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Neil Young's new iPod killer!, Finally comes out.
andy o
post Mar 10 2014, 22:27
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I'm skeptical about this whole thing. What's the difference with all the so-called HD formats from previous years? SACD and ADVD even had huge marketing backing. The difference seems to be it's Neil Young promoting it. An old coot by today's music consumers' standards. Whatever you think of his music or the music industry, he's not even very influential right now in his own field, so why would people listen to him in other matters outside his expertise? I think most of the people who are swayed solely by celebrity endorsements don't appreciate Young as a musician, and people who aren't swayed obviously won't listen to him even if they're fans.
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includemeout
post Mar 10 2014, 22:47
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QUOTE (andy o @ Mar 10 2014, 18:27) *
What's the difference with all the so-called HD formats from previous years? SACD and ADVD even had huge marketing backing.


For placebophiles (including any wannabe or real celebrity endorsing it) it is obviously night to day!


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RonaldDumsfeld
post Mar 11 2014, 00:19
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Wasn't the point of PONO the fact that it processed audio in DSD (effectively sigma-delta chips native language)?

So although all the 'new' masters will be re-converted PCM it acts as a stalking horse for yet another new format.

Which does not have the same universitality of a copy unprotected red book standard.
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jkauff
post Mar 11 2014, 03:23
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I'll wait for the Beats Audio version. That'll sound really great. cool.gif
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Engelsstaub
post Mar 11 2014, 03:43
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Mar 10 2014, 05:23) *
...
In a recording studio, someone creates a 24/96 version. That's the master format. They will let me download this for, say, £25. Then they take this master format, ruin it with over-use of dynamic range compression, convert it down to 16/44.1, create a CD master, press some CDs, and will post one of these to my door for £5. What do I "gain" from paying 5x as much? I'm paying them to deliver extra data that I don't want or need. I'm paying them to not deliver a physical item. I'm paying them to not do things. The only useful thing, though it's perverse, is I'm paying them not to ruin the sound with excessive dynamic range compression. It's like paying a chef extra not to sh1t in your food. Forgive me if I don't feel like this is a fantastic deal.

If you could buy a decent downconversion at the same price as a normal CD, that would be fine. Whether that would hurt their business model, or not, I don't know. In a rational world it would kill it, but I don't think the target audience is rational, so maybe it'll happen.

Cheers,
David.



The only album I"ve thus far bought from HDtracks was $17.99 USD. Still much less than the vinyl (which was probably cut from it anyway.) It was only a few dollars more than the Best Buy special edition CD (which had one less bonus track) @15 and change. I don't care about the "hi-res" thing so much even though I have a SACD/DVD-A player...this album was 24/44.1 anyway.

I didn't mind paying a few dollars more because the HDtracks version was DR10 to the CD and Mastered for iTunes DR4-5. You can hear it too without the measurements. Not that the album is a flawless production without the added compression*

CDs haven't even gone up with inflation since the eighties that I've seen; they've always been around fifteen bucks. If they charge more that a few dollars more than the CD than I would agree that it's not worth it for me either.

I'm in agreement with what Porcus said earlier in the thread: if it takes audiophoolery to get the music industry to back off on the loudness war I will happily take it. But you're right, David; there's little use for the claims of such a player if I'm going to resample it or run it through the Mastered for iTunes droplet anyway. The amount of space (128Gb) is interesting but one can honestly just use an Android phone/player with SD cards or an iPod Classic if they need that much space. I know the Touch and the iPhone support up to 24/48 for those who think they hear bat-frequencies...I'm guessing the Classic does as well.

*Edit: I don't mean to imply that the stuff you get off HDtracks will normally be a different master or less dynamically compressed than the CD. I doubt that's a norm based on looking at a few in the DR database.

This post has been edited by Engelsstaub: Mar 11 2014, 03:45


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splice
post Mar 11 2014, 06:22
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QUOTE (RonaldDumsfeld @ Mar 10 2014, 16:19) *
Wasn't the point of PONO the fact that it processed audio in DSD (effectively sigma-delta chips native language)? ...


