The Listening Test from a few weeks back was interesting.
I had a few votes come in by email, and adding those to the ones made publicly in the comments, we get this result:
- 63% said it was the 75% WMA
- 25% said it was the FLAC
- 12% don’t knows
63% of respondents were correct: File 1 was indeed the 75% WMA.
- 63% said it was the 10% WMA
- 25% said it was the 75% WMA
- 12% don’t knows
63% of respondents were indeed correct. File 2 was the 10% WMA.
- 88% said it was the FLAC
- 12% said it was the 10% WMA
Most people got this one right: File 3 was indeed the FLAC.
So it seems as if most people really can tell the difference between uncompressed and compressed music formats -but it’s a relatively narrow call when it comes to telling the difference between gentle compression (75% WMA) and drastic compression (10% WMA). Most people got it right even so, but the margin was quite a bit narrower.
I asked the question because (I am somewhat sad to find) I couldn’t tell the difference between the FLAC and the 75% WMA, in good listening conditions (Bose speakers, etc), despite the one file being just 15% the size of the other. It would seem my ears are not as good as I thought (it expect it comes with age!) Happily, I could spot the 10% WMA a mile off, the compression artifacts making me grit my teeth at one point.
I then tried the experiment on the train, listening via ear-buds and playing from a Samsung Galaxy SII phone: and all three files sounded exactly the same, perhaps unsurprisingly (everything sounds crap on a train!)
The point being that, as I approach 50, it’s perhaps unnecessary for me to upgrade my RAID array from a mere 8TB to 12TB (which will cost a bomb, with 3TB hard disks still costing around the AU$300 mark). I could compress all my music files instead, saving as much file capacity as I was planning on adding, and I’d never tell the difference. (Except that, of course, I would know, intellectually, that frequencies were missing, and that would annoy me no end. So I’m sticking to FLACs for now, even though they are unnecessary for my particular pair of ears!