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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Interview With Neil Young on PONO | Computer Audiophile

Photo by Chris Connaker | Computer Audiophile

An in depth interview with Neil Young on PONO over on Computer Audiophile by Chris Connaker:
CC: What would it take for you to say, "I've succeeded with Pono?"

NY: If I succeed with Pono it might not be that Pono makes millions of dollars.

It may be that we made out and we were able to be a company. Maybe we just survived because someone much bigger than us cam along with million and millions of dollars and out-spent us and out-did us and out-everythinged us and did what we did and brought this to the world in a way that we couldn't. Although I think we can. It's just in my history nobody has been interested. I know when they see success they become interested in how they can monetize it. It's a win-win for music and audio to find out what's missing today. If Pono does that it's a huge victory. Were on our way to doing that.

You can see something is happening. I'm sure that people in the audio community are encouraged to see the reaction of the people on the street. That's what we've always been about. Were not an audiophile company. We are about bringing the quality to the people the way it used to be. In other words we made analog records that became vinyl and that was the quality we made in the studio then it went to the people. We're not doing anything new. All we're doing is saying, in the studio today make your digital music in whatever resolution you want to make it at. We're going to say what it is on our player you'll know. It will be there somewhere. People will learn when they listen to things. When it sounds great they'll get curious. They'll want to know what it is. Some of them may some of the may not. They'll choose to take a look. A go, look at that, I love this, and it's 192. It's one of three things I have that are 192. All the others are lower res, some are 48, some are 96. They may, in their mind, go "oh shit" this is what it sounds like at 48, really great. I wonder what it would have sounded like at 192.

The awareness of those differences and the palette musicians have to play with will change. Producers will now be able to use resolution as an effect. It can be super clear if you want that. Or, it can be dull if you don't want that. Even within one recording you can go from low res to high res. You can use it as a tool. You can use it creatively. You can turn it on and off. The whole recording will have to be presented at it's highest resolution. But if the chorus and the hook are at 192, and the rest of the song is at 44.1 or 48, something compatible, then it's mixed at 192. The source was low res, the chorus was super high res, some of the vocals are really high res, some are dull. It's a new way to play. A whole new thing. That kind of creativity in the studio is possibly a new tool for the hip hop and rap community. It's not one of the things they've done. They are very creative and incredibly poetic in their way, which I appreciate.

Yet, guys like me can do what we do. Create things the way we create them. Whatever we do in the studio, we finish, we can hand it in to Pono and it's going to sound exactly like what we did. Through the best player you can get. You may be able to make some improvements to our player, maybe not in our size. We really got a great sound. It's an odd shaped player because of what's in it. We had to make some things big to make those earphones sound good. There's a reason for everything. It's not just because we thought it was cool. Although we do think it's cool. We think it stands for something. That's who we are. That's what we do. We're not a format. We are anti-format. We don't want the musicians to ever have a format again. Formats are for computer companies.
More of interview with Neil Young on PONO over on Computer Audiophile.
After the interview completes, Computer Audiophile's Chris Connaker editorializes:
Like every product brought to market, Pono has its share of fans and detractors.

I was initially surprised by the comments of a few skeptics that railed against Pono for its lack of specifics about the PonoPlayer and the PonoMusic Store, and its Kickstarter campaign. In addition, a few people just had to go on record as the first folks to predict Pono's demise. The surprising part was this negativity emanated from some in the audiophile community. Nobody commenting had heard a single song on the Ayre Acoustics designed PonoPlayer, yet some were stating how Joe Sixpack will never tell the difference between Pono and a lossy iTunes track. Give Pono room to breathe people. Pono is something many audiophiles have wanted for decades. It's a movement with the ability to bring awareness of good sound quality to the masses. Plus, all ships rise with the tide. If Pono succeeds, sites like HDtracks and Acoustic Sounds will grow exponentially. High end manufacturers will benefit from an influx of new customers seeking better sound quality at home, in the office, or in the car. Imagine the traffic in David Wasserman's Stereo Exchange at 627 Broadway in New York City when he places a Pono banner in the front window. People who saw Neil Young's CNBC interview from South by Southwest may waltz through the door to see what Pono is all about. The opportunity to give this industry a shot in the arm is ripe.

There are no losers if Pono succeeds.



At 3/19/2014 11:30:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny how the interviewer starts pointing out that some of Neil's recent records were accidentally released at CD quality and went unnoticed, and the record company guy ends the interview! "You're out of time". It's very hard for someone to be given the chance to ask the difficult questions that need to be asked.

24/192, 24/48, 16/ doesn't matter. In controlled, double blind tests, they all sound identical. It's your expectation that makes one sound better than the other. Confirmation bias.

