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Neil Young claims he was working on an audiophile iPod with Steve Jobs

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Just say you have super high res, anything below 384khz/32bit is just not worth your time.  

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Let's be honest, 90% of my listening is streaming these days.

x2. And minor hearing losses of recent years mean my tin ears have gotten worse.

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It's all about the masters really, and it seems Neil knows that. The hi-rez shit is an easier sell...a cheap shot I think. Pono should spend the time educating people on the importance of good masters and the fucked up loudness wars shit. 

 

All in all though, I think it's a very good thing.

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Unfortunately spending time educating your consumers usually does not pass the "will this help me get insanely rich" acid test.  My limited observations of marketing and sales in a corporate environment has demonstrated to me that a business makes more money spending less time marketing to uneducated consumers than educated ones.

 

 

Cynical me.

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I think its a good thing in general regardless of how the player turns out. I've heard stories about high quality audio in the media that would normally never breach the subject. It will never appeal to the masses. However, if it creates a higher quality streaming push (resulting in more competition/lower prices) , I'd be happy. 

 

But, if I had to put money on it, I'd bet against it. 

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It's all about the masters really, and it seems Neil knows that. The hi-rez shit is an easier sell...a cheap shot I think. Pono should spend the time educating people on the importance of good masters and the fucked up loudness wars shit. 

Too right Tyll.  If Neil Young manages to bring dynamics back to commercially viable music, I'll declare him the best human.

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It's all about the masters really, and it seems Neil knows that. The hi-rez shit is an easier sell...a cheap shot I think. Pono should spend the time educating people on the importance of good masters and the fucked up loudness wars shit. 

 

All in all though, I think it's a very good thing.

 

This times a million.

 

I buy the stupidly expensive $45 Japanese SHM-SACDs by the handfuls not because I have any great love for the format but because most of them are flat transfers of original master tapes.

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So we can have good masters done on high res (which ain't gonna hurt, worst case) and shit for the masses, and there's a differentiator and that's cool and the gang as far as I'm concerned. Without a plausible differentiator, no such thing is possible. I have zero problem with that.  It's cheap, easy incremental revenue for the labels. All we need is for them to actually do it. Go Neil!

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Too right Tyll.  If Neil Young manages to bring dynamics back to commercially viable music, I'll declare him the best human.

 

 

Not sure I have much faith in that.  It would mean a remastering session - and that costs.  Plus you would need a good engineer.

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Maybe Neil Young will get every artist to do an album with him

And they can hire Steve Hoffman

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Edited by justin

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Not sure I have much faith in that.  It would mean a remastering session - and that costs.  Plus you would need a good engineer.

 

I would think in most cases there are numerous masters in the archive that are better than the currently released versions. Just getting your hands on these is still prolly quite a bit of work, but not necessarily remastering. From what Neil said in the Computer Audiophile review, they seem to be willing to put the work in.

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Mastering is one of the cheapest steps in the process of bringing a record to market. That's why remastering is so popular with classic records.

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"CC: How will PonoMusic, the Pono online store, be different from sites like HDtracks, or will it be different?

NY: I don't know what the HDtracks store is like. The Pono Store will be the Pono Store. We sell stuff that is Pono. It's the best that's available. Period."

This just seems weird. Neil Yound is building this product but doesn't know what HDtracks is like?

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Disappointed the follow-up did not inquire about familiarity with Google Search.

The part on future downloads is certainly promising.

"CC: Numbers such as sample rate and bit depth are only part of the equation. The people behind the recordings are more important. Will there be a Pono certification or guarantee or Mastered for Pono type thing to designate tracks that are of pono quality.

NY: No. Pono is Pono. You make what you make. When we say it's Pono that means we are bringing you the closest thing to the master, if it's not the master, if it's not the native resolution it's the closet thing to it that was mastered. Then were asking why the hell didn't they master the native resolution. If you buy what it is they supplied, and there's a higher resolution, and we're after them to master it, and they master it, you get it. You don't have to pay for it. You've already bought the best it can be. The best it can be is what we're gong to give you. You just have to download it again in our store. You'll get notified in our little newspaper, these are the new things that got upgraded..."

