Tuesday 11 December 2012

High Bit-Rate MP3 Survey Is Up!

As I discussed with a few people over the last 2 weeks, I wanted to put up an audio test to see if I can capture some data among music lovers and audiophiles regarding MP3. Well... Here it is!

Below are the instructions...  You can get the whole test package (music, instructions) from upload.to:

Feb 1, 2013 Update: The following links will be going down soon...

Original package:http://ul.to/ixt7vkgl
NEW tagged files (easier to integrate into music server):
          (Thanks Abe!): FAST
          (Upload.to): http://ul.to/a5wz1oh0
          (FilePost):  http://fp.io/588362aa/
TORRENT of the tagged files: Get Torrent File

BTW: Feel free to convert to ALAC/WAV/AIFF/etc. or use the Foobar ABX plugin...
'Audiophile' High-Bitrate MP3 Audibility test:

Hello folks,
As "everybody" knows, MP3 quality is poor compared to the original uncompressed source, right? Recently, there was a discussion on Audio Asylum (hangout for a number of audiophiles:
http://www.audioasylum.com/index.html) about the merits of MP3 in 2012. As expected, a number of respondents opined that within seconds, even high bitrate MP3 (~320kbps) could be differentiated from the original CD source due to the poor sound quality from lossy compression.
Thus was born the idea for this test...  My hope is to obtain ANONYMOUS statistics from music lovers to see if:

1. It is true that high bit-rate MP3 can be differentiated in a naturalistic setting (ie. in the comfort of your own home with your own equipment).

2. There is any correlation between ability to differentiate the sound quality with the equipment used (ie. would be great to gather info on cost of equipment used and list of what was used to listen!).

I know over the years there have been many blind tests and such, but I hope this isn't a stressful exercise. Have fun with it, maybe have a little get together with audiophile friends and enjoy the evening while listening.

------- PROCEDURE----------
Your 'mission' (should you choose to accept):

In this ZIP are 3 songs in 2 Sets presented as FLAC's. ONE of these Sets (either A *or* B) was processed extensively through an MP3 encoder (LAME 3.99.5 – latest stable version) at a high bitrate ~320kbps:

1. "Time" from Pink Floyd off the 2011 re-master of "Dark Side Of The Moon" - a 2.5 minute excerpt with all the ruckus of chimes, bells and clocks in wonderful detail and space. A classic audiophile test track. DR11 - good dynamic range for a remaster in the 21st century.

2. "Church" from Lyle Lovett off his 1992 record "Joshua Judges Ruth". Even if you're not into country music, this track has plenty of layered vocals, hand clapping, and a choir to appreciate. IMO the early 90's resulted in some awesome recording and mastering efforts. DR16 here folks...  About as dynamic as you'll ever hear off a CD!

3. "Keine Zeit" from Megaherz off the recent 2012 album "Götterdämmerung". About as heavy as they come!  Recommended by a resident metalhead on Audio Asylum who feels this would strain MP3 encoding. DR6 is typical of recent releases.

Have a listen to each Set, remember ALL three songs were processed the same way for each Set, so if you think "Time_X" is an MP3 encode, then "Church_X" and "KeineZeit_X" (X = either A or B in this case) must also be MP3 processed.

I know the temptation is there for many, but please do NOT open up the audio files with a file editor until you’ve had a good listen and completed the survey! We listen with our ears, not with our eyes, right :-)?

Once you have listened, come fill out the ANONYMOUS survey – EVEN/ESPECIALLY IF YOU DO NOT HEAR A DIFFERENCE! (only 6 questions):

I will report on the results of this survey in about 2 months (February 2013) on my blog including analysis to give everyone time to listen as well as specifics on the bit rate and how I molested the files through the MP3 encoder!

Happy listening and happy holidays everyone!

Survey complete - Part 1.

Note that the procedure and testing is purely for research / educational purposes. The audio files are partial segments borrowed with no intent or opportunity for any financial gain on my part. Please erase the audio files once testing is over and if you enjoyed the music, purchase the respective CD's as described above. Thank you!

Sunday 13 May 2012


Welcome everyone to my first foray into the Blogosphere...

In these pages, I hope to share a few thoughts into topics I'm passionate about which will be revealed and which I'm sure will evolve in time. Along the way I hope to do a few things like get folks involved in surveys and "tests"...  Stay tuned...  I feel an idea coming up :-)