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Friday, March 14, 2014

Audiophiles' Thinking and Neil Young's PONO


PONO ARTIST SIGNATURE SERIES: NEIL YOUNG

After years of detractors sniping and scoffing, Neil Young successfully launched PONO at the SXSW Conference earlier this week. Again, congratulations to the PONO Team and their Kickstarter Campaign which exceeded their goal in less than a day. (And "fuck the doubters".)

Could PONO be a trick of disaster?

Even industry veterans like long time supporter Bob Lefsetz are suprisingly negative about PONO's prospects. And one of the primary sources of doubters of PONO's vision -- it would seem -- is none other than high end audio aficionados themselves, or "Audiophiles" as they often refer to themselves.

Just scroll thru the comments over on Computer Audiophile Forum or Steve Hoffman Music Forums. The sheer number and intensity of "Audiophiles" seeing failure and nearly wishing disaster is both disheartening and telling.

Once again, a small group of elites think they know what's best for the masses. Again, with the usual dismal results. Although, it is still premature to assess PONO's success given that the actual product and launch are months away, the certainty with which some speak is troubling. As Neil Young said himself, the goal isn't to create a new standard or even to make a huge profit. The only goal is to raise the sound quality of music.

Who can argue with that?

But here's a comment that aligns with our thinking on Computer Audiophile Forum | Neil young announces the launch of ponomusic - Page 14 by InfernoSTi:
Wow, it's clear folks are really getting worked up over nothing.

For me, the big complaints were that it looks too much like Neil Young (yellow model). That and my favorite band didn't sponsor one of the $400 limited editions...

The bottom line is this product is trying to fill a niche that isn't currently being filled. It isn't going to be "as something" as other products that fill a different niche. It won't make phone calls or play apps like my iPhone. It isn't small like my iPod/Sony Product/etc. It isn't really super expensive like my A/K. It won't play DSD like my dongle DAC.

But guys, it looks like it is going to be the best option for a hi res iTunes store that is still compatible with HDTracks and Acoustic Sounds, and all the other hi res storefronts. It only costs $300 early/$400 going forward. This is all a good thing. The issues about features that seem to make sense such as a 128GB card are likely to come out on the next model they release. Look at the iPhone's first model and look at it now. Look at the A/K's first model and look at it now.

These product evolve. I know folks know this but why pretend it isn't so? The whole "what will the twenty somethings think" thing doesn't worry me too much. They love vinyl for all the reasons the experts say they will hate Pono.

I believe there is a movement against convenience over quality and I see this as part of that universal movement that is open to all ages, all genders, and (I hope) all levels of income. Slow food, not fast food. Conversation, not shouting. Full audio, not lossy audio. This is part of something that says, "I want more than my fits in my pocket MP3 player while I text fight with strangers over a Big Mac for dinner." This says, "I want real music while I exchange ideas with my friends over a home cooked, health dinner."

The funny thing is that there is something that caught my attention and that thing was Neil Young back in May 2011 saying that 2012 was the year that the music industry would put the soul back in digital music. I posted that odd announcement on one of my audio forums back in 2011 asking if anyone knew what this was all about. It turns out that following Neil's vision progressed in 2012 and 2013 to the point where I was thinking about "what is Pono?" but knew that if Neil was pushing it, it had to do with putting the music back into digital audio. Now I see this is far more open and accessible to many than I thought it would be (no special format, no DRM…heck, they use an open source format for crying out loud).

This is a good thing if you love music…

Best, John
Well, what John said.

Here's a replay of Neil Young's launch talk at SXSW on NPR.

And here's a rant about rants about PONO - Where The Vulture Glides Descending: Missing The Point About Pono. Thanks PunkDavid!

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47 Comments:

At 3/14/2014 09:19:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very tempted by going for a Pono but being in the UK the duty that would be charged by customs would mean no saving over what will end up as the RRP. If there were any NY engraved ones left it would be worth it but not now. So I'll wait for release date and as a result get to hold on to my cash longer and have the side benefit of reading some reviews too.

 
At 3/14/2014 10:22:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Metallica Limited Editian Artist PonoPlayer added.

Tom Petty all gone.
Pearl Jam all gone.

More signed posters available.

