Many Variables (1)

vertigoCiel (1070374) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346173)

Hardly a conclusive or thorough study - were it really double-blind, some subjects should have heard two 128 Kb/s tracks, while others heard two 256 Kb/s tracks, and there should have been a "no difference" option. Also, some types of music, or some particular musicians, make it much easier to discern difference between bitrates, but every subject listened to a different song.

Personally, I can tell the difference between 128 and 256 versions of most Radiohead songs, where there are frequently numerous layers of instrumentation, while Coldplay songs, which are more simplistic, make it harder to discern. However, I can only tell the difference when I'm using my Etymotic ER-6i's - it's impossible for me to tell when using Apple buds, or my Sony MDR-XD2000 over the ear cans - even with my youthful teenage hearing.

Re:Too Many Variables (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346247)

while Coldplay songs, which are more simplistic, make it harder to discern.
I prefer Coldplay @ 0kb/s

Re:Too Many Variables (1)

tooyoung (853621) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346299)

Hardly a conclusive or thorough study - were it really double-blind, some subjects should have heard two 128 Kb/s tracks, while others heard two 256 Kb/s tracks, and there should have been a "no difference" option.
If you had RTFA, you would have know that there was a "no difference" option.

Points of interest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346185)

Thee facts from a shure user (I've had 3 generations of shure's)

1> Th earbuds are weird, and I mean really weird, generally when you get a new set of shure's you spend around a week getting them right, and trust me, it's amazing, truly amazing for someone who had been using basic Ipod ear phones before hand, to hear the lovely difference. However it did take a week to get them right and without getting them right they were very poor. So if the test didn't give the users who probably were all used to apple earphones at least a week to acclimatise, the test between the ipod and shure earphones is invalid.

2> Shure have been known in previous generations for weak base, something which I haven't heard is bad on the ipod earphones (as I understand it they are poorer in quality in all areas it's just there is no specific weakness)

3> One of the primary uses of these type of earphones is noise isolation, but if the user isn't very careful they get crackling/fuzz in their ears from the wires rubbing on clothes- weird but true. For a new user they surely wouldn't be aware of this.

On another note, is this a reflection of how shure makes good quality out of both bitrates, bad quality out of bitrates, much less vary between bitrates or what? It doesn't really tell us much. I suggest they should have played a tune and said "what bitrate is this" rather than which one of these two tunes is the higher bitrate.

Phew - saved by slashdot! (4, Funny)

rueger (210566) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346211)

Judging by the comments from the six people who actually got to read the article I'm glad it got slashdotted before I wasted my time on it.

Re:Phew - saved by slashdot! (1)

crazyvas (853396) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346501)

Are you suggesting that you would have otherwise RTFAed? That's as bad as suggesting you have a girlfriend.

Apple earphones != throw aways (3, Interesting)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346227)

Despite what Apple charges for a set of its replacement buds, the earphones that come with 90 percent of the digital media players on the market are throw-away items--they're only in the box so you'll have something to listen to when you bring the player home.

I'm a musician. I've recorded and released an album [cdbaby.com] (sorry for the shameless plug but it's only to put my post in context - honest). I own expensive studio earphones, have experience mixing and mastering etc.

I don't own a 5th generation iPod but I do own an iPod Shuffle that has since stopped playing MP3s. It still works as a storage device and I still have the headphones. I kept on to the headphones because I prefer them over all other ear buds I have. They don't beat the studio headphones, but I would not consider them "throw aways". I found they're pretty good quality and I began using them with all of my portable devices. I would generally agree that most ear buds that come with cd players and probably many other mp3 players are of relatively low quality, but I was very impressed with the ones that came with the iPod Shuffle. I will never throw them away.

Re:Apple earphones != throw aways (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346395)

Releasing an album does not make you a musician. Neither does strumming a guitar and caterwauling like so many other long-haired white guys in coffee shops. Just a heads up.

Play some Bird's blues and/or Bach, then we'll talk.

Re:Apple earphones != throw aways (1)

dn15 (735502) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346587)

I agree that they're at least decent. I won't pretend they're top-of-the-line but I've heard much worse from the cheap-o end of the earbud / headphone marktet.

I don't care about 128kbps... (0)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346321)

...can we get confirmation/rejection on whether these 256kbps AACs are indistinguishable from CDs (or better yet, the masters that produced them). They sure sound good enough for my ears and equipment anyway. I just hope more follow in EMIs footsteps.