Given that Ayre (who designed the hardware) and Neil Young himself are not DSD fans, IMHO it's unlikely.


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Porcus
post Mar 11 2014, 08:51
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An apropos regarding outlets to buy lossless: There is a webshop search engine at http://flacme.com (and their HD counterpart http://www.findhdmusic.com ) - I just stumbled over it.
It has thus far only brought me to expired products and territory-restricted content I cannot buy, but still ... I have discovered lossless retailers I didn't know existed.

This post has been edited by Porcus: Mar 11 2014, 08:52


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2Bdecided
post Mar 11 2014, 11:59
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QUOTE (Engelsstaub @ Mar 11 2014, 02:43) *
CDs haven't even gone up with inflation since the eighties that I've seen; they've always been around fifteen bucks.
Seeing the price labels on my old CDs I'm horrified at what I paid for some of them. Today, unless you're desperate to buy something when it first comes out, most CDs can be had for less than £10 soon enough, and most current pop music seems to have stabilised at £5-£6 delivered to your door.

In real terms this is a huge drop in the cost of music - I assume it's because of Napster etc (which made music free) followed by Spotify and YouTube (which made music legally free), the fact that CDs are on the way out (often downloads cost more!), and typical internet tax-avoidance pricing (compared with the legitimately taxed bricks and mortar shops that used to sell CDs).


But looking at the price labels on my old CDs (this isn't a hobby of mine(!), but I couldn't help but notice them when I was ripping them) it reminded me of a time when a CD was a premium product, and £10 seemed like a bargain. It's understandable that people in the industry are looking for a way to bring back those days - to get into people's minds the idea that "this is worth some money".

When CDs were introduced, there was a genuine audible advance due to the technology. To the average listener, music suddenly sounded better.

Now the improvements we're hoping for have nothing to do with technology, but hinge on care, skill and talent. People have already launched "better than CD" formats (with essentially inaudible technical advantages) and tried to ensure their success by tying them in to care, skill and talent. This is exactly what we're talking about in this thread. But look at HDCD, Gold CDs, DVD-A/SACD, etc - these have all been minimally successful, and they haven't universally delivered better masters via care, skill and talent. What hope is there that it'll be different this time?

I know I sound 110% cynical, but viewed rationally, the expressions of hope are quite strange too. People are thinking "if the industry manages to make some success of a pointless technical innovation then as a side-effect / marketing trick they might not destroy the sound of the music (at least sometimes). This is a good thing."

Two problems:
1. Analyse that train of thought carefully and it's sounding a bit like Stockholm syndrome.
2. If you accidentally fix a problem as a side effect of something pointless, but most people buy into the pointless part, you can break it again tomorrow. Far better to recognise and fix the problem itself.


Though I have to admit, if the pricing was sensible, and someone I trust on here confirmed that an album I wanted to buy was available in better sound quality in some new DRM-free audio format, I'd be there. Like most people in this thread I've dipped my toe into this several times already, but I've often been disappointed.

Cheers,
David.
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Engelsstaub
post Mar 11 2014, 12:49
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Mar 11 2014, 04:59) *
...But look at HDCD, Gold CDs, DVD-A/SACD, etc - these have all been minimally successful, and they haven't universally delivered better masters via care, skill and talent. What hope is there that it'll be different this time?

I know I sound 110% cynical, but viewed rationally, the expressions of hope are quite strange too. People are thinking "if the industry manages to make some success of a pointless technical innovation then as a side-effect / marketing trick they might not destroy the sound of the music (at least sometimes). This is a good thing."

Two problems:
1. Analyse that train of thought carefully and it's sounding a bit like Stockholm syndrome.
2. If you accidentally fix a problem as a side effect of something pointless, but most people buy into the pointless part, you can break it again tomorrow. Far better to recognise and fix the problem itself...


You raise some valid points and your admitted cynicism seems rooted in logic and reality. Maybe I am just being wishful.

