Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 35

Thread: Neil Young's "Pono" hi-fi venture

  1. #1
    Administrator james's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Annapolis, MD
    Posts
    371

    Neil Young's "Pono" hi-fi venture

    http://m.rollingstone.com/?redirurl=...rvice-20120927

    Is anyone curious about this? I'm happy he's pushing for greater resolution becoming a norm instead of MP3, but a new ecosystem is a tough sell.

    What do you listen on? Are you concerned about the quality of your digital music collection?

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by james View Post
    http://m.rollingstone.com/?redirurl=...rvice-20120927

    Is anyone curious about this? I'm happy he's pushing for greater resolution becoming a norm instead of MP3, but a new ecosystem is a tough sell.

    What do you listen on? Are you concerned about the quality of your digital music collection?
    James, I'm so glad you brought this up!

    I never had major objections to full-resolution, full bandwidth digital music, though I've always preferred analog. But I can't listen to an mp3. I can't even listen to it in the car.

    Even the trade-offs inherent in 16/44.1 vs. analog were not unacceptable to me as a listener. And I've recorded with the old Sony DASH format, the 1 bit formats, and a few other digital encoding methods that did sound very good. But more could have been done, of course.

    One of the tradeoffs has been in the area of frequency bandwidth. Because of the Nyquist theory, digital recording requires brickwall filtering. Limitations in storage and encoding media meant that in the past the brickwall had to be 44.1 kHz, thus limiting the frequency response to 22,050 Hz. This was because higher resolution in terms of bit rate and bandwidth meant big data files, and in those days you couldn't squuze enough information onto the limited media of the time; CD was as good as it got.

    The additional justification made for choosing this limitation was that no one but dogs could hear frequencies higher than that. But this isn't quite true; we perceive certain overtones even when we can't identify the pitch of the test tones, and moreover, these overtones affect frequencies we can hear.

    The presence of this high frequency information was widely acknowledged back in the day, and because of it, engineers in the 60s, 70s and 80s insisted on high bandwidth (some of the better analog tape machines' frequency responses, such as my old Otari, went literally from DC to over 40,000 HZ!). People like the legendary Rupert Neve also insisted on that kind of bandwidth for his preamp and mixing console products, and that is one reason that they sound superior and have been copied/emulated for many years.

    We've all heard people say that analog is "warmer." I think this is a misnomer. It's not that analog is warmer; it's that even through analog's noise, we hear more of what's there. Without brickwall anti-alias filtering, without having to interpolate digital information into a real waveform, you hear real-time detail. One reason a Neve preamp sounds good is the transformers, of course; but another significant reason that Rupert himself points to is that the bandwidth was very high (in the case of a classic 1073, to about 70-80,000 Hz). "Warmer" isn't the sound of tubes, necessarily (and Neve gear was solid state); it's the effect of getting more good information from the medium.

    So the closer we can get to that - which means higher frequency bandwidth, and greater resolution in terms of how many times the waveform is sampled per second - the better the recordings sound. 24/192 simply has more potential than what most of us are listening to now.

    And real-time detail is exactly what is lacking in a so-called "compressed" format like mp3.

    Mp3 turned not only bandwidth, but information we use to identify instruments, harmonic content, and other very basic things we do hear in recordings conceptually on their head. They call it "compressed."

    Well, it isn't compressed, what the lossy formats do is take information and simply remove what the algorithm postulates people don't really hear. Trouble is, we do hear everything. Mp3s sound like cardboard to me. YMMV, usual disclaimers here. I can only speak for myself - I dislike listening to mp3.

    Even AACs and other formats that are supposedly somewhat less "lossy" than mp3 are unlistenable for me. At one point, I could understand the mp3 argument; limited speed of modems, and limitations in storage media, made the format kind of a substitute for the old analog cassette, though IMHO cassettes sound a LOT better than an mp3. But this now is unacceptable in an age when storage media is so inexpensive that most peoples' CD collections will fit easily on a 1TB drive, and the software to make accessing the music on the drive is readily available. 24/192 source material is a superior solution. And our modems are fast.

    So I'm all for this higher resolution stuff, better converters, etc.

    In my small company, our policy is to provide music for client review only in full-res file formats, like AIFF or WAV. The broadcast standard has been 24/48 for years, which is a slight improvement over 16/44.1, and that's how we provide it to clients. We will only provide an mp3 for client review if a client insists and is stuck somewhere that a full-res download would be a problem. I've actually driven CDs with full resolution files over to a client's office rather than have them listen to an mp3, but this isn't practical if a client is out of town and can't wait for overnight delivery. I think we've only had to send an mp3 once in the past year, by the way.

