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Neil Young's "Righteous" Pono Music Startup Raises $1 Million With Kickstarter

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the I've-been-a-miner-for-a-format-of-gold dept.

Music 413

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Jose Pagliery reports at CNN that the 68-year-old rock star unveiled his startup, Pono, at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas raising $1.4 million in a single day. Young has developed a portable music player that stores high-resolution recordings and promises to deliver all the delicate details that get chopped out of modern-day formats, like MP3s and CDs. 'Pono' is Hawaiian for righteous. 'What righteous means to our founder Neil Young is honoring the artist's intention, and the soul of music. That's why he's been on a quest, for a few years now, to revive the magic that has been squeezed out of digital music.' With 128 GB of space, the PonoPlayer can carry about 3,200 tracks of high-resolution recordings while an MP3 player of the same size can hold maybe 10 times that many songs. Young says the MP3 files we're all listening to actually are pretty poor from an audio-quality standpoint and only contains about five percent of the audio from an original recording. But isn't FLAC already lossless? What makes Pono better?"

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Title (5, Funny)

bragr (1612015) | about 8 months ago | (#46469649)

Had to read that twice.

Re:Title (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46469677)

To be fair, a 68-year-old rock star making some righteous porno music may do quite well on kickstarter.

Re:Title (1, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 8 months ago | (#46469961)

"Old man, take a look at my life..."

Re:Title (4, Insightful)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 8 months ago | (#46470171)

"Old man, take a look at my life..."

Grew up with Neil Young and his music. Grew old with Neil and his music, wit, and weirdness.

Neil Young Rocks.

Re:Title (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46469715)

Me too! At first, i was like - he's going to be rich, oy yeah ole neal stick got it!
Then i was like - oh monster cables in a box. Hmmph.

Re:Title (5, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 8 months ago | (#46470225)

Once again, Slashdot fails to deliver on its promise of "Nudes for Nerds" . . .

Re:Title (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46470311)

bow chicka wow wow

Is it just me? (2, Interesting)

eclectro (227083) | about 8 months ago | (#46469665)

I spent five minutes trying to figure out if Slashdot once again misspelled something, i.e. "porno."

LOL (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46469675)

Sounds like snakeoil. So that means it'll be eaten up by the idiotic audiophile crowd.

Monster Cable Pono Edition (1)

Dareth (47614) | about 8 months ago | (#46469751)

With diamond dust (*May or may not actually contain dust from real diamonds) glazed gold connectors.

Re:Monster Cable Pono Edition (3, Funny)

AK Marc (707885) | about 8 months ago | (#46470027)

Neil Young sellling Diamond dust? Can't we just call him Neil Diamond instead?

Re:Monster Cable Pono Edition (1)

Trogre (513942) | about 8 months ago | (#46470037)

Wrong Neil.

Re:Monster Cable Pono Edition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46470053)

recordings made from fair trade, 100% first cold pressed extra virgin vinyl, from sustainably grown vinyl trees.

Re:LOL (5, Interesting)

georgeaperkins (1715602) | about 8 months ago | (#46469795)

Whether it is snakeoil or not remains to be seen. However, the hardware spec featuring a well regarded ESS Sabre digital to analogue converter and seperate output stages for headphone and line-level loads looks well thought out. The prospect of an extensive high-resolution music catalogue to support the hardware capabilities shows some potential. Over hyped? Yes of course. Celebrity endorsed rip-off? Maybe not - I think this is genuinely a product spawned from an artist's vision. Final thought. Over $1M in 24 hrs, How bloody amazing is Kickstarter?

Re:LOL (4, Informative)

roca (43122) | about 8 months ago | (#46469955)

No, we already know it's snake oil. See for example Monty's writeup:
http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmo... [xiph.org]

Re:LOL (5, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | about 8 months ago | (#46470189)

Awesome link, thanks.

Unfortunately, there is no point to distributing music in 24-bit/192kHz format. Its playback fidelity is slightly inferior to 16/44.1 or 16/48, and it takes up 6 times the space.