 
At 3/14/2014 10:25:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plus Vip Dinner and listening party in NYC added

 
At 3/14/2014 10:47:00 AM, Blogger Dan1 said...

Innovation never comes from these armchair critics ... they're critics because they lack the imagination to create anything new and great ... and often technological breakthroughs and innovation is threatening to them and the perch they've clawed their way up to ... its hard to do something new, hard to make it stick, hard to push forward when everyone says it can't be done, it'll fail ... That's one of the many reasons why Neil's initiative and how far its come already is so impressive ... most of these 'influencial critics" are just talking heads talking about the same old thing over and over again ... everybody who cares about music and music quality should want this to work ... again, even if the ecosystem and player don't hit the mainstream, if the concept of high res files does and these files are available on other ecosystems, if musicians get passionate about recording with this in mind ... Neil will have changed the trajectory of the industry ... he's the right guy to do it, with awe and respect from his musical peers, with the dogged tenacity to pursue an ideal with vigor, with his own inner quest for perfection and especially with respect to making sure music is heard the way it was created ... so, I'm sitting back and applauding the success so far, and the huge response on Kickstarter .... i'm sure it'll be a long road as all new initiatives are but celebrating this success ... its a victory for everyone except those in the establishment who benefit from distributing crappy sounding files ....

 
At 3/14/2014 12:31:00 PM, Blogger Shamrock said...

Great interview in Rolling Stone!

Are you a good businessman?
No. But I'm not in charge of the business. I'm just the mascot — the hood ornament.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/neil-young-on-pono-his-new-album-and-using-lps-as-roof-shingles-20140314#ixzz2vxIWu5km
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook


http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/neil-young-on-pono-his-new-album-and-using-lps-as-roof-shingles-20140314

 
At 3/14/2014 12:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil has succeeded in raising awareness but there's not a lot of innovation going on. Here's what Neil himself had to say about Pono -

ML: "People have commented on AudioStream things to the effect of I can already buy HD downloads from a number sites and play them through my DAC. So what's the new thing with Pono?"

NY: "There's nothing, there's nothing new. There is no new thing. It's just available. It's available to everybody."

It's awesome that Neil has gotten everyone's attention and hopefully some bars will be raised by the music industry, but I still wonder how a portable device, played through some crappy headphones or a crappy car stereo is something I really need? I can already download high res music and play it through my home stereo. And you CAN tell a difference. Listen to some HD Rage Against the Machine and get back with me. Wow!!

But I supported Neil with cash anyway because I admire what he's trying to accomplish. Pono might die off but if it starts a trend towards turning everyone into audiophiles, then Neil wins. We ALL win. That's what he really wants as far as I can tell. So Pono is already a huge success! I still think the player will be stillborn but what do I know? Someone convince me I need this thing? The Pono Music Store will be the real success story here and then iTunes will raise their bar and everyone wins! And Neil Young will be responsible. He just keeps on giving!

God Bless Neil Young

Neg Man

 
At 3/14/2014 12:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's what Neil himself said in that RS interview.

RS - "What does success look like for Pono?"

NY - "Success is more people finding out about good-sounding music and music choice, whether it's Pono or some other company that decides to do the same thing and beats us because they've got millions and millions of dollars to work with — but we're first."

I don't think there's any stopping it now!! The hood ornament will be around long after the engine dies. Most likely forever in this case! Thanks for the ride Neil. Lets see how far we can keep it going.

Neg Man

 
At 3/14/2014 02:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And Forbes had this to say -

"Already, services like HDtracks.com have seen triple-digit growth in downloads of top-notch digital files like the FLAC format touted by Pono as well as AIFF, WAV and ALAC offerings. And a handful of portable players tailored to such files currently exist.

In that regard, Young’s venture is in some ways similar to Dr. Dre’s Beats headphones: it’s a case of a well-regarded musician putting his personal touch on existing technology and creating a movement."

http://www.forbes.com/sites/zackomalleygreenburg/2014/03/13/how-neil-youngs-pono-music-raised-2-million-in-two-days/

 
At 3/14/2014 02:36:00 PM, Blogger Dan1 said...

