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Same File? Does "A" Sounds Better? Or Does "B" sounds Better?

Same File? Does "A" Sounds Better? Or Does "B" sounds Better?
This is a test. Had it been a real emergency two files would have been posted here. Wait! They have been posted here!

These two files, "A" and "B", contain the same short snippet of the song "If I Had My Way" by the Reverend Gary Davis, sung by Peter, Paul & Mary on their 1962 eponymous debut album (Warner Brothers WS1449). It's a fantastic sounding recording by engineer Bill Schwartau that puts each singer, closely miked in his or her own space. Mary appears in the "phantom center channel".

These two files are either identical (same file repeated) or two different files with one variable changed for the second recording. Don't let the slightly different lengths throw you off. Each was edited to a different length but they still could be the identical recording. Or not!

So please download the 96/24 AIF files and listen carefully. Then vote "same" or if you hear differences, vote for the one that sounds better and feel free to explain your votes in the "comments" section.

Good luck! And remember: the future of high quality audio is now in your hands.

Here are the two files:

File "A"

File "B"

fjhuerta's picture



Judging which cut is "better" will always elicit an emotional response ("Air!" "Sparkle!" "Life!" "Warmth!", etc.).

It'd be better if you could just say "different".  You can't say "better" without a frame of reference. Since you don't have a) the master tape, b) a live acoustic rendition of the song at the recording venue, there's NO WAY you can ever say anything is "better" than the other. It's just different (reminds me of a certain looney tunes internet audio forum where people claim certain releases made by a certain tape-op (er, "Audiophile Music Restoration Specialist") sound "just like the master tape" when they have never, ever been near one).

It's like when reviewers rave about the latest mega-buck  tube gear... and how much better it is. Is it different sounding? Of course - it's chock full of 2nd order distortion. Is it better? Only if you think a distorted signal sounds better.

Jay's picture

The difference is subtle, but I though that file B was a touch more open.

my new username's picture

First listens were through Grado SR60s plugged into my MBP. I neglected to adjust Audio Midi's settings to preserve the 24/96 file and so everything got truncated by the OS down to 16/44 --- I was looking for a worse-case scenario here where larger differences should be apparent.

Thought I heard more surface noise on B. I more clearly heard someone tapping to the rhythm on B and also thought the vocals had more dynamic power. Maybe the guitars were a touch more delineated also?

Then I AirPlayed it over to my surround sound receiver pushing Pioneer SP-BS21-LRs. So while AirPlay sends an Apple Lossless signal we're still talking about a different DAC, amp, speaker and acoustics. Couldn't really tell much difference except the "power" of B (real or imagained) still seemed there.

curtiswhite's picture

1 question. Does lisiting to these samples on normal gear  *not high dollar stuff* . Make it any harder to tell a difference ?   I listen to these samples again and again on my dell laplop with foobar. And sony xba-4 headphones.


WIth that question . I find that sammple B to be more laid back. But i could still hear all the nuounces in the samples.  So A a tad more harsh and B not so much.. But Idk if thats real or not.

roadcykler's picture

What this test proves, is that cable differences aren't different unless you want them to be. Seems like the breakdown between A and B is no better than simple chance.

RCZero's picture

A has more air and depth and brightness. I prefer it, though both are nice; I can see how this may be preference vs. one being "better".

Was the difference/source ever revealed for this one? I can't seem to find where.