The 16-bit v/s 8-bit Blind Listening Test

Can you hear the difference? Of course... you can't.

This provocative test serves two purposes: to raise the awareness of what has happened to our music's dynamic range lately, and to question the need for a 24-bit digital audio as a delivery format in such a context.

Differences between 8-bit audio files and 16-bit are audible though - and are demonstrated here - but only marginally when it comes to most of the music that people are listening to nowadays.

Files being tested

16-bit 8-bit

One of the world's biggest modern hits - Psy's Gangnam Style - with its original 16-bit version, and its 8-bit down-converted sibling.

You like classic rock music better? This Neil Young test is for you.

The Test

16-bit 8-bit
Listen to [?] then vote — multiple guesses not allowed (your vote triggers a new draw)

To pass a blind test, you will need to perform 10 trials at least, obtain a high score and reach a high confidence level: 95% is standard to rate statistical significance. It means that your score outperforms random guesses by 95%. There is still a probability that you just got lucky though, 5%. To reduce such probability to 1%, keep testing until you reached a confidence level of 99%.

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My Recommendation

If you are looking for pretty nice headphones, here is my favorite in terms of 'best value for the money' : the HD668b. If money is not an issue, try the HD600.

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Check out your hearing online, with this serious test!Audiophile-quality noises and soundtracks for every day use!

Take up the challenge

  • Find the smallest difference in sound levels you can detect. 
    The Level Series:  6dB  3dB  1dB  0.5dB  0.2dB  0.1dB 

  • Find the highest frequency you can reliably hear.
    The Frequency Series:  10kHz 11k 12k 13k 14k 15k 16k 17k 18k 19k 20kHz

  • Find the smallest difference in pitch (frequency) you can hear. 
    The Pitch Series:  50c  20c  10c  5c  2c  1c 

  • Find the shortest timing difference you can reliably hear. NEW
    The Timing Series:  1ms  2ms  5ms  10ms  20ms  50ms  100ms 

  • Find the highest dynamic range offered by your listening environment. 
    The Dynamic Range Series:  36dB  42dB  48dB  54dB  60dB  66dB  72dB  78dB 

  • Do you have the absolute hearing ability? 
    The Perfect Pitch Blind Test:  C Scale  Chromatic 

  • Are your ears sensitive to Absolute Phase? 
    The Absolute Polarity Blind Test:  Here 

  • Can you hear a difference between 16-bit and 8-bit audio files? 
    The 16-bit v/s 8-bit Blind Test

For sound and studio engineers