Neil Young's $400 Pono hi-def music player loses to Apple's iPhone in blind audio test

2456789

Comments

  • Reply 21 of 179
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Boltsfan17 View Post

     
    They were using a pair of  Sony MDR 7506, which are good headphones. 


    I'm still using my 15 year old MDR V500 which was an early predecessor to 7506 although the ear pads are getting worn out. Just yesterday I was researching new headphones and lots of pros recommend those MDR 7506 even though the MDR 7509 are the latest generation. The 7506 are not as heavy in the bass range as the 7509, and also have a cleaner mid and high according to the reviews. The 7509 have a better frequency response but unless you are a dog it is useless because it is mostly beyond the range of human hearing. I'm not an audio pro but I want to have a really good set of headphones anyway.

  • Reply 22 of 179
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

     

     

    I'm no hardware engineer, but that just strikes me as some real poor designing that's going on there.




    I'd love to have a TV show where Jony Ive and Marc Newson sat down and reviewed products.

     

    "This music player...it's terrible. You can tell that they simply didn't care about the end user, but only about the technology."

  • Reply 23 of 179
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post

     

    If the iPod Classic were still around I'd readily recommend it over this


    I'd recommend an iPod 1st gen over this

  • Reply 24 of 179
    cm477cm477 Posts: 95member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    "It's like saying that wearing a crystal or a magnet makes you healthier: There's no scientific or measurable basis to the statement, but then again, if it works for you, nobody can argue with you," Pogue said.

    If there have been no tests or tests with in conclusive results, then one might agree with that statement. But with regards to sound preference, Pogue sells himself short. In his Yahoo article, it is clear that he is the closest to scientifically testing the sound of the Pono in a blinded, controlled manner. Apparently other "tests" (e.g., Rolling Stone article) were conducted in an unblinded, uncontrolled manner with music professional. The placebo effect is very real, especially in this situation when the "subjects" are asked to review Mr. Neil Young's device. As a longtime Neil Young fan, I can see how one would side with him and support one of his products. It's too bad that Apple retired the iPod Classic instead of maintaining it and figuring how to increase its capacity beyond 160GB. 

  • Reply 25 of 179
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Lord Amhran View Post

     

    I'd recommend an iPod 1st gen over this




    I was more considering storage space when I named the Classic. 5GB is a bit small for lossless audio. That applies to most of the iPods with Wolfson DAC's, sadly.

     

     

    I will say that $399 for the Pono is a lot cheaper than $1199 for Sony's new Walkman.

  • Reply 26 of 179
    Oh lord.

    "192kHz/24-bit"

    My dog loves this, but my human ears can't hear the expanded dynamic range 24-bit music offers over 16-bit.

    Do what you want to make yourself feel better; if listening to lossless audio files makes you happy, then it did its job. But never kid yourself into thinking you didn't take a sip of snake oil.

    Thank you, Mr. Young. I'll still wave when I see you driving around the mountain roads near La Honda.
  • Reply 27 of 179
    It's main fail is that it's useless for pocket use, as it has no hold/lock switch.
    The second reality is that quality 256kbps files are about the highest the human ear can really appreciate. Which happens to be the format of iTunes Plus music.

    Beyond that, the shape is a pain to keep in your pocket, strap to your arm etc.

    It probably feels great as you hold it. But it's very impractical overall.

    And it's ugly as can be.

    iTunes has some pretty high quality tracks of you want.

    Going all crazy over some barely perceptible differences isn't the way to go.

    I mean if you're going to want to hear studio quality then you will need studio quality noise canceling headphones and a CD.

    THE MP3s are compressed here. Some a little less than others. But still compressed.

    However, even against the CD, in most headphones, the MP3s sound pretty good.

    So conpressed audio vs conpressed audio using the same format... Of course the least conpressed should sound better. But that's true regardless of device.

    And Apple has been doing this for quite a while.
  • Reply 28 of 179
    gustavgustav Posts: 824member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by vfx2k4 View Post

     

    Blind is right, this 'test' is completely ignorant. It's like someone evaluating a high-definition television signal on an old black and white standard definition television and then saying that HD looks the same as old black and white/SD. Cheap headphones going through a cruddy Radio Shack switcher throws away precisely all the extra fidelity that a player like Pono provides in the first place.

     

    I've been using an Audioquest Dragonfly digital to analog converter hooked up to audiophile speakers on my Mac for the past year. It frequently sounds like a live concert is playing right in front of me on high bitrate FLAC tracks. When I listen to MP3 and tracks from iTunes they often sound like a child's pull-string toy by comparison. Pogue literally has no idea what he's talking about and should be embarrassed to claim otherwise.




    A better quality DAC will make a difference. A resolution higher than 16/44 will not. If you say you can hear the difference, then you are an evolved human indeed. Because nobody has been able to prove they can. Yes, you probably can tell the difference between MP3 and FLAC. But what about just plain ALAC? What about 320kbps AAC?

  • Reply 29 of 179
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by macinthe408 View Post



    My dog loves this, but my human ears can't hear the expanded dynamic range 24-bit music offers over 16-bit.

