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Neil Young Pushes Pono, Says Piracy Is the New Radio

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the canadians-tend-to-be-smart dept.

Music 361

Hugh Pickens writes "Kia Makarechi reports that Neil Young isn't particularly concerned with the effects of piracy on artists but is more concerned that the files that are being shared are of such low quality. 'It doesn't affect me because I look at the internet as the new radio,' says Young. 'I look at the radio as gone. Piracy is the new radio. That's how music gets around. That's the radio. If you really want to hear it, let's make it available, let them hear it, let them hear the 95 percent of it.' Young is primarily concerned about whether the MP3 files we're all listening to actually are pretty poor from an audio-quality standpoint. Young's main concern is that your average MP3 file only contains about five percent of the audio from an original recording and is pushing a new format called Pono that would be 'high-resolution' digital tracks of the same quality as that produced during the studio recording. Young wants to see better music recording and high resolution recording, but we're not anywhere near that and hopes that 'some rich guy' will solve the problem of creating and distributing '100 percent' of the sound in music. 'Steve Jobs was a pioneer of digital music, his legacy was tremendous. But when he went home, he listened to vinyl.'"

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FLAC (5, Informative)

Trintech (1137007) | about 2 years ago | (#41399973)

Isn't FLAC already lossless? What makes Pono better?

Re:FLAC (5, Funny)

Zandamesh (1689334) | about 2 years ago | (#41400005)

Makes you think of ponies.

Re:FLAC (-1)

cvtan (752695) | about 2 years ago | (#41400409)

ELAINE: What about ponies? What kind of abnormal animal is that? And those kids who had their own ponies.. JERRY: I know, I hated those kids. In fact, I hate anyone that ever had a pony when they were growing up. MANYA: ..I had a pony. (The room is dead quiet) JERRY: ..Well, I didn't really mean a pony, per se. MANYA: (Angry) When I was a little girl in Poland, we all had ponies. My sister had pony, my cousin had pony, ..So, what's wrong with that? JERRY: Nothing. Nothing at all. I was just merely expressting.. HELEN: Should we have coffee? Who's having coffee? MANYA: He was a beautiful pony! And I loved him. JERRY: Well, I'm sure you did. Who wouldn't love a pony? Who wouldn't love a person that had a pony? MANYA: You! You said so! JERRY: No, see, we didn't have ponies. I'm sure at the time in Poland, they were very common. They were probably like compact cars.. MANYA: That's it! I've had enough! (She leaves the room)
Sorry. Had to be said.

Re:FLAC (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41400449)

You are venturing forth through the savannah. On the horizon, the sun hangs, bathing everything in a warm, golden glow. You feel relieved that the day is nearly done and welcome the respite that you will soon have from the blistering heat. As you continue on, the path you are walking upon becomes ever more overgrown until it finally disappears in the thick, tell grass.

Will you set up camp here or press onward?

> press onward

You press onward, hoping to get as much travel into the day as possible, for it will be nightfall soon and it will be impossible to navigate the plains, especially with the path enshrouded by the dense foliage. After hiking approximately four more kilometres, you come across an old, dead tree and decide that this will be a good place to set up camp. The tree would be useful, not only for the lean-to, but also because the dried branches would make for excellent firewood.

Just at that moment you hear rustling from behind you. Turning around, you see a NEGROID WARRIOR jump out from behind the brush. What will you do?

> look at negroid warrior

The NEGROID WARRIOR stands before you, his tall, dark body adorned with a large necklace made of various animal teeth. He is clothed in only an animal skin loincloth and he is carrying a sharp, wooden spear. He glares at you menacingly.

> inventory

You are carrying:

Blanket
Bottle of beer (40oz)
Box of matches
Canvas tarpaulin
Canteen of water
Penknife
Short rope

> give forty to negroid warrior

The NEGROID WARRIOR quickly snaps up the bottle of smooth, refreshing beer and drinks it down greedily. Casting the empty bottle to the ground, he looks to you and speaks, "It works every time!", before running off into the cooling twilight of the open plain.

Re:FLAC (4, Funny)

somersault (912633) | about 2 years ago | (#41400431)

Or pornos. Or.. both?

Re:FLAC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41400575)

Makes me think of Porno.

Re:FLAC (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41400655)

kc u fs r egg in...

gen rigs ufc, k?

Re:FLAC (5, Informative)

robmv (855035) | about 2 years ago | (#41400069)

Looks like the name is trademarked [rollingstone.com] , so this looks like a way to request money for "Pono compliance"

Re:FLAC (5, Funny)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | about 2 years ago | (#41400115)

Well, I read the headline as "Neil Young Pushes Porno". So there is that.

Re:FLAC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41400171)

Neil Young is bad at spelling. He meant to add that extra "r". :-)

Re:FLAC (2, Informative)

ant-1 (120272) | about 2 years ago | (#41400145)

FLAC is lossless from an audio CD perspective. There is a huge difference between studio recordings and CD content (you lose a lot on both ends of the spectrum, among other changes). That's why audiophiles prefer vinyl, because it captures more sound from thestudio recording. Pono is a try to capture like 100% of what the musician get on the studio tapes.

Re:FLAC (5, Informative)

characterZer0 (138196) | about 2 years ago | (#41400257)

FLAC can handle up to 8 channels, up to 32 bits per channel, and a sampling rate up to 655350 Hz.

Redbook CDs use 2 channels, 16 bits per channel, and 44.1kHz sampling rate.

FLAC is lossless from perspectives of much higher quality that CDs.

Re:FLAC (1)

Githaron (2462596) | about 2 years ago | (#41400351)

What do the studios record at?

Re:FLAC (4, Informative)

Tapewolf (1639955) | about 2 years ago | (#41400441)

What do the studios record at?

I believe it's 24/96 or 24/192 mostly.

