Can you tell the difference between 96/24 and 44/16 and mp3?

Mark Waldrup who has produced hires albums for his own label and lectures in audio production has devised a test to see how easy it is to differentiate between resolutions.

sign up form towards end of page.


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Thanks for the link. I signed up and am looking to the taking the challenge and seeing the results.

I’ve also signed up. I’d love to believe that high res’ audio is better quality, but I have my doubts. I’ll guess we’ll find out :slight_smile:

Although I signed up I also think that this “test” is doomed to fail because of the following:

“I spent all weekend converting the tracks using Sonic Studio’s professional software tool PROCESS to do the conversions. I took the native 96 kHz/24-bit PCM masters and downconverted them to 96 kHz/16-bit, 44.1 kHz/24-bits, and 44.1 kHz/16-bits (CD “Redbook” spec). I will also create constant bitrate MP3 versions at 320 and 256 kbps for those interested in compressed formats. Then I converted all of downconversions back to 96 kHz/24-bits so that all of them are precisely the same size. I have been very careful to ensure that they are the same volume.”

Since there are now up conversions and down conversions in many of the files there will be those who would say that these conversion steps have altered the sound of these files, thus making any useful comparisons impossible. People cling very tightly to their beliefs, right or wrong.

Anyone else doing this test, I’m ploughing through it at the moment. If nothing else it will tell me whether my hearing is up to searching out high res albums or not.


From Mark’s latest email

So, if you haven’t yet asked to participate, downloaded the files, done some comparative listening, and submitted your selections, PLEASE take this opportunity to sign up and submit your results. I would like to especially encourage anyone under the age of 40 to take the challenge. It seems most of those that have submitted the final form are somewhat older. It would be great to get some younger ears involved.

So come on you under 40s (lucky bastards) and show off your bat like hearing.


I think your metric for success is wrong. No amount of evidence will dissuade an audiophool from his beliefs. The purpose of the test is to see whether you can hear the difference. Depending on how you feel about such things, the result will either be reasuring or unsettling.

I completely agree with you, however I just pointing out that the test methodology provides a very easy way for audiophiles to dismiss the entire test and results. Just as saying “if you can’t hear a difference then your system is not revealing enough”. Basically megabuck systems need megabuck cables, power supplies, power conditioners, power cords, etc.

A fool and his money ….

John_B, I am not under 40… Yet have many times downloaded 24/96 and 44/16 of the same albums to test the difference. I have a revealing system and like to think I am not that biased (too much).

So what? I hear little difference most of the time. Some file are slightly better and some have a little more depth or a slight difference in presentation. I would not be too unhappy with redbook as to me 96/24 is not a night and day affair.

A better master or remastered 44/16 will sound better than a poorer 96/24 flac file IMHO.

At home we have blind tested same flac tracks (not to lab conditions) 96/24 - 44/16 with unconvincing results that 96/24 was always better! I can not hear any difference 192/24 - 96/24 as a rule.

What I can say IMHO is system tinkering and upgrades provide for better SQ than file size/type.

We all hear differently ear to brain and we should celebrate that difference.

I had taken a similar test between 16/44.1 320kbps mp3 & 128kbps mp3. While I could usually pick out the 128 as the lowest quality, it was a 50/50 guess for the 16/44.1 and 320 mp3.

Does this stop me listening to 16/44.1 or even higher resolutions? No, because even though I struggled to hear the differences between the formats I still like to know that the information is there for me to try and discover.

And that sweet sweet placebo makes everything sound better!