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Discrimination of MP3-Compressed Musical Instrument Tones

In order to determine the acceptable compression rate for MP3 codecs, listeners were asked to discriminate various rates for eight different musical instruments. The clarinet proved to be most sensitive to compression even at rates approaching 128 kbps, while the horn was least sensitive at rates of 56 kbps. Discrimination scores were strongly correlated with the signal-to-mask ratio and spectral irregularity. Spectral error accounted for more than 80% of the discrimination variance. Objective measures of the sound source predict most of the discrimination sensitivity.

JAES Volume 58 Issue 6 pp. 487-497; June 2010
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AES - Audio Engineering Society