Please note the month of this article, as it was published on the first day.
For years there has been a decline in sound quality, while at the same time music itself has shifted from one with at least 12dB in dynamics and relatively even frequency spectrum spread to modern music with 4dB or less in dynamics and prominently lower frequency content. By using a customized algorithm to analyze music over the decades, the findings can be considered quite interesting… and perplexing. This brief research paper also hopes to discover why the 'perceived value' of music has greatly deteriorated while also becoming more of a 'background noise' or 'sonic wallpaper' to humans of today versus being something that demanded more attention as was the norm decades ago.
For those who enjoy toys, think of it as the difference between a child playing with Lego (MP3 / AAC) as seen above and one playing with the far more advanced Fischertechnik (24-bit/192kHz) as pictured below.
No one doubts the many benefits of music. There have been hundreds of articles and scientific studies supporting the use of music for those who suffer from Alzheimer's disease, to interesting reactions from 'zombie' patients seeming completely unaware of their surroundings. Furthermore, subjecting pre-birth humans to music has also been well-studied. Apple, a company both in the audio hardware and software space, and Sonos, a leading specialist on multi-room audio streaming, did a survey that is also quite enlightening.
Apple And Sonos "Music Makes It Home" Study
Another factor of the decline in human society has been the type and quality of reproduced music humans have been consuming since their childhood. Just as humans are 'programmed' from childbirth to recognize sounds, most people 50 or older remember cartoons such as Bugs Bunny using an acoustic orchestra, whereas today youth are subjected to compressed digital soundtracks using electronic instrumentation. Due to early-age learning forming a base to build on life experiences, high quality acoustic music of the past being replaced by modern lower sound quality lossy compressed modern digital instrumentations has aided in the decline of music sound quality. Without forming an understanding of music quality during the youth-cycle, this cause-effect follows that in adulthood the lower quality music is accepted as the norm. There is no experience in higher sound quality, so none is expected.
Our proprietary algorithm analyzed millions of music tracks spanning decades and found that as the resolution of music decreased, so did the complexity of pop music. From The Who and Led Zeppelin to today's far more simple pop music structure. Less complexity may be due to compressing audio via mp3/AAC, as our finding show a lowering of brain activity in certain key related regions. Compressed audio does not 'challenge the human brain', and thus intricate music structure have become rare instead of being within a majority of popular music. The lack of dynamics further lowers a 'challenge' to the human brain, and thus only further reinforces the 'why' as to the situation of current-day 'sonic wallpaper' that pop music has become today.
Lastly, if a subject only listens to personal audio, defined as headphones, in-ear monitors, and other isolating audio listening apparatus, it reduces direct social interaction and so has a further negative affect on society as a whole. This paper seeks to bring 'the human experience' concerning benefits of music, and why the deterioration of music quality and dominance in personal audio has led to the societal / social problems many are experiencing today (2018) and lowering of birth rates.
Furthermore, due to low quality compressed music formats (Lego), human musical artists were subjected to an unconscious creative limitation. The results are plainly evident, with far more simplistic music structure, a virtual elimination of acoustic instrumentation, and deterioration in dynamics and upper frequency content. This study has found that today's popular music consumption, which relies on low-fidelity compressed audio, further reinforces human's subconscious limitations of said audio formats. It is akin to the music created using 8-bit audio, where simple music structure and instrumentations 'works'. In the past, musical artists during the era of high quality recording and music delivery created more complex, more dynamic, and more even frequency spread content (Fischertechnik). Given the factors of today's MP3 / AAC lossy compressed music, musical creators were unconsciously creating for the limitations of the format instead of 'true musical freedom and exploration' without limitations.
Low quality sound, reduced human interaction due to personal audio versus listening out loud, and lower birth rates are only a few of the many societal problems experienced today. By subjecting humans to low quality sound, the species suffered in ways scientists have still not fully grasped today. Divorce rates, never-ending wars, and an overall reduction in the species understating of one another may have also suffered. We readily admit that his study is still far too early to compile all data needed and thus limited in scope.
Perhaps many years from now scientists will find with certainty that the human brain needs challenging music, one with dynamics and complexity. Current day electronic instrumentation pop music is simple, echoing the sheer lack of resolution in MP3 and AAC. The human brain, as a result, regulates music as 'sonic background noise' as it lacks the ability to 'challenge the brain'. We ask that other scientists help us by studying the problem of today's overall music experience, and how it has negatively affects the human species as a whole.
By completely eliminating low quality lossy compressed audio in favor of far higher quality audio, we expect a positive result for humans after the second or third generation. It takes time for society to adjust to new possibilities provided by high resolution accurate music reproduction versus today's highly limited audio delivery systems and lossy compressed music.
It is time to fully eliminate the 'Lego' music simplicity of MP3 and AAC, and instead evolve towards a far more creative platform as provided by Fischertechnik (24-bit/192kHz). If we limit humans to hearing mainly low quality sound and unchallenging music structure, we are finding erosions in society that could take many generations to correct.
While not scientific, we did find the below Twitter post rather enlightening.