See If You Can Hear the "High Definition" Audio Jay Z Is Selling

Jay Z’s newly acquired and relaunched streaming music service Tidal claims only one difference from Spotify and the rest: superior audio quality. Is it worth switching? Here’s a simple test that’ll help you decide whether it’s worth forking over $20 a month for the best of the best quality.

Sixteen of the world’s richest pop stars fed us a lot of idealistic bullshit about the future of music yesterday. But if you take Tidal’s A/B test and you can’t tell the difference between the low-quality and high-quality tracks, just stick to the crappy Mp3s you ripped in 2002.

In the test, you’re presented with five songs, each in both low and high quality. You’ll be able to switch between them as they play, and even listen again if you would like. Whether or not you can distinguish doesn’t just have to do with the quality of your hearing. The environment you’re in, the gear you’re using, and whether or not you’ve trained your ears for close listening all play a part as well.

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I first wrote abut this test in the fall, but it’s worth revisiting in the wake of Jay Z’s hype parade. Remember: No matter how high you score, you were probably listening really carefully. Chances are that if you’re on a streaming music service you’re listening to tunes in noisy environments like public transportation or the train. Hell, you’re probably listening in the background at work as Gchat notifications pipe up ever other minute. Can you hear those bass flourishes over the sound of your screaming child?

Tidal’s $20/month service is only worth it to horrible nerds (like me!). Don’t t pay the Jay Z premium if you’re not sure you’re one of them. [Tidal]

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Can You Hear the Difference in High Quality Music? Test Yourself

Here's a simple test that lets you toggle between an extremely high-quality file music file and a low-quality music file. Can you tell the difference?

We've been hearing for years that MP3 encoding ruins music with its lossy compression. But can you really tell the difference? New streaming music subscription service "Tidal" is amongst the first to offer lossless audio, and in an effort to get more people to sign up, it's set up this simple A/B test. Fire it up, and the test will play you a song and allow you to toggle between two versions of five possible songs. This is a blind A/B test, meaning you won't know which is high quality and which isn't, which is one of the surest ways to eliminate your biases in choosing one or another version.

A number of things can affect whether or not you can tell the difference between lossless and lossy music, including the health of your hearing, training to know what to listen for, as well as the quality of your gear.

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I got 4/5 right on my good mid-range headphones, but it's harder than you would think! And if I hadn't be scrunching my face and listening super carefully, who knows if I would have noticed. If you score very low, maybe you're not the type of person who needs to be investing in lossless files? Which great, that's a lot cheaper for you.

Let us know what you get in the comments below. [Tidal]

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