Just like a wine taster’s palate or an art student’s sense of bullshit, your listening skills are something that can be trained and honed. Music software company iZotope has a fun challenge to see how well your ears stack up against the competition.
As spotted by CDM, iZotope has an entire guide out that will help teach you about equalization, compression and digital audio. The equalization section has a bunch of interesting videos to explain the basics of EQs (balancing different frequencies), so that you’ll get a better understanding of what your car stereo does when you flip it between Rock and Pop. There’s also an explainer on the more complicated side, breaking down terms like “Peak Level” and “RMS.”
The most interesting part is the challenge mode. iZotope’s tool will play one original sound file, and then present you with A and B options. One is changed with a different EQ, while the other remains true to the original file. It’s up to you to try and work out which is which. It sounds easy, but the changes are subtle — maybe the first option has a little more bass, or it might just be a figment of your imagination.
A time pressure — it takes five correct answers to advance to the next level — makes things even harder. Although it might sound like the sort of brain power torture you don’t want to try on your lunch break, it’s maddeningly fun, and will also teach you to listen more carefully.