Endless debate with audiophile friends over whether “perfect” or “CD quality” audio can be achieved via MP3, regardless of bitrate. R3Mix.net offers the best collection I’ve seen of facts, data, explanation, tests, and observations on the nature of “perfect” digital sound as it relates to compression and commonly available encoders/decoders, etc. I do disagree with the author on some points – I’m still no fan of VBR, which he advocates, and his Myths page would probably send chills down the spine of most hardcore audiophiles. Still, lots to learn at the site. Their Quality page points to the largest real-world MP3 quality test I’ve heard of, involving 300 audiophiles and conducted by c’t magazin. Conclusion: Transparency (inability to distinguish between CD original and compressed MP3 versions on $15,000 worth of audio equipment) happens at around 256kbps. Wish there was a good English translation of the test page.
Thanks to David Huff for the pointer.