[Random Science] Audio Challenge: Lossy vs Lossless, can you hear the difference?





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Published on Jun 16, 2012

Can you tell the difference between a 256 kbps VBR "lossy" MP3 file and a lossless file (typically above 500 kbps VBR)?

In this video, I will show you how to do so using free tools to do an ABX test.

ABX Test: 2 fixed files (A and B) are used as a reference to compare an unknown sample (X), which is either A or B (single-blind test). If you can correctly identify X, you can tell the difference between A and B. The more times you do this test, the more accurate your results will be.

Typically, 10+ tests are done for the best results, and to make it a double-blind test, the "Hide results" box should be checked so that you can't see the results of your tests until you end the test.

Particularly at 3:16, I actually did have to make a guess since that section of the audio is hard to distinguish between the FLAC and MP3 version (if you've listened to the song at that section, you can understand).

I apologize in advance for the "cruddy" video quality. I uploaded the original video file directly on to YouTube, so the video quality you're seeing is a result of YouTube, not the CamStudio screen recording software.

Tools used:
Audio Equipment:
FiiO E7 USB DAC/amp
Shure SRH940

Foobar media player (Windows only):

Foobar ABX utility/add-on:

Music used for testing:
Illness Sickness - Anything But Postrock
Available for free download (legally) here:

How I converted the original FLAC music file to MP3:
LAME MP3 3.99.5 encoder with Foobar's built-in conversion tool:

If enough interest is shown, I can upload a version for Mac OS X as well.


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