Kids prefer MP3 to hi-fi recordings

I had a conversation recently with a 25 y.o. girl listening to 56 kb/s MP3 (not, it’s not a typo…, I wrote 56 !). I was playing for her some Deutsche Grammophon recordings on CD, trying to make her hear the difference. I gave up.

Jonathan Berger, Professor of Music at Stanford University, California, has conducted an eight-year study in which students have rated various audio formats while listening to the same song.

“I found not only that MP3s were not thought of as low quality, but over time there was a rise in preference for MP3s” said the Professor. And before we get offended, Berger reminds us that we used to prefer vinyls to CDs: “Some people prefer that needle noise, the noise of little dust particles that create noise in the grooves, I think there’s a sense of warmth and comfort in that.”

This becomes problematic when music production must be conceived according to those low standards. And that is obviously what is happening now.

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One Comment

  1. Andrei

    May 13, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Well now, no reason to go all elitist on us :)

    You also have to consider the source of the music that “teens these days” listen to. Sure, a DG pressing is great for a majestic orchestra piece or a string quartet, when you look for subtleties and minute variations in exquisite instruments (and if that’s your thing, it’s ok). But if the sound you’re looking for came from two badly tuned, overamped guitars and a drummer that sounds like he’s fighting the police (and I say that as a good thing), what would Decca do for you? And when the whole lo-fi, angry, DIY sound is an integral part of the concept the artist puts forward, one could almost say pairing it with hi-fi equipment is almost a sin.

    Same goes for the electronic music. Come on, Daft Punk on Hi-Fi? For what? I doubt there would be any difference between an 192kb MP3 and a SACD, if the synthesizer puts out a 120Hz tone . It’s all about the music, methinks.

    So there. Do teens like MP3, or modern music really just doesn’t need Hi-Fi? Food for thought…


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