haha i got confused. I didn't mean 196, i meant 128.
so to recap
250 first place i hear/see changes
320 good/act like i can hear difference between wav
Trying to keep a dying thread alive. Here's my epic tale.
I thought people were full of it when they would talk about huge differences. I've heard more than what I've listed here and I was unimpressed with all the stuff I omitted. I absolutely know that 1) we adapt a large degree to what we're listening to, and 2) a lot of expensive stuff doesn't sound as good as the AKG's to me. Even though they really sound better with a good amp... since I don't have a good DAC or Amp that's actually mine, I just take stock in the fact that I know they're better than what I started with and I just enjoy the sound in my Shure's (at work) or AKG's (at home).
I'm absolutely certain that A/B testing isn't as effective for me as long term familiarization. How can it be if I didn't recognize the 256kbps artifacts and lack of depth issue until after more than two years of listening? I ABx'd that to death when I chose 256kbps but after listening to better for a while, I suddenly saw what was up.
@OP I applaud your honesty. I waded into this hobby skeptically trying not to spend to much money unless I was sure that I was noticing real improvements. My first were Senn PX100, and I was very impressed over the crap I had been listening to before. My next major upgrade was the SE530. When I first got them, I didn't like the sound at all, and they seemed to lack bass completely. I felt like a sucker, and had a sick feeling in my stomach. But then with a little adjustment and the right tips I found a good seal and things improved dramatically. Still I didn't feel like they were worth the money, until I had listened to a lot of my music, and discovered so many things I had never heard before. Then I listened to Kid A, and it absolutely blew my mind. So I guess I started with the assumption that this was a bunch of people faking it to be a part of a club, and didn't expect much, but I was proven wrong by my own experience. I can definitely hear the difference between 192 and 320. Not so much (at all really) between 320 and lossless. 128 is crap. That said, I can really only hear the difference well with the SE530, and not so much with phones. Forget about subtle differences like 192 vs 320 with the phones I have. The SE530 will bring it out though. Anyway, like I said I applaud your honesty! I love it when people don't give in to peer pressure, or say and do things they don't mean or feel just to be a part of a club. Maybe this just isn't for you. There's nothing wrong with that. At least you are REAL, and are not a poser. Shame on anyone who would dog you for that. I have more respect for someone like you than for some audio snob with like 20K posts that likes to look down his nose and be rude to people who haven't spent tens of thousands of dollars on multiple uber rigs.
You guys don't hear a difference in more accurate timbre, clarity, speed, instrument separation, warmth/cold, etc?
I have the K701s, ER4S, Monster Miles Davis Tribute, Bose IE2, Portapros and have tried out numerous others - and I hear a difference between all of them!
However, I listen mainly to genres with organic instruments (Classical, Jazz, etc), and I'm also a musician (piano/guitar/drums). What gets me excited is hearing instruments on recordings sound exactly as I know them to. I absolutely lloovvee accurate timbre, and dynamics - I want to hear the bow tear into the strings during Shostys SQ's, or that ride cymbal to sound full and like it's in the room.
If I listened primarily to more digitally produced music or styles filled with effects and distortion, I probably would have went with other equipment. I love Apoptygma Berzerk and Black Eyed Peas etc, but being honest...it's the other non-electronic genres where I think my headphones/iems shine, and that's usually what I put on to show them off.
You're listening on the computer right? Dial in some EQ already. A parametric EQ really helps you find out the problem frequencies of your music and tune them out accordingly, like this:
edit: even toying with whatever graphic equalizer comes with your player would be a good start
I can rarely hear any difference between 320kbps and lossless, and to hear the difference I need a dac, an amp and good headphones.
difference between 250kbps and 320kbps is also impossible to hear with some tracks.
I had a track once that was 128kbps, but I like the song so i wanted to get a better version.
After getting the song in 320kbps, I A/B'ed them and strangely enough I prefered the 128kbps.
So i deleted the 320kbps version and kept the other one.
The thing is music is very emotional to me and i don't care what's better or worse technical speaking. I just take whatever i think sounds the best.
128kb/s -> 320kb/s = Big difference for me. More can be heard, and it's a lot more lively.
192kb/s -> 320kb/s = Differences are audible, I can pick out one or two things different with the recording.
256kb/s -> 320kb/s = There's a difference, I can hear something different, but they are extremely small and subtle, you have to try to listen for it... Which kills the song since you're all focused on listening for the differences in sound rather than enjoying the music.
This is comparing MP3 @ certain bit-rates. Not a conversion from lower to higher (arrows might be a little misleading).
A lot of my songs are also 256AAC (not included in comparisons) due to iTunes' store purchases. I have trouble telling those apart from 320kb/s MP3 as well. It could also be how iTunes/iPods play them as well.
The difference between some bitrates can be hard to pick up on if you compare MP3s side by side, but I think our brain and ears can tell the difference even if we can't immediately discern between them.
Any higher fidelity stuff with rich production values always sounds to me like there's a noticeable extra layer of polish when I listen to FLAC, 320, and good VBR vs 128. I can tell the difference between 128 and higher bitrates almost without fail - 128 kbps imparts a clunky unsatisfying sort of feel to drums, and overall the texture of the music comes through as less finely detailed. The difference between a good ~256kbps VBR MP3 or 320 or FLAC is a lot more subtle, and I think is perceived more on an unconscious level. Higher bitrate music feels like it has a "presence" that isn't felt from the lower bitrates, even though it's difficult to put your finger on what exactly sounds different. I think that's the cumulative effect from all the extra subtle layers our brains perceive, even if we can't consciously tell what's different. I've always thought that was the big factor at play in the analog vs digital debate. Even if you can't consciously tell the difference in blind listening tests, there's something subtly better about the sound of vinyl that's hard to write off.
Our ears and brains know there is a difference, when there is something missing in the sound our ears hear, the brain tries to automatically fill it in so it sounds correct. As bitrates increase, it's easier for the brain to do this (less gaps). At lower bitrates, the brain may fill in some things incorrectly (loss of timbre). As you add more and more detail in, the changes get subtle because the brain was already adding the differences in itself.
I've been pulled into the world of "audiophile" listening recently too. I have a pair of Beats by Dre Tours IEM's that I thought sounded great. I initially came here reading about Comply foam tips, as they are somewhat hard to come by in Canada. Then I read all the hate for Beats products, and decided to give another headphone a try. After reading, conferring with members and many days of debating with myself, I picked up some Miles Davis Tributes. Do they sound better than the Dre's? A little. Am I happy with the purchase? Absolutely. Will I get rid of the beats? No, they are good for some types of music over others.
My other debate has been with whether I should keep my music in ALAC lossless, or convert to 320kbps MP3. I can't hear much of a difference, if any, and the space savings would be great. But in the end, I decided to keep the ALAC files. Storage is cheap, I do stream music to my stereo, where I can hear a difference between the two, and I'm futureproofing my music investment. Can't go wrong with lossless, if just for the knowledge that you have the best you can get in portability. I think that's the major factor. Knowing that I have the best quality I can get makes me happier than saving space.
In the end, I'm still trying to just enjoy the music, instead of trying to hear the "attack, blackness of the sound, or the space between notes". If you can enjoy what you hear, then you're still doing something right.