There are many people who claim to be audiophiles that purchase expensive headphones, amplifiers, and high-end streaming subscriptions to ensure they’re listening to songs at the highest possible quality.
But can they truly tell the difference?
NPR has created its own music test so you can learn whether or not you can hear the difference between the low-quality, compressed music and the high-quality, uncompressed music that audiophiles listen to.
The test is pretty straightforward, and you can try it yourself if you have some headphones or nice speakers handy.
There’s six song snippets in total, and each song has three different, unlabeled versions for you to decide which sounds best — with one snippet uploaded at 128 kbps, 320 kbps, and the highest quality version is an uncompressed WAV file. It’s basically like the Pepsi vs. Coke blind test, but with music.
In theory, the song snippets uploaded in 128 kbps will sound the worst, as they are the most compressed. 320 kbps should be an improvement, but audiophiles would argue there’s no comparison to the uncompressed WAV song snippets that allow you to hear the most detail and nuance to the song.
Of course, it’s important to note that while most people should be able to distinguish between a highly compressed 128 kbps song file and an uncompressed WAV file, that’s only one factor: It also matters how nice your headphones are, how good your own hearing is, and whether or not you’re in a noisy room or somewhere quiet.
So don’t expect to get a perfect score if you’re listening with your iPhone earbuds, but if you’re ready to see whether you have the sound palette of an audiophile, click here to take the test.