    I'd like to see the audio postproduction industry (as well as the record industry) move to 24/192 as soon as possible, though it would be a big changeover for some companies, we are equipped for it. Still, it might revitalize the recording business and change the model somewhat.

    However this is done, a new ecosystem isn't necessarily required. The information could be decoded and managed in multiple ways, and really shouldn't be a problem. There have been inexpensive 24/192 converters on the market for a long time, and a consumer version would be even less expensive due to economies of production scale. One thing I've been doing over the past couple of years is transferring my CDs to hard disk, so I can access all of the music from my computer, and play it back through my studio's D/A converters. This way, I get better D/A conversion, can use software to organize what I have, don't have to search for CDs, etc. For me this process is considerably better than having my material organized via mp3. Still, I'd much rather get higher resolution files, and they could live on the same hard disk as my 16/44.1 files anyway.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 09-28-2012 at 09:53 PM.

  3. #3
    Love Boat Captain butterfly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    247
    I started out with records and turntables and giant speakers back in the day. Now I've been listening to mp3 s on my computer through a set of Adams A7 s or some nice sennsheiser cans that i don't remember what the real stuff sounds like anymore. Honestly not concerned about it much. I probably should be but Neil is talking on the wave of the future. Hard to do. I respect him for it but don't expect much to come from it.

  4. #4
    Recovering Bass Player ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! 's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 1985
    Posts
    5,159
    I used to listen to most of my music in my recording studio. I was running Apogee converters into high-end, flat-response, studio monitors (near-field) and the whole studio was running on balanced power. I hated hearing MP3's in there.

    When playing music in AIFF, I could hear things in music I had never heard before. The same somgs converted to MP3 were notably void of warmth and many times entire tracks would completely disappear. I was shocked how much quality was lost after taking a 96k/24 bit Sound Designer II file and converting it to a 160k stereo MP3.

    Now I listen to music in the car, home stereo, or headphones. 192k MP3's work fine for that use. I am more concerned with the excessive compression and normalizing applied to studio albums these days.

    Also, I struggle with albums recorded to digital with a lot of clipping. The sizzle of low-quality MP3 is bad enough. The digital clipping makes it much harder to listen to - even in headphones.
    Last edited by ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! ; 09-28-2012 at 11:06 PM.
    One Life

  5. #5
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Downers Grove Il.
    Posts
    6,738
    MP3's are a big reason why I just don't care anymore. I sold most of my higher-end studio gear when I realized that nobody but me or the client would ever hear the difference. I no longer operate a "facility", and I am more of a songwriter now so I don't have to worry about keeping up with any resolution past 44.1/16 bit because people don't even buy CD's anymore.

    I would welcome a new high resolution standard for audio delivery, but I feel the majority of the public could care less especially if that meant they would actually have to pay for something, I mean music is supposed to be FREE right?!

    I am glad to see artists who care, and who are willing to spend their own money to try and raise standards, I just hope their money and effort would not be better spent at the strip-club.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by sergiodeblanc View Post
    I am glad to see artists who care, and who are willing to spend their own money to try and raise standards, I just hope their money and effort would not be better spent at the strip-club.
    Some folks don't have to choose between investing in new technology and going to the strip club. They can do both!

    Neil Young is most likely one of them.

    And let's take it a step further: if you go to a strip club, would you rather see better looking strippers or worse looking strippers, or don't you care?


    Quote Originally Posted by ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! View Post
    Now I listen to music in the car, home stereo, or headphones. 192k MP3's work fine for that use. I am more concerned with the excessive compression and normalizing applied to studio albums these days.

    Also, I struggle with albums recorded to digital with a lot of clipping. The sizzle of low-quality MP3 is bad enough. The digital clipping makes it much harder to listen to - even in headphones.
    I find that the artifacts of excessive compression and normalizing, which I also dislike, are noticeably worse when listening to mp3s, because there isn't the detail in the mix to help localize instruments and create even a semblance of a soundstage.

    But I guess the point is, despite your listening habits, why NOT listen to music with higher resolution, better D/A conversion, etc.? Why not listen to better sounding music if it's available? What's there to lose? I see only things to gain.