There are a few real problems with the audio quality and 'experience' of digitally distributed music today. 24/192 solves none of them. While everyone fixates on 24/192 as a magic bullet, we're not going to see any actual improvement.

First, the bad news

In the past few weeks, I've had conversations with intelligent, scientifically minded individuals who believe in 24/192 downloads and want to know how anyone could possibly disagree. They asked good questions that deserve detailed answers.

I was also interested in what motivated high-rate digital audio advocacy. Responses indicate that few people understand basic signal theory or the sampling theorem, which is hardly surprising. Misunderstandings of the mathematics, technology, and physiology arose in most of the conversations, often asserted by professionals who otherwise possessed significant audio expertise. Some even argued that the sampling theorem doesn't really explain how digital audio actually works

If I had a nickel for every time an audiophile tried to explain to me that CDs can't capture "fast transients" or "20 kHz square waves", I could afford some genuine Snake Oil[tm]! Hint: the ear is mechanical, not magical, and the eardrum can only move so fast. Anything steeper than the rise rate of a 20 kHz sine wave just ain't happening.

I just want a proper DAC without audiophile markup! My home amp has 7 of them (the chip is about $25 per, not breaking the bank), but each one is a 20 watt heater so I can't use it in my bedroom in the summer. I'd love to find a nice 2-channel DAC to use with a headphone amp for <$100, with HDMI and SPDIF in - anyone seen one?

Re:LOL (1)

mbkennel (97636) | about 8 months ago | (#46470263)


It's the analog stages and clean implementation & power supply which makes a difference. And yes, 20khz is fine if implemented well.

< $100 with HDMI, SPDIF, no. 2-channel almost never has HDMI.

Schiit Modi at $100 with USB in only is quite high quality.

Used Emotiva XDA-1.

Re:LOL (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46469803)

But this is how the artists wanted us to listen to it... media is better when you pay for something you've already bought before.

I mean... I already own it on VHS, LaserDisc, DVD & BluRay but I cant wait to buy the Star Wars Trilogy again on this.

Well, I hope he does remember... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46470129)

A southern man don't need him around anyhow.

Re:Well, I hope he does remember... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46470151)

Oh Alabama. Can I see you and shake your hand. Make friends down in Alabama.
I'm from a new land I come to you and see all this ruin
What are you doing Alabama? You got the rest of the union to help you along
What's going wrong?

Alabama, you got the weight on your shoulders that's breaking your back.
Your Cadillac has got a wheel in the ditch and a wheel on the track

Re:Well, I hope he does remember... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46470285)

Oh mod points, why do you abandon me when I really need you?

you've got to be kidding me (-1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 8 months ago | (#46469679)

"'Pono' is Hawaiian for righteous"
Pono is POLYNESIAN for righteous. In Hawaiian, it would be "righteous" since they speak English there.

Re: you've got to be kidding me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46469755)

Hawaiian is a language, you insensitive clod. I've known a couple people that speak it despite having never been to those islands.

Re:you've got to be kidding me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46469845)

> In Hawaiian, it would be "righteous" since they speak English there.

Yep. Just like "wiki" is Hawaiian for "wiki."

Re:you've got to be kidding me (4, Informative)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about 8 months ago | (#46469875)

'Polynesian' is language family spoken in various Pacific countries such as New Zealand (Maori), USA (Hawaiian) and Chile(Rapa Nui).

Re:you've got to be kidding me (-1, Redundant)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 8 months ago | (#46470149)

No, this is not true. Polynesian isn't a language, it's a family of languages. The languages aren't entirely mutually intelligible. It's like Romance languages, which come from a similar base and have many words in common, but aren't the same language and may not be mutually intelligible.

Wikipedia has a Hawaiian Language [wikipedia.org] entry, there are several Hawaiian language [amazon.com] dictionaries in print.

Re:you've got to be kidding me (3, Informative)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about 8 months ago | (#46470173)

Didn't I write "language family"?

Re: you've got to be kidding me (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46470057)

Yo brah don bother come my islands, you to ignorant, the ohana don take kindly to ignorance.

