Are normal listeners able to identify any significant differences between multi-channel audio codecs when listening to commercial music releases on good quality, consumer audio equipment? Audio professionals have often questioned whether consumers are able to hear the difference between high density, uncompressed multi-channel formats and lower data-rate delivery formats. In this study, formal subjective listening tests were conducted according to the ITU-R BS.1534 (MUSHRA) recommendation to evaluate consumer perception of popular 5.1 surround sound formats, namely Dolby AC-3, DTS, WMA Pro and mp3surround. Results suggest there is a threshold data-rate below which consumers are able to hear audible differences. Experimental design, methodology and results will be presented and discussed.
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