Originally Posted by MCC
It never hurts to encode things in the best quality you can- storage is dirt cheap these days, and a lossless library means you'll never have to re-rip. Even if you can't tell the difference now, you might later after some upgrades.
Edit: I use my HQ collection to feed my portable collection, where I use Lame v2. The difference is non-existent for me with my portable equipment, but at least I have a good collection to take from should this change.
The argument that storage is cheap is made frequently without the qualification of your edit. Yes storage is cheap for computers, which is why I'm slowly reripping everything to lossless for an archive. However, storage is not cheap on portables. Except for Archos players, large capacity isn't available for any price, new. Unfortunately, Archos players don't meet my other requirements such as gapless playback. If my 160GB iPod dies, I'll have to go back to deciding what music to not have on my iPod and I hate doing that.
Originally Posted by melomaniac
if instead of playing a whole song/piece, you just A/B a section, it should be quite clear, even on a system that is not otherwise revealing
I've never used a longer clip that 30 seconds and I've used as short a clip as a single cymbal crash, and I've never heard the difference with my Stax SR-Gamma. Part of it probably has to do with age, part to lousy memory for subtle differences in sound, and part not training my brain on what to listen for. Although the last 2 shouldn't have been a problem with a single cymbal crash.
There was a thread last year with Dave Mathews and Guns & Roses samples and directions for using a Java based ABX software that produced tamper proof results. If memory serves, one person who participated in the thread, passed the ABX test.