Respectfully, my ears disagree. And I have never read a quote from a mastering engineer who said they could not tell the difference between a 128k file and a 320k file.
It certainly depends on the music and the way it was recorded. It may be harder to hear the difference on a densely layered pop song that has been brick-wall compressed for loudness during mixing, but it is noticeable in sparser acoustic songs or songs recorded properly in a professional studio with some dynamic range left intact.
Hardware (speakers, etc.) are simply the playback devices. They can’t improve the actual audio quality of the media, it can only accurately or poorly reproduce the audio it is playing. Hardware can, however, improve the listening experience by more accurately playing back a high-quality recording.
Yes, consumer headphones and speakers hype the bass, because most consumers mistakenly equate more bass with better audio quality.
There are many variables that affect audio quality. But “lossy” file compression does make a difference. At least, to my ear.
Thanks for your reply.