Also, I like little newspapers.

Edited by blessingx
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CC: Will Pono have an effect on the Loudness Wars or encourage less dynamic range compression.

NY: (Long pause) Well, I don't know. It could. To me dynamic range is king. The music decides how compressed it is. If you make a mix and you make the mix, not mastering, in the mix, that's where you do the compression. You compress certain instruments as an effect. That's really all you want. You want that shit to pump so that's what you compress. Why compress what comes and goes? You don't have to make that decision in mastering. The artist can make the decision. If they want something that pumps and grooves all the way through like ah, what the hell is the name, it's a great great band, two guys, two guys (The Black Keys -CC), Yeah, they are great. They use a lot of compression in their mixing. They record at like 48. I've noticed what they do. They'll have more to play with. They can still have that sound and have it be a 192 master with just like one area of the song, maybe the hook, or one instrument be 192, just fucking, what the hell is that! The mix is made up of these two things (sample rates). You get source stuff that is 48k, it's not going to be higher than 48k unless you put acoustic echo on it and that echo will be at 192k. Using resolution as an effect is one of the offshoots of Pono. That's one of the creative tools that people like the Black Keys, Kanye West, Eminem, Jay Z, LIl' Wayne, can use. They are very creative, let them go, let them have whatever they want we just give them more.

 

I find this answer confusing at best and disappointing at worst.

 

Right now I don't have much faith that the Pono store will be all that much of an improvement over HDTracks. Hoping Neil proves me wrong.

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I have been following this for a while with interest - not necessarily the hardware but more how Neil could use his fame to turn things around (hopefully).  I am not a fan of his music, but I like what he stands for.  Having said that, I have always been a bit hesitant to care what most older rock and metal musicians have to say when it comes to anything technical (like mixing and mastering) because usually their ears are shot to shit and/or they just mess around in the studio, come up with the ideas, and the real engineers do the production work.  I do not know how much of a technical whiz Neil is, but based on those rambling pile of crap answers above, I think it is safe to say that he is no Steven Wilson.  The fact that he does not know about HDTracks (his main competitor) is just sad.  And I am not buying his "if it's Pono, it must be the best" nonsense either.

 

I hope this is not just a DAP equivalent to Beats.  I hope it brings about change in a positive way, but when the suits get involved, I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes: "You can wish in one hand and crap in the other and see which one fills up first." 

Edited by roadtonowhere08

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I'm not surprised he's not up to date on the nerd shit part of this.  He just wanted an ipod that sounded better, and when his idea of an all new format fell through, someone sold him on this, instead.

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Yeah, I see where he's coming from, but instead of focusing on the hardware and format aspect, he should have been hammering away on those in the studio.  That's where the damage is happening.  No hardware or format will fix that.  And though I hope his fame can have some pull with the studios, the Pono site will still be at the mercy of what the studios give them (like HDTracks).

 

Also, the portable revolution is what started this mess.  It's really hard to listen to a highly dynamic album on the subway or whatever unless you invest in some nicer IEMs.  People are a lot more on the go and busy; they are mostly passive listeners now.  The only way for better mastering to return on a broad scale is if people would set aside some time, sit down, and actually listen to the music in a quiet place like they used to.  Only then will really realize the differences between the crap being released and a well mastered album.

Edited by roadtonowhere08

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That's kind of my point. There has to be two versions. The "loud" crap actually makes sense in the circumstances it's intended for.

It's gonna take the mastering engineer, what five minutes, to render out the file immediately prior to compressing the life out of it. And there's the super duper premium version. Not much incremental cost. (I'm assuming here that the engineer takes a coffee break while the render happens.) Then you have to have a way to differentiate the products so you can sell two different versions and most of the money you get for the incremental premium version goes straight to the bottom line. I don't see why the labels would fight that. (Except maybe if they're total douches, which is a real risk.)

