Originally Posted by aszental
am i failed audiophile?
Im running a HD497 through a Xi fi sound card and can barely tell the difference between a 128 Mp3 and a Flac file.
Is there any hope for me? Or is my equipment not good enough to discern the difference?
Aszental, I doubt that. In most material encoded with modern MP3 encoders (recent LAME, iTunes not so much) 128 kbps will come very close to the source material in blind tests. I think the belief that "OMG 128 kbps sounds like trash" is largely a result of:
a) people doing sighted evaluations, which will always color your perceptions in the direction of what you think you "should" hear, and...
b) people going off memories of 128 kbps MP3s from the dawn of the computer music era, i.e. 1998-2003. Back in the days of Napster there was a LOT of low-quality MP3 product flying around, largely because most of the available encoders were hopelessly outdated, or the background behind their encoding was sketchy at best (ex. to get a 128kbps file, people would sometimes transcode UP from 64 kbps or old ATRAC.)
If you're using modern LAME (again, NOT iTunes,) 128kbps will sound suprisingly good. Your experience is likely in line with most of the listening population on 95% of the material out there. Most of the people you encounter who claim near-perfect ability to discern 320kbps from FLAC ALL THE TIME are either using bad testing methodologies or, well, lying to you.