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How Well Can You Hear Audio Quality?

Can you hear what goes missing when you compress an audio file?

We are marking a milestone, 50 years of NPR, with a look back at stories from the archive.


Recently, the rapper Jay Z relaunched the subscription streaming music service Tidal, which includes the option to listen to high-definition audio for $19.99 per month. Tidal's HiFi, with its uncompressed audio files, promises a better listening experience than any other streaming service on the market.

Many listeners cannot hear the difference between uncompressed audio files and MP3s, but when it comes to audio quality, the size of the file isn't (ahem) everything. There are plenty of other ingredients to consider, from the quality of your headphones to the size of the room you're sitting in to, well, your own ears.

Can you hear the difference? Take this quiz to find out. One hint: Turn your volume up.

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