AES: Hi-Res Audio is Perceptible

According to a new study published in the June issue of the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society (JAES), listeners can hear a difference between standard audio and better-than-CD quality—high-resolution—audio.
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New York, NY (July 5, 2016)—According to a new study published in the June issue of the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society (JAES), listeners can hear a difference between standard audio and better-than-CD quality—high-resolution—audio.

The meta-study, by Dr. Joshua Reiss of the Centre for Digital Music, Queen Mary University of London, compared data from 18 studies involving 450 participants listening to samples of music in different formats. In total, the studies involved over 12,000 different trials where participants were asked to discriminate between formats. Overall, listeners could distinguish between the formats, especially if they had been trained to hear a difference. This is the first time that formal meta-analysis techniques have been applied to audio engineering research.

Reiss stated, “Our study finds high-resolution audio has a small but important advantage in its quality of reproduction over standard audio content. Trained listeners could distinguish between the two formats around sixty percent of the time.”

In addition to training, the research suggested that careful selection of stimuli, including use of long duration samples, may play an important role in the ability to discriminate. Studies that did not show an ability to discriminate were generally more prone to biases or flaws in their design. Reiss concluded that “the perceived fidelity of an audio recording and playback chain is affected by operating at a resolution higher than the CD standard.”

Regarding the type of content for which high-resolution recording and playback most made a difference, Dr. Reiss said, “The jury is still out. The studies that most showed an effect mainly used jazz and classical music, but this wasn’t exclusive. We looked at lots of factors like choice of content and equipment. Results suggested that listeners often needed to listen to each sample for more than 30 seconds, but possible factors were mostly overshadowed by training test subjects in critical listening skills specific to the test, and in general, good experimental design.”

As an Open Access document, Dr. Reiss’ research can be freely downloaded from the AES.

AES
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