If you thought ‘hi-fi’ was marketing mumbo jumbo…
According to a study carried out by Queen Mary University in London, people are actually able to distinguish the difference between standard audio and hi-res audio quality. The study compared data from more than 12,000 different trials across 18 studies.
In the study, participants were asked to determine the difference between samples of Jazz and Classical music in different formats.
Dr. Joshua Reiss from QMUL’s Centre for Digital Music in the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science explains why the study was conducted. Reiss says that the motivation cames from constant discussions in the music industry regarding whether hi-res audio is necessary, or likely to make a any difference among consumers.
“Our study is the first attempt to have a thorough and impartial look at whether high res audio can be heard. We gathered 80 publications, and analyzed all available data, even asking authors of earlier studies for their original reports from old filing cabinets. We subjected the data to many forms of analysis. The effect was clear, and there were some indicators as to what conditions demonstrate it most effectively. Hopefully, we can now move forward towards identifying how and why we perceive these differences.”
The findings of the study are somewhat interesting, as it validates the entrance of Tidal— Jay Z’s high-fidelity streaming platform — into the music streaming market. After launch, the service experienced widespread skepticism as many said that there is no need for Hi-Res audio, because it doesn’t sound any different.
Those people opted for rival services Spotify or Apple Music, which have a much lower sound quality and cost half the price. It is believed that Tidal hasn’t experienced as much success as its competitors in the music streaming market because people didn’t see the value in paying for a platform that had high-fidelity audio quality and lossless sound. However, it seems as though people can in fact distinguish the difference between sound quality.
This means that there is hope for Tidal, with price playing a more determining factor.
“Audio purists and industry should welcome these findings – our study finds high-resolution audio has a small but important advantage in its quality of reproduction over standard audio content.”
((Image by Tess Watson, Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0))