As a walker, I admit, I was thrilled that my chosen streaming service – Spotify – announced that it was launching a new layer of streaming services. lossless audio streaming. Of course, this will cost more than what I pay now, but throwing away the expected $ 20 a month for perfect sound sounds pretty great, right? My future travels have just improved tenfold.
Like Napier Lopes on the next network write:
“Spotify Premium (existing ad-free level of $ 9.99) now streams with a maximum of 320 kbps (256 kbps on the web) if you’re activates this in the application settings. Although at low bitrates the differences between lossy and lossless audio can be quite obvious, I’m willing to bet that most people can’t distinguish a lossless file from 256 kbps MP3 – not to mention a file compressed with more the modern Ogg codec that Spotify uses.
Our hearing is the subject of many placebos. Just believing that a certain upgrade or key specification will make the sounds of your speakers or headphones more often is more likely to lead to “improvement” than any actual change. Yet many audiophiles with golden ears will swear that they can hear a difference without evidence. “
Because Spotify’s HiFi service won’t be released until later this year, you can’t directly test its streaming without loss. However, it is quite easy to find out if you can tell the difference between audio files with different bitrate and compression at the moment. Lopes recommended ABX digital feed testwhich gives you two audio files – sample “A” and “B” – as well as a target sample. Your task is to tell if A or B fit the goal, and you can choose between a faster five-track “can I say loss against loss” test, a ten-track test, or a mega-20 track test.
In other words, the test checks if you can say a difference between a lossless version and a song loss. And if you think it’s going to be easy, fine … here’s what the test setup looks like when you go to use it:
Click A, X, or B to start playing a song, and you can switch between versions by clicking A, X, or B whatever you want. Even then, it was quite difficult for me to understand the difference between the files in most situations. Either my hearing sucks, or it’s really really hard to separate Spotify’s 320Kbps streaming – its highest quality – from a lossless file.
I’m not even going to show my results because honestly I was just guessing most of the time. Probably my home audio setup – basically a pair of $ 150 headphones plugged directly into the motherboard of my desktop – just isn’t good enough to allow me to hear the difference between a high-quality file and a lossless file. But even with a more sophisticated setup, it’s a tough test as a Reddit user describes:
I did this test with LS50W in a treated room. I got about 65-70% right. The thing is, I REALLY had to focus hard, listening critically in a completely inorganic way. Still, I made a high percentage of mistakes even so. The difference was so small that I switched to Spotify from Tidal after doing this test. I haven’t looked back since.
If you want a more naked quiz, NPR also published a similar study in 2015 that you can use to test your ears. This way I did a great job of choosing a 320Kbps file. But the file without loss? Not so much.
And if you happen to have a lossy and lost file of the same song, you can try this old school trick to compare the differences between the two:
However, I wouldn’t do a more expensive hifi audio service if you can’t tell the difference between that and the “normal” streaming service offerings, no matter what you have at home – headphones, speakers or ears. You will spend money on a “benefit” that you will never appreciate, and that seems silly.