Neg man,
Agree, the innovation here is not so much technical as it is getting the higher quality files accepted into some kind of mainstream ecosystem(s) ... 'ie' create enough interest so there's a network effect and it becomes affordable and economically interesting for all parties (consumers, musicians, tech companies, music companies) to make adapt hi res ... not a simple process, but hopefully this can kick start it (no pun intended) ... if thats the legacy of this project thats a homerun for all ...

also, interesting tid bit from RS interview, Neil going to play solo acoustic in Chicago:

What else do you have going on this year?

I got that record we talked about. I'm playing the Dolby Theater in L.A. in a couple of weeks for four nights. It's a beautiful acoustic hall, so I'm playing there solo acoustic. Then I play Dallas a couple of weeks later, they have a beautiful concert hall there. Then I go up to Chicago, just solo acoustic. This summer I play with Crazy Horse and I do the Pono thing.

 
At 3/14/2014 03:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comes A Time

Q: Did you take a shotgun to the albums?
A: No, no, I made a barn roof out of them. I used them as shingles.

 
At 3/14/2014 03:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Q:Are you an audiophile?
NYA: No, I'm a music-lover! I'm trying to bring consumer-level listening to the point it was in the Seventies.


 
At 3/14/2014 03:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan1. I honestly think all Neil cares about is getting it out there, no matter who profits off of it in the end. That's what so great about Neil! The general public might not think Neil is relevant anymore but his peers sure do!!

Sure glad Dallas has a concert hall Neil likes. He played the Twisted Road show at the Meyerson. Ironic that Bert Jansch played Needle of Death there and now it sounds like Neil will play it this go around. Yeah, I noticed that Chicago reference too. Hopefully, Crazy Horse will come back to the States.

I liked this quote too -

Neil Young sits on a couch in a boutique hotel in Austin, Texas, with a bright red bandage wrapped around his right wrist. "It's OK," he says. "I can still play."

Neg

 
At 3/14/2014 05:31:00 PM, Blogger timothy fontenot said...

I'm not an audiophile(whatever that is) just love to listen to great rock n roll. But sound does matter to me. I know for a fact that analog to vinyl sounds better than digital to vinyl. Back in 1979 Ry Cooder's album Bop Till You Drop was the first popular music album to be recorded digitally so I gave it a listen and it didn't sound right to me. I played a few of his other records at the time and they were different as were all my analog to vinyl were. So will PONO change what I hear for the better?

 
At 3/14/2014 06:50:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thrasher,

the doubters have cogent arguments. why don't you engage rather than dismiss them as elitist? ironically, it is you who is towing the party line here by dismissing what you don't want to try and understand.

Zuma

 
At 3/14/2014 06:59:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

@ZUMA - Point taken.

We're not disagreeing that the critics have valid points.

We're just so disappointed at the negativity with PONO even before the launch. Actually much of the criticism was incorporated into this version presented @ SXSW. Like no DRM. And it may change again before production. And no one has seen the store yet.

We saw this same attitude toward Lincvolt. And look at LV now. She had to burn to the ground and rise like a phoenix.

The guy just wants to share better sounding music. Where's the harm in that?

 
At 3/14/2014 08:56:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So criticism that forced them to drop DRM is a bad thing?! Will it have album art? Liner notes? Basic functionality? Perhaps a home docking kit?

Part of me wants to buy one of these for 300 bucks but man, I'm going to wait and see. And if criticism forces them to make it better, than everyone should just criticize away!! Come on folks, I know you're out there. Flying Scotsman? Mother Earth Girl?

Was Neil really first? I'm not even sure of that. Gotta love him though. I like shit that keeps him happy. Happy productive Neil! Pono is righteous. It really is.

Old Neg

 
At 3/14/2014 10:00:00 PM, Anonymous Zuma said...

@thrasher,

thanks for the response. i think the criticism, pre-launch, has been legitimate and not just neil-hating. the whole question of whether this will be better sounding or just hi-res versions of brickwalled masters is a legitimate question. critics are just trying to keep the hype at a point where expectations are managed.

i hope against hope that we're seeing the end of the loudness wars and more choice in dynamic editions of our favorite music. if this does come to fruition, then neil gets all the accolades. and a bit thrown your way Thrasher :-)

Zuma

 
At 3/14/2014 11:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if we were already treated to a test run of Pono during the intro playing of "a day in the life" instrumental before the alchemy crazy horse shows?
so clear, crisp & clean sounding to these 50+ y.o. ear holes!
I'd buy THAT sound in a portable device in a heartbeat.