Re:FLAC (4, Informative)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 2 years ago | (#41400479)

more and more, they are doing recording to 24bit and 192k (as opposed to 44.1k which we get on cd). most studios agree that there is no need to record/capture higher than 24/192. you keep that format ALL thru out and mix-down to 16/44 only at the last step.

much like you want to capture photos in .raw mode, keep them in 16bit color ALL the way thru pshop, then dither-down to 8bit jpg when you do a 'web save-as'.

studios capture at 24bit (a/d converters are mostly junk beyond 23rd bit anyway) and at 192k or even 320 if they want bragging rights.

some use 'odd' samplerates like 176.4 and 88.2 in addition to the more standard 96. I have files from 'high res' music sellers in pretty much all those formats. its a PITA for DAC and spdif chip guys, let me tell you ...

Re:FLAC (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41400315)

Wrong, vinyl has a lower frequency cutoff (around 12kHz) and definitely picks up LESS of the original recording than anything except for maybe some badly-recorded analog tapes.

It has better resolution by far. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41400895)

Because you have damn atoms to do it.

Digital amplification is also problematic, though when you play your turntable through a digital amp, that difference goes away. Ever wondered why a 7W valve amp sounded as loud as a 50W digital (both by Audiophile power output)?

Re:It has better resolution by far. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41401087)

"Ever wondered why a 7W valve amp sounded as loud as a 50W digital (both by Audiophile power output)?"

That's stupid. You don't listen to the amplifier, you listen to the speaker. You can have 50% efficient speakers or you can have .1% efficient speakers. The 50% speakers have 18 inch woofers and weigh about 400 pounds each and are 6 feet tall. The .1% speakers are the typical 6 inch woofer floorstanding reflex models you get these days, that people buy because amplification is cheap but materials and floor space is not.

This is why it's so utterly asinine and ridiculous to keep pushing the bits and sample rates beyond CD, there's no benefit once you get to the speakers. Most speakers have such limited dynamic range, are poorly located in bad rooms that the S/N is irrelevant.

What makes the difference between just regular sound and audiophile sound, are all the little things that get completely smashed by crappy enclosures driven by powerful amplifiers.

I do think that the people who argue incessantly about a few engineering parameters like bit depth and S/N of vinyl vs CD, are basically Asperger's cases who like throwing numbers around but never actually listened to a real audiophile system.

Re:FLAC (2)

drooling-dog (189103) | about 2 years ago | (#41401183)

Vinyl became the audiophile standard as soon as CD players became cheaper and more ubiquitous ("mainstream") than turntables. Listening to music is a social act, and the way it's done defines the listener.

Re:FLAC (5, Funny)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | about 2 years ago | (#41400393)

That's why audiophiles prefer vinyl, because it captures more sound from thestudio recording. Pono is a try to capture like 100% of what the musician get on the studio tapes.

Nah, just throw a hum on there at 60Hz and they'll tell you it's magical.

Re:FLAC (1)

plover (150551) | about 2 years ago | (#41400637)

That's why audiophiles prefer vinyl, because it captures more sound from thestudio recording. Pono is a try to capture like 100% of what the musician get on the studio tapes.

Nah, just throw a hum on there at 60Hz and they'll tell you it's magical.

Don't forget to add lots of harmonics to make it sound like tubes were involved. It's not High Fidelity without the characteristic tube distortions.

Re:FLAC (1)

NekSnappa (803141) | about 2 years ago | (#41401163)

That's what he meant by adding a 60 Hz hum.

Re:FLAC (5, Informative)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#41400489)

Audiophiles prefer vinyl because they think it gives better sound because they prefer the analog artefacts. In the real world, on average vinyl records and LP players were of pretty low quality and could be easily beaten by a properly mastered CD and even a mid-range CD player hooked to a decent AMP. The benefit is you save thousands of dollars on snake oil audiophile gear.

Re:FLAC (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41400673)

Rubbish, the low-end on a vinyl record is far superior, as you know damned well because you refer to "properly mastered" CDs. In fact, it is obvious that a large bass waveform added to a large high-frequency waveform is going to clip unless you bring down the bass level massively ("properly mastered"), and when you do that you run into the problem that 16 bits isn't enough for the quiet passages, so you add heavy compression ("proper mastering"). Making a CD sound good is a hack, nothing more, and people are right to complain that the compressed music doesn't sound as good as the original, because it doesn't.

For example, Black Sabbath's Iron Man still sounds like crap on CD, even with "proper mastering". "Proper mastering" wouldn't be necessary anyway if CD was actually a superior format, and with "proper mastering", your are not putting that album onto CD as it was recorded.

Of course, you may not care if you don't listen to music recorded before 1985, but many people do.

Re:FLAC (5, Informative)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#41400803)

It's not rubbish at all. You've fallen for audiophile myth. [hydrogenaudio.org] .

Re:FLAC (2)

slim (1652) | about 2 years ago | (#41400921)

when you do that you run into the problem that 16 bits isn't enough for the quiet passages, so you add heavy compression ("proper mastering").

This is the opposite of "proper mastering".

Unfortunately lots of CDs are mastered with lots of compression because there's a loudness arms race.

Re:FLAC (2)

TheTrueScotsman (1191887) | about 2 years ago | (#41400717)

I love vinyl and I know for sure that it gives a less accurate sound than CDs. What's great about vinyl is the euphonic distortion it adds to the sound.

Re:FLAC (0)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#41400729)

Audiophiles prefer vinyl because they think it gives better sound because they prefer the analog artefacts.

Incorrect; audiophiles (I wish I could afford to be one) hate the artifacts. However, they hate CDs' limited frequency response and aliasing distortion.

