The research suggests that every year more and more students come to prefer MP3s to CD-quality audio. What does the finding have to with the last sentence?
The ideal sound quality varies a lot in step with technological and cultural changes. Consider, for instance, the development of new digital audio formats such as MP3 and AAC. Various media feed us daily with data-compressed audio, and some people rarely experience CD-quality (that is, technical quality) audio. This tendency could lead to a new generation of listeners with other sound quality preferences. Research by Stanford University professor Jonathan Berger adds fuel to this thesis. Berger tested first-year university students’ preferences for MP3s annually for ten years. He reports that each year more and more students come to prefer MP3s to CD-quality audio. These findings indicate that listeners gradually become accustomed to data-compressed formats and change their listening preferences accordingly. The point is that while technical improvements strive toward increased sound quality in a technical sense (e.g., higher resolution and greater bit rate), listeners’ expectations do not necessarily follow the same path. As a result, “improved” technical digital sound quality may in some cases lead to a decrease in the perceptual worth of the sound.