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Can you hear the difference between regular and high definition audio?

by Brandon Russell | March 31, 2015March 31, 2015 9:00 pm PDT

Tidal

One of the biggest selling points of Jay Z’s Tidal streaming service is that it offers superior audio quality. For $20 a month, the service is offering audiophiles the chance to stream lossless audio, allowing users to hear the music exactly as artists intended. But can most people even tell the difference?

Tidal has setup a blind test for people to try out.

The test is simple: Tidal presents two versions of five different songs, a lossless version and a regular old MP3, and asks people to tell the difference. There are a few caveats to know before beginning the test, the most important being that you’ll need either a sound system or “good headphones” to really hear the difference. If you have a pair of cheap earbuds (like I do), the music will probably sound the same.

I tried the test out myself, and found that it was pretty difficult to distinguish between the two audio qualities. Since I don’t use a fancy pair of headphones, the service really isn’t targeted at someone like me. I asked TechnoBuffalo video editor Ron, who was considering paying the extra money for the higher quality audio, to take the test. He also struggled to tell the difference and was only able to identify two out of five songs using his DNA headphones.

It ultimately comes down to how much you really care about music. For most people, it’s not going to make much of a difference, which means competitors like Spotify will likely continue to dominate the streaming market. But for those who really take audio seriously, it might be worth considering. And if you aren’t sure, you should take the test to see if your ears really are tuned to hear the difference.

Tidal

Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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