Do normal people notice compressed audio (MP3 etc) sounds bad?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by head_unit, May 1, 2016.

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  1. DaverJ

    DaverJ Forum Resident

    East Tennessee
    Slightly longer answer:

    Most people: don't notice because equipment, listening conditions
    Some people: maybe in a controlled listening environment, once pointed out
    Too many people: prefer compressed/brick-walled audio :(
  2. nolazep

    nolazep Slava Ukraini!

    I'm sure most people either don't notice or don't care.
  3. Drewan77

    Drewan77 Forum Resident

    I envy my mate who listens to music anywhere & everywhere - doesn't care if it's playing in a shop, on AM radio, a crap car stereo, earbuds, a jukebox or a hifi system - fidelity has no interest for him, only the music. He wouldn't dream of joining a forum like this & nor would most people I know.
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  4. eric777

    eric777 Astral Projectionist

    Most people don't care. I remember discussing a Christian Agulara (or however you spell it) song with a girl once. She said she loved it. I said that that the music sounds processed. She responded with "her voice sounds great though".

    Most people don't listen to music as a whole. They gravitate towards what they like and discard the rest. Something like mp3 doesn't matter to them because they can still hear the parts they like.
    SandAndGlass and Grant like this.
  5. Kyhl

    Kyhl On break

    My experience with non-audiophiles suggests that they don't care. When presented with a better alternative they may notice, or be polite and agree with you but then they shrug their shoulders and walk away, not caring to pursue the difference.

    They just want the music they enjoy without any analysis or judgement on the sound.
    Grant, head_unit and cleandan like this.
  6. T'mershi Duween

    T'mershi Duween Forum Resident

    Man, I quit giving a **** about what "normal people" care about a long time ago.

    I say let the peasants enjoy their low-grade sonics and cheap, personal consumer electronics if it makes them happy.

    I plan on indulging in great sound and gear despite what the general public does.

    And no, I don't think most people notice and if they do, they seldom make any effort to improve their audio situation. Music is just trivial entertainment product or background noise for most people. They don't want to pay for music, much less good gear to listen to it on.
  7. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    My short opinion is that they are used to it, and don't know any better! There is an excellent book written by Aaron Copland, "What to Listen for in Music", c 1939 McGraw Hill Book Company Inc. I believe this book is out of print. (there are revised editions out there) The book pre-dates hi fidelity sound, but I feel an essential resource for any person into audio, a musician, or anyone who loves music. By "knowing" what to listen for, the ear trains to the quality of an instrument, voice, and all the fundamentals and nuance of music.

    If the millennials are to develop a "better" taste for music, and listening to music, we need to get back to music. The rest will naturally fall into place, such as the gear and quality of the source.

    rock on,
    Steve VK
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  8. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled me!

    United States
    One should be reminded of the distinction between the types of compression. It isn't all the same.

    Data reduction is what mp3 and lossy AAC use. What confuses people is that the lower the bit-rate is, the more it sounds like...

    Band compression. That's the one complain about on CDs and lossless downloaded music. That's the one where the louder sounds are made softer, and the softer sounds are made louder.

    It's very important to make these technical distinctions. You can't just say "compressed", because that's not technically what lossy files are.

    Before Sirius bough XM several years ago, XM had pretty good sound quality, as they were focused on music programming. Once Sirius took over, their sound took a nosedive because they had allocate more bits to more programming, namely sports, what Sirius was known for. In recent months, i've noticed that XM has increased their bit-rate for the music channels, and it sounds better than it had for years. Not quite where it was in the pre-Sirius days, but better.

    Do "average" people notice compression? Probably not, if that's all they know and listen to. Then, for band compression, they are probably so used to the compression on CDs, they think that's how it's supposed to sound.
  9. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled me!

    United States
    The OP said he didn't want this kind of post. I honestly don't know how he expected us to avoid the issue, particularly on this forum!

    The reason I am replying to you is because I disagree. :)
    Atmospheric and The Pinhead like this.
  10. mrbluedream

    mrbluedream Well-Known Member

    Southern ca

    I consider myself a normal person (on here anyways), and my ONLY source of music is mp3 or pandora.
    I have yet to hear any 'quality' source to compare to, other than TV, Playstation 4 games and dvd. Doesn't bother me at all, maybe I'm lucky.
  11. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled me!