    16 bit vs. 24 bit is not an argument that relates to dog vs. human hearing, because everything that is within human hearing is also improved due to the smaller steps.

     

  • Reply 30 of 179
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    vfx2k4 wrote: »
    Blind is right, this 'test' is completely ignorant. It's like someone evaluating a high-definition television signal on an old black and white standard definition television and then saying that HD looks the same as old black and white/SD. Cheap headphones going through a cruddy Radio Shack switcher throws away precisely all the extra fidelity that a player like Pono provides in the first place.

    I've been using an Audioquest Dragonfly digital to analog converter hooked up to audiophile speakers on my Mac for the past year. It frequently sounds like a live concert is playing right in front of me on high bitrate FLAC tracks. When I listen to MP3 and tracks from iTunes they often sound like a child's pull-string toy by comparison. Pogue literally has no idea what he's talking about and should be embarrassed to claim otherwise.

    Running it through that A/B switcher didn't impact the test. And Pogue didn't use cheap headphones either.
  • Reply 31 of 179
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by 9secondko View Post

     
    I mean if you're going to want to hear studio quality then you will need studio quality noise canceling headphones and a CD.


    For the studio I don't think you want noise cancellation. That is altering the sound. You just want a really quiet studio. I'm not so sure about CD quality either.

  • Reply 32 of 179
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

    Though it has the backing of legendary rocker Neil Young, the new Pono music player for audiophiles doesn't actually sound much better, or better at all, than high-quality MP3s played from an Apple iPhone.


     

    Wait… what?



    Is it 2003 again? Are people trying to compete with the iPod? If I’ve fallen through a wormhole and it’s 2003 again, I can just go kill my younger self and save a lot of people a lot of pain. And then clean up on investments. AAPL was $7 per share back now!

     

    Anyway, it’s hilarious an “audiophile” product was beaten out by MP3s of all things. Goes to show that Kickstarter’s an easy way to scam money.

  • Reply 33 of 179
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

     

    For the studio I don't think you want noise cancellation. That is altering the sound. You just want a really quiet studio. I'm not so sure about CD quality either.




    Studio headphones usually aren't noise cancelling, so correct. CD quality also depends on the CD and the player, but a high end player would be a good idea.

  • Reply 34 of 179
    "Switching to Pono also requires users to re-purchase their music library, at a cost of $2.50 per song."

    LOL WUT? Put a fork in it, this thing is done.
  • Reply 35 of 179
    The iPod Classic comparison at the end of the article doesn't make sense. A Pono player with 128GB of Flash can't hold nearly as much music (in its preferred uncompressed format) as an entry level iPod Touch (16GB).
  • Reply 36 of 179
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post

     



    Oh, certainly, which kinda ties into my point. I have high-end midrange stuff (if that makes sense, lol), which works with what I have. I use a G4 Cube as a music server, so I rip everything in ALAC onto the drive (if it's an original CD, that is). But most people use Apple's EarPods at best. They're not bad, but they're not audiophile grade either.

     

    The good news is that with Mastered for iTunes, Apple does have the quality originals, so iTunes Plus is better than it could be otherwise. And they can always sell the originals one day (which I expect they will).


    From your previous post, headphones do make a world of difference. There is no point in wasting money on the Pono player. Investing in a good pair of headphones to use with your current iPod or iPhone is the way to go. There can't be much of a market for the Pono player. 

     

    I probably have like 4-5 3TB hard drives full of AIFF files. I rip all original CD's to AIFF. Studio masters I usually rip to ALAC or sometimes even to a lower quality just to free up space for more music on my iPod classic. I'm kind of stupid for attempting to put every song I have on my iPod, but I don't try anymore. Now, I just make a bunch of playlists for different genres of music.  I do hope Apple sells the originals one day. Before Apple does that, they need to make more albums available in iTunes Plus. 

  • Reply 37 of 179
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RedHotFuzz View Post



    "Switching to Pono also requires users to re-purchase their music library, at a cost of $2.50 per song."



    LOL WUT? Put a fork in it, this thing is done.



    Not to mention that not all of the tracks in their store are 192/24. Only some. And as Ars noted, volume differences and mixing are the biggest change in the tracks more than quality.

  • Reply 38 of 179
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,687member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

     

    For the studio I don't think you want noise cancellation. 


     

    Yeah. They don't use noise cancellation headphones when mixing in studios.

     

    Most mixes aren't done on headphones, but on studio monitors. Occasionally you might put headphones on the check something, but the majority of people mix through monitors, both near field and larger monitors.

  • Reply 39 of 179
    ktappektappe Posts: 770member

    The reason I am not surprised is that I saw Young on talk shows a month ago peddling this thing. He sounded like a snakeoil salesman. I like his music and his politics, but man he sure sounded shady when he kept trying to make Pono sound like the best thing since sliced bread. It's funny how the harder a salesman tries to push something, the more likely it is the item is baloney. It appears this case is no exception.

  • Reply 40 of 179
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,687member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

     

    I'm not so sure about CD quality either.


     

    Listening to a CD is not the same as listening to the actual studio master of course, because in most cases, the studio master is far better and more detailed.

     

    Even analog masters from decades ago have far more resolution than any CD.

Sign In or Register to comment.