vitally important when testing MP3 players -- or any piece of audio equipment
for that matter. That means assessing each player under as near identical
conditions as possible, using the same routines and software each time. From
our rapidly growing database of results we are able make meaningful comparisons
between models, and spot any trends in the way the technology is developing.
We use the same
selection of MP3 files and the same PCs for the file management software every
time. For the record that includes a mixture of test tones sourced from a
Reference CD and musical tracks, both from CDs and downloaded from the
Internet, recorded at various bit-rates. The tracks were chosen to reflect as
wide a range of styles as possible, from a spot of Saint Saens and the hummy
bit from Elgarís Cello Concerto to Slade and Mel C.
You can hang a
lot of teccy-looking numbers on audio performance but MP3 sound quality doesnít
bear too much close scrutiny, in purist hi-fi terms at least. Ultimately what
really matters is how good, or bad a player sounds and that has to be a
subjective judgement, based on our experience and comments from the owners of
several well trained pairs of ears. For good measure we also look at the knobs
and buttons the supplied software and not forgetting the instructions.
” R. Maybury 2000, 1210