An excellent article about sound quality at Trusted Reviews.
a few people in the last six months or so - people who take their audio gear seriously and have spent thousands of pounds on Hi-Fi equipment - have admitted privately to us that 256kbps MP3 is easily good enough for serious listening, and that they struggle to hear much difference over 192kbps MP3 in many situations. This got us thinking: when we claim that we can tell the difference between a 320kbps MP3 and a FLAC encode, are we really hearing some substantial difference, or are we merely telling ourselves that one is better than another?
It's tough to tell apart music encoded at 320kbps with MP3 when compared to a FLAC encode. However, a 192kbps encoded MP3 has lost a few important qualities.
- The bass is not as deep. If your CD music is loaded with booms, then each punch of it will sound like an anvil being dropped. A high compressed MP3 will reduce that sound to a dropping of an empty cereal box.
- The instruments get muddled. Classical music with FLAC sounds incredible. The instruments sound crisp and clear. When one compresses the music, the instruments seem to overlap; their sounds fade. The beauty and skill of the musicians sadly gets jumbled up.
- Certain sounds are almost impossible to hear. Often, very faint cues that add a nice layer to the music are hard to hear on an MP3. Though, it's possible that the fault lies with the audio equipment one uses to listen to the MP3 rather than the compressed file itself. If you're not familiar with Grado, Logitech or Creative, then it's likely that you're not getting the optimal audio experience.
Link via Instapundit.