We talk story in pidgin and Hawaiian here in addition to English, Japanese, Mandarin, Tagalog, Thai, Vietnamese and many others.

Polynesian isn't any language I've ever heard of.

It IS FLAC (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46469685)

If the submitter/editor had bothered to do even the slighted research into "Pono", they'd have found that it's just a branded FLAC.

Re:It IS FLAC (5, Informative)

goombah99 (560566) | about 8 months ago | (#46469735)

Pono music is an ecosystem to sell music in FLAC audio file format: 1) production of FLAC files from existing recordings, 2) a dedicated player, and 3) a web store to sell FLAC files.

The problem with FLAC is how does one get FLAC? you could use your own encoder to record a CD in FLAC. But then you just have CD quality Why not reach back to the studio quality if you are going the FLAC route?. Cause you don't have access to that. But now you do-- the PONO ecosystem does that. And if you wanted to play that FLAC file, well your mp3 player might not play it and if it does it probably has a lot less memory than you would like. soe PONO players are chubbier in memory. And finally what if you are one of those people who likes to roll there own and prefers to just buy it pre recorded. Well agains the PONO ecosystem is there for you.

Re:It IS FLAC (5, Informative)

Wdomburg (141264) | about 8 months ago | (#46469841)

HDtracks, eClassical, Linn, Bandcamp. All carry 24-bit, high resolution audio.

This expands the ecosystem; it doesn't create it.

Re:It IS FLAC (3, Informative)

Swampash (1131503) | about 8 months ago | (#46470033)

I've already got a bunch of devices that play lossless audio: my iPod, iPhone, and iPad.

Re:It IS FLAC (1)

gnoshi (314933) | about 8 months ago | (#46470125)

Sure, but they don't play 24/96 audio without downsampling.
(Note: I'm not saying someone could necessarily tell the difference, but there is a difference)

Five percent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46469687)

I doubt compression is anywhere near that good/bad, but by the time the original tracks have been levelled, gain adjusted, FX'd, compressed etc you've probably lost a large percentage of 'info' even before you export it for whatever medium you've chosen.

Re:Five percent? (3, Insightful)

mythosaz (572040) | about 8 months ago | (#46469707)

Yup.

The Loudness Wars [wikipedia.org] rendered most of this moot. :(

Re:Five percent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46469759)

If ponomusic is going to sell stuff that hasn't been cranked to 11 ala the loudness wars, we might have something. However if it's the same crappy mastering that is on CDs there is no point. The damage is done, just a higher resolution copy of the damaged music, because, as this video shows, CD audio already has enough resolution to accurately reproduce our music:
http://xiph.org/video/vid2.shtml

Re:Five percent? (1)

zugmeister (1050414) | about 8 months ago | (#46469843)

Yup.

The Loudness Wars [wikipedia.org] rendered most of this moot. :(

The lack of dynamic range in "remastered" music was the first thing I thought of. Never mind style, 80s music just sounds better. If there was a place to get current FLAC format music that wasn't ruined as demonstrated by the parent above, I'd be happy to pay a bit more for it. Anyone know of such a thing?

Re:Five percent? (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 8 months ago | (#46469993)

at the very least I bet Niel Young understands what you mean by loudness wars and remastered but not really. I think he's on our side here.

Re:Five percent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46470135)

If he's really on our side, why is he fighting against fantastically awesome compression and for useless "HD" formats rather than fighting for actual dynamic range in mastering?

Hey Neil, get your ass out of the car you listen to music in and give us a straight answer!

Re:Five percent? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 8 months ago | (#46470197)

I like the loudness wars. When watching TV (loudness war-victims) I can set the volume and watch a show. The dialogue is understandable and the expolsions are loud. When I watch a movie (non-broadcast) the loudness wars don't seem to have touched it. If I put the volume up to where I can hear the dialogue, then when the explosions start, it's loud enough that I'm worried the neighbors will call the cops on me. So I have to sit there with the volume in my hands, turning up the quiet parts, and turning down the loud parts. If the loudness wars had touched movies, then it'd be easier to casually consume recorded movies. Though it would be different from the theater experience.