Now, for you or I, who can't afford a $500 turntable and $2000 speakers, that CD is going to beat that vinyl every time. Your cheap turntable will have rumble (the expensive one won't), will have the bass attenuated to combat that rumble, and the treble attenuated to compensate for the changed tone.

If you have good (read: expensive) equipment, your frequency response on an LP will range from almost zero Hz to past dog whistles -- when they introduced quadraphonics in the 1970s, they added the extra two channels by modulating them with a 40kHz tone, which was demodulated by the turntable. Meaning, of course, vinyl will go past not just CD's Nyquist limit, but even its sampling rate.

The benefit is you save thousands of dollars on snake oil audiophile gear.

Like those Monster Cables? People buy them out of ignorance; out of not understanding the difference between analog and digital. For a middle class guy like me, digital beats analog. For a rich audiophile, CDs can't hold a candle.

Re:FLAC (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 2 years ago | (#41401125)

but if you don't spend $10,000 on Eunectes murinus infused cables you just aren't getting the TRUE SOUND

Re:FLAC (5, Insightful)

pla (258480) | about 2 years ago | (#41400541)

FLAC is lossless from an audio CD perspective.

No, FLAC is lossless. 99.99% of us just have no higher quality source material to encode than standard audio CDs.

If a studio (or semi-indie artist) wanted to release 40 channels of 32 bit 192KHz raw data, FLAC could encode that just fine. Of course, that would take basically one DVD per song to store (roughly 1GB/minute given FLAC's typical 50% compression ratio), but it could do it just fine. :)


That's why audiophiles prefer vinyl, because it captures more sound from thestudio recording.

Sorry, but that doesn't even hold true from the "analog = better" point of view. Vinyl has a lower dynamic range, a lower maximum frequency, and much much lower stereo separation, than an audio CD. Audiophiles prefer vinyl simply because their "hipster douche" persona requires it.
Keep in mind that audiophiles also prefer $600 ultra-low-oxygen digital interconnects with hand-wavy allusions to "bit slew".


And as for the appeal to audiophiles, vinyl, and all things Steve Jobs... I got a kick out of TFA: "When asked if Young had approached Apple about the idea, Young said that he had, in fact, met with Jobs and was "working on it," but that "not much" ended up happening to the pursuit."

Perhaps the fluffy dead-celebrity endorsements would work better if said celebrity had actually shown an interest in this new format?

Re:FLAC (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 2 years ago | (#41401111)

Audiophiles prefer vinyl simply because their

"hipster douche" persona requires it.
Keep in mind that audiophiles also prefer $600 ultra-low-oxygen digital interconnects with hand-wavy allusions to "bit slew". And as for the appeal to audiophiles, vinyl, and all things Steve Jobs... I got a kick out of TFA: "When asked if Young had approached Apple about the idea, Young said that he had, in fact, met with Jobs and was "working on it," but that "not much" ended up happening to the pursuit."

Well, if Apple hadn't been too busy moving from iPods to iPhones to iPads, why not? I'm sure they'd do one helluva job of branding it as Studio Quality (using Apple Lossless of course, not FLAC or Pogo), sell some iMonster connector cables for their proprietary connector and overall make a huge margin. Despite it all though there aren't that many true audiophiles, they're more interested in selling the iPhone 5 to a kazillion people.

Re:FLAC (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41400597)

You are full of nonsense. First of all, FLAC [sourceforge.net] supports 24-bit samples and up to 655kHz sampling rate. Nobody can hear the difference between 16/44 and 24/96+ if they don't know which is which and vinyl is inferior in every measurable way. You don't have bat hearing so there is no need for high sampling rates [wikipedia.org] and the dynamic range of music fits well within 16 bits. Very few people even have a room/system that can reproduce 16-bits of dynamic range even if there was that much to listen to on the recording. Which there isn't, because almost all music, which didn't have 96dB range in the first place, has had the dynamics mercilessly crushed out of it. The quality of filtering algorithms is such now that has eliminated the any benefit at all to higher sampling rates, as revealed by double blind tests.

Perhaps you meant the music sounded better in the studio right after the musicians/producer finished mixing it and before it was sent off to some jackass who calls himself a "mastering engineer" and crushed the life out of it and clipped all the peaks.

Re:FLAC (1)

Great Big Bird (1751616) | about 2 years ago | (#41400777)

I believe that is wrong. I will cite [1] http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4303 [skeptoid.com] and [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinyl_record#Vinyl_quality [wikipedia.org] as sources. 1. "It's a hard science fact that digital is capable of reproducing higher frequencies than vinyl, above the range of what most people can hear. " [1] 2. "CD-4 LPs contain two sub-carriers, one in the left groove wall and one in the right groove wall. These sub-carriers use special FM-PM-SSBFM (Frequency Modulation-Phase Modulation-Single Sideband Frequency Modulation) and have signal frequencies that extend to 45 kHz. " According to the information I have, it captures no more sound than the studio recording. The masters used for CD and Vinyl are different (thus you cannot compare directly). There is no point in capturing what we cannot hear.

Re:FLAC (1)

pla (258480) | about 2 years ago | (#41400159)

FTA: "The famous musician has filed several trademarks related to a new high-definition MP3 alternative, reports Rolling Stone. The government could register the trademarks by the holidays."

Neil Young primarily seems concerned with not having his own proprietary format to fight over.

Re:FLAC (1)

miknix (1047580) | about 2 years ago | (#41400177)

Probably because they cannot try to widespread the use of the format and then when everybody is using it, sneak in some sort of DRM.

Re:FLAC (3, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41400193)

Based on TFA's (somewhat fragmentary) description, this 'Pono' nonsense appears to be some dreadful 'ecosystem' that includes high quality recordings in some format; but also "Pono's cloud-based libraries" and quite probably some sort of 'social' crap.

Also, given that TFA has some stuff from Young about how CDs ruined everything, the plan presumably also includes using a lossless, or less-lossy, format on the same sources from which CDs are generated, rather than to sling CD audio around.

