As a result of my frustrations with figuring out how to make a lossless/ HD Audio setup work, I began to wonder:
Is all this extra expense and trouble worth it?
I have been researching the data on lossless and HD audio blind tests and the evidence is pretty clear that no it is not. (I found this article pretty compelling.) However, I did notice one common thread amongst the experiments. They all do their blind tests using headphones.
I can see why. Generally headphones provide a top-rate listening environment. However, advocates of HD Audio argue that the music “feels” better. Speakers move air to create sound. I wonder if the “feel” that many audio enthusiasts appreciate from HD Audio comes from the movement of air in the room? I can’t seem to find where anyone has done a blind comparison using top-notch speakers in a good listening environment instead of headphones. When I do my “blind” tests using my home theater speakers my friends can spot the better audio file 75% of the time. (I use a quality MP3 and an HD Audio 24-bit FLAC file to compare.)
If anyone finds a fairly credible study using speakers instead of headphones, please be sure to let me know using the comments section.
UPDATE 8/9/18: I did some side -by-side comparisons of an mp3 vs. a 24-bit FLAC file on some seriously high-end gear. (Golden Ear Triton One Towers and McIntosh amp…nice stuff!) and none of us could tell the difference. Sample size was only 3 people…and no-one was an audiophile listener (despite owning nice gear).