Honestly it seems pretty improbable that Pono will be any more of a success than other "hi-res" formats and online storefronts. Everyone I know doesn't know or care about technical details; they just want to push play and listen to music...nothing wrong with that. I just offered a friend a "bit-identical" CD-R of Bryan Adams' "Reckless" and explained that it wouldn't be some MP3 CD when she ripped it for her phone. The look on her face told me that, while she wanted the CD, she didn't really know or care what I was talking about.

Just because audiophiles (I'm using the term loosely to include people like us in forums like this) are loud with their complaints doesn't mean they're representative of the concerns of the general population. If your average person bought a "hi-res" album from Pono or wherever they're going to flip out when they realize they can't easily burn it to a CD or get it on their phone.


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Porcus
post Mar 11 2014, 15:42
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Hmh ... I recall they made the excuse that CDs were so expensive to produce that they had to charge another £5 over LPs, but of course it was supposed to drop when the format caught on. It didn't much until it was on its way out - except on the releases you had already bought on LP, which was sold to you once again without investing in a new recording.

Nowadays a smaller artist can sell me the album on Bandcamp for a third of the price tag and still gross three times as much. Must have hurt the record officials' cocaine dealers massively.


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Nerkenheimer
post Mar 12 2014, 00:45
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There's some more detail here.

Reading between the marketing bumpf it appears to be similar to Apple's iPod/iTunes model: a player on the one hand and a store for purchasing music on the other. With better specs for the former and lossless quality for the latter. No mention of a new file format, just FLAC at different resolutions.

To me it seems to be neither fish nor fowl. Too bulky to be portable, and too scaled-down for home use.
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tpijag
post Mar 12 2014, 03:19
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QUOTE
No mention of a new file format, just FLAC at different resolutions.


I do not understand this statement. Flac is lossless, it does not come at different resolutions. Different minor compression level, but not resolutions.


QUOTE
Too bulky to be portable, and too scaled-down for home use.


And again, What?
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Engelsstaub
post Mar 12 2014, 04:01
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QUOTE (tpijag @ Mar 11 2014, 20:19) *
...Flac is lossless, it does not come at different resolutions. Different minor compression level, but not resolutions...


Are you being disingenuous? Of course FLAC can come at different resolutions and it's still, by definition, lossless whether it's a container for "hi-res" 24/96 or a Redbook downsampling of that.

This post has been edited by Engelsstaub: Mar 12 2014, 04:02


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jkauff
post Mar 12 2014, 04:12
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Got an email today from NeilYoung.com notifying me that Neil now has a Kickstarter project to actually manufacture these players. He's essentially asking you to pay $400 up front for a player that only exists as prototypes. If it never happens, you get your money back. If it does work, you get the player plus "two of Neil's favorite Neil Young albums" in Pono format.

What this says to me is that he can't find any traditional investors. The smell of snake oil must be really strong.
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includemeout
post Mar 12 2014, 05:16
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wnmnkh
post Mar 12 2014, 10:19
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Sabre Dac ES9018 and 64+64gb memory, this is actually decent deal despite being celebrity product. Hopefully fewer people are going to buy that 2.4k iriver player.
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Willakan
post Mar 12 2014, 12:27
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Oh god...the "audiophile" section of the Kickstarter site...they've been reading too much TAS/Stereophile

1) Minimum phase digital filters, because normal digital filters sound digital.
2) No feedback at all, anywhere, because it sounds "unnatural".
3) Discrete output circuitry, because opamps are evil.

Another section assures me that the difference between hi-res and well-compressed MP3 is so enormous that I'll feel it in my very soul. Yes, that was the noun employed. At this point I would suggest commenting on this is like shooting disabled fish in a small tray, were it not for the fact that this sort of thing will be reported verbatim in the relevant media publications as if it makes complete sense.
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Engelsstaub
post Mar 12 2014, 12:48
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QUOTE (Willakan @ Mar 12 2014, 05:27) *
...
Another section assures me that the difference between hi-res and well-compressed MP3 is so enormous that I'll feel it in my very soul. Yes, that was the noun employed...


