Why listening to MP3s might be making you feel sad

Quality matters

A recent study has found that listening to MP3s and other compressed audio formats can have a significant impact on the “timbral and emotional characteristics” of the instruments and sounds involved.

To put it simply, the results from the Audio Engineering Library study showed that listening to compressed MP3s could have a positive impact on emotional characteristics like sad, scary, shy, and mysterious, but the same files could have a negative impact on characteristics like happy, heroic, comic, calm, and romantic.

Here’s a look at the abstract from the study, The Effects of MP3 Compression on Perceived Emotional Characteristics in Musical Instruments:

Previous research has shown that MP3 compression changes the similarities of musical instruments, while other research has shown that musical instrument sounds have strong emotional characteristics. This paper investigates the effect of MP3 compression on music emotion. We conducted listening tests to compare the effect of MP3 compression on the emotional characteristics of eight sustained instrument sounds. We compared the compressed sounds pairwise over ten emotional categories. The results show that MP3 compression strengthened the emotional characteristics Sad, Scary, Shy, and Mysterious, and weakened Happy, Heroic, Romantic, Comic, and Calm. Interestingly, Angry was relatively unaffected by MP3 compression.

So what does it all mean?

Go for quality over convenience when possible. Pay for music proper, rip your own files and control the bitrate — or get your fix via the airwaves from the good people here at Indie88!

Via What Hi*Fi?

Image via Paul Hudson/Flickr