Originally Posted by yashiro81
I just want to know if people pick up noticeable differences with a portable player while using a headphone.
The better the headphone output and the better quality of headphone and the quieter the enviornment, the chances are greater that people will able to hear the difference. However, the higher the bitrate and the better MP3/AAC encoder being used, there is less chance of hearing the difference. In fact, through the years, it seems as if the LAME mp3 coder at VBR 192k+ and iTunes AAC encoder are close enough quality to CDs to nearly everyone, except the 10% with the pickiest of ears, awesome equipment and a quiet enviornment. However, the past 10 years, the loudness war has made pop music CDs so terrible in general that it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between loudness war era CD and a well encoded MP3s version of it.
However, in the enviornment most people use PMPs and it's included headphones (out and about in a noisy public environment) they probably cannot tell the difference and if they are aware and can hear the difference, the convienience of more songs per device often outweigh that difference. The good news is for those who can tell and appreciate the difference of higher quality sound, they have the options of losslessly compressing or encoding lossly with a better encoder to help get more songs on each device. I myself have finally moved from CDs in a car to a CD containing MP3s which my vehicle has always been capable of for years, but I have not taken advantage of it until recently. It's mostly out of laziness since it's already on CD, but also to 'preserve' the sound quality compared to MP3s --which in a car when you're driving is realistically hard to tell given the noisy car enviornment. My other far more important reason for going to a CD full of MP3s... no more waiting for a red light to swap CDs.