What is lossless audio?

We love getting the best possible audio experience possible.  One high-profile way of demonstrating good audio versus great audio is checking out what Spotify did back in March. A few weeks ago, the company started to perform A/B testing on its users with lossless audio. 

The move was picked up by a few Reddit users and then confirmed by The Verge. The company was testing to see if people would upgrade to a “Spotify Hi-Fi” plan, where users would have to pay an extra five dollars. Included in the upgrade, by the way, is all the premium features, discounts on limited-edition vinyl, one free vinyl record a month, and all the lossless CD quality audio you’d ever want. 

Other services, such as Tidal, already offer high-fidelity streaming. Up until recently, Spotify offered a high-quality streaming of 320 kbps, but that's significantly lower than the 1,411 kbps of a lossless audio stream. 

When a CD quality song is moved from 1,411 kbps to 320 kbps, a computer program removes pieces of an audio track that it believes it's out of the human range of hearing. The process eliminates a lot of information form the track, causing the file to shrink. “So objectively speaking, there’s less audio there for your ear to interpret,” says The Verge. “Lossless audio cuts less bits."

In reality, even if you have the right equipment and a great set of headphones, it can be tough to tell the difference part for the average person.  

Want to test your audio quality hearing? You can! Thanks to The Verge, you can listen to three different songs and test your ear. Each song is presented in the standard version at 160 kbps, a 320 kbps version, and a lossless version at 1,411 kbps. Your job is to pick the lossless one. 

Take the quiz and share how you did in the comments.

Image credit: The Verge