A group of 18 high school and 40 college students with different expertise in sound evaluation participated in two separate controlled listening tests that measured their preference choices between music reproduced in 1) MP3 (128 kbp/s) and lossless CD-quality file formats, and 2) music reproduced through four different consumer loudspeakers. As a group, the students preferred the CD-quality reproduction in 70% of the trials, and preferred music reproduced through the most accurate, neutral loudspeaker. Critical listening experience was a significant factor in the listeners’ performance and preferences. Together, these tests provide new evidence that both teenagers and college students can discern and appreciate a better quality of reproduced sound when given the opportunity to directly compare it to lower quality options.
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