Increase the bitrate? (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346325)

To our subjects ears, there wasnt a tremendous distinction between the tracks encoded at 128Kb/s and those encoded at 256Kb/s. None of them were absolutely sure about their choices with either set of earphones, even after an average of five back-to-back A/B listening tests... We'd be more excited if Apple increased the bit rate even further, or--even better--if they used a lossless format.

Ok, so by DOUBLING the bitrate, there was only a marginal increase in quality... to the point where on a good set of headphones, detection was only 10% above random and even then people weren't sure. And from this, it is determined that a higher bitrate or (Holy Grail!) lossless compression is needed.

Talk about ignoring your data for the desired conclusion.

256 Kb/s is low? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346327)

We're all for DRM-free music, but 256Kb/s still seems like a pretty low bit rate--especially when you're using a lossy codec.

I may not be an audiophile(though I quite appreciate music), but in my opinion, 256 Kb/s is a fairly high bitrate. Personally, I find music encoded at about 192 Kb/s(I use Vorbis quality 6, which I believe is about equivalent to that at the moment with MP3—I admit that I know nothing about AAC) to be quite adequate. The only reasonable "standard" lossy bitrate above 256 Kb/s that I can think of is 320 Kb/s, and when you start to go that high, it'd start to seem as if disk space is not really a concern at all, in which you could save yourself all the hassle by just going with lossless music at source quality.

I have a sneaking suspicion that some of the people who use very high bitrates with lossy music do so either out of ignorance, or out of a desire to create an impression that they are "true aficionados" of quality sound.

treble troubles (3, Interesting)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346353)

Me, personally, what I find unsatisfying about compressed music is that the treble is the first thing to go, and even at high bit rates AAC and MP3 each seem to just make all cymbals, brushes, triangles, and synthetic tones in the high registers sound equally like white noise.

I found a tonality frequency setting in LAME that seemed to cure this problem, but neither iTunes nor ITMS seems to let you adjust or purchase based on this issue.

Perhaps not everyone is sensitive to this, but maybe there are other settings or aspects of compression that other people are sensitive to which I am not...leading one to the possible conclusion that compressed music might be made better by personalizing each rip to the hearing response of the listener rather than compromising on an average human hearing model.

Re:treble troubles (1)

scramjet (623354) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346535)

Could you let us know which setting this is? I sometimes think I can hear some distortion in the upper register even with LAME 192kbps VBR and would love to have a way to reduce it.

Hearing loss (1)

dj245 (732906) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346609)

Most of my friends seem to have quite a bit of hearing loss (all under 25). I don't seem to have much, though, and I've worked in steam turbine and gas turbine power plants (exceedingly loud places). If these test subjects were anything like my friends they have to turn up music so loud that it is impossible to tell the difference between a cell phone speaker and an Imax theater.

Slashdotted by 36 comments??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346371)

Seems to be down for the count - 8:05pm CDT....

sigh

Wait a sec... (5, Funny)

cciRRus (889392) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346379)

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.
Shouldn't that be a "double-deaf" test?

Did they test if ordering mattered? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346381)

I mean there might be a difference between listening to the high quality first then low quality versus the other way around. I find it easier to detect the differences if I listen to the low quality version first. The differences are almost always discernible at the higher frequencies in the song.

What science? (0, Flamebait)

poptones (653660) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346517)

These people couldn't even draw a reasonable conclusion employing logic, I fail to see how they could conduct a reliable test...

To our subjects' ears, there wasn't a tremendous distinction between the tracks encoded at 128Kb/s and those encoded at 256Kb/s. None of them were absolutely sure about their choices with either set of earphones, even after an average of five back-to-back A/B listening tests. That tells us the value in the Apple's and EMI's more expensive tracks lies solely in the fact that they're free of DRM restrictions.

Does this remind anyone else of the old story about the frog?

Scientist makes frog hop, frog jump four feet. Cuts one leg off, frog hops three feet. Researcher notes removing one leg makes the frog hop one foo less. Cuts another off, notes the frog hopes only 2 feet. Cuts another off, notes frog can hop only one foot when it has one leg. Cuts off remaining leg and when nothing he can do will incite he frog to hop, puts in notes "removing all legs from frog makes it deaf."