Doesn't solve the big problem (2, Insightful)

Jamu (852752) | about 8 months ago | (#46469691)

The big problem with music on MP3s and CDs isn't the sample rate, or even the bits used to sample. To sell CDs and MP3s the recording is made as loud as possible and this causes distortion in the sample values. There's no point having 16-bits or 24-bits if the recording doesn't make good use of the full range of values.

Re:Doesn't solve the big problem (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 8 months ago | (#46469831)

It very much depends on what you're listening to.
If you're listing to Michael Buble, this is probably not something you want on your album.
If you're listening to Xerath, the album would sound like crap without it.

The problem is when you got people bitching about the way you record rather than getting off their ass to come see you in person.

Re:Doesn't solve the big problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46469909)

If it's Michael Buble I'd prefer it if it was so distorted as to be unrecognizable.

Re:Doesn't solve the big problem (1)

Ardyvee (2447206) | about 8 months ago | (#46469947)

There is compressing, distorting, and cranking up to 11... and then there is brickwalls (which is the previous, except over 9000).

See, there is nothing wrong with compressing, distorting and cranking your guitar(or some other instrument) up to eleven. It's all right. However, you probably don't want to do that to all tracks. If you do, you are exposing yourself to ending with a dull, flat, boring result (I've heard a few. Sure, there was guitars and drums and stuff.. but it all sounded so dead and flat it sounded bad regardless of what was actually playing).

Now, I do agree that live is (or should be) better than a recording.

A quick listen to a something I found on Xerath resulted in this: I hear clipping (could be from where I found it, or could also be present on the CD). It's also loud, but it's not uncomfortable to listen to. Different instruments feel like distinct, and the audio doesn't sound like an indistinct mass. Which is quite nice. And it doesn't all exactly sound like it's at the same volume all the time.

Re:Doesn't solve the big problem (3, Interesting)

StripedCow (776465) | about 8 months ago | (#46469839)

No, the real problem is that all the tracks are pre-mixed into a single stereo track, leaving us customers with only a single volume knob to turn.

Reality check (5, Informative)

jaffray (6665) | about 8 months ago | (#46469697)

Re:Reality check (3, Insightful)

clockwise_music (594832) | about 8 months ago | (#46470021)

I can't believe that $2,000,000 has already been pledged. I assume by "audiophiles".

Hey guys, 99% of mastering these days has been brickwalled. The recordings that you're buying and downloading before encoding, at the mastering stage has already had all "the nuances, the soft touches, and the ends on the echo" removed. You can't get that back. In fact, all this device will do is make these artifacts more obvious.

Getting a 30 gazillion kbps FLAC file is utterly pointless when the same data can be represented in a 320kbs mp3 file.

I can personally guarantee* (*worth nothing, not redeemable for anything) that sound studios will not start producing multiple mixes just for the audiophiles. It's just not going to happen. People do not care about this stuff and are happy with their iphones/androids, so the sound studios are not going to bother.

Re:Reality check (3, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | about 8 months ago | (#46470283)

I can personally guarantee* (*worth nothing, not redeemable for anything) that sound studios will not start producing multiple mixes just for the audiophiles.

They already have started, in fact. It's very common for the vinyl edition of an album to be less of a loudness wars catastrophe than the CD or MP3 digital downloads because vinyl customers tend to overlap with audiophiles. Two albums I can name off the top of my head where this was done are R.E.M.'s Accelerate and Rush's Clockwork Angels. After buying the CDs and hearing how they were brickwalled, I was happy to have supported the artist by buying at least something, but then I went to a torrent site, downloaded a vinyl rip and now play that exclusively on my home stereo.

Re:Reality check (3, Informative)

Megane (129182) | about 8 months ago | (#46470107)

tl;dr: the only useful purpose for 24/96 or 24/192 is extra bit depth for mastering and mixing. Otherwise the ultrasonic frequencies that you can't hear anyhow can actually interfere with each other and cause audible distortion.

