I'd been meaning to ask you about your spinning head, John.
It's kinda freaking me out.
Hello Derek --
I'm not trying to be a total wise-guy here, but I think this is where one of the greatest divides that exists between the consumer and the pro. And it comes down to how people 'use' music as a commercial product. Users of the product might not seem bothered by it, but those of us who sit in front of speakers all day long have a different take on it.
When I sit in front of a set of speakers, or put on headphones, 128K mp3's sound to me like the center image 'jitters' for lack of a better term [and not in the technical sense of the word as applies to digital audio]. I never feel that center information sits comfortably and stable-y. It's almost like the phase information is not quite accurate. While a bit more extreme than a 128 mp3, if you have a CD copy of Sly & the Family Stone's 'Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)', listen to it in front of a set of speakers, or in headphones. The drum overheads are out of phase. As an audio professional, my stomach literally gets unsettled by it.
As a music fan and musician, it is one of my favorite records of all time !!!!! So I just don't get too close to it, in a professional-listening-sort-of-way
FWIW, I think 160 is the lowest rate that doesn't make me queezy. I was happy when EMI allowed for uncopy-protected releases and thus paved the way for higher quality mp3 releases.
Don't get me started on surround... HA !
Cheers, and glad you guys are sharing your POV here...