Edited by CarlSeibert

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That's kind of my point. There has to be two versions. The "loud" crap actually makes sense in the circumstances it's intended for.

It's gonna take the mastering engineer, what five minutes, to render out the file immediately prior to compressing the life out of it. And there's the super duper premium version. Not much incremental cost. (I'm assuming here that the engineer takes a coffee break while the render happens.) Then you have to have a way to differentiate the products so you can sell two different versions and most of the money you get for the incremental premium version goes straight to the bottom line. I don't see why the labels would fight that. (Except maybe if they're total douches, which is a real risk.)

 

Yep, I totally agree with you.  I really wish they could see that there are obvious fiscal benefits to this.

 

Just think how much money those idiots could get if they just did straight transfers of all the stuff from the 60s-80s from the master tapes using the best ADCs available and and sold them online via 24/92 or whatever.  But that would kill the endless remaster cycle, which leads me to...

 

...they are royal douches, so yeah.

Edited by roadtonowhere08

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I've got the Led Zeppelin II remaster on pre-order. Not optimistic about the sound quality on the discs when they are released in June... but best of luck to Pono.

Edited by HiWire

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I will go with "they are douches" for now, however there will probably be some fantastic audiophile recordings no one wants to listen to

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That's kind of my point. There has to be two versions. The "loud" crap actually makes sense in the circumstances it's intended for.

It's gonna take the mastering engineer, what five minutes, to render out the file immediately prior to compressing the life out of it. And there's the super duper premium version. Not much incremental cost. (I'm assuming here that the engineer takes a coffee break while the render happens.) Then you have to have a way to differentiate the products so you can sell two different versions and most of the money you get for the incremental premium version goes straight to the bottom line. I don't see why the labels would fight that. (Except maybe if they're total douches, which is a real risk.)

I think brick walling has actually turned into a team effort.  Pop mixes are baked from the ground up to have no dynamics.  My current favorite example is the new Pharell Williams album.  You can hear that every track in every mix was compressed into a block of sound.  It has a very different quality to it from dynamic source recordings that got smashed in mastering.  Those always have a lot of distracting artifacts from quiet & loud relationships getting distorted.

 

On rare occasions, I master an album.  Assuming the mixes were at least moderately competent to begin with, I do very little.  I'll add a touch of EQ if there's a bump to tame.  Maybe I'll need to change the relative volume of one song, or add/remove space at the end of another.  That's it.  My goal is basically to not fuck up what was given to me.  It really shouldn't be hard to make "audiophile" versions of recordings.  And for old stuff on tape, they can do strait transfers and call it done.  It's a perfect chance for those in the studio to sip some coffee.

 

Just don't ever pay money for an "audiophile" version of Pharrell's album.  It won't be any different.

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I think brick walling has actually turned into a team effort.  Pop mixes are baked from the ground up to have no dynamics.  My current favorite example is the new Pharell Williams album.  You can hear that every track in every mix was compressed into a block of sound.  It has a very different quality to it from dynamic source recordings that got smashed in mastering.  Those always have a lot of distracting artifacts from quiet & loud relationships getting distorted.

 

On rare occasions, I master an album.  Assuming the mixes were at least moderately competent to begin with, I do very little.  I'll add a touch of EQ if there's a bump to tame.  Maybe I'll need to change the relative volume of one song, or add/remove space at the end of another.  That's it.  My goal is basically to not fuck up what was given to me.  It really shouldn't be hard to make "audiophile" versions of recordings.  And for old stuff on tape, they can do strait transfers and call it done.  It's a perfect chance for those in the studio to sip some coffee.

 

Just don't ever pay money for an "audiophile" version of Pharrell's album.  It won't be any different.

When you say you master an album, that means you're employed by the label, and are given the original recordings?  Or you mean you take a cd, and fuck with it?

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