I was seriously into music in my youth and then stationed in Germany in the late 70's, we would spend most of our paychecks on audio gear. As the years rolled by, my stereo became "less and less" and then as I was always a very early adopter of new technology, thinking I was on the cutting edge, I started listening to mp3's before most even knew what they were. As the years rolled by, that was what I became accustomed to listening to, thinking it sounded just fine to me.
Then about a decade or so ago, I re-discovered my love of music for more than just background music and went about slowly putting together a better stereo.
Not that my system is all that great compared to many, it did end up being much better than anything I thought I would ever own. My main system now consists of a pair of ML SL3, a PS Audio D.L. III, either a Conrad Johnson PV2AR preamp or a Proceed AVP preamp, with either a carver MT-500T , a Spec II, a Denon POA2800 on the panels and a super restored and upgraded Bose 1801 on the woofers for my digital music.
Nothing super great, but not really bad either - I think of it as sort of a step or 2 up the rungs from an average system, tho others may disagree and think it is average at best.
I only mention what I have because it has been my experience that as my system has gotten better, I started listening and judging my music differently. It started out i thought I was seeking clarity, detail etc, but imo, I soon realized that you get that with pretty much any decent stereo system. As my system grew, those were just a given, but then I started thinking of words like texture, layering, transparency etc. basically it comes down to the sound stage. As detail, clarity etc are for me a given, I soon started judging not only my system but the source files I was listening to by how realistic of a sound stage I was getting and the nuances in the voice etc.
Again just my opinion, but getting the basic things isn;t that hard or expensive, it is when i started seeking out those small nuances when I discovered why some gear cost so much. You are not paying 3-4 times as much and getting 3-4 times the system - you are paying that extra amount seeking those small nuances - that little bit of extra decay on those cymbals, hearing all the different shades and nuances in the voice, and then the point I am eventually going to make, the sound stage.
I used to say things like "if I close my eyes I can picture them in the room", but then I did not want to have to close my eyes and pretend, I wanted it with eyes wide opened. I want to hear in the recording that Rick danko is maybe a few feet and a little bit in front of Robbie on the stage (if live), levon a bit to the right and a few feet behind etc........
Simply put, i began seeking the most realistic sound stage I could afford.
And finally my point - and this is where I discovered, at least for my ears, I really do not care what a test on some equipment might tell me, but I could almost immediately tell you if I were listening to an mp3 or a good quality flac (there are a whole lot of poor quality flacs out there also).
With mp3's, listening to my music went back to say 2d listening. No separation of the artists , everything was just all bunched together. Of course you have the obvious separations like if they are playing guitar etc strictly out the left side, but with an mp3, at least for me, there is a very noticeable dropoff in the things that O now looked for in my music - the texture, the transparency etc.
I used to take some sort of pride in the fact that I had thousands and thousands of mp3's i collected over the years.
As my system got better, that library began to shrink rapidly until now I have very few mp3's and those are only albums that I have yet to find/get in a good quality lossless format.
If I am listening to music as background noise, an mp3 will do just fine and it will sound pretty good. But If I am sitting and actually listening to the music, for the most part I would not even consider playing an mp3. Of course with everything there are exceptions. While i could tell the difference, if i am listening to say cat Stevens where it is just him and his guitar sitting or standing in front of the mic, while i still lose transparency and texture, i can "suffer" thru the mp3 as it isn't quite as noticeable- but there are not many artists/albums I can say that about.
While not scientific, I ripped 10 songs into mp3's from my flac files and then loaded the mp3's and the flacs into a playlist, using J river set for bit perfect playback.
I then left the room for a bit and had my son rearrange the songs in a random order, came back in the room and standing where I could not see what files were playing, had my son play me the songs.
In almost all instances, I could tell if it was an mp3 or a lossless file in under a minute, most even quicker. I mentioned cat Stevens earlier because one of the songs i ripped was father and Son and that one did take me over a minute - I still guessed correctly, but I did have to listen "harder".
Most tho were pretty much instantly recognizable.
It was not the detail or the clarity that gave them away to me, it was the transparency, the texture etc.
One can not argue that with an mp3 you are dropping information. I could be wrong and often am but I am now of a mind that the information it does drop seriously affects the things I listen for most now.
Now many will insist that an mp3 ripped at 320kps sounds just as good to them and for them that is great, i am glad it is working out for them as they must be saving a bunch of hd space, but at least for my stereo and my ears, mp3's really need not apply. There are enough really poorly engineered albums out there as it is so i don;t need to throw mp3's into the mix and just make it worse.
I can't tell anyone else what they do or they do not hear, but I would suggest that if you can't tell the difference between an mp3 and a good quality lossless file, I think maybe you might want to try a better dac. Made a HUGE difference for me anyway.......but, as we all know, we all listen differently so let your own ears be the judge.
After decades of listening to mp3's, I had forgotten how good music really could sound............at least for my ears
long 1st post, sorry. I am quite verbose
That long first post of yours is the manual of TOS #8 (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=3974#entry149481) violation. Good job!
Please do some ABXing (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=16295). Witness the powerful magic of science.
Also, it's all pretty off-topic.
(figured I'd spare the mods some time... )
Here we have a stark contrast between a first poster who provides evidence and one who provides useless ancdotes.
I will be binning this last post in short order unless someone else beats me to it.
donberry, please review the rules you agreed to follow before posting on our forum again.
well, the objective test of this was I did a blind a/b test and picked every song correctly.
Sorry, trust me, won;t happen again
You didn't even care to write about your mp3 details. Maybe if you are talking about CBR128 files from the old days of Napster 'filesharing' you maybe trusted. Claiming to hear clear differences on an extreme regular basis concerning very high bitrate mp3 files produced by an actual good encoder versus lossless files on a loudspeaker system would be really unbeleivable.
That long first post of yours is the manual of TOS #8 (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=3974#entry149481) violation.
Hardly. It describes a single blind test. Not good enough to meet
TOS8, but not a world class attempt at violating
For that, you'd do a sighted test of DACs, listening to the DACs on different days in different locations using different amplifiers and speakers, and then comment on the difference in sound between the DACs.
Seriously, if someone has done a single blind test, they need to be coaxed, not shouted at. They're already trying to do the right thing.
P.S. I'll save Arny the trouble, by posting this link for him: Why single-blind isn't accepted in rigorous scientific testing...