FLAC would certainly be capable of being the compression system for such a scheme(and, let's face it, all lossless compression systems are going to sound the same, even wholly unoptimized ones like 'well, just gzip the .wav file...', so the only real question is whether somebody's patented magic sauce math will save you enough bandwidth to be worth the licensing fees, or whether using FLAC(possibly with some ghastly proprietary data fields or DRM wrapper) is easier and cheaper).

Re:FLAC (4, Informative)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 2 years ago | (#41400297)

flac is fine and it works great. not sure what else you want to improve on it.

it does not have 'trailing garbage' like mp3 does (mp3, without hacks, does not know the *exact* duration of the song; the last block could have unknown padding). this is what causes all the issues in gapless playback.

flac *does* count to the last sample, and so you can append flacs and get gapless playback as the source cd intended.

flac supports 24/192, which is pretty much the highest you'll find for anything commercially buyable. I build and test dacs and i2s systems and all my 24/192, 24/176, 24/96, 24/88.2 stuff is in flac format. and I have to keep testing with all the samplerates and word depths (16, 20, 24, even 32) on my hardware.

flac is even seekable (old shorten (shn) was not as easily).

flac has tags and they are rich enough to be useful.

just not sure what's wrong. probably nothing. what's going on neil? why isn't flac doing it for ya?

"music man, better keep your head,
don't forget what the redbook said."

Re:FLAC (1)

Githaron (2462596) | about 2 years ago | (#41400313)

This [xkcd.com] explains it:

Re:FLAC (1)

Soluzar (1957050) | about 2 years ago | (#41400969)

FLAC is only lossless when compared with the CD. If the new format can capture higher quality from the master recordings than is possible on CD then maybe it's worth it to some people.

Personally, since I'm a bit deaf in one ear, I'll stick with MP3s. I doubt I can hear any difference.

Poor choice of name (5, Funny)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 2 years ago | (#41399981)

I read the headline to say "Neil Young Pushes Porno". Maybe this format should have opted for a different name...

Re:Poor choice of name (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#41400263)

Maybe this format should have opted for a different name...

A different name wouldn't be as newsworthy.

Re:Poor choice of name (1)

billybob2001 (234675) | about 2 years ago | (#41400365)

How about calling it 100%Aural?

Oh... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41399995)

The only reason I clicked to read more of this is because I first read it as 'Neil Young Pushes Porno'...

Re:Oh... (5, Funny)

tippe (1136385) | about 2 years ago | (#41401017)

What, were you hoping for pictures? Have you ever seen Neil Young???

*shudders*

Hundered posts about blind tests (3, Interesting)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about 2 years ago | (#41400017)

This article is trolling for comments about mp3 blind tests on quality audio.

Re:Hundered posts about blind tests (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41400281)

Are you implying that ""The spirituality and soul of music is truly found when the sound engulfs you and that is just what 2012 will bring. It is a physical thing, a relief that you feel when you finally hear music the way artists and producers did when they created it in the studio. The sound engulfs you and your senses open up allowing you to truly feel the deep emotion in the music of some of our finest artists. From Frank Sinatra to the Black Keys, the feeling is there. This is what recording companies were born to give you and in 2012 they will deliver."" is mushy bullshit? How could you!!!

Perhaps more importantly, even if we concede the point that FLAC-ed audio right from the studio masters sounds better than 128kb/s mp3s ripped from a CD brutally optimized to sound good on a $30 boombox, the question becomes 'Better on what speakers or headphones?'. Storage is cheap, bandwidth is cheap, and software is cheap(once written); and all of these things are widely available in quantity; but the quality of the audio gear that most people are actually listening through has hardly been a beneficiary of Moore's law...

Re:Hundered posts about blind tests (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 2 years ago | (#41400639)

Storage is cheap, bandwidth is cheap, and software is cheap(once written); and all of these things are widely available in quantity; but the quality of the audio gear that most people are actually listening through has hardly been a beneficiary of Moore's law...

I once heard the assertion on some audiophile forum that even today's anonymous Chinese crap sounds better than the average person's setup in the late 1960s, so when people today hear classic rock records on ordinary computer speakers, they perceive a level of detail unaudible to the first generation of fans. Is this true, I wonder?

Re:Hundered posts about blind tests (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41401007)

I'd be totally unsurprised if a cheap-ass transistor amp sounds better than a cheap-ass pre-transistor or early transistor amp. I would mostly be worried about the fairly relentless downward pressure on the size of the speakers and headphones in use.

Even a modestly competent cheapy bookshelf speaker of no particular distinction doesn't sound nearly as tinny as even the speakers on a $3k laptop; because it doesn't have to fit in a few cubic centimeters of available chassis space. Similarly, while there are good earbuds that, when correctly fitted, can take advantage of near-direct coupling with the eardrum and achieve good sound reproduction and even bass, despite having a teeny driver, in the cheaper seats physics seems to give a significant boost to larger over-the-ear-and-too-goofy-for-the-train designs.

Even in home theatre settings, where you would think that bigger would still rule, I've seen far too many of those 'teeny-tiny-little-Bose-cubes-on-sticks' setups where a late-60s through '80s would have had actual speakers with driver diameters that allow them to hit low frequencies. Thanks to head related transfer functions and DSPs and other fancy stuff I don't really understand all that well, we do seem to be able to make brutally volume(in the spatial, not the intensity, sense)-constrained equipment sound better than one would expect; but we seem to have shied away from a willingness to throw volume at the problem.

Re:Hundered posts about blind tests (4, Funny)

pnot (96038) | about 2 years ago | (#41400589)

It's trolling so hard! It's even got Steve Jobs and a vinyl's-the-best claim in the same sentence! I am disappointed, however, at the lack of:

1. "We should all use valve amps because the sounds just, y'know, warmer, and therefore better.