Re:Reality check (1)

gnoshi (314933) | about 8 months ago | (#46470143)

Thanks. That's the best read I've ever seen on the subject.

Oh audiophiles (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46469699)

Oh audiophiles, please never change! It is so easy to laugh at your pseudoscience!

Too pricey, odd shape? (3)

DigitAl56K (805623) | about 8 months ago | (#46469703)

I read the other day that these units are going to go for about $400 a piece. While I myself am an audiophile at heart, I just can't see the use cases for this that makes it worth the money.

For a start, when I'm on the go, unless I'm in a plane (which I'm not very often), I can't use noise-cancelling headphones or I have little situational awareness, and the benefit of this higher fidelity is lost. If I'm sitting at my computer, I'd rather access my library through the computer via a nicer interface and still be able to hear the audio for videos I play etc., and I don't have to worry about plugging in or running down batteries.

So I'm left wondering where are the occasions when I'd really benefit from the higher quality on the go, how frequently do they arise, and is it worth the money for more pristine sound in just those cases?

Also, the damn thing is triangular. Where am I supposed to be putting this? It's not going in a pocket alongside my smartphone...

For me, it's nice that someone is trying to produce a product with a higher audio quality, but I don't see myself buying one.

Re:Too pricey, odd shape? (1)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about 8 months ago | (#46469859)

I think the idea is to create demand which will bring the pricing down over time. What will start out as a niche device could easily become the new standard. The problem, like others have pointed out, is that music created today is generally too crappy to benefit from the wider range of sound during recording. It's all about volume and bass, not range.

Also, Neil Young have never given a fuck about what other people think. He's created a career out of, in fact.

Re:Too pricey, odd shape? (2)

DigitAl56K (805623) | about 8 months ago | (#46469935)

I think the idea is to create demand which will bring the pricing down over time. What will start out as a niche device could easily become the new standard.

Well, it has some other challenges in that regard too:
* If MP3/AAC/AAC+ is "good enough" those devices will always have cheaper storage and will undercut the Pono, even if its price does come down. And my phone already supports all those formats out of the box, and can pull the content from the cloud with album art.
* I wonder how the battery life is, becauseas an enthusiast I've used devices that support FLAC before, and without hardware support like most products have for MP3 I found that they tend to run hotter and battery life is shorter.
* All major online stores deliver music in lossy formats. Most people have libraries of MP3s. Those libraries don't swallow their hard drive.

Again, don't get me wrong, a lossless world would be nice, but I think lossless has to at least arrive in the online stores first, and I doubt this device will be what drives that, given its initial price point and zero market share.

Also, Neil Young have never given a fuck about what other people think.

Well, he has to care about what his target market are actually willing to fork out for in sufficient numbers. I guess we'll see.

Re:Too pricey, odd shape? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46470207)

Also, the damn thing is triangular.

Actually, no. The Pono's shape would be properly described as prismatic .

Well (0)

The Cat (19816) | about 8 months ago | (#46469705)

In other news, Kickstarter is now submerged in billionaire cash and has been well and truly been co-opted by the establishment.

One thing we know about capitalism: it makes capital scarce, and keeps it that way.

Re:Well (1, Flamebait)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 8 months ago | (#46469767)

Have you ever tried to raise capital in a socialist system? Capitalism makes capital common and available. One of the best things about it.

sh1t (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46469719)

Things the righ:t Due to the troubles Don't be a sling declined in market 40,000 coming

What makes Pono better than FLAC? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46469725)

DRM, obviously.

Re:What makes Pono better than FLAC? (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 8 months ago | (#46469781)

It comes pre-green-markered.

The best recording (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46469731)

The best recording is the one you can actually listen to. It doesn't matter how good my Pono songs sound, when I can't play them at all in 5 years because its just another orphan technology.

