Audio quality: Can you tell the difference?

There’s a lot to be said for quality. In our offices it’s a word we live by, and we hope that shows through in the music catalogue we make available on our Open Ear Player as well as in the playlists we create. But what about sound quality? Is it something for audiophiles, snobs, and those who talk the talk (all the time...) to get uptight about? Or is it something that matters when you consider conflicting sources for our aural attention, the impressive new technology available, and a genuine, head over heels love of music?

We can’t answer that. But, much like when you flip a coin and feel disappointed when you get tails, we know a way to find out. NPR have released a test to see how well you can hear audio quality, and we found that just by taking it we discovered to what point we really cared about the finesse and detail of our listening pleasures. Will you be enraged when you fail to differentiate between a 320kbps MP3 and an uncompressed WAV? Or will you discover that it all sounds exactly the same, and the pressure on your bank balance for that new headphone DAC is now relieved?

For what it’s worth, our music catalogue is comprised of 320kbps MP3s as we find these give us the greatest balance between audio quality and server space usage. Our venues use a range of audio set ups; some make use of precision sound engineering, others make do because they have to. Speakers, their placement, sound dampening, rabbit eared neighbours... they all make a difference to a greater or lesser extent.

We can offer help and advice with a lot of these things, however quality is always a balancing act, as we think you’ll see with the NPR test. Check it out!

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