Compact discs containing WAV files have been considered a superior way for audiologists to test patients for many years. That is because WAV files are high quality, but this file type has a drawback. Although it can be saved to computers, it tends to be too bulky to conveniently import to certain devices. That is why the general public quickly latched onto the MP3 file type. However, it has a drawback too. In order to make the file size smaller, the audio is actually compressed. Some in the audio industry believe the compression on MP3 file types compromises quality. That presents a big question for the audiology community: Would the quality of MP3 files produce different test results?
Recent research by Jennifer M. Brace and Robert W. Keith gives audiologists more confidence to use MP3 audio file types for testing. The study was based on twenty normal listeners using Auditec’s NU-6 Ordered by Difficulty Version II and found no significant difference between testing using a compact disc (WAV files) or MP3 files. This finding allows audiologists more freedom to test on their preferred devices.
Does this mean you should ditch your CD player or computer and trade it for an MP3 player? Maybe or maybe not. Since CDs are high quality and easy to use, it may be worthwhile for some audiologists to continue to use them. Other audiologists may need to travel and find smaller devices work best. Auditec permits customers to make one backup of purchased recordings for their own personal use. Customers now have a choice to make their backup as a WAV file or MP3.