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Author Topic: End of Pono?  (Read 7124 times)

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Offline raymonda

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End of Pono?
« on: January 13, 2015, 10:40:33 AM »
I've just heard that Neil Young has given an interview where he says that they have made a number of mistakes, gone through a number of CEO's, with him now acting as CEO, and that he would like to get out of the hardware side of things. Apparently just becoming a licencing authority, e.g.
"Pono Approved" product.

Also, I read that Pono will be releasing hi rez Beatles files. Really? And I thought that the most recent vinyl was cut from down sampled copies and that nobody at on the production side felt it mattered to have hi Rez copies above 44.1/24.

Anybody know what is really going on?

Offline russjcan2

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Re: End of Pono?
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2015, 11:09:49 AM »
Beatles released a 24 bit thumbdrive already so it would be easy.

Offline dnsacks

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Re: End of Pono?
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2015, 11:16:28 AM »
believe the recent beatles mono vinyl release was mastered directly from analog w/o the 24/44.1 stage -- the mono vinyl sounds great too

Offline raymonda

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Re: End of Pono?
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2015, 11:31:05 AM »
Yes, I know that but they were transfered at 192, then down sampled and released at 44.1, so I assume that with the hype that pono is marketing, they are getting the 192. If not, it is another Pono hype. I also knew that the vinyl was at 44.1......which again was a bit of a disappointment......seeing that there are 192 masters.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2015, 11:32:36 AM by raymonda »

Offline Colin Liston

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Re: End of Pono?
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2015, 11:55:40 AM »
Hey Neil, buy a FiiO!
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Offline raymonda

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Re: End of Pono?
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2015, 12:30:17 PM »
From what I understood from the article, "can't find it now".....will research and post a link.......is that this was not really his long term plan but rather getting hi rez rolling and supply hi rez files. However, he also felt there was a need for a hi rez player that was also portable, thus the partnership with Ayre and the player Pono. Too bad, because I think there is a need and if their system came with a few other things, DSD and digital in and outs.....it would be killer! Maybe Ayre will keep in moving forward and bring it up to date with what others are offering.

The hi rez file biz for him seems to be more managable, less risk and cost effective. I can see why he wants out of the hardware side.

Offline 404 Not Found

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Re: End of Pono?
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2015, 12:34:18 PM »
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Offline hi and lo

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Re: End of Pono?
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2015, 01:13:27 PM »
God, I sure hope so. While I still enjoy Neil's music, I have lost all respect for his opinion after Pono. Gizmodo, which in general isn't a particularly good news source, had a surprisingly good article on Pono yesterday and accused Neil of "peddling junk science, and supporting expensive gear and music files you don't need." Their description of peddling bad science so eloquently captures my thoughts on Pono ever since I learned of it several years ago.

edit: looks like 404 beat me to linking that article!

There has been a push for hi-res audio for years (SACD and DVD-A) and it hasn't taken off because, unquestionably, it just doesn't make enough difference. If these formats were truly better, it would be supported by science and the consumers would buy it, but the reality is that the science just isn't there and only a few 'golden ears' claim to hear a meaningful difference. Consumers aren't fooled and given the high-price point of these formats and perpetual decline of record sales, there's simply no demand for this junk science, myself included.

In my opinion, the fidelity problems with most commercial audio has nothing to do with file formats or resolutions. It all starts with bad production techniques (i.e. the loudness wars) - as the saying goes, "garbage in garbage out." But even assuming good production quality, the next issue is the the increasing use of low quality of playback devices (earbuds, iphones, etc.) and popularity of mp3 and streaming music services. It's no longer possible to sell the general consumer on the benefits of CD quality audio vs. the convenience of mp3 streaming, so it's crazy to think that an higher resolution would catch on.

Had Neil thrown his support behind nothing more than better hardware, I would have absolutely supported him. It's so obvious how bad the headphone outputs are on modern smartphones and mp3 players and how the proliferation of low-quality headphones and speakers, everything from $5 earbuds and Beats to the creative labs speakers attached to our computers, have diluted our preferences for high fidelity audio. I'm all about the hardware and would love to personally hear the Pono at some point, but at 16/44.1 CD quality. If it's a better sounding playback device and operating system is worthwhile, my interests are perked, but don't bother peddling 24/192 on me because I'm simply not interested.

I also think it would have been more effective to throw his support behind ending the loudness wars and bringing back lost production techniques. Maybe this simply isn't possible anymore, which is a very sad event, but it would actually make a difference. There are so many bad commercial CD releases to the point where the waveforms are visibly clipped, having been compressed so much that the actual audio is distorted and until we can flush this garbage from the listening pool, we'll never be better off supporting the snake-oil that Neil is trying to sell.