Obligatory Dan's Data link (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46469753)

Dan is a lot smarter than me, and he says this:

http://www.dansdata.com/gz143.htm

Neil's Pono Goes up to 11 (1)

retroworks (652802) | about 8 months ago | (#46469789)

I read the article a few days ago, and thought lookout mama there's a white boat comin' up the river at Spotify. If Neil doesn't get in front and interfere, the bandwidth can support his increased quality, and the price point is cool.

fa1lzors (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46469805)

have somebody just are a pathetic that they can hold whol3 has lost also dead, its same worthless members are problem; a few has steadily Let's kkep to

Just add vinyl pop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46469811)

and call it a day.

So much marketing, so little fact (5, Insightful)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | about 8 months ago | (#46469813)

Caveat: self-identifying audiophile here, happy to admit I've spent way too much money for very little gain.

What's the output voltage and impedance? Crosstalk? Noise? THD? Dynamic range? If I plug to charge via USB while I'm playing it, will it isolate the noisy power line? You're trying to sell something "audiophile" without mentioning any of this? Really?

He makes a big deal about 192kHz audio. If you're targeting human ears, this is just a waste of space. I'd say the perfect format would be 48kHz/24bit. 48kHz to have plenty of room for a nice frequency cutoff, and 24-bit for music with a high dynamic range, like film scores and orchestral.

How about some features anyone can enjoy, like support for ReplayGain and gapless playback? Maybe make your store highlight music with a high dynamic range instead of offering a 24-bit copy of something with 8 bits of range and frequencies we can't hear?

I would absolutely love to have a compact, objectively transparent player that I can bring with me to the office or anywhere else. I just can't help feeling this won't be it. Too jaded?

Re:So much marketing, so little fact (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 8 months ago | (#46469891)

The product in question uses FLAC, so that pretty much means that there will be gapless playback.

Re:So much marketing, so little fact (2)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | about 8 months ago | (#46469939)

FLAC has native support for gapless playback, but the player still needs to explicitly take advantage of it by not waiting until your current song finishes to start decoding the next one.

Gapless is more common among FLAC players, I guess simply because if you care enough to support FLAC you've probably got a higher chance of caring about the rest of the feature set, but it's far from guaranteed.

Re:So much marketing, so little fact (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46470185)

He makes a big deal about 192kHz audio. If you're targeting human ears, this is just a waste of space. I'd say the perfect format would be 48kHz/24bit. 48kHz to have plenty of room for a nice frequency cutoff, and 24-bit for music with a high dynamic range, like film scores and orchestral.

A 24-bit sample size is a waste of space too - you only need the higher resolution for processing during recording and mixing. Plus, what kind of headphones are involved in the average use case? A set of earbuds can't come close to reproducing plain old 44.1/16 CD audio faithfully.

Finally (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46470275)

an audio format my dog can enjoy

The MP3 files are just fine (2, Interesting)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 8 months ago | (#46469855)

except for that last 1/10% who think they can hear a difference, or the 1/10000% who actually can.

Honestly, it's music we don't need. This is like arguing over whether x264 is sufficient to carry all of the visual information in a motion picture. It's not even close - the best BluRay throws close to 99.9% of the information away, but Neal's reckoning. Thing is, you can't tell. You can't tell in a good set up in a controlled environment, much less in a room where the visual/acoustic treatments aren't designed solely for the experience.

Re:The MP3 files are just fine (1)

Ecuador (740021) | about 8 months ago | (#46470159)

Hehe, I am close to the 1/10000% you say in some aspects. Well, at least in one aspect. Interesting story: I had an inverter installed for a solar panel array and when they switched it on, I stepped back "whoa, what is that loud whistling noise?" the installers were looking at me like I was crazy. Well, I told them, granted, it is very high pitch, a bit higher than, say, the whistling noise a CRT usually makes, I'd say over 15kHz, but it is really really loud, don't you feel anything - I can't even get close to the thing! The response was "what whistling noise the CRT makes???". I had to pull out my phone and download a spectrum analyzer. Sure enough, even the phone mic picked up a huge spike at 16.1kHz... But, I certainly can't tell compressed audio if it is over say 192kbps. I probably can't afford the playback equipment that can actually demonstrate the difference before even getting into the debate of whether it is perceivable by humans or not...