The DRM makes absoilutely no difference. In fact, I'd wager a DRM wrapped CD would still sound like a CD and a DRM wrapped 256kbps aac would still sound (and measure) exactly like an unprotected one. The difference in sound should have absolutely nothing to do with the absence or presence of DRM except under the most demanding (ie one of those uber high end systems with a golden ear where the most minute fluctuations in power supply coupling can aler the most minutely revealed parts of the sound... and probably not even then in a double blind abx).

DRM is simply a container, not a codec technology... but of course that doesn't suit the "cold, dead hands" anti DRM agenda so in fashion - so let's just make a completely insane conclusion and hope no one notices...

Re:What science? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346749)

You missed the point; article's data suggests that since the more expensive tracks do not sound significantly better (the higher bit-rate is barely noticeable, compared to the sound difference between cheap and expensive earphones), the higher price is not for "better sound" and so (by elimination) must be for "less restricted use". This is interesting, as it quantifies the degraded value of DRM.

tr07l (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346519)

mo8e stable [goat.cx]

Age and music choice (3, Interesting)

Charles Dodgeson (248492) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346541)

The unexpected age results (that older people were better at telling the difference for the bitrates) may well be a consequence of music choice. Each subject picked their own music, and it is very clear that these quality differences are more noticable in some types of music than in others. The first time I played an iTunes purchased classical piece on a cheap component stereo system, I thought something was broken. I hadn't noticed a problem with most popular music, but I find some jazz and most classical digitized at 128bps un-listenable on my low-end component stereo.

Close but not quite (3, Interesting)

progprog (1016317) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346553)

One of their key ideas was having the participants submit music they were intimately familiar with. Unfortunately, they should have taken the idea to its logical conclusion: having each participant tested only with songs they submit. Also, they could have at least published the statistics on how participants performed on the song they submitted.

I find it easy to tell the difference between say lossless or even 320 and 128/192 when listening to music I'm very familiar with. But give me a set of random songs I've never heard before and I'd have a much harder time. You don't have to be an audiophile - you just have to be paying attention.

My grievance with low bit rates and/or inferior sound equipment is simply that you won't know what you are missing. And I'm not one of those gold-plated cable audiophiles either -- my "serious" listening equipment is the Etymotics ER4s with a headphone amp. Used for lossless songs, of course.

Better for albums (4, Interesting)

AlpineR (32307) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346555)

The big difference that the 256 Kb/s + DRM-free option makes for me is that now I'll buy albums from iTunes Store. Previously I would use iTunes to buy one to three tracks if there was some artist I liked but didn't want a whole album from. But usually I order the CDs online for $8 to $14, rip them to AAC at 192 Kb/s, and put the disc away to collect dust on my overflowing CD rack. Now I can get higher quality cheaper and faster.

Yes, ideally I would rip all my music to a lossless format. And ideally everything would be available on SACD at 2822 KHz rather than 44.1 KHz CDs. But that's just not practical with my 500+ album collection. It'd fill up my laptop's hard drive real quick and allow me to put only a fraction onto my iPod.

I'm also disappointed that the article only tested the tracks on iPods with earbuds. Most of my listening is on a decent stereo system fed from my laptop. Ripping is about convenience, not portability. I only use my iPod when riding the Metro or an airplane. With all the outside noise the bitrate doesn't matter.

And being DRM-free isn't just a matter of idealism. I get frustrated when I go to burn an MP3 CD for my car and discover that one of the tracks I selected is DRMed. Sure there are ways to get around it, but it's just not worth the bother.

AlpineR

128 is terrible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19346619)

I Hate listening to mp3's in 128. Most sound terrible compared to higher rates. The treble has that digital hiss that floods the music. I go for 192 or 256 vbr and either sound great, cant even tell the difference from that and the original CD

It doesn't matter what others hear (1)

Charles Dodgeson (248492) | more than 7 years ago | (#19346631)

It only matters what you hear with your music and your listening conditions.

I sometimes like to listen to classical on a cheapish low-end component stereo. At 128bps, the quality is so noticiably bad for me as to make it pretty awful. But I don't have that problem with many other types of music under other listening conditions (car, iPod, computer speakers). So when I get a chance (I'm travelling now), I'll see what 256k does for me under the conditions that matter. The results may mean that I'll buy more classical from iTunes.

But it really shouldn't matter to you what difference I hear. Run your own tests, with your own music under your own listening conditions. If the quality difference isn't big enough for you to clearly hear, stick with what has been working for you.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>