I've mentioned this a few times in other threads but it doesn't hurt to mention again that ears like all our senses need training.
The problem is that sound and hearing is much more difficult to quantify generally as we do it so passively in comparison to looking and touching and tasting food.
The best artists and chefs have a big advantage as looking and tasting as it's much easier to quantify as everyone uses and TRAINS these senses every day.
That is why even a lot of 'professionally recorded' published music by seemingly reputable studios can simply sound crap because the man/woman behind the mix hasn't trained their hearing enough or actively enough - which doesn't simply take one or two years.
Most people will readily give a reasonable opinion on the taste and quality of food or a painting, but not when it comes to sound from electronic equipment or the various timbres of the orchestra. Most musicians have a natural advantage here as after years of actively listening to their own instrument they will at some point seek out a better quality instruments and listen to the differences in sound between them, whereas most people would just say "a violin is a violin is a violin."
Keep training those ears. 256kbps mp3 is not a bad place to start - I'm sure a lot of folks here had even more humble beginnings.... tape deck anyone?
Edited by GREQ - 1/10/13 at 1:47am