2. "My sound quality improved 800% when I switched to Neil Young endorsed Monster cables!", exclaimed an unnamed consumer.

3. "Double-blind ABX trials are actually irrelevant because. erm, well you're just not sufficiently attuned to understand. Go away."

I'll buy an 'R', Alex (4, Funny)

ittybad (896498) | about 2 years ago | (#41400081)

There is a missing R.

Dirty Hippie (1, Troll)

Psyborgue (699890) | about 2 years ago | (#41400091)

Doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. I'd like to sit his coked out ass down for a double blind test and see if he can tell the difference between 128kbps mp3 and 24bit 96khz uncompressed. I bet you he couldn't, and if he could, I guarantee he couldn't at 160kbps.

Re:Dirty Hippie (4, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 2 years ago | (#41400199)

(notsureifserious)

if serious, though, 24/96 really is a step up from regular redbook (16/44.1) audio. and redbook is about 2 steps up from mp3 when br=192k (approx).

at 256 and 320 encoding, mp3 starts to sound reasonable on high res audio gear (such as what a mastering studio would have access to).

the main issue, really, is how well the source was done. if the source was not done well, 16/44 is fine enough or even overkill. but for carefully done productions, 24/96 *is* really sweet. at home, using a clean path system and decent headphones, 24/96 is worth it. on sprks, it gets harder to tell; but people with good hearing can tell. its not BS.

Re:Dirty Hippie (1)

sichbo (1188157) | about 2 years ago | (#41400411)

To be fair, it depends a lot on the speakers... listening through the usual consumer playback devices (headphones, docks, PC speakers, home theatre systems) probably not because they can't reproduce all of the frequencies without adding colour or omitting some entirely anyway. Listen to the mp3 through a set of professional monitors or quality stereo towers of moderate quality (Polk Audio, et al) and you'll find the mp3 does in fact sound pretty bad. When I started sourcing more uncompressed music and playing it through better gear, I found myself re-discovering a lot of old songs from the past 15 years. Everything is brighter, sharper, more dynamic, less muddy/boomy than the 128/160/192 mp3 files of the same songs I have kicking around.

Re:Dirty Hippie (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#41400425)

I always thought that 128k MP3 sounded "wrong". Couldn't tell you why though. I just perceive it well enough to be annoyed enough by it to make my own better quality rips.

Re:Dirty Hippie (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#41400505)

well.. or flac and his new format.

somebody just got a good pumping of money from him.

Re:Dirty Hippie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41400549)

Oddly enough that horrible "jet flying over" / "digital hiccup" / "blade sharpener" sound isn't actually supposed to be in the mix.

Re:Dirty Hippie (1)

xorsyst (1279232) | about 2 years ago | (#41400815)

Who on earth actually encodes MP3 at constant bit rates any more? This isn't last millennium, you know.

Easy for Neil Young to say (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41400123)

Don't get me wrong, Neil Young is a great artist and I own several of his albums... but he's also an established artist who's made tons from his album sales over the years and, to be a bit crude, hasn't got much time left on the face of this Earth. While I get his point about quality it kind of bugs me that he's turning a blind eye to how piracy causes problems for new and independent artists. Maybe he feels that profit shouldn't be a motive in creating art but he's only pointing that out after he got his.
 
It's no different than upper management of a company shrugging off the concerns of their wage slaves because they're already established in their field and have made enough coin that a pay cut of a few percent isn't stopping them from eating or paying the bills.

Re:Easy for Neil Young to say (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#41400675)

What floor of the Captiol City Records building did this come form? Come on.. fess up!

Low Quality = Radio (3, Informative)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 2 years ago | (#41400129)

Back in the days of Napster, I thought that the recording industry's best course of action would have been to purchase Napster. My idea would have been for them to limit the bitrates of freely shared music (say, to 128kbps) while selling higher bitrate versions of these songs. Listening to a 128kbps copy would have been the equivalent of hearing it on the radio and would have guided people to buy the full-quality version.

Remember, this was before P2P sharing and before Apple/Amazon/etc opened online music shops. The recording industry would have turned piracy into a source of revenue. More than that, though, they would have gotten ahead of Apple/Amazon/etc and would have been the main source for legal digital music purchases.

Yes, some people would have complained and found other ways to freely share MP3s greater than 128kbps, but if they did it right, I think most people would have remained. Instead, they shut down Napster and from its corpse sprang the P2P programs that the recording industry played Whack-A-Mole against for the next decade.

Re:Low Quality = Radio (1)

Dwedit (232252) | about 2 years ago | (#41400463)

You are aware that Napster was the very first popular P2P file sharing program, right? You're talking about it as if it's not.
Granted it used a centralized server to connected to, but the downloading and uploading was entirely P2P.

Re:Low Quality = Radio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41400537)

Errr...
Napster *was* P2P. It just had a centralized 'index'.

Re:Low Quality = Radio (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about 2 years ago | (#41400669)

Hey I'd enjoy playing whack-a-mole for a decade instead of pushing a dead model and losing money hand over fist!

Sound Quality (3, Interesting)

johkir (716957) | about 2 years ago | (#41400141)

Most of the people listening to mp3s (that I know, self included) don't listen to the music on a nice system. Earbuds rarely provide definition or range of the actual recorded material. Yes, they may provide frequencies from 50-15,000 Hz, but you're not really feeling the bass line as recorded. Even if listening to a CD/DVD with 5.1, with the earbuds on, it may as well be a mp3.

Ignorance Abounds (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41400329)

You're a fucking idiot, spouting bullshit. The problem isn't a "nice system" or "mp3's"; it's the dynamic compression [wikipedia.org] cutting out so much of the music in search of loudness that even my mostly deaf ears can tell the difference. Your CD is still shit, even with your (and it's probably a lie you paid an extra digit for) nice system.

