I do feel that it matters, but mostly only with more revealing rigs and equipments... it wasn't as noticeable until I got my current Pico -> WA6 ->K701/HD650/RS1 rig, where the separation between the two rates has become very evident IMO. Before with my old Hotaudio DAC -> EF1 I did not find that there were too many differences at all. Also, I'm sure this was mentioned already in this thread (I didn't read through it all), but the quality of original recording plays a big factor. For example, I've had instances where I've had a decent LAME 256kb mp3 beat out my Oasis (what's the story monring glory) FLACs in perceived quality and overall enjoyment... as many of you might now that particular recording, as well as most of Oasis albums, were mastered very poorly. So there are many other factors to consider in the overall equation.