 
At 3/15/2014 12:15:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like we are mostly in agreement that most of what PONO offers (player, website, format)has been around now a bit on maybe a smaller and less high-profile level. BUT, I'm remembering something else. The major labels did the transfers to hi def and from I recall, Neil and the PONO folks spearheaded that and maybe even Neil was involved with his own TLC to make sure everything went alright. I suppose it was inevitable that the major label catalogs would do the transfers eventually (or not), but this seems like something that wasn't done on such a level earlier and Neil/PONO probably deserve the credit. Let me ask the more critical ones - is that true or am I wrong about that?

 
At 3/15/2014 12:54:00 AM, Blogger Mr Henry said...

Amazing how many words are being written about a sound

How many people know just what
the sound should be

It all happens in your mind

The sound is in your mind

Whenever the words keep going on
you only need to step back and remember

The sound is in your mind

 
At 3/15/2014 07:12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"….Once again, a small group of elites think they know what's best for the masses….."

Thrasher, seriously, you sound like a Schmuck! It could be argued, quite easily, that Neil is an elite as well! He's a 1%'er, with tons of cash, able to afford the finest in audio equipment.

Most of us are not.

I wish PONO success, but I hardly think they will come close to attaining it (Kickstarter campaign aside). Just my opinion - sorry that gets your panties in a bunch.

And you cite LincVolt as an example of, just what?? What has Neil built? Is it something that is worthwhile for the environment? No clue. It looks great, sounds great…..but what, exactly, is it? Please enlighten with actual facts, not more rump-swab ass kissing blather.

Neil is a great MUSICIAN…..and i give him credit for trying to succeed in other areas of enterprise. But I simply won't suck up to his business pursuits because I love his music.

If you would like to, by all means, go for it.

Just remember the Neil Archives BluRay folly. Also remember that Neil and Elliot, at the time, were saying that other musicians were in love with the new format, and that they would be able to patent it so others could utilize it.

What happened?

Crickets!

 
At 3/15/2014 08:08:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm listening to Neil's SXSW speech and he sounds like a rambling old man, longing for the days that use to be. He really sounds like a dinosaur, someone who wishes the milkman would drop a couple bottles off at the front stoop.

Welcome to the 21st Century Neil.

 
At 3/15/2014 10:39:00 AM, Blogger punkdavid said...

Thanks for the link, Thrasher.

I look forward to much Neil discussion in the coming months, as my two favorite Neil topics (hi-res audio and Archives) should be back in the news a lot.

 
At 3/15/2014 10:45:00 AM, Blogger punkdavid said...

One other article that I found where the author TOTALLY GETS IT.

http://parttimeaudiophile.com/2014/03/14/why-i-love-pono-and-why-you-should-too/

 
At 3/15/2014 11:58:00 AM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

@Zuma - thanks. Only time will tell but we see only winners when waging heavy peace.

@Neg Man - nice to see a little positivity for a change.

@Crickets! - http://www.spin.com/articles/neil-young-pono-music-new-album-a-letter-home-sxsw-2014-interview/

SPIN: You've had a lot of people tell you that Pono's not going to work or try to talk you out of it. What kind of excuses do they give you?

NY: Those are people who don't understand the way to make records — the way it's done. There's a lot of people that had opinions based on not knowing what they're talking about. And then there's a lot of people who just don't think there's a need for change. Because what's working now is what's happening. And there's a lot of people that think the Silicon Valley way things are going is the way it's going to be for a long time, and that these people know what they're doing, and that everything's going to be fine — it's a lock, it'll never change. I believe they're all not perceptive.

@punkdavid - thanks for link! Good stuff. Always appreciate your perspective and looking for more on our two favorite Neil topics also! (hi-res audio and Archives)

 
At 3/15/2014 12:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil said the same glowing things about BluRay 5 years ago. Then he changed his mind.

Hello…..PONO.

Reality is, NOT ONE reputable business people helped fund him, except for the general public, which was guaranteed autographs in return.