Re:Sound Quality (3, Interesting)

multisync (218450) | about 2 years ago | (#41400333)

Most of the people listening to mp3s (that I know, self included) don't listen to the music on a nice system.

And they most certainly don't have an entire barn [morebarn.org] as one speaker, with a house as the other.

Re:Sound Quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41400475)

Also as you age your ears do not get better. Eventually you can not hear the highs at all anyway... Might as well be mp3... Most A/V systems are hard pressed to even represent bellow 80 (and actually produce good sound).

Yes there are many better formats out there. mp3 sticks because it works pretty good.

For many people they can hear differences in music if they listen to it back to back. Put a few days between them and many would be hard pressed to tell the difference anymore...

The thing is the CD datarate has tons of room to represent music. Its the loudness wars that are killing them and making them sound like junk. Take metallica for example. They in many estimates ruined their last album by cranking out the volume (as if I cant turn the knob on my own stereo). They should have got whoever produced their first 5 albums and said 'do that again'.

Re:Sound Quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41400991)

Yeah well Metallica ruined the three albums before that by sucking balls, so maybe they're not the best example.

Re:Sound Quality (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41400521)

A Youtube video playing via my PC speakers is more than fine for me.

Free videos, no piracy.

And my iTouch also plays Youtube videos - videos uploaded by the music publishers.

I think it's funny that I can get plenty of tunes that are legimately free - thanks to the publishers - but as soon as its in another format, it's a crime.

Re:Sound Quality (1)

jraymayhem (2487024) | about 2 years ago | (#41401055)

Agreed. The mass market doesn't care about sound quality (I'm looking at you cassette and 8-track tapes).

I hope Neil Young will remember... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41400153)

... a Southern man don't need him around anyhow.

Sjezus Christ (1)

santax (1541065) | about 2 years ago | (#41400163)

This 'news' is from (quote TFA) Posted 1/31/2012 4:18 PM | Updated 1/31/2012 4:18 PM... Next up, Elvis died.

Psychoacoustics and perceptual coding (4, Informative)

Omega Hacker (6676) | about 2 years ago | (#41400175)

He clearly doesn't understand the first thing about the human ear or brain. The *bitrate* is 5% of the original CD, but the human-effective *datarate* is ~95%. That last ~5% of the signal is various harmonics, twitchy bits, and other stuff that the human ear is simply incapable of hearing, but in terms of actual spectral data it's pretty incompressible. Lossy audio compression makes the perfectly legitimate trade-off that you can completely skip that incompressible chunk of the audio signal that the human ear can't actually hear, and save bandwidth.

Modern psychoacoustic models take into account both the physical and mental limitations of the human body. A prime example is "masking", where a louder sound will completely overcome a quieter sound, and do so for a period *longer* than the loud sound. Think of the ear as having an AGC with a slow response: it has to adjust the "gain" for the louder sound and ends up missing the quiet bits before it, then has to adjust the gain back down before it can pick up the quiet bits after. Simple compression trick: toss the quiet bits cause you can't hear them anyway.

What's clear is that he's just fronting for the latest in a long line of "we're better at this than the entire rest of the world combined" snake-oil audio companies with a nifty little lock-in strategy. Just read the list of trademarks.....

Re:Psychoacoustics and perceptual coding (1)

Omega Hacker (6676) | about 2 years ago | (#41400225)

...I think I figured it out: he's a long-haul rocker, thus his hearing is pretty much shot anyway. His ears' gain only goes to 7.

(oh, and I mistyped above, should read "adjust the gain back down")

Re:Psychoacoustics and perceptual coding (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 2 years ago | (#41400697)

and other stuff that the human ear is simply incapable of hearing,

sorry, but you are wrong.

for people like me (50's) I can't hear the details. beyond a point, it sounds 'good enough' for me. we each have our own threshold of where 'good enough' is enough.

BUT, don't assume that a mastering engineer is going to have as dull a set of senses as you or I typically do. master chefs can taste their cooking creations to fine levels. pro photographers can obsess about micro-contrast and details. a lot of fields have sensitive observers.

I've known people who can detect absolute polarity (phase wiring on the back of your spkrs). I can't, but I've seen someone be able to tell, almost right off. people are not faking it! some have very good hearing. most don't, but don't judge by JUST your own experience.

Re:Psychoacoustics and perceptual coding (1)

bipbop (1144919) | about 2 years ago | (#41400823)

Good post. To be fair, your post discusses an idealization of perceptual coding. In practice, old formats with known problems are in common use, and both old and new formats are often used at bitrates where a significant portion of noise added is above masking thresholds.

People also listen in sub-optimal environments and on (very) colored speakers or with lots of EQ, which makes artifacting more noticeable by defeating the assumptions of the psychoacoustic models in question.

This doesn't change your point that we don't need Pono, of course.

Re:Psychoacoustics and perceptual coding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41400957)

Neil Young has a long love affair with placeboacoustics. This "5% of the music" content is something he pulls out of thin air.

The bottom line when dealing with audiophile claims is that if it hasn't been ABX tested, you're not in a position to make claims about the superiority of one component, speaker, codec, software or format over another. Many hardware audiophiles reject ABX testing outright, claiming that it's either not possible or puzzlingly that it's not even relevant. It's difficult to discuss audio with these sorts of people, mostly because they have a vested interest: if you spend $2,500 on a pre-amp and I spend $250, you have a $2,250 investment in the idea that your superior hearing is being treated lovingly in ways that my inferior hearing isn't. I will concede that ABX testing hardware is often quite difficult, but not that it is impossible or undesirable.

