Think Music Fans Want Quality?

Think Music Fans Want Quality? One Stanford Professor Disagrees...

It sounds perfectly reasonable.  Music fans want superior sound quality; they want crisp cymbals and rich bass instead of muffled or over-compressed files.  Sounds logical, right?

According to one Stanford professor, the answer is 'not exactly'.  During a recent panel in Mountain View, Stanford professor of music Jonathan Berger shared an interesting takeaway from years of ad-hoc listening surveys involving his students.  In 'blind' listening tests conducted by Berger, students often express a preference for lower-quality MP3s, even against high-fidelity, superior versions of the same music.

That was relayed by Dale Dougherty, publisher of technology blog Make, and a participant in the discussion.  "Students prefer the quality of that kind of sound over the sound of music of much higher quality," Dougherty relayed.  "[Berger] said that they seemed to prefer 'sizzle sounds' that MP3s bring to music.  It is a sound they are familiar with."

The finding raises some truly thought-provoking questions, and recasts the sound quality question.  "Someone explained to me that audiophiles liked the sound artifacts of vinyl records - the crackles of that format," Dougherty said.  "It was familiar and comfortable to them, and maybe those affects became a fetish.  Is it now becoming the same with iPod lovers?"