Autographs do not constitute a sustainable business model.

The only reason PONO exists is due to Neil's celebrity. And even that won't sustain it. Yet only time will tell…….but in the end I guarantee i will be proven right.

 
At 3/15/2014 01:55:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Welcome to the Pono Buyers Club!"

There's a metaphor here somewhere...

 
At 3/15/2014 02:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just noticed that they have added Jackson Browne and Red Hot Chili Peppers signed limited edition Pono players on the Kickstarter page.

This whole thing seems much bigger than I thought it would be and this is just the first week.

 
At 3/15/2014 07:25:00 PM, Blogger punkdavid said...

"In that regard, Young’s venture is in some ways similar to Dr. Dre’s Beats headphones: it’s a case of a well-regarded musician putting his personal touch on existing technology and creating a movement.""

This quote sums up pono as well as anything I've read on the subject. It's all about how it's sold, and for once in my life, I'm not being derogatory in saying that.

 
At 3/15/2014 07:31:00 PM, Blogger punkdavid said...

How was the Archives Bluray a "folly"? It did exactly as advertised, except there were not as many BD-Live downloads as we all would have liked. Otherwise, it sounds great, the packaging is great, the interactive experience really fun, and honestly I don't know why anyone would complain.

 
At 3/15/2014 09:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

PunkDavid -

How was it a folly?

BluRay Live, continuously pumped by Neil, doesn't exist anymore. When was the last download offering?

I call that a folly.

BTW, i think the interactive experience of Blu Ray Archives Sucks A$$! And I know plenty of people who don't like it either.

What other artist embraced the format, this after Neil and Elliot claimed musicians were lining up to replicate Archives Vol 1. Anyone else standing in line to duplicate it?

Folly.

 
At 3/15/2014 10:47:00 PM, Blogger punkdavid said...

Well, you know, apart from the BD-Live stopping somewhat abruptly after only a year, which was disappointing, The BD Archives were everything I expected them to be. The people who were disappointed generally had unrealistic, or uninformed expectations, especially regarding the artist behind them.

And as the Buddha said, "All life is suffering. Suffering is caused by expectations. Expectations are a motherfker."

 
At 3/16/2014 01:23:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Punk David -

I think Archives Vol 1 was a deliberate money grab by Neil. Including Performance Series discs in the box, after many people had previously purchased them?

JOKE.

In pumping BluRay Live, Neil at the time also made a special mention of the Cellar Door shows, specifically stating that he didn't have enough material to release a Cellar Door album, but would release the material via BRL someday.

What happened?

He scrapped BRL, then released a Cellar Door album. Unreal.

I won't get burned again by him. What you choose to do is completely up to you. Good luck.

 
At 3/16/2014 04:08:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Q: You've had a lot of people tell you that Pono's not going to work or try to talk you out of it. What kind of excuses do they give you?
NYA: Those are people who don't understand the way to make records — the way it's done. There's a lot of people that had opinions based on not knowing what they're talking about. And then there's a lot of people who just don't think there's a need for change. Because what's working now is what's happening. And there's a lot of people that think the Silicon Valley way things are going is the way it's going to be for a long time, and that these people know what they're doing, and that everything's going to be fine — it's a lock, it'll never change. I believe they're all not perceptive.

 
At 3/16/2014 04:15:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Science Fiction:
http://www.spin.com/articles/neil-young-pono-music-new-album-a-letter-home-sxsw-2014-interview/

 
At 3/17/2014 05:18:00 AM, Blogger Harm said...

With all due respect, but I don't believe in PONO if PONO just means 24 bit, 192 kHz.

In that case there is no difference between Blu-Ray audio and PONO except the fact that it's portable. If that's the whole idea, to make Blu-Ray quality audio portable, then it might stand a chance.

However, anyone that's saying that 24/192 is a huge difference with respect to 16/44.1 is being mislead, or just doesn't know anything about how the Nyquist Sampling theorem works.

The problem with many CDs (loudness war apart) is that they haven't been mastered properly. CDs are a different medium than vinyl, so they require different mastering that benefits the CD. There is no reason why a CD shouldn't sound better than an LP. If you compare the remastered versions of EKTIN and the original LP, the CD sounds way better.

