I recently read about the development of the MP3 format, and that its design was influenced by the recordings they used to test the algorithm:


As previously stated, the MP3 codec was refined using listening tests designed by european audio engineers and featuring the music they chose. In a sense, each of these songs acts as a resonant filter for every file encoded in the MP3 format. Tom's Diner by Suzanne Vega, Fast Car by Tracy Chapman, a Haydn Trumpet concerto... these songs carved out the space of sounds that could be successfully encoded as MP3's.


The MPEG listening tests used a variety of recordings: some castanets, a Suzanne Vega or Tracy Chapman tune, Ornette Coleman, a solo bass guitar piece, examples of male and female speech. The testers would listen to each of these recordings, flip back and forth between different coding schemes and the original recording without knowing which was which, trying to determine the difference. They'd do it over and over for hours-- the process is quite exhausting and unpleasant. If a tester was correct more often than they would be if they were guessing, the researchers would know there was a perceivable difference.

I'm intrigued by this. In my searching, I've found imprecise and partial references to the list of recordings, but not the complete thing.

  1. What's the full list of the exact recordings?

  2. Are they available to download anywhere? It sounds like some weren't commercial songs.


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