August 2015
« Jul   Sep »



Hearing test

This was on the Wheatstone news letter a few months ago. NPR has an interesting test to see if one can hear the difference between various quality .mp3 and .wav files.  There are six cuts with three versions each; a 128 kbps .mp3, a 256 kbps .mp3 and a .wav file in no particular order.

That NPR article can be found here: How Well Can You Hear Audio Quality?

I listened to all of them and found the 128 kbps .mp3 was pretty easy to pick out.  On the newer material, it was sometimes difficult to tell the difference between the .wav file and the 256 kbps .mp3.  Keep in mind that most radio stations stream at 64-128 kbps.  Online music services like Pandora (64 kbps for free listeners, 192 kbps for subscribers), Spotify (96-160 kbps for free listeners, 320 kbps for subscribers) and Apple (256 kbps for everybody) offer slightly better quality, especially for paid subscribers.

It is too bad one cannot simulate 15 IPS analog tape.  I would bet that a well mastered recording on analog tape would stand out above anything even remotely compressed.

Others have compared streaming audio to analog FM audio and found that fairly high bit rates are needed to make the quality equal: What bitrate is needed to sound like analog FM?

One more thing to keep in mind, HD Radio runs 96-144 kbps on the main channel and 20-60 kbps on the sub channels.

Be Sociable, Share!

6 comments to Hearing test


    Just a brief comment. Except for a occasional tape print thru, I like the sound of my half track Technics Pro 10″ reel to reel @ 15ips. Even without Dolby processing the sound is clean and natural. MP3’s are no match.

  • Paul Thurst

    Print through is the bane of analog tape

  • Nick Straka

    I understood the HD to be 96kbps total in unextended hybrid mode. When the 2,3,4 comes along they slice up the pie to give the main 48-64kbps and then divide up the rest.

    Also Apple and Spotify are AAC streams and not MP3, for a given bit rate AAC will usually win over MP3.

  • David

    Interesting test. I picked 4 out of 6 just by using the built-in speakers of my Mac Book Pro.

    Thanks for sharing that article Paul!

  • Bob Roe

    It’s unfortunate thing is quantity is more important than quality. They want to jam in so many streams now it’s painful to listen to an HD-2,HD-3,and hell even stations that have a HD-4 stream. Nothing beats a good quality, properly processed audio on analog FM. Some of us are real proud on how well our stations sound. HD does not stand for “hybrid digital” but “HIGH DOLLAR” radio.

  • KJ4MDG

    I thought it stood for “half-ass digital” 🙂

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


A pessimist sees the glass as half empty. An optimist sees the glass as half full. The engineer sees the glass as twice the size it needs to be.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
~1st amendment to the United States Constitution

Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.
~Benjamin Franklin

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is hard business. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
~Rudyard Kipling

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers
~Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, Article 19 was discovered, and not invented, and that these frequencies and principles were always in existence long before man was aware of them. Therefore, no one owns them. They are there as free as sunlight, which is a higher frequency form of the same energy.
~Alan Weiner

Free counters!