Music Compression Test: How Good Are Your Ears?

We tested a group of music professionals and discovered that even they had a hard time telling the difference between compressed and uncompressed music. Want to try the test yourself?

Below are five versions of each of two different music clips, Joan Osborne’s cover of Bob Dylan's “Man in the Long Black Coat” and a portion of the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. One version of each is an uncompressed .wav file. The other versions are compressed at various bitrates: 128 kbps, 192 kbps, 256 kbps, and 320 kbps. Listen to the clips, and then tell us how compressed you think each clip is. Once you enter your answer, the poll will show you what other readers thought. The correct answers are on the second page of this story.

Joan Osborne, Sample A

Joan Osborne, Sample B

Joan Osborne, Sample C

Joan Osborne, Sample D

Joan Osborne, Sample E

Tchaikovsky, Sample A

Tchaikovsky, Sample B

Tchaikovsky, Sample C

Tchaikovsky, Sample D

Tchaikovsky, Sample E

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