This may provide some solace for those who believe that sound reproduction is being driven to hell in the hand-basket of MP3s.
Incidentally, 'Generation Y' - also known as the Millennial Generation - is, roughly, people born between mid-1970s and the early 2000's.
Anyway, given the "common belief that Generation Y is indifferent to sound quality, or worse, they prefer the tinny, sizzling sound of low-bit rate MP3 over higher quality lossless music formats", Sean Olive* seeks to "stand up for Generation Y and show some evidence that they care about sound quality", and conducted some double-blind listening tests to measure the "sound quality preferences"** of two groups of high-school students.
for music reproduced in lossy (MP3 @ 128 kbps) and lossless (CD quality) formats,
* "Director of Acoustic Research for Harman International, a major manufacturer of audio products for consumer, professional and automotive spaces".
** music reproduced either in lossy (MP3 @ 128 kbps) or lossless (CD quality) formats.
So, what did he find?
Well... "preliminary results suggest that teenagers can reliably discriminate among different degradations in sound quality in music reproduction. When given the opportunity to hear and compare different qualities of sound reproduction, the high school students preferred the higher quality, more accurate reproduction over the lower quality choices." [my bold]
It's still early days in the study, admits Olive, but it's an interesting rebuttal of Stanford music professor Jonathan Berger's finding that young people - well, the students on the course he teaches - "increasingly prefer[ed] music coded in lower quality lossy MP3 formats over higher quality lossless music formats".
"Louder! Louder! I can still hear the singers!"
- Richard Strauss to the orchestra, at a rehearsal.