Fortunately, proper ABX testing of audio codecs is much easier. Based on my past experience, assuming the same master, and that the original is a two-channel source (since MP3 is limited to two channels) the highest bitrate, sampling rate, and bit depth Pono file will be absolutely indistinguishable from a LAME v0 encoded MP3 file. I suspect, however, that the consumer price for the digitally downloaded music will be quite, quite different.

Re:Psychoacoustics and perceptual coding (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about 2 years ago | (#41401137)

Young was the first person I encountered mentioning the issue of digital audio losing much of the actual bandwidth of the recording being made, I give him props for bringing this matter to light, back in the 80s when people were so gung ho over the crisp coldness digital brought. He used the term "audio dark ages" and spoke of people in the future wondering what the music of that era actually sounded like; hyperbole to be sure, but it was definitely thought provoking to a layman.

I also remember another article about Neil where his soundman spoke of his uncanny ability to detect very slight subtle changes in his amps' sound, how he could pick up on miniscule drops in voltage affecting the resulting tone, suggesting that he does have a keen ear for minutiae of these sorts.

Porno. (3, Funny)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about 2 years ago | (#41400221)

You read that as Neil Young pushes Porno didn't you, you big perv.

Say What? Steve Jobs Pioneer? (2)

RazzleFrog (537054) | about 2 years ago | (#41400247)

How does he figure that? Digital Music was around for years before the iPod and mp3 players existed 2 years before it was released. He definitely was a pioneer in marketing it but not in the technology itself.

Re:Say What? Steve Jobs Pioneer? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#41400469)

...he's a clueless n00b, the sort that needs to be led around by the nose by a guy like Jobs. That's how he figures. He's clearly not someone likely to be ahead of the curve in terms of technology.

Thus he's prattling on about this in 2012 and ignoring existing alternatives.

I read "Bono" (2)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | about 2 years ago | (#41400347)

picking fights with U2 is a bad idea (you don't want to know how the Edge got his nick name).

Re:I read "Bono" (1)

santax (1541065) | about 2 years ago | (#41400377)

Well actually, he earned that one due to the shape of his chin ;P

Steve Jobs did not pioneer shit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41400385)

He marketted an mp3 player, he didnt pioneer a fucking thing.

Seriously, fuck steve jobs. Fuck his legacy, and fuck him suddenly being Jesus.

He was just a greedy marketting prick who got lucky. Then he got cancer and died, like the horrible person he was.

I'm sorry, but piracy killed the music industry (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41400405)

In the 1990s, a typical average band that actually had some business sense could make a living selling CDs, as well as gigging. If you had a label or did the pressing yourself, you could earn $5 to $10 a CD.

What piracy did was absolutely kill that, and change the music industry in a nasty way. Instead of having decent new bands on the radio or concerts, the record industry only either puts out acts they KNOW will sell, with each and every single word in every lyric run over by marketers for maximum "pop", or they use established acts over 20 years old and run another greatest hits album. Joe Sixpack and the Thumpers have -zero- chance these days of making it, since they can't make any cash at all selling albums, and with venue slots so rare, gigging is out of the picture. Getting past local/regional is impossible. Heard of ANY act making it big since the 1990s? I sure have not, other than bands that were tailer-made from the ground to cater to the kiddos like Justin Beiber.

Thank you pirates. The music industry is completely dead with no way for any new acts to ever make it big, or perhaps even past the local bar-room stage, since the A&R folks are just not there anymore -- they only "promote from within."

This is not endorsing RIAA tactics either. IMHO, they just made piracy cool and more accepted.

cloud based (is that the key, here?) (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 2 years ago | (#41400415)

Young wants consumers to be able to take full advantage of Pono's cloud-based libraries of recordings

oh, oh.

this does not sound good. its vage as hell on details, but it sounds like something is remotely dependant or tracked or numbered or tagged?

I'm pretty sure he's solving a problem that only exists in the minds of those who want to make more money from consumers and their hunger for media. this does not sound like any kind of *technical* solution, the way this starts out reading.

OPUS (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | about 2 years ago | (#41400423)

Just recently, there was an article about a superior new audio format on /. :
http://news.slashdot.org/story/12/09/11/2156225/opus-the-codec-to-end-all-codecs [slashdot.org]
Free as in speech, too :-)

Show me that Pono is better and equally free, and I might consider it...

Re:OPUS (1)

Qwertie (797303) | about 2 years ago | (#41400775)

Neil young would not be impressed. Opus is dedicated to being lossy; it specifically discards anything the human ear can't hear. Opus only supports 16 bit Stereo up to 48kHz (multiple Opus streams are required for e.g. 5.1 audio), and what's more, Opus will discard all frequencies above 20 kHz, no matter how high you make the bit rate. Even if you make the bitrate so high that you might as well be using FLAC, it will still discard the highest frequencies.

Right on (1)

tobiah (308208) | about 2 years ago | (#41400445)

I'm all for it. Recorded music fails to capture the live experience, which is the only standard to use in a "blind" listening test. I love classical and jazz, but can't stand it off a digital system. All of these tests just compare one recording method to another, they're pitting one imitation against another and arguing over which is the better imitation, without any reference to what was real.

That is what most people like (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#41400467)

That is what most people like. People prefer the audio artefacts found in these to the actual music.

Re:That is what most people like (1)

bipbop (1144919) | about 2 years ago | (#41400681)

It's empirically true that some people prefer MP3 artifacts in blind listening tests, some of the time. (Most people don't.) "Why" is an interesting question, though I don't know the answer.

Better Than CD Quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41400511)

NIN has already done this... "FLAC high definition 24/96 (942 mb), better-than-CD-quality 24bit 96kHz audio"
That's not even maxing out what you can do with FLAC

A little late? (1)

Finerva (1822374) | about 2 years ago | (#41400579)

This article would have made sense to me ten years ago but today I feel like Spotify and Grooveshark (streaming audio) is the new radio.

