I'm starting to get interested about doing listening tests, as I have now invested enough in my system to not worry about upgrades for a while, plus I would very much like to use these tools for the forces of good. But unfortunately I'm deaf and dumb when it comes to spotting encoding errors - I played around with LAME 96kbps transcodes from foobar a few days ago, and I was unable to A/B one sample from the original, and ABXing an easier one was very doable but tougher than I would have expected.
Does anybody have suggestions for the best way to train my ears for listening tests? I'm aware of Arny's old site (http://www.pcabx.com/training/index.htm) but the last time I tried to download all the samples quite a few were missing. Otherwise I intend on doing what I have been doing, which is to keep testing at the threshold of audible differences between samples, and perhaps download listening test samples and compare my results with those of others.
Check ff123's page (http://www.ff123.net/). It's a great resource.
This doesn't really answer your question, but I'd say if your not sensitive to encoding artifacts, keep it that way, and get some musical training instead.
What do you mean by "musical training"?
Encode a file at low bitrate 32-64k at these bitrates artefacts will be easily heard by you without abx. Now abx these files even if its easy so you get the feel for the proceadure and artefacts. WHen you are bored try raising the bitrate to 96k and so forth... Be patient and do these tests at night when its quite + try to use good earphones.
When I started I couldn't abx anything at 128k. After a few days I found the 1st problem sample. Now it doesn't take me long to find faults at 128k and sometimes higher bitrates. You are right it is tougher than you first anticipate and I wouldn't be suprised if many so called audiophiles fail to abx lame 128k.