I'm surprised no one has pointed out the obvious benefit of this... All those fantastic albums from 20 years ago that were "only' recorded at CD quality actually sound great! Really great!

Freedom, Ragged Glory, Sleeps With Angels, Weld (CD or video), Harvest Moon. It doesn't matter at all that they were recorded in CD quality, because 16/44.1 is scientifically-proven to be indistinguishable from 24/192. So don't kid yourself those albums are somehow inferior sonically.

At 3/19/2014 01:24:00 PM, Blogger asg said...

"It can be super clear if you want that. Or, it can be dull if you don't want that." HARVEST (on CD) sounded sonically dull to me all those years ago...Now listening on YT it sounds fairly crisp...Then again my ears have been battered for a long time, so I doubt that I would hear the differences people are talking about...

At 3/19/2014 03:02:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@11:30: In the comments below the interview, the interviewer was asked about being cut off by the Warner rep. His reply:

"The interview time actually went long. It wasn't cut because of any question. Neil was very interested in the items that I brought up where his music was apparently up sampled. He actually talked further after the the Warner rep said time was up. You can see in the transcript where he actually asked me a question at the end."


At 3/19/2014 03:26:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surprise, surprise. Vinyl boxset official release series 5-8 has been postponed until November due to "other projects".

At 3/19/2014 03:37:00 PM, Anonymous Zuma said...

I'm done with Neil and this site. neil and his continued jerking around of fans and Thrasher with his inability to be critical about anything NY says or does. Especially when there is a clear, cogent critique of Pono.

There is no 'relative truth' Thrasher. There is truth and it is discerned through critical thinking and immanent critique. You are obviously unable to do either, hence you pure dismissal of anything that questions Pono or anything NY does, for that matter. It's really too bad on both fronts. You've been a great source for NY news and Neil has been a great source of music. For me, it's time for a break.


At 3/19/2014 04:24:00 PM, Blogger TS said...

Zuma... Why so upset? Just don't buy Pono? No need to stop listening to music you love. I'm assuming you do anyway as your handle and presence on this site would indicate. What does Pono have to do with taste in music? It's a concept, and an interesting one, but nobody is telling anybody they have to buy this. Neil had an idea, he put the wheels in motion, and now his idea is becoming a reality. Regardless if his idea was right or wrong he took it and ran with it, and he's already accomplished more than I anticipated. I at least give him credit for that, my interest is piqued. I will be listening, and doing A-B comparisons before I ever spend a single cent. But I would do that with any technology. And no amount of bloggers telling me it's a waste of money, and no amount of bloggers telling me it will change my life will change that. It's a product, and it's my decision to buyt it or not. If I find I can't tell the difference, or don't care enough, I'll continue to listen to music the way I always have. If I like it, I'll buy it. Regardless of my decision it won't change how I feel about his music. That is a constant, and it has been a lifelong companion. To lose it over something like this is a little extreme. Maybe you're just venting.

All that aside, if the news on the 5-8 series is postponed then I'm really bummed. That was my single biggest item on Record Store day this year.

At 3/19/2014 05:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with you Zuma. All this smoke blowing up the proverbial - it's all the about the songs in any shape or form. Goodnight.

At 3/19/2014 07:13:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

Must be something to it, everybody's getting pissed off. That's actually about the most consistent thing about anything Neil does. Rock on George for Ringo one time.

At 3/19/2014 10:55:00 PM, Blogger asg said...

SONY don't ?

At 3/20/2014 07:48:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"continued jerking around of fans and Thrasher with his inability to be critical about anything NY says or does."

Spot on 100%. It is almost comical.

At 3/20/2014 09:10:00 AM, Anonymous regualr stairs said...

All the naysayers can go suck eggs. TW is a NY news/informational service, and a good one at that.

It provides a forum for ideas exchange and is updated daily with NY news. How is that problematic? Jeez...get a life will ya?

1st - sonically (and mathematically) CD quality sound is sub par in the same way a xerox is less than an original. "Sit on it Potsie!"

2nd - Why rail against Thrasher' Wheat? Again, it's like yelling at a newspaper for bad news. "Sit on it Potsie!"

3rd - if something gets pushed back, it gets pushed back. "Sit on it Potsie!"

And for my final point:

"Sit on it Potsie!"

At 3/20/2014 03:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing against Thrasher, just the all too easy acceptance of everything NY does. You can play some of Neil's most recent records through a toilet seat they won't sound any better!

At 3/20/2014 04:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why all the butt hurt? I actually thought Thrasher did a pretty good job of presenting all sides this go around. Lots of good information here! Thanks Thrash!!

Old Neg

At 3/21/2014 07:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure, but you don't have to like everything Neil Young does. He fucks up too, just like we all do.

At 3/22/2014 08:20:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this is about choices...I agree with Thrasher!


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