Neil Young was working with Apple on super high-def music format

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Canadian rock legend Neil Young said this week that he was working with late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs on a new music format that would offer fans uncompromised studio quality sound in the form of digital music downloads.



In an interview at the All Things Digital D: Dive Into Media conference on Tuesday, Young spoke at length about the lack of quality in today's mainstream digital music formats, arguing that the "low-res world" of MP3s provide just 5% of the data present in the original studio recordings, paling in comparison to the quality of vinyl records back in the 70's.



"We live in the digital age, and we are -- unfortunately -- we only have 5% of the content we used to have in the mainstream," he said. "It's not that digital is bad or inferior. It's that the way that it is being used is not sufficient to transfer the depth of the art."



Super high-def music files that would deliver sound on par with 24/192 files -- the highest-res recorded music today -- present challenges, including an increase in download times to 30 minutes per track and the development of a player suitable to store and handle them.



"The technology exists," said Young. "The internet is fast enough to support it. […] And you could store like 30 albums at high-res in a small device that you could carry around in your pocket like an iPhone."















Asked whether he ever approached Jobs about the project, Young acknowledged that he had indeed spoken with the late Apple co-founder and that the two were "working on it" prior to his passing last year but admitted that "not much" has happened since Jobs passed.



"Steve Jobs was a pioneer of digital music," Young said. "His legacy is tremendous. But when he went home, he listened to vinyl. And you gotta believe that if he lived long enough, he would have eventually done what I'm trying to do."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 138
    will i be able to hear the difference in my apple headphones? or do i need a $7000 stereo system to hear it?
  • Reply 2 of 138
    The extra sad thing about the passing of Jobs is also the passing of Apple's pioneering of anything.
  • Reply 3 of 138
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Garamond View Post


    The extra sad thing about the passing of Jobs is also the passing of Apple's pioneering of anything.



    I'm worried Apple's leadership team will think that staying the course instead of trying to invent the next big thing will keep Apple afloat. It will in the short term, but if Apple is not actively trying to disrupt the future, someone else, perhaps people like Neil Young who were inspired by Steve Jobs, will. And that, in 20 years, may turn out to be Steve's real legacy.
  • Reply 4 of 138
    It would be a natural fit for to have higher fidelity recordings available through iTunes. Streaming over the 'net, voice recordings, even gaming is going to be fine at these lower rates but musicians and audiences want more music in their music.
  • Reply 5 of 138
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


    I'm worried Apple's leadership team will think that staying the course instead of trying to invent the next big thing will keep Apple afloat. It will in the short term, but if Apple is not actively trying to disrupt the future, someone else, perhaps people like Neil Young who were inspired by Steve Jobs, will. And that, in 20 years, may turn out to be Steve's real legacy.



    I assume that the short/medium term is covered by plans laid out by Steve Jobs. And there are a lot of places to innovate. Steve Jobs says all the supply chain control is due to Tim Cook. Being able to harness the best on the planet is certainly foundational to any design or product innovation. The best years are ahead.



    It's funny but the one constant under Steve Jobs is that Apple is 2-3 years ahead in any product innovation. That the products were so beautiful (well, from an industrial design perspective that is) was just so much icing on the cake. It'll be a new company but I am optimistic about the legacy that he's left. I didn't buy Steve Jobs products. I bought Apple products designed and sold by so many talented people. I don't have any anxiety that this will diminish.
  • Reply 6 of 138
    mauszmausz Posts: 243member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


    I'm worried Apple's leadership team will think that staying the course instead of trying to invent the next big thing will keep Apple afloat. It will in the short term, but if Apple is not actively trying to disrupt the future, someone else, perhaps people like Neil Young who were inspired by Steve Jobs, will. And that, in 20 years, may turn out to be Steve's real legacy.



    In 20 years Neil Young will be 86 years old, or do you admit not knowing who Neil Young is (and he probably inspired Steve Jobs, a wild guess as I do not know his musical taste)
  • Reply 7 of 138
    Without intending to sound as callous as this will sound...



    1. Seriously? wtf does neil young know about audio fidelity? he can't even tell how goddam annoying his own voice is. If Neil Young knew jack shit about what actually sounds good, he'd write for James Taylor, or Grover from Sesame Street.



    2. most listeners have been "dumbed down" to the lowest common audio denominator since 2001: shitty white earbuds and 128k mp3s. That is not likely to change. Sure, you might demand quality like i do, but we are the minority.



    3. One of the side effects of iTunes is that it has relativized music and sound. They are being seen more and more as not much more than accompaniment for motion video. That will never change for classics like beatles and Zep, etc....but it will make it far more difficult for modern bands to rise up like anybody ever did in the past.
  • Reply 8 of 138
    Just use .flac?
  • Reply 9 of 138
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    So how was Neil going to do this. does he have an electrical engineering degree with expertise in signal processing?



    Haven't seen much of his efforts at producing a viable electric car.



    http://www.shortnews.com/start.cfm?id=71135



    As for 24/192 files. If anyone knows of double blind listening tests that clearly show people can hear the difference between them and 16/44.1, please post a link.



    I am still waiting for someone to show they can hear the difference between 223kbps AAC and the original source, let alone higher resolution originals.
  • Reply 10 of 138
    Neil Young is making himself look a fool. I'm sure we'd all love better sound quality especially without other compromises, but the very idea that anyone in 2011 or 2012 would develop and sell a device that "could store like 30 albums" and that you could "carry around in your pocket like an iPhone" is ridiculous. The original 5gb iPod destroyed the mass market for those things forever. Remember how everyone bought those MP3 players that could hold like 30 albums? Me neither.