So if PONO means better mastering (I'm assuming Neil uses the same masters for PONO as he did for NYA) combined with a better DAC, than that's enough. No need for 24/192, as 192kHz digital music files offer no benefits. They're not quite neutral either; practical fidelity is slightly worse. The ultrasonics are a liability during playback.

From http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

Neither audio transducers nor power amplifiers are free of distortion, and distortion tends to increase rapidly at the lowest and highest frequencies. If the same transducer reproduces ultrasonics along with audible content, any nonlinearity will shift some of the ultrasonic content down into the audible range as an uncontrolled spray of intermodulation distortion products covering the entire audible spectrum. Nonlinearity in a power amplifier will produce the same effect. The effect is very slight, but listening tests have confirmed that both effects can be audible.

The clip that shows a number of musician rave wbout an new revolution is kind of misleading. First of all, are they listeing to the same recording, but a different sampling rate, or do the versions (MP3, CD and PONO) have different mastering too? This isn't mentioned in the clip.

If Neil would use the PONO files at 24/192 and downsamples to 16/44.1 and do an ABX test (double blind) I am 100% sure that when using the same DAC and speaker set up, at the exact same volume no-one would be able to tell the difference between 24/192 and the 16/44.1.

Untill that double blind test happens (which is a whole lot different than a 2 minute trip in the LincVolt), I'm unconvinced. Sorry folks, do your homework before spending 400 bucks.

 
At 3/17/2014 05:24:00 AM, Blogger Harm said...

More interesting stuff about analog vs digital:

http://translate.google.nl/translate?sl=nl&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=nl&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.breem.nl%2Ffldtechniek%2Fpgadda.htm&act=url

 
At 3/17/2014 09:34:00 AM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

@Harm - Thank you for that detailed analysis. Clearly, you have some serious technical knowledge and understanding of digital audio.

While we can't dispute what you've said or debate the merits of your points, can we ask you this in all due respect?

What would you suggest for the average music fan who wants a better experience but isn't technically savvy? That seems to be the market that PONO is aiming at.

Is there really a better, cheaper and *simpler* solution than PONO?

 
At 3/17/2014 11:48:00 AM, Blogger Harm said...

Thrasher, for portable audio, no. But 24/192 is just a waste of space. 16/44.1 or even 24/48 will suffice. As I said before, a double blind test to see if people hear the difference between 24/192 amd 16/44.1 would be interesting. No previous test has shown that people do.

For home enjoyment, there are better options. They're called CDs. I did some further reading and most PONO releases won't be remastered, not in the traditional sense anyway, but just re-digitized to 24/192. In that case the same argument holds as stated above. The PONO Player is only a minor improvement on user convenience with respect to CDs. If there would be an iPOD like docking station that would allow you to operate the PONO player from your sofa using your receiver's remote, that'd be nice, THEN it could beat CDs. Not in terms of sound quality, it can only equal that, but convenience.

If a future version of PONO would be Spotify-like subscription, complete with a dedicated device that would also allow for other streaming possibilities, such as Netflix, with the same DAC as the PONOPlayer has, you got a real winner.

So far, all the advertising has been about resolution (i.e. 24/192) and the DAC. I say, lose the 24/192, keep the DAC, spend some time on mastering stuff right and problem solved. 24/192 isn't the answer.

By the way, did you know that new EKTIN remaster actually has less dynamic range than the 1990 CD?

http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list?artist=&album=everybody+knows+this+is+nowhere

Same goes for Harvest:

http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list?artist=neil+young&album=harvest

I'll tell ya, if any current vinyl release has a better dynamic range than a CD, it's inherent to the mastering, NOT the medium.

 
At 3/17/2014 12:38:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

Thank you Harm.

Seems like some good suggestions. It does seem like the PONO project has been a moving target which has evolved with feedback from industry, etc.

Who knows? Maybe PONO will still evolve before final release in Fall?

And, no, we didn't realize the differences between the re-masters.

It sometimes seems as if that quest for a perfect echo is just an illusion afterall...

 
At 3/18/2014 06:39:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent posts Harm. I do also agree with Thrasher that if Pono can continue to evolve in some of the ways suggested above, then it could still achieve a lot.

