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Prashant Pathak
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Everyone who claims that they need more than 192kbps will happily admit that they are part of a small minority and also that it may not apply to all types of music. Therefore, the question is not really whether the population at large can hear the difference, but whether these individuals can hear the difference. The current experiment design can not answer this question. In the spirit of Popper and falsification you must try your hardest to prove your own theory wrong by giving these individuals the best possible chance of showing that they can hear a difference. So a better experiment would mean: 1. The listener should get to choose the songs. 2. The songs must be somewhat representative of the listener's music collection (not a collection of sounds artificially designed to reveal encoding artefacts). 3. Each listener should be considered on their own, not in aggregate, since we are measuring a human ability. This means that statistical significance has to come from the same individual performing the test several times for several songs. At the end of this experiment you may find that a small proportion of people can hear a difference with statistical significance. These people would then be within their rights to argue against encoding at 192kbps. I don't blame you for doing a simple experiment. I wouldn't have thought of the above points the first time either, and they may be some more to consider. But you should accept that this experiment doesn't conclusively answer the relevant question. The best experiment would be much more difficult and expensive to do. Unfortunately, it's quite common some areas of science for the cheap and convenient experiment to be deemed conclusive when it isn't. (Personally, I probably can't tell the difference beyond 192kbps VBR but I wouldn't be surprised if some people could.)
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Jun 27, 2012