Spotify only streams at 160kbps for non-subscribers using the Ogg Vorbis format:

q3 (~96 kbps) mobile
q5 (~160 kbps) desktop non-paid
q9 (~320 kbps) desktop pay service

And you never know what Grooveshark is going to give you.

I personally can't detect a huge difference above 160kbps and for the sake of my own collection, I used to rip at 190kbps and only 320kbps if it was an artist I absolutely loved to blow my speakers out too. Even then, my ears and sound system couldn't capture the difference.

I don't really see the problem, as bandwidth and memory costs continually drop it only seems natural that we'll migrate to higher bit-rates, especially with the prevalence of so many high-end headphones lately. I would be surprised if Spotify free fully utilizes Beats headphones and don't get me started about people using Beats to stream Pandora at 96kbps...

This concept has been thoroughly debunked (4, Informative)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | about 2 years ago | (#41400665)

The concept of distributing 24-bit studio recording data directly to consumers in order to get some kind of increase in sound quality has been thoroughly debunked. See this Slashdot article: Why Distributing Music As 24-bit/192kHz Downloads Is Pointless [slashdot.org]

That article is well worth the read.

I mainly listen to (1)

kilodelta (843627) | about 2 years ago | (#41400739)

Either Pandora One or on TuneIn Fullasoul radio. I'm not sure what Pandora One uses but the quality sounds like what Fullasoul uses wihich is AAC.

CRTC Wellfair (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41400883)

I wonder if Neil would be so unconcerned about file sharing if the CRTC rules didn’t require “English-language and French-language stations must ensure that at least 35% of the Popular Music they broadcast each week is Canadian content.” Effectively assuring daily Neil Young on your local rock channels.

The quality of recording matters more (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#41400909)

When songs are recorded and mastered badly with no dynamic range no amount of lossless compression will save it.

Good intentions, but really poor prognosis (1)

zuki (845560) | about 2 years ago | (#41400927)

OK I happen to share his desire to make good-quality content available to people, no problem there.

But speaking from a studio perspective, and unless we're talking about analog masters from tape such as older recordings from the 70's and 80's, most modern masters are very seldom mixed to analog anymore, the majority of those who care about sound quality print digitally at resolutions of 24-bit / 96 kHz. [in MP3 language, that's 4608 kb/s, a fair amount of bandwidth] Now there are a few mastering houses who do 24-bit / 192 kHz... but I'd wager that they are a real minority already with that. From the 90's onwards, often times producers and bands only had the foresight to mix down to 16-bit / 44.1 kHz for their 2-track masters, and that's all that is ever going to be available. So this business about high quality sources being available is quite already murky IMHO.

Anyway, the important thing to keep in mind is that this previously quoted 24-96 number happens to be the sample and bit rate that the now-defunct DVD-Audio format was using. (R.I.P.) And for all intents and purposes, this sort of quality is also already currently available for download/purchase on HDTracks for a lot of classic Jazz albums. Would love to see sales figures on what that site sells. But I am sure that it's not very much.

Then there's the small matter of the death of SACD, Sony's wondrous Super Audio CD format no one knows about (or understands even, as it is not PCM). All of the 'Golden Ears' agreed that this was supposed to be far better than any existing system, and yet it doesn't appear to have worked out so well at all.

So I am scratching my head trying to understand what this Pono format can do better, when the sources have already been available at that level of definition, and that unless one goes back to analog masters (when available) and do new transfers, there is no more 'quality juice' to be squeezed out of that particular lemon.

Like I said, good intentions, but sadly it seems that the market has already spoken twice with regards to rejecting any high-resolution formats as being viable.

Besides the producer, the artist and the engineer, very few people care, it would seem. Not to sound cynical, but even on file-sharing sites where all of that stuff is basically 'free', it would appear that those hi-rez version do not get much in downloads at all.

I mean, not that there's anything wrong with being a bit quixotic about things you obsess about, especially if you can afford it. That can only be positive in the sense of raising people's awareness that all digital sounds are not created equal, and that some are quite awful to listen to, while others can make for a reasonably pleasurable experience.

But anyway: #goodluckwiththat

WTF? I SAID WTF?? "Old Man" Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41400995)

No, I haven't read this yet. But I seem to recall the very same person about 10 years ago making some of the most angry vitriolic "anti-download" statements I ever read. IIRC, his statements back then made even the RIAA's position look mild.

I think that the his comments were even discussed at Slashdot back then.

If the title is anything to go by, my how progress (and the lure of Muchos Dineros) changes peoples' attitudes.

How big are the files? (1)

erp_consultant (2614861) | about 2 years ago | (#41401035)

The article doesn't mention it but I think it's a key question. Part of the appeal of the MP3 format is that the files are small and can be transferred quickly from PC to your music device. If Pono files are 10x as large as an MP3 file then that means you can only get 1/10 of your current music library on your iPod. Sure, storage is cheap for disk drives but portable devices not so much and iPod/iPhone does not allow for expandable storage.

So the obvious solution is cloud storage but that comes with it's own set of pitfalls. Personally, I'm not willing to throw my entire music collection up "in the cloud". If you're a storage host then you have to increase your storage and bandwidth usage many times more than if you were hosting MP3 files.

Then there is the question of cost. How much will a Pono file cost per song? I'd be willing to bet that it's a lot more than 99 cents a song. There are audiophiles out there that will be happy to pay for the sound quality but I wonder how viable it is for the masses? If you're just listening to the music on cheap bud headphones you're not likely to have a tremendous difference. Now if you're listening to it on a high end home stereo that's a different story. I could see it working well for listening to music in your car if you've got a really good stereo and can plug in a big USB stick with about 64GB of storage and fill it up with high quality Pono songs.

So to me it's going to come down to file size and cost. If both of those are not outrageous then it might well work.

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