To test whether “average” music listeners can interpret a difference in sound quality or listening experience between songs played in digital (mp3) format and songs played in analog (vinyl) format, Group 10 planned an experiment that would require participants to listen to two 90-second samples of a primarily acoustic song (one played in mp3 format, and the other played in analog format). The participant was blindfolded, and the order in which we played the analog and mp3 formats was determined by a coin-toss before each test. After answering questions about the differences they noticed between the two copies of the same acoustic song, the experiment was repeated with a primarily electronic song. We decided to use two songs from the acoustic and electronic genres primarily to see if there was any difference in format preference for either genre (for example, it has been argued that analog recordings better capture the range and depth of acoustic instruments, and that mp3s may be ideally suited to play computer-generated music).
The following questions were asked of participants after each of their two “tests”:
1) Without defining the term, which sound source was of “higher quality”?
2) Did you notice any memorable characteristics of either sound source?
3) If you had to guess which sound source was played from a computer, which would you choose?
For our first round of data collection, we sampled six participants, four males and two females, all students at Vassar College and between the ages of 18 and 22. *Please note that we plan to have sampled a total of twenty participants by next week.
At this first stage in our data gathering process, we cannot identify a significant difference in our data, and thus cannot conclusively state whether our hypothesis, that analog music will be interpreted by listeners as “higher quality”, cannot yet be confirmed.
Preferred Format by Music Type:
If anyone is interested, here are the links to the two songs we used!