    United States
    The first time I heard an mp3 file was back in 1998. It was something like 64kbps, and sounded absolutely horrible! My thought was how could people listen to such garbage?

    FF to recently. I just did a project for a guy who wanted his albums converted to 128 mp3. I told him that I refused to go that low, and that I would encode the music as 320. He obviously didn't understand. All he cared about was space on his flash drive. So, I gave him the finished results with his albums this afternoon. I hope he's noticed the improved sound. Then again, maybe not.:sigh: Whatev...he got some nice, professionally mastered needledrops of his music.
    Atmospheric likes this.
  12. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled me!

    United States
    You need a friend with a high quality stereo. That would change your experience.
  13. mrbluedream

    mrbluedream Well-Known Member

    Southern ca
    Unfortunatly I know no one with a high quality stereo.
    I'm fine with mine though.
  14. Rick Bartlett

    Rick Bartlett Forum Resident

    I was brought up on am radio which I thought was great in the day, and I still enjoy the nostalgia of that sound, as I do listening to a 78
    record. Now I have better gear, some audiophile Lp's, and enjoy those too on great headphones.
    I also download early bitrate mp3's which sounded terrible, and still sound terrible now listening to some of them back.
    Unfortunately, low bit rate audio does not have any charm at all.
    However 256/320 bitrate sounds pretty good for mp3 to me.
  15. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled me!

    United States
    Spot on! They usually pick out the vocalist or what they're singing. If not that's they just like the groove of the music. they aren't listening for sonic qualities, that's for sure!
    SandAndGlass and eric777 like this.
  16. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled me!

    United States
    You should stick around this forum and read the archives. Say, do you have any audio clubs around where you live? Can you get to Las Vegas to where you can attend CES in January? (You'll need some kind of credentials to get in.) Go there and attend the rooms and seminars. That way, you'll get a taste of what good audio reproduction can be. Hell, you're in L.A.. There has to be some high-end audio shops left.
  17. mrbluedream

    mrbluedream Well-Known Member

    Southern ca
    If it's every January, I'll definetly try to plan a trip, that sounds like a good time.
    Los angeles is a 2 hour drive, more like 4 with the increasing traffic.

    But, there's nothing wrong with my stereo haha. I am interested in vinyl though.
  18. Pastafarian

    Pastafarian Forum Resident

    I can't remember being overly concerned about fidelity, when I listened to my tape recording of the top twenty or listening to my new single on something like this
    to my mind not being encumbered by such concerns was a pure love of music.
    SandAndGlass and Juan Matus like this.
  19. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled me!

    United States
    Hmmm...check out the archives.
  20. Perfect sound forever

    Perfect sound forever Well-Known Member

    No they don't .

    If they did the whole industry would be in a different shape.
  21. Shiver

    Shiver Forum Resident

    Yeah people can notice the difference, if it's demonstrated - it's just most don't care enough to leave convenience.

    I've challenged friends with 'Man, how can you listen to this crap' (ultra low files) and showed otherwise. It's amazing how many didn't conceive the difference before that point. Some took heed, most probably not!
    Runicen likes this.
  22. TubularBell

    TubularBell Forum Resident

    Most people pay attention to the music and not to the sound.
  23. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    I think in most cases it´s the other way around, at least what I have noticed, the ones that are really interested in the music don´t care much about audio components.
    I think the reason is mostly components are just components, these people listen to music. I have seen this with very talented people.
  24. Larry I

    Larry I Forum Resident

    Washington, D.C.
    MP3 sound and highly compressed mix/mastering are so ubiquitous that it is actually the "sound" that a lot of people are familiar with and people tend to like things to be familiar. Not that long ago, a study was conducted where the listener heard full CD resolution music and the same music played with MP3 compression; younger listeners actually picked out the MP3 playback as sounding better. It won't be long before that sound becomes the standard by which playback will be judged.
  25. The Pinhead

    The Pinhead SUDACA ROÑOSO

    What bitrate did they use? At 320kbps most people can't tell the difference, esp with rock music.
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