    Moreover, if a percentage of the buying public decides that they'd like to acquire the music in a new format, that could be a nice shot in the arm for the record industry, which might have the side benefits of allowing the industry to - gasp - fund more artistic recording projects and better develop their artist roster (I know this is asking an awful lot of an industry that's often run by clowns, but let's just say it's possible; maybe guys like a John Hammond are out there waiting for an opportunity).
    Last edited by LSchefman; 09-29-2012 at 12:22 AM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Downers Grove Il.
    Posts
    6,738
    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post

    And let's take it a step further: if you go to a strip club, would you rather see better looking strippers or worse looking strippers, or don't you care?
    And even further: In this analogy I am a middle aged stripper that used to work out six days a week, get my nails done, haircut, buy shiny costumes, and get $17.99 msrp for a quality lap dance.
    One day I went to work and there were thousands of squished, ugly, frizzy haired dancers giving dances for free. Serious customers knew they were getting an inferior experience, but for the casual patron it still filled a need, and the convenience and price led to an untold amount of casual patrons. The fetishists still appreciated my services and were willing to pay for me, but the number of fetishists became disproportionate to the amount of customers that now expect a free lap dance. Free lap dances become the "standard" of the next generation's experience because of their exposure to them, and by never experiencing what a real lap dance should be.

    I go to work one day and sue my strip club for allowing patrons to "steal" lap dances and I win (I also record two horrible albums where the snare drum sounds like somebody beating on a garbage can lid, and sue Victoria's Secret for using my stage name as a bra color.), so my club agrees to SELL these free lap dances for $.99 without any raise in quality for the patrons. After awhile of charging $.99 for the free lap dances, consumers accept come to accept the value of these no longer free lap dances, (of course they can still get them for free if they look for like 45 seconds elsewhere) and a demand in the marketplace has been created.

    I am now valued the same as these squished, sub-par imitations of me so I decide to let myself go, start eating cheese-wizz and skip my wax, because the fetishists have either died or lowered their "standards". I would love for there to be enough demand for a truly good looking stripper because that is what I always aspired to be and what I personally enjoy, but until my patrons demand more, I'm not getting my hair done twice a week anymore.

    The saddest thing is. is that even the most basic of computers and iPods are capable of recording and playing back resolutions that would have cost tens-of-thousands of dollars when the MP3 standards were set. I can watch "Lord of the Rings", play "GTA V", or even play a Moog synth on an iPhone, but I can't listen to a song at the same quality of the earliest adoption of digital technology? Vinyl is still available and is even a growing industry, there are tons of places you can get "lossless" audio too, I just wonder if the consumers and hardware are there for a new format.

    I hope it catches on, but this is coming from a dude that still has a Laserdisc copy of Sonny Chiba's "Street Fighter" and a Rubbermaid container of DAT tapes and 24/96k masters and nothing to play them on.

    I'm waiting this one out.

  8. #8
    Recovering Bass Player ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! 's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 1985
    Posts
    5,159
    That post was outstanding, Sergio. OUT-F$&@ING-STANDING.
    One Life

  9. #9
    Banned
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    1,496
    Kudos to Neil Young for trying to push the envelope. He has been my "hero" for about 30+ years. Not to derail, but the guy is an absolute genius, and I am a real fan of his patents for using electroencephalographic brain waves to propel electric trains......realted to all the work he's done to aid people like his son Ben who has severe cerebral palsy and is a quadriplegic.
    Oh...and his music is great also...so long as Nicolette Larson isn't accompanying him, Pearl Jam stays home, and he eschews anything with the words "Prairie" in the title.

    Me...I really can't hear the difference between CD's MP3's, vinyl, cassettes and an 8-track. So, while I am a fan of the technology...I can tolerate anything so long as it doesn't hiss, buzz, skip or drop out.

  10. #10
    Administrator james's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Annapolis, MD
    Posts
    371
    Where do you guys buy your music, if you buy music at all? Where and what format?

  11. #11
    Administrator james's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Annapolis, MD
    Posts
    371
    Quote Originally Posted by docbennett View Post
    Kudos to Neil Young for trying to push the envelope. He has been my "hero" for about 30+ years. Not to derail, but the guy is an absolute genius, and I am a real fan of his patents for using electroencephalographic brain waves to propel electric trains......realted to all the work he's done to aid people like his son Ben who has severe cerebral palsy and is a quadriplegic.
    Oh...and his music is great also...so long as Nicolette Larson isn't accompanying him, Pearl Jam stays home, and he eschews anything with the words "Prairie" in the title..
    I'd like to find a microphonic Firebird pickup to stick in the bridge of my SE Soapbar because of Neil.