The FS.

 
At 3/18/2014 08:06:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Once again, a small group of elites think they know what's best for the masses. Again, with the usual dismal results."

Thrasher, i'm confused - are you referring to Neil Young? Sure sounds that way!

I wish Neil incredible success with PONO, really I do. But the reasons I believe this device will ultimately fail are numerous. I can list at least 10 different ones.

It is no mere coincidence that Neil admitted he could find no one else to invest in PONO, other than Kickstarter campaign - which essentially sold autographs to music fans.

I do think it will be a shame when these many millions of dollars are ultimately flushed down the drain once PONO bites the dust. Just because Neil is a great musician, does not make him a great businessman.

Yes, time will tell what will happen with PONO, and Neil has the right to try to make this work.

But i also have a right and it's my opinion that PONO is an incredibly flawed product.

good luck, Neil.

 
At 3/18/2014 09:26:00 AM, Blogger Dan1 said...

Ham,
Trying to understand the essence of your message. Let me ask you this -- if an artist records the master at the highest quality level possible and then that master is transferred to both a CD and to PONO at high res, which will 'sound' better, richer, ect..? This is not a set up, I'm just not technically educated but trying to understand this all in layman's terms?
Thanks,
Dan

 
At 3/18/2014 09:45:00 AM, Blogger Dan1 said...

Ham,
My understanding is that PONO will play whatever the underlying file quality is, therefore giving artists a motivation to master at a very high quality because they can have confidence it will be DISTRIBUTED and HEARD at that quality level ... one of the premises of PONO, I think, is that artists had given up on producing the highest quality master because it would never get heard by anyone other than those in the studio ... hence a generation of crappy masters ... PONO is the inspiration to change all that ... the other thing I was hearing from Neil's interviews is that CD technology cannot capture all of the data from the original recording and hence is an inferior storage technology for music ... are you rebutting that claim? I can't compare EKTIN on vinyl vs. CD but it seems to me the basic argument is that a musician who produces a high quality master and transfers it to PONO will enable listeners to have a higher quality listening experience than if the same master was transferred to CD .. whether thats because of resolution or DAC, both of which are kind of over my head, if Neil is successful in providing a medium for listeners to get the higher quality experience and it in turn inspires artists to produce the music at that higher quality, bingo, industry revolution, everyone wins .... whether eventually the PONO player is the go to devise, and the PONO ecosystem is the go to ecosystem, thats a business question and will probably depend on the business people running PONO, (after all, Apple had superior software (to Microsoft) but Bill Gates was a shrewd business man and now the world is stuck with Windows and the dominant technology) ... but that aside, my point is that if Neil's initiative upgrades the standards of the industry that will be a huge win, even if we're all downloading PONO files or upgraded files (whatever they're called, high res or DAC) from iTunes five years from now.

 
At 3/18/2014 10:56:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan, I recommend you take the time to read the article Harm referenced above:

http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

The author is an expert in the field of audio, and his article explains how it works very comprehensively and clearly.

The Flying Scotsman.

 
At 3/18/2014 11:08:00 AM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

@ Anonymous 08:06:00 AM: Yes, we figured that line would be a bit inflammatory.

No, not directed at NY but the audiophile community. Yes, it was a bit of a cheap shot but we admit the frustration of listening to these forums about how NY doesn't know what he's doing, etc, etc.

Say whatever you will, but PONO -- even though actual delivery is way off - - seems to be a success in that it has stirred a lot of discussion about how to save music.

We are still bewildered that those who seem to care most about music quality (elite audiophiles) seem to be doing everything they can to tear down PONO while offering near zero feasible alternatives.

Maybe someday, the SXSW launch will be looked at as a turning point in music delivery history.

And maybe someday, smog might turn to stars...

 
At 1/04/2015 06:58:00 AM, OpenID hminkema said...

So you justify that admittedly inflammatory statement by your frustration over negative responses to the Pono player? As in: "I got irritated over their critical responses, so I consciously took to personal attacks"?

Maybe that is the problem here. Pono will be the product of an unconditional belief, that immunizes itself from justified, possibly helpful criticism.

How in the world is that going to evolve into a better product than the world already has?

 

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