Young music fans deaf to iPod’s limitations – Times Online
Research has shown, however, that today’s iPod generation prefers the tinnier and flatter sound of digital music, just as previous generations preferred the grainier sounds of vinyl. Computers have made music so easy to obtain that the young no longer appreciate high fidelity, it seems.
The theory has been developed by Jonathan Berger, Professor of Music at Stanford University, California. For the past eight years his students have taken part in an experiment in which they listen to songs in a variety of different forms, including MP3s, a standard format for digital music. “I found not only that MP3s were not thought of as low quality, but over time there was a rise in preference for MP3s,” Professor Berger said.
mp3 doesn’t have the dynamic range of a .wav file, although surely it captures more than vinyl or a cassette! Ears are like eyes — not everyone can hear in high resolution.
The dynamic range of an mp3 does not differ so much from an uncompressed .wav or .aif file. The difference lies in how music has been mastered in he last decade. Too much limiting, too much compression during the mastering process. At this point many people are used to that clipping sound and many young people have grown up with it. It’s how all pop music sounds at this point
On the other hand, listen to an mp3 file from my One Guitar album, the source of which was NOT compressed at all and you will notice that the mp3 does a very good job of delivering the dynamics of the recording.
I would conclude that the professor looked at the wrong data. The culprit is not the mp3 file, which as LR points out can be no worse than a cassette was, but the way recordings are mastered today. The last Metallica album will sound flat as a pancake (no dynamics whatsoever) whether you listen to the CD or an mp3. (((I haven’t heard that album, but many people have written about it and Stevo has told me)))
Please note that the term “compression” is used for two very different events.
1. Compression AKA Audio Level Compression AKA Dynamic Range Compression is the act of literally squeezing the music file to make the soft parts as loud as possible. This results in music that can be heard over the engine of your car or in noisy restaurants, but it also means that the dynamic range is lost. Hm, imagine Dürer using a sharpie instead of pencil. On or off, no gradation, so subtlety etc.
2. Compression AKA Data-Compression, is designed to reduce the size of audio files. There is Lossless Compression, e.g. FLAC or Apple Lossless, and there is Lossy Compression, e.g. mp3, OGG and nearly every movie on DVD!