Re:The MP3 files are just fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46470287)

No you are not. You are simply younger than the installers. Most youth can hear those higher frequencies but that ability degrades as you age.

Re:The MP3 files are just fine (0)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 8 months ago | (#46470175)

I listen to MP3s plenty, or even Pandora, so I don't want to come off like a snob. But even with a shitty turntable and shitty speakers, it's very obvious that LPs sound better than CDs/MP3s. I get surprised comments on it all the time.

Also, the hook of this player isn't higher bitrates (any player can do FLAC or at least 320 kbps MP3) but the higher quality electronics, output levels, S/N ratios, etc.

Re:The MP3 files are just fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46470223)

The MP3s are mostly fine. The Pono player claims to do a good job of blatting out good quality sound -- this isn't trivial. Maybe it'll be good, maybe not. That's really its only innovative feature. Still, if it is a good player, hey, that's something.

So what makes Pono better? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46469865)

I had to look it up on Wikipedia to learn that the file format he calls Pono is just FLAC. AFAIK Neil Young didn't invent FLAC.
So what makes Pono better? The name? That it's a walled garden around an open standard?

Coastline Paradox & Audiophilia (4, Interesting)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 8 months ago | (#46469901)

Young says the MP3 files we're all listening to actually are pretty poor from an audio-quality standpoint and only contains about five percent of the audio from an original recording.

Obviously Young doesn't understand The Coastline Paradox [wikipedia.org] . At a sufficiently high resolution of measurement, a wave contains infinite information. Any finitely sized digital recording actually contains 0.00000% of the information in the original signal.

Of course, that's only if you include all the information that our brains are incapable of distinguishing. The interpretation of waves by our brains is an inherently fuzzy process, and beyond a certain resolution there is no perceptible difference between a flawed and a perfect recording (even if you had the equipment and sound room to produce a sufficiently high quality set of vibrations in the air to reliably communicate that tiny difference to your tympanic membrane (you don't)).

Or, more succinctly: Extreme audiophilia is bunk.

Re:Coastline Paradox & Audiophilia (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 8 months ago | (#46469979)

Low sampling rate MP3s can be obviously and audibly pretty bad on a good pair of headphones. Once you get to higher sampling rates you are generally in pretty good shape.

The comment in the story about CDs is really ridiculous. A properly mastered CD is really about as good as you need even on a very high end music system in a purpose built room with carefully designed acoustics.

There is no need for a new format. The idea that LPs are better is hogwash. The only time LPs sound better is when they are mastered with more dynamic range than whatever you are comparing them to is.

Now if he were talking about fixing the mastering process that would be a different kettle of fish. What is done to popular music in mastering, especially with dynamic range compression should be a crime. It has destroyed the value of music produced during the last 30 years.

Neil Young is selling bullshit. This is a complete scam he's trying to pull off.

Re:Coastline Paradox & Audiophilia (1)

Swampash (1131503) | about 8 months ago | (#46470015)

I think you are confusing "sampling rate" with "bit rate".

Re:Coastline Paradox & Audiophilia (2)

SydShamino (547793) | about 8 months ago | (#46470059)

LPs sound better when they remind you of how the music sounded when you were listening to it as a child, with your mom or dad, when they're cleaning or reading the newspaper. Its nostalgia, or iterating over good audio memories, or whatever you want to call that.

People who are too young for that experience and claim to prefer LPs just decided to develop a taste for the noise, in the same way a determined cigarette smoker might fight through the initial coughing fits to get "hooked on the flavor".

Re:Coastline Paradox & Audiophilia (1, Informative)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about 8 months ago | (#46470187)

No. LPs sound better because they aren't mastered with everything at 11

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L... [wikipedia.org]

When CDs go back to having some dynamic range, they will outperform vinyl

Re:Coastline Paradox & Audiophilia (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about 8 months ago | (#46470191)

"The idea that LPs are better is hogwash. The only time LPs sound better is when they are mastered with more dynamic range than whatever you are comparing them to is."

That includes almost everything sold since early '90s

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Coastline Paradox & Audiophilia (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46470051)

>At a sufficiently high resolution of measurement, a wave contains infinite information. Any finitely sized digital recording actually contains 0.00000% of the information in the original signal.

