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

Illustration for article titled 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.

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]



I was using cheap headphones which have shit bass and I'm pretty sure the diaphragm is starting to tear in one... The horrors of having been an A/V tech at one point. You never stop noticing the compression artifacts once you know what to look or listen for.