I wonder which part of Plato's tripartite soul would feel the difference between hi-res and MP3. There's the Logical, the Spirited, and the Appetitive. I'm guessing it would have to be the last part. It's surely not the first part.


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includemeout
post Mar 12 2014, 12:49
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"Yaaay!!"

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/nei...-1-day-20140312

yeahright.gif

Flamboyancy levels nearing those of James Brown's funeral.

This post has been edited by includemeout: Mar 12 2014, 12:58


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skamp
post Mar 12 2014, 13:21
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Mar 11 2014, 11:59) *
2. If you accidentally fix a problem as a side effect of something pointless, but most people buy into the pointless part, you can break it again tomorrow. Far better to recognise and fix the problem itself.


In the video where Neil Young showcases the differences between MP3, CD and Pono to a bunch of fellow musicians, it kinda sounds like he's comparing some brickwalled, very compressed version (as in Dynamic Range Compression) to a very dynamic one. That's what I got from many of the comments of those artists, who mention stuff like "hitting a wall", "drums no longer sound like drums" about MP3, and stuff like being able to tell where instruments are located, about Pono.

Maybe, just maybe, if they start appying excessive compression again, it won't "sound like Pono" and they'll reject such masters. Wishful thinking, maybe?


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Engelsstaub
post Mar 12 2014, 13:52
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QUOTE (skamp @ Mar 12 2014, 06:21) *
QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Mar 11 2014, 11:59) *
2. If you accidentally fix a problem as a side effect of something pointless, but most people buy into the pointless part, you can break it again tomorrow. Far better to recognise and fix the problem itself.


In the video where Neil Young showcases the differences between MP3, CD and Pono to a bunch of fellow musicians, it kinda sounds like he's comparing some brickwalled, very compressed version (as in Dynamic Range Compression) to a very dynamic one. That's what I got from many of the comments of those artists, who mention stuff like "hitting a wall", "drums no longer sound like drums" about MP3, and stuff like being able to tell where instruments are located, about Pono.

Maybe, just maybe, if they start appying excessive compression again, it won't "sound like Pono" and they'll reject such masters. Wishful thinking, maybe?


One of the big excuses for loudness mastering that I always hear is "it's often artistic choice." But I've spoken to a few very successful rock musicians who all seemed to be completely hands-off regarding production. More than one seriously thought dynamic range compression was the same as MP3 compression.


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Hotsoup
post Mar 12 2014, 15:10
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Am I reading the Kickstarter page right or did he not already surpass the 800,000 goal? That was fast. I wonder why he even needed a kickstarter with all the celebrity endorsement.

In that first video, the underwater analogy had me in fits of laughter/distress. How grossly misrepresented..

EDIT: Oh I see the RollingStone article now, thanks includemeout.

This post has been edited by Hotsoup: Mar 12 2014, 15:12
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2Bdecided
post Mar 12 2014, 16:13
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I love the video. So many famous people being bowled over it makes you believe it.

Until someone from RHCP tells you that the music is no longer destroyed. What, no longer like Californication?! wink.gif

Seriously, it does make you interested. What were they hearing? Fantastic marketing.

Let's hope for some fantastic recordings.

Cheers,
David.
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marc2003
post Mar 12 2014, 16:17
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i wonder who will be using kickstarter next? maybe apple need financial help for the next iphone or microsoft need funds to develop windows 9. rolleyes.gif
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Hotsoup
post Mar 12 2014, 16:36
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Mar 12 2014, 07:13) *
I love the video. So many famous people being bowled over it makes you believe it.
Yes, I definitely want to hear his car stereo after that!
QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Mar 12 2014, 07:13) *
Until someone from RHCP tells you that the music is no longer destroyed. What, no longer like Californication?!
Are they really blaming a codec or are they blaming a codec that represents mastering-for-the-portable device/CD-market? Sometimes I wonder what they're really implying. Are they saying Californication would have been different had they produced for 24/192 flac? I don't get it.
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