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Honestly - can you hear the difference between lossy and lossless?

Discussion in 'audio' started by Funk, Apr 12, 2021.

  1. Phil Bishop

    Phil Bishop pfm Member

    This topic has been on constant repeat for years in hi fi circles, rather like the vinyl vs digital debate, and I never tire of it :)

    Various opinions above, some discussing playback through high end systems, some discussing tests.

    The fact is when you are doing a test you are actually listening out for differences. I bet if by accident one chose a lossy file and played it back through a high end system without being aware of the mistake, most of us would be non the wiser (I'm talking iTunes, Spotify Premium, etc).

    Reminds me of the time my parents played a whole LP (Pepe Jaramillo) on their state-of-the-art B&O stereo in the 1970s and did not realise they had the turntable set at 45 rather than 33 RPM until I pointed it out :rolleyes:

    I also can't be too smug. Amongst the many mistakes I have made is having a mono switch on without realising it - I knew something was amiss but could not put my finger on it for a while, even though stereo was disabled! :eek:
    John and Funk like this.
  2. wylton

    wylton Naim and Mana member

    I have an Auralic Aries Mini with a linear psu. For what it is, I'm really happy with it, but no way does it compare to a turntable with a decent sounding LP. So whether or not one file type sounds better than another is somewhat academic IMHO.
  3. Funk

    Funk pfm Member

    But.....that isn't what's in question. The question is; given a lossless and lossy audio format in a blind ABX comparison, are your ears able to discern the difference.
  4. Heckyman

    Heckyman pfm Member

    I keep trying. But as my system gets better my ears get worse...
    Phil Bishop and wylton like this.
  5. wylton

    wylton Naim and Mana member

    A good answer tbh, but equally, it is a good question too and one that I ought to address, if only out of curiosity! Certainly, for me, the free version of Spotify at 160 kbps is no use to me whatsoever from a sound quality point of view, but I’m curious as to the validity of higher resolution downloads. I suspect that on a blind test, if the source material was of a reasonably high standard, I’d not score 100% between lossy and lossless.
  6. RoA

    RoA Well-Known Member

    Probably not for much longer if everyone was thinking like you and I mean no offense but things DO move on ...
  7. Octavian

    Octavian pfm Member

    Not at all. It is all about fidelity to the original sound, not about subjective preferences. They have no relevance in true hifi reproduction.
  8. Heckyman

    Heckyman pfm Member

    The fact is, even Spotify sounds really damn good if your source equipment is good and you're not "listening with your eyes". I have it already for the family, so the question is what is worth paying for over and above that?

    Qobuz, downloads or CDs are maybe better, but it's close. The acid test: I'll often play something on Spotify that I own on CD/download rather than get up out of my chair!

    I get the joys of collecting, but personally I don't want more "stuff", my house is too small...
    John and booja30 like this.
  9. wylton

    wylton Naim and Mana member

    With respect, moving on and improving are two different things, so we'll not see eye to eye on this point. I do have a sizeable library of music on the HDD, but I will continue to fill the wall with vinyl and will doubtless go the way of the dodo.

    I have no idea what that means tbh. We are kidding ourselves if we believe that our hi-fi bears any resemblance to the original, but we can put together a collection of equipment that is subjectively enjoyable; perhaps that means that I have no interest in what you call 'true hifi reproduction.' I'll just stick to sitting in my room listening to music if that's alright with you.
  10. foxwelljsly

    foxwelljsly Hawkwind and Fire

  11. Fretbuzz

    Fretbuzz pfm Member

    Fifty something (forget exactly). I got 5/5 on one track and 2/5 on another, and the rest in between. But none of them were that obviously different.
  12. Anh

    Anh Naim ghetto blaster

    For 95% of modern pop & rock, it’s really pointless above 320 kbps and a £250 digital source.

    In cringe at hifi reviews for 4/5 figure systems and they play modern chart music downloads on them to validate the sound quality.
  13. Guinnless

    Guinnless pfm Member

    I found Spotify on first impressions to sound OK but over a longer listening time just failed to capture my attention and keep me engaged.

    CD quality is great and most 24bit versions are better although I have come across a few exceptions though where I've gone back to CD. Maybe crappy mastering?
  14. Big Tabs

    Big Tabs “telling it like it isn’t...”

    Says it all for me as well. (a lot less typing as well)
  15. Curtis

    Curtis pfm Member

    And the award of bell end of the month goes to.......
  16. OldSkool

    OldSkool pfm Member

    Indeed - I find watching music on TV through the in built TV speakers on something like Jools Holland completely engrossing if it's music I like and I don't notice the lack of bass response/dynamics/imaging/sound stage etc. In fact I always think it sounds great even if when I shut my eyes I realise the SQ is nowhere near as good as my hifi. I think when you can see the musicians playing the brain fills in a lot of the missing audio information.
    Funk, Rack Kit and davidsrsb like this.
  17. Brian S

    Brian S pfm Member

    A couple of days ago I moved an integrated amp into a rack that had been previously occupied by a power amp. On the lowest shelf of this rack lingered my old Acam CD player. It struck me that playing my, unused for years twenty year old, Alpha 7 CD player through this system, I could do a direct comparison between the dac in the Alpha 7 and my relatively new Chord Qutest. I would discover how awful the years out of date dac in a modest machine would sound. The truth: I wouldn't go so far as to say there was bugger all in it, but I couldn't go farther than saying, perhaps the Qutest was a little more full bodied....perhaps?

    This is not to decry the Qutest, I have a Brooklyn and Hugo. All to my ears excellent. But it is to say, bloody well done Arcam. I rember thinking, years before how superior my upgrades had been.
    Robert and Curtis like this.

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