And can Neil even hear anymore? Should we really be trusting someone who almost undoubtedly has suffered from hearing loss over the course of decades of rock concerts? I think he should start by submitting to the public results of a hearing test that proves he can even hear a tone above 15k, and that might be generous.

Offline George

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Re: End of Pono?
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2015, 01:21:26 PM »
re: DVD-A, SACD, blu-ray audio...the big thing for me (and many people who do support these formats) are the discrete MCH mixes.  Those can be incredible when mixed by the right person.  Personally, I'm not an adherent of Hi-rez stereo, I think it's the mix that makes the difference.
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Offline hi and lo

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Re: End of Pono?
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2015, 02:08:25 PM »
re: DVD-A, SACD, blu-ray audio...the big thing for me (and many people who do support these formats) are the discrete MCH mixes.  Those can be incredible when mixed by the right person.  Personally, I'm not an adherent of Hi-rez stereo, I think it's the mix that makes the difference.

Good point. My brain is pretty stuck in the 2-channel world where all I care about is bit depth and sampling rate.

Offline raymonda

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Re: End of Pono?
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2015, 05:03:17 AM »
It looks like Harman is looking to buy out pono. Www.stufftv.com

Offline jlykos

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Re: End of Pono?
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2015, 06:58:56 AM »
Of course Neil wants to get out of the hardware business. Apple is really the only company that has managed to make a significant amount of money on hardware. All of the real money is in services. If Neil can license Pono files, he can basically kick back, perform a minimal amount of effort, and let the licensing royalties flow to him. Not being particularly interested in owning a Pono, I have not been following this very closely, but has anybody ever explicitly stated what the basis of the licensing is? Are Pono files any old 24/192 files, can they be 16/44.1 files, or are they something completely different? Must Pono files be mastered from the original tapes (like MFSL), or can they be mastered from other digital files, or copies of the master tapes? What constitutes a Pono file?

I do think that high resolution files are worthwhile and I can tell a difference between them and CDs (I'm not getting into that discussion here). The key point with something like a Pono, however, is whether one can appreciate the benefits of high-resolution files while traveling and being in an environment with more noise than the typical household. I can't imagine that the average Pono user would be able to hear the difference between high-resolution files, CDs, and mp3s while on the subway, walking on the street, at the gym, or on an airplane. I know that I certainly can't, and I like high-resolution files in general. Maybe if you have a quiet office and listen to music all day, or if you travel a lot and want something for the hotel room after work, the noise floor would be lowered and your attention sufficiently focused to warrant high-resolution files. But for "on the go" portability, I can't see Pono having any great benefits.

The point that was brought up about the high levels of compression employed in most modern mastering jobs is completely valid and is the key reason why people are looking to something other than CDs for high-quality music playback. 16/44.1 is a great format / medium to hold recordings, but few mastering studios take full advantage because they assume that the consumer wants to hear something "punchier" (louder and in your face). The issue is that even high-resolution files are being affected by overly compressed sources. The high-resolution sources of Beck's "Morning Phase" album and the remaster of Soundgarden's "Superunknown" are two recent examples where the high-resolution versions are no different from the crushed CD versions (I did not say digital versions, because evidently there is an mp3 of "Morning Phase" that allegedly sounds better than the CD and high-resolution versions, and the original, non-remastered CD of "Superunknown" sounds fantastic). Will Pono correct these flaws? In a situation like this where there are multiple versions of the same recording (six distinct versions in the case of "Morning Phase"), which one would the Pono store sell and which one would it "certify?"
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Offline Gil

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Re: End of Pono?
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2015, 08:23:34 AM »
I read that title as 'End of PORNO'.

Thanks the gods that is not the case  ;D
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Re: End of Pono?
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2015, 09:54:28 AM »
I watched the video embedded in the gizmodo article and about half of the testimonials listed as 'Music Lover' said it was as good as or better than vinyl. I know vinyl is popular again but it seemed to me that they were being prompted/scripted.

I would be willing to try Pono if I could ride around with Neil in his Cadillac and blast some tunes.
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Offline hi and lo

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Re: End of Pono?
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2015, 01:53:02 PM »
Better than vinyl is a low threshold.  CDs sound far superior to vinyl, at least if we are talking in terms of music with a large dynamic range, such as classical.


Agreed, but the resurgence of audiophiles seeking out vinyl is definitely not driven by a demand for classical music. It's driven by rock/pop/etc. music genres where production and mastering techniques for CDs have killed any semblance of dynamic range, so people are drawn to vinyl releases because they are often mastered with more dynamic range and at lower volumes and thus sound better. "Better than vinyl" is an appropriate threshold because it is the format that is mastered with the most care and there is little to no incentive for record companies to make vinyl releases as loud as possible.

 

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