Compared to the much of the animal kingdom, human beings have pretty terrible hearing. We have poor powers of echolocation, especially for sounds that come from behind us, we can only hear a relatively narrow bandwith of 20Hz-20kHz, and we’re easily fooled by illusions.
As the votes came in, the crowd was split at first, and then began to veer in favor of the software plug-in. Not only did a small-but-significant majority of listeners show a preference for the sound of the plug-in, they also believed that they had selected the hardware version, because they believed the hardware version should sound better.
There’s so much good stuff in there I could quote the whole thing. Go read it. Now.
Elliott Fienberg recently asked me on Twitter what bitrate I encode at. I use LAME MP3 @ 192kpbs CBR. I use 192kbps because that’s the point at which I can’t hear the encoding. I used to encode at 128kpbs back in the day, but started to hear the data loss at the top of the frequency spectrum.
And don’t get me started on dither.
I think, ultimately, it’s not practical to approach hearing (audio reception) and listening (audio interpretation). Our ears and brains are not microphones – psychology plays an inseparable part in our understanding of sound and music.
I also think that the quest in some circles for high-resolution audio as an endpoint format is misguided. CD resolution (notice I didn’t say ‘quality’) has a dynamic range that approaches 96dB and a frequency range that approaches 22.05kHz. We can argue all day about the quality drop-off at the extreme edges, but ultimately the music that we love fits within these bounds. That’s why Dynamic Range Day isn’t about higher-resolution formats. It’s about making better use of the resolution we’ve had available for the last thirty years.
What do you think?