  12. #12
    Banned
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    1,496
    Quote Originally Posted by james View Post
    Where do you guys buy your music, if you buy music at all? Where and what format?
    I buy CD's when I do buy music. I have a couple thousand albums from '65 to about '85 but that's about when vinyl went the way of the dinosaur. I have a "wall of rock" in my basement that always reminds me of the old radio station WNEW FM where I cut my teeth on rock and roll to the voices of Scott Muny, Alison Steele, Vin Scelsa, Dave Hermann and Pete Fornatelle for MANY years during my impressionable youth.

    My CD collection pales in comparison. Problem is that vinyl has become a bit too cumbersome to listen to "spur of the moment".

  13. #13
    Administrator james's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Annapolis, MD
    Posts
    371
    I hear that. I usually walk in the door and fire something up with the Remote app on iPhone.

    On the weekends, I pull out records.

    Where do you buy your CD's?

  14. #14
    Banned
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    1,496
    Quote Originally Posted by james View Post
    I'd like to find a microphonic Firebird pickup to stick in the bridge of my SE Soapbar because of Neil.

    Where do you buy your CD's?
    I'd just take the "Whizzer" pedal and "Old Black" and I'd be satisfied.

    CD's are purchased "spur of the moment" from whatever discount bin I happen to be visiting. Borders used to be a source, but they are going out of business in NJ so that leaves the "random vicissitudes of fate". The last CD I bought was "great set lists"..... a live compilation of Blue Oyster Cult recordings that I found in a music store at Mohegan Sun CT when we were visiting friends who had comped us a room there.
    Last edited by docbennett; 09-29-2012 at 09:27 AM.

  15. #15
    Administrator james's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Annapolis, MD
    Posts
    371
    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    24/192 simply has more potential than what most of us are listening to now.
    You inspired me to spend a little time this morning setting up a HDTracks.com account and trying out some high res stuff. Playing the free sampler right now. Pretty amazing. I didn't realize my DAC wouldn't do high res over USB, but it will over optical. Fortunately, I had the right optical cable laying around. Really sounds great!

  16. #16
    Name Manglin' Putz alantig's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    2,802
    Quote Originally Posted by james View Post
    Where do you guys buy your music, if you buy music at all? Where and what format?
    I have maybe 5 or 6 downloads that I've bought. I have some that I've gotten with gift cards or free offers. But if I'm buying music, I want the physical CD. I don't want to be at the mercy of some corp that might pull their servers and thus my authorization to listen to the music I've paid for.

    Mostly, I get the CDs from Amazon, Amazon UK or a local B&M store. I've paid an extra buck or two at times to help keep the local places going, or to avoid certain places I would rather avoid because it feels like my soul decays a bit when I give them my money. But more and more, my preferred way to get a disc is from the artist directly, or their store. Most of the artists I've dealt with have been very reasonable in their pricing, and they'll add content to make it worthwhile at times. Plus, there are a few I've even worked up personal relationships with. Quite frankly, I'd rather give my $10 directly to David Grissom rather than Amazon or Best Buy so they take their cut. Okay, I didn't give it to David, I gave the money to Bev - I don't know if she took a cut or not!

    Edited to add: Forgot this was a thread about Pono! Sound quality is another reason - I want the full bandwidth when I listen. At least at home, and usually in a vehicle. But honestly, the bulk of my listening is done at work or driving, and I'm not getting a quality listening experience, so I can live w/MP3 there if I have to. If and when everything becomes download-only, that's fine - as long as the lossless version is available. When I have an option, that's what I take - seems like lots of artists are giving instant downloads when you buy CDs directly from them.
    Last edited by alantig; 09-29-2012 at 12:40 PM.
    Alan

    "I watched approximately 45 seconds of 'Rock Of Ages'. It was like getting punched in the soul." - Abby Krizner

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by james View Post
    You inspired me to spend a little time this morning setting up a HDTracks.com account and trying out some high res stuff. Playing the free sampler right now. Pretty amazing. I didn't realize my DAC wouldn't do high res over USB, but it will over optical. Fortunately, I had the right optical cable laying around. Really sounds great!
    Just set one up myself, on your recommendation!

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by sergiodeblanc View Post
    I hope it catches on, but this is coming from a dude that still has a Laserdisc copy of Sonny Chiba's "Street Fighter" and a Rubbermaid container of DAT tapes and 24/96k masters and nothing to play them on.

