What is SoundExpert
SoundExpert (SE) is an independent non-commercial audio research project, which provides audio quality ratings of sound equipment and technologies such as mp3, aac, wma ... encoders and portable players (to be extended). It is the home for innovative music-based audio metric which works both for objective audio measurements and for listening tests. SE is in beta state because the new audio metric and corresponding listening test design are not widely adopted by audio engineers. So, please, use our ratings with caution.
The new listener-centric audio metric allows to perform objective audio measurements using real-life music material and various technical signals, not only sine waves. Such measurements:
• correlate well to human perception of sound quality
• are valid for digital audio
• do not contradict traditional audio metric but extend it
• are understandable to people without technical background
• can be performed at home using any recording device
The first practical application of the new measurement method can be found on the Portable players page.
The new listening test design helps to hear sound artifacts which are normally beyond threshold of human perception. The core of the new design is sound artifacts amplification technology (SARTAMP), which is backed by the new audio metric. Such amplification is particularly important for testing high-bitrate encoders and high quality audio equipment. Of course the listening tests, provided by SE, are blind - participants don't know the particular device they test. Resulting quality scores are completely unbiased and free from marketing and advertising noise.
The ratings of encoders are computed in real time while participants of the listening tests send their grades to the rating system. The more participants - the more devices and technologies could be tested. The testing procedure is simple and short enough that anyone, including you, can participate. Just download a test file (<3Mb), listen it (<15s) and send back your judgment. Details are in test file. The more accurate grades - the more reliable ratings.
Detailed but still easy to understand overview of SE distributed listening tests is in the paper Live Listening Tests @SoundExpert.
The main idea behind SoundExpert project is consumer control over sound quality of various audio equipment and technologies on the market. Production side deserves clearly defined feedback from consumers.
For almost 20 years SoundExpert is the home for innovative audio measurements and research. Newly developed listener-centric audio metric combines instrumental measurements with listening assessments and helps to perform both more efficiently.
Since 2001 more than 10 000 volunteers participated in distributed blind listening tests on Soundexpert website. Sound quality ratings of 100+ codecs were computed thanks to their time and efforts. You can still take part in them.
Recently we developed a new method for instrumental measurements of audio equipment. It is based on the new audio metric and helps to examine technical performance of an audio device in great detail. Furthermore all audio devices can be grouped according to their sound signatures. The measurement procedure was fine-tuned during two years of beta-testing with 30+ portable devices. Now it is mature enough for production environment. First few tested players can be found on Portable players page.
I hope this new audio metric will attract more audio engineers and enthusiasts as it opens new field of audio research where objective and subjective are not separated anymore. Further advance in the research requires many more different audio devices to be tested - a serious challenge for our non-commercial research project. Fortunately portable players are good test subjects for this research, even the old ones. That's why I need some help from our volunteers again. If you have such old/previous/ex digital portable audio player or a smartphone that was marketed as "HQ audio inside", if it is fully functional but not in use anymore, please, consider donating it to SoundExpert. Its df-measurements will appear on the portable players page. Then it will be either kept for research purposes or sold off supporting the project additionally (or given away to some music lover if it can't be sold for some reason). I'm going to refund your postal expenses but can't confirm this right now. Please, contact me for further arrangements.
Manufacturers of portable devices can order df-measurements for their products. The cost of the work will be equal to retail price of the device. I will buy it and perform standard df-measurements. If you decide I will not publish results during a year.
Today building a comprehensive audio quality map of various audio devices on the market can be done by ourselves - audio consumers. And it's not hard indeed. In the end this will free up some time for listening and discussing Music, not technology )).