Adolfojp makes a very good point here. I really really REALLY like the idea of this test, but it’s flawed.
I grabbed an uncompressed WAV copy of the chosen track and gave it a listen for comparison, and found myself hearing what my ears identify as compression artifacts. I’ve trained myself to be able to hear them, which is probably a bad thing for consuming media, but it also means I get false positives on old tracks that use analog recording equipment and low-fi synths.
A much better track to use would be something like Aerials by System of a Down. It’s modern, mastered using high quality digital processes, has a huge harmonic range at both low and high amplitude. It’s my test track of choice.
Ignoring my own criticism of the experiment, here’s my reasoning for avoiding MP3:
At low bitrate, it sounds significantly worse (to me, at least) than other codecs, such as AAC.
Too many vendors of MP3 files use old versions of LAME, have it configured badly, or just use a low bitrate. 256Kbps MP3 produced from a poorly configured codec can sound worse than 160Kbps MP3 produced from a properly configured codec.
I’ve noticed that MP3 has difficulty handling very complex audio, such as speed metal / black metal. For example, it tends to make that strange phasing noise over the top of heavy downtuned rhythm guitars during fast-paced high-frequency guitar solos. This may be my ears, or it may be the configuration of the codec, but I’ve heard it frequently (pun not intended).
Every media device I own or have access to supports AAC, OGG or FLAC, all of which my ears seem to enjoy more.
1TB of storage space is ludicrously cheap. Heck, I’ve got just under 7.5TB worth of drives on my desktop machine. I could encode my entire collection in 32-bit 192KHz PCM and still fit it in there with plenty to spare. 320Kbps CBR AAC is more than small enough, and has a good quality margin.