You fail at pedantry. The constituent molecules of air are not infinitely small and their behavior places upper limits on what can meaningfully be called sound, let alone sound perceptible by humans.

Interesting tidbits:
Highest possible ultrasound frequency: http://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/23418/is-there-an-upper-frequency-limit-to-ultrasound
Highest known hearing frequency in a living creature: http://www.nature.com/news/moth-smashes-ultrasound-hearing-records-1.12941

Awesome (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46469903)

When can I 3D print one at home? Isn't that where 3D printing is at now? I mean Luddites still hire designers and engineers to make things. The new cool way is to download files and print it out! I'm pretty sure you can 3D hack the file to 3D print even more memory !!!

Appl€ will copy this and claim they created i (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46469905)

if this takes off. All their sheep will repeat the lie, and they will raise prices for the extra sound bits in their proprietary format. Either that or they will submarine patent the device. I hope it takes off and Neil makes a ton of cash on it, anyway.

Pono Player Hardware? (1)

Vegan Cyclist (1650427) | about 8 months ago | (#46469945)

Am not seeing much discussion of the hardware itself...? Seems like it's not a terribly great device.. A 1/8" 'headphone' output - does that make sense given all the fuss over sound quality? Is the 1/8" jack the golden standard? What about the 8hr battery life? Would like to see more discussion around this..

Really silly (2)

jmv (93421) | about 8 months ago | (#46469977)

Now only is 192 kHz/24 bit silly in general, it's even more silly for a portable music player, that's usually used in places with a higher background noise than your living room. Listening to music above 100 dB SPL in a cafe with noise at 50 dB SPL means you only need an SNR of 50 dB, just slightly more than 8 bits.

Does it come with... (2)

Swampash (1131503) | about 8 months ago | (#46470019)

a Monster cable?

And the deaf will deny (0)

msobkow (48369) | about 8 months ago | (#46470083)

And the deaf will deny that anyone else can hear the difference between 192 and 44.1 kHz sampling because they can't.

I pity the deaf.

Re:And the deaf will deny (2)

gmf (810466) | about 8 months ago | (#46470177)

And the dumb will deny that anyone can understand the sampling theorem and the anatomy of the human ear because they can't.

I pity the dumb.

Re:And the deaf will deny (0)

msobkow (48369) | about 8 months ago | (#46470245)

Yep. I knew a troll would respond to that in no time.

More about storage (3, Insightful)

canadiannomad (1745008) | about 8 months ago | (#46470091)

My biggest complaint about the mp3 music player industry is: Why are they still over selling 1/2/4GB devices!?!?!?!?!?
Honestly, I can't even imagine why Apple, Sony, Philips and other large brands that I find in my average tech store even bother to have/sell, but actively promote these minuscule devices. At least 128GB approaches a reasonable size for today's music collections.
To me it is similar to Linus' rant about laptop monitors.

Re:More about storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46470199)

Amen brother.
And Linus is right.

My home audio system is a netbook with an outboard DAC, connected to an NAS.

Why are portable devices so internally small ?

Re:More about storage (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46470201)

Price? Apple's 2gb is sold at $49 and has no screen. People just want something cheap, easy, and small, for jogging.

Yoko Ono here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46470099)

Pono!

Yoko Ono

Once you go FLAC you never go back (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46470153)

Gave up mp3 when I tried flac, all CD's I buy are transcoded to flac now. Don't have any problems with capacity on a 2gb player.

LOL, dumbassess will be dumbasses (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46470165)

FLAC is and established format and lossless you morons.

Technology idiots seem to never learn.

Something tells me.... (3, Funny)

Dareth (47614) | about 8 months ago | (#46470251)

Something tells me....he is going to catch a ton of flac over this.

Bats and Rats (1)

jayrtfm (148260) | about 8 months ago | (#46470267)

This could be a boon for biologists and other researchers, in that it could capture the ultrasonic sounds animals make. The currently available equipment is very expensive.

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