Over the last decade, there has been considerable debate over the benefits of recording and rendering high resolution audio beyond standard CD quality audio. This research involved a systematic review and meta-analysis (combining the results of numerous independent studies) to assess the ability of test subjects to perceive a difference between high resolution and standard (16 bit, 44.1 or 48 kHz) audio. Eighteen published experiments for which sufficient data could be obtained were included, providing a meta-analysis that combined over 400 participants in more than 12,500 trials. Results showed a small but statistically significant ability of test subjects to discriminate high resolution content, and this effect increased dramatically when test subjects received extensive training. This result was verified by a sensitivity analysis exploring different choices for the chosen studies and different analysis approaches. Potential biases in studies, effect of test methodology, experimental design, and choice of stimuli were also investigated. The overall conclusion is that the perceived fidelity of an audio recording and playback chain can be affected by operating beyond conventional resolution.
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