I found a great set of audio quality tests online, and I want to tell you about them. Here is the link!
This page allows you to test yourself, and see if you can distinguish between lossless audio and a bunch of different lossy formats. You?ll want to wear a pair of headphones, or use as nice a pair of speakers as you?ve got for the best chance at it.
What?s the difference between lossless and lossy compression? Lossless audio presents all of the information to you that was in the original uncompressed files. Lossy audio compression formats (like MP3, AAC, and Ogg Vorbis) delete data that your ears can?t perceive in order to make files easier to transfer over the internet.
Some folks swear by lossless files. Others insist that lossy is totally fine.
In my experience, both with the above test, and over time?
Lossy is totally fine.
What about hi-res audio?
Hi-res audio is a little bit different. Most hi-res audio files are lossless?but they?re also recorded at a higher bit-depth and sampling rate. You can have lossless files that are still at the CD quality specifications of 16-bit bit depth and 44.1khz sampling rate.
Does this make a difference?
Sometimes. But it?s more important on the production side than on the consumer side.
I had fun taking the above test. It reaffirmed my viewpoint that lossy compression is very good these days.