    I'm waiting this one out.
    My grandparents grew up with Edison wax cylinders, then were "forced" to buy shellac 78s. They waited out the transition from 78 RPM shellac records to vinyl. They never bought a vinyl record. Which, ok, they probably stopped making records of artists they were interested in anyway. We listened to their old 78s when we visited them, and it was kind of fun. They passed away before CDs, so I never got to see how they'd handle that transition.

    You can be just like them!

    Technology marches on. I have a collection of DATs myself, and the only problem with DAT is that dropouts render them useless. I gave away my old DAT machine for that reason. My old masters were disappearing after only a couple of years, and by that time CD burners were being made affordable. So not having a DAT player isn't really a problem, the medium is not robust enough to worry about. Moreover, except in Japan it was never commercially viable for music delivery, and no one here released recordings on it, the medium was only used in studios.

    You probably don't have a two track mastering deck any more either, though I actually still own an Otari MTR-15T. Great sounding deck. Hard to get tape for it...

    Then again, just try to find high quality audio cassettes on the market these days.

    Fact is, one periodically changes formats over time. The CD format is now 30 years old. I think that people can handle a technology change that requires new players every 30 years or so...

    The DAT format is a 20 year old format; I bought my first DAT machine in 1992. I think I paid $5000 for it. But I made plenty of income using it, and didn't mind the death of the format eight-ten years later. My 1979 Corvette came with an 8 track. It sounded pretty good, bought a few tapes for it. Didn't mind when my next car had a cassette deck. I was actually happy about it. Sounded better.

    Was ecstatic when my '97 BMW came with a multi disc CD player. Am happy that my Chrysler product has a hard disk built in; I record CDs to it in full-res. And yes, you can hear the difference between mp3s and full res in a car. The volume doesn't even have to be cranked, and you don't have to have an expensive system in the car to hear the difference.

    Other than buying mp3s (assuming that you buy them instead of stealing other artists' copyrighted material) mp3 is a format that cost nothing in terms of buying equipment. People had computers, and the software has been free. iPods weren't free, but they also weren't required to use the format.

    My brother still has a laser disc player, and in fact uses it to watch the movies he bought in that format, and has the newer formats as well. So older technologies can still be enjoyed.

    Seems to me that if you can get better stuff to listen to, you're cutting your nose off to spite your face if you insist on listening to the worse sounding format. Especially to "protest" the fickleness of the industry, or to worry about playback equipment.

    If a better delivery medium exists for the music I want to listen to, I buy it. Doesn't matter whether it works out in the marketplace or not. I'll still enjoy it while it's happening, and as technology changes, I'll move to the next format. Not a problem. My speakers still work, my pre amplification and amplification equipment still works, we're talking about periodically buying a playback device. Big freaking deal. YMMV.

    There are two types of listeners, I guess; those who say, "Hey, they keep changing formats, this is a gyp!" and those who say, "Great! New better format, I'm in!" I'm in the latter camp. Just who I am. In my entire lifetime, for casual listening, I've only had to go from 45s, LPs and cassettes to CD to now hi res downloads. Not a truly gigantic upheaval when I've gone to new formats. I've kept most of the old ones. The other formats I've only used professionally, and since I consider format changes where I make money no big deal when they offer sound quality improvement, I kind of like them.

    I bought a Tassimo coffee machine, definitely a superior product, plus it had Starbucks coffee pods. Starbucks did a dastardly thing and moved to the other brand, Keurig. Worse machine. Coffee doesn't taste as good. But I like Starbucks coffee, so I got a Keurig. I can cry over it, or just freaking enjoy the coffee I like and worry about something more important like guitar tone. LOL
    Last edited by LSchefman; 09-29-2012 at 02:23 PM.

  19. #19
    Administrator james's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Annapolis, MD
    Posts
    371
    the nice thing about high-res digital downloads is that modern computers can play them. My 200 dollar Emotiva DAC will do 24 bit/192khz from the optical jack on my old MacBook Pro. Assuming you have a computer, the only real investment you need to made is the digital-to-analog converter

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by james View Post
    the nice thing about high-res digital downloads is that modern computers can play them. My 200 dollar Emotiva DAC will do 24 bit/192khz from the optical jack on my old MacBook Pro. Assuming you have a computer, the only real investment you need to made is the digital-to-analog converter
    Moreover, guys like Sergio already have a DAC for their audio production work.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •