Although many hi-fi aficionados see the ubiquity of lossy music compression as a backwards step in the progress of audio technology, it looks as though the younger generations are not only embracing its convenience, but also stating a preference for the sound of compressed music.
O’Reilly blogger Dale Dougherty
recently attended the Information Technology and the Public Good
event at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, where one of the speakers was Stanford University’s professor of music, Jonathan Berger
According to Dougherty, Berger described a test he performs each year with his new students. In the test, the students have to listen to a variety of recordings that span several compression formats from MP3 upwards, and then state which one they preferred.
According to Berger, the preference for MP3 files rises every year, explaining that the next generation prefers the “sizzle sounds” of MP3s because they’re familiar with them. Dougherty likens this to the preference for vinyl records among some people who grew up with the archaic discs, saying that it’s not necessarily down to a perception of higher quality as much as the fact that they’re used to that particular sound.
Audiophiles like the “sound artifacts of vinyl records – the crackles of that format,” says Dougherty, adding that it’s “familiar and comfortable to them, and maybe those affects became a fetish. Is it now becoming the same with iPod lovers?”
Are you a pure vinyl lover or are you happy enough with an MP3 jukebox? What’s your music compression format of choice? Share your audio preferences in the forums