    Only a rich old fool with money to throw on projects like turning a 40 year old car into an electric car would even entertain the idea of a device that is severely limited in order to make an improvement in sound quality that most people cannot detect. 30 minutes to download a track? Haven't we been there before?



    And BTW, some of his music is good, but if you listen to it do you really think higher fidelity would make any difference? I think it would for classical music, violins, piano, etc. where you can really here the bow sliding on the strings, the pound of the piano hammer, etc. But Neil Young? No.



    I can just imagine how Steve Jobs (1) was thrilled to talk to the guy and (2) rolled his eyes at this and other brilliant ideas he had.
  • Reply 11 of 138
    pendergastpendergast Posts: 1,358member
    Really? Massive quality on a portable device? I think that's missing the point of portability. Portable devices are designed to take with you on the go, and are often listened to in environments less than ideal for appreciating the full quality of music. Plus, are you going to have people all walk around with $500 headphones? That close to your ear, I don't think there'd be an appreciable difference.



    If you have a $7,000 audio system as home, I doubt you're streaming from an iPod.



    The quality of iTunes Plus is just fine and dandy for most people's needs. And audiophiles already use other things than iPods.
  • Reply 12 of 138
    pendergastpendergast Posts: 1,358member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post




    As for 24/192 files. If anyone knows of double blind listening tests that clearly show people can hear the difference between them and 16/44.1, please post a link.



    I am still waiting for someone to show they can hear the difference between 223kbps AAC and the original source, let alone higher resolution originals.



    I agree. But audiophiles will always think that can hear something that the human ear cannot detect; well at least the difference between one recording and the next.



    It's the same people who think super expensive vodka is better than a $10 bottle.
  • Reply 13 of 138
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by reklss41 View Post


    will i be able to hear the difference in my apple headphones? or do i need a $7000 stereo system to hear it?



    Go buy a nice pair of closed ear Sennheiser 380 Pro: http://www.sennheiserusa.com/dj-prof...dphones_502717



    You'll notice the difference
  • Reply 14 of 138
    mauszmausz Posts: 243member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nicolbolas View Post


    Just use .flac?



    SACD Flac rips would indeed be a pretty bit step up from the current. Size would be an issue, and of course most music does not benefit from the SACD treatment
  • Reply 15 of 138
    gqbgqb Posts: 1,934member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Garamond View Post


    The extra sad thing about the passing of Jobs is also the passing of Apple's pioneering of anything.



    What else can you tell us, oh mighty visitor from the future?
  • Reply 16 of 138
    gqbgqb Posts: 1,934member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post


    So how was Neil going to do this. does he have an electrical engineering degree with expertise in signal processing?




    Don't be so fast to diss accomplished people for having educated themselves far beyond their original field.

    Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter is the prime example of this (even though I'm not a fan of the direction his brilliance has taken him.)
  • Reply 17 of 138
    While I agree there is some quality lost in most of our digital music, I find it really hard to believe we're only hearing "5%". Really? Is he just making up numbers?
  • Reply 18 of 138
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ddawson100 View Post


    It would be a natural fit for to have higher fidelity recordings available through iTunes. Streaming over the 'net, voice recordings, even gaming is going to be fine at these lower rates but musicians and audiences want more music in their music.



    I'm surprised they haven't done that. When iTunes LP was announced I was surprised they didn't included high quality files with those tracks. I never bought a single iTLP but would have had the music been SACD-esque quality in Apple Lossless. I think thu could have reinvented the album.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nicolbolas View Post


    Just use .flac?



    How about Apple Lossless since it's supported by iTunes and all

    iDevices.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GQB View Post


    What else can you tell us, oh mighty visitor from the future?



  • Reply 19 of 138
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mausz View Post


    In 20 years Neil Young will be 86 years old, or do you admit not knowing who Neil Young is (and he probably inspired Steve Jobs, a wild guess as I do not know his musical taste)



    I wouldn't be surprised if Jobs listened to Neil Young. It is well known that he loved Bob Dylan and the Beatles. I could picture his taste encompassing Young, as well.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Pendergast View Post


    I agree. But audiophiles will always think that can hear something that the human ear cannot detect; well at least the difference between one recording and the next.



    It's the same people who think super expensive vodka is better than a $10 bottle.



    I don't know about vodka, but I can tell you with certainty that some $30 bourbon is far better than any $10 bourbon.



    As for the rest, it is important to keep in mind physical limitations. The human ear has limits (around 20,000 Hz for most young people (although I did know one middle aged guy who was tested and could hear reasonably well at 23,000 Hz) and that drops off dramatically for older people. I was playing with my car stereo the other day and realized how much of the high end is gone from my hearing. After all the time spent in front of loud speakers, Neil Young's hearing is probably useless in deciding on what constitutes high quality.



    Add to that the fact that the iPhone/iPod/iPads are designed for portable use. Even with noise canceling headphones, I really can't hear all that much of the detail in the places I listen to my iPod.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post


    Go buy a nice pair of closed ear Sennheiser 380 Pro: http://www.sennheiserusa.com/dj-prof...dphones_502717



    You'll notice the difference



    Good quality headphones do make a difference - even with my high end hearing loss. But even the best headphones will not make the difference between lossless and Apple's high end AAC noticeable to most people under most conditions.
  • Reply 20 of 138
    poochpooch Posts: 768member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    "The technology exists," said Young. "The internet is fast enough to support it. [?]"



    ha ha. the internet might be, but at&t's network is not ... they don't even have enough confidence in their own network to allow a download of a file larger than 20MB.
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