Listening To MP3s Can Actually Drain Your Emotions

By Faye F. , Updated Dec 06, 2016 12:13 PM EST

Listening to low-res music might actually make you sadder, according to a new study. 

In a study by the Audio Engineering Library (AEL), The Effects of MP3 Compression on Perceived Emotional Characteristics in Musical Instruments, the researchers found that MP3s and other similar formats can affect the emotional characteristics of musical instruments by enhancing or weakening them. Low-quality compression can significantly affect the "timbral and emotional characteristics of a song," as per What Hi-Fi. 

The study tested a variety of compressed and uncompressed music at several different bitrates over ten emotional categories. What they found out is that the more that an instrument is compressed, the lesser the impact. Compression adds to negative and neutral emotional characteristics like mystery, scary, shy or sad. But positive ones like romance, calmness, heroic, comic or happy were weakened instead. In short, your emotions can get affected just by listening to MP3 compression. If you play your favorite pick-me up song at a lower bitrate, you won't get the same effect if you've played it on a high-res format.  

MP3 compression is also affected by the type of instrument used. Jazz fanatics, take note that the trumpet is the most affected instrument by compression, and horn is the least affected. Strangely enough, compression didn't affect at least one emotion, and that's anger. AEL attributed it to the fact that sounds like growls aren't affected by compression.  

So the next time you're feeling down with your sound trip, you might want to switch to high-res audio and use WAVs, FLAC or other lossless formats. As it turns out, high-res audio isn't just good for your ears, it's also better for your emotional wellbeing. 

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