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

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  • Reply 61 of 179
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,228moderator
    Lorin Schultz on the forum who is an audio engineer posted about this:

    http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/178129/rumor-apple-to-offer-hi-res-24-bit-tracks-on-itunes-in-coming-months#post_2514451

    He said he worked with people who were convinced they could tell the difference and I assume that's the audience for the Pono. I know I can tell the difference between I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and butter. With audio, I don't really care enough about the difference.

    If there's a problem that matters to people, they are easier to convince that the solution to it is worth buying:


    [VIDEO]


    Monster managed to gain revenues of over $100m based on convincing people their solution was worth paying extra for.
  • Reply 62 of 179
    ratsgratsg Posts: 53member

    61 comments on this thing, and for the most part, all are technical.

     

    I can't believe that I'm the only one who sees this.   Every time I look at the name, regardless of what it actually says, I'm reading "Porno Player".   Again, I can't believe I'm the only one seeing this.

     

    As I see it, the product name is the only thing this device has going for it, and honestly, its a close tie along with the iBeat Blaxx music player.

  • Reply 63 of 179
    ecatsecats Posts: 272member
    "Audiophiles" have been thoroughly debunked in much the same way as other fields that fail to meet statistical significance (Wine tasting, etc.)

    The crux of it is that you can fool such people into contradictory observations through no more effort than repeating the experiment.

    The point is that there is nothing wrong with people having a personal preference, but one cannot convey superiority when there is no foundation for such a claim.
  • Reply 64 of 179
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ratsg View Post

     

    61 comments on this thing, and for the most part, all are technical.

     

    I can't believe that I'm the only one who sees this.   Every time I look at the name, regardless of what it actually says, I'm reading "Porno Player".   Again, I can't believe I'm the only one seeing this.

     

    As I see it, the product name is the only thing this device has going for it, and honestly, its a close tie along with the iBeat Blaxx music player.




    I usually think Ponyo, like the film.

  • Reply 65 of 179
    Soooo many audio experts... Pogue should have asked you guys.
  • Reply 66 of 179
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

    Soooo many audio experts... Pogue should have asked you guys.

     

    Still, I bet they could have come up with something better than this triangular prism in 2015. <img class=" src="http://forums-files.appleinsider.com/images/smilies//lol.gif" />

  • Reply 67 of 179
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post



    Soooo many audio experts... Pogue should have asked you guys.



    Soooo many computer experts... Apple should have asked you guys.

  • Reply 68 of 179

    See what I did there?

  • Reply 69 of 179

    The problem with the study is:  What constitutes the 'base line'?  How were the 2 players set up?  Were both equalizers set to 'flat'?  Even if they were, Apple's flat setting would be different from Pono's flat setting, and people might prefer Apple's version.  It's like Bose headphones or speakers, and how they're set up for a certain sound, usually a lot of bass and treble for pop music, which gives a sound that sounds great in the demos at Best Buy, but might not really be the best representation of the original music.

     

    I recently purchased a new Sony Walkman, and love it:

    http://www.amazon.com/Sony-Walkman-NWZA17SLV-Hi-Res-Digital/dp/B00OCJRX8C/

    64gb on-board, with a 128gb SD card for a total of 192gb of my FLAC files.  It's about the size of the original iPod Nano, only a little taller.  A tiny little stick that contains the music from 500+ CDs in lossless FLAC files.

     

    I'm not an audiophile, but I can tell the difference between mp3's and lossless files.  There's just a depth to the lossless, and details that you pick up on that you miss in mp3's.  However, if both are put through a DAC, it becomes harder to tell the difference -- it becomes 'o.k.-smoothed' vs. 'better-smoothed.'  I have a hard time believing that the iPhone's simple DAC is better than the Pono's audiophile-quality DAC.  I really think any differences come from the overall setup; in the same way some people prefer the tuning of certain brands of speakers or headphones over others.

     

    But I'm not sure this guy's test is worth much -- himself, plus a few friends.  And the music was Chicago, Joni Mitchell, and Neil Young -- hardly what I'd call music of any depth of sound.  128kbps is probably considered 'mercy' for listening to such music. ;)

     

    One of the reasons I like my Walkman, though, is that it will play my library via its file structure, with folders within folders within folders.  I use MediaMonkey on PC and Android, and Clemetine on Mac so that I can browse via folders.  I absolutely hate iTunes, since you can only filter by 1 level; genre or artist or whatever.  But the Walkman allows me to navigate my file structure.

  • Reply 70 of 179
    So much 'voodoo' nonsense from these idiotic 'audiophiles'.
  • Reply 71 of 179
    Neil Young rocks the house so this device must be great, don't care what the reviews say... If Neil Young likes it, I like it and so should you!
  • Reply 72 of 179

    There are some serious close-minded responders in this thread. I cannot be bothered to tell the difference between high quality audio and consumer level stuff. That does not mean that there is no difference, and it certainly doesn't mean that the difference cannot be detected by huge numbers of "audiophiles."

     

    I am an amateur astronomer. When I get a new observer under a dark sky with a telescope, you can listen to them as they learn how to see things. At first, the Hercules cluster (for example) looks like a cotton ball. "Interesting," they say, dismissively, as they lift their head from the eyepiece. I explain how to use your peripheral vision to leverage the retinal structure to detect more contrast, and how to stand so that your head is more steady. "Oh, wow," they say on the next look. "Look at that!" Yeah, now the cotton ball starts to look like someone poured a little salt pile on a dark table.  Then they look for about 5 minutes. After they rest for a few minutes, they return to Hercules, and now they can start so see some structure to it -- areas with brighter stars or fewer stars.

     

    I have no trouble admitting that I don't know how to listen any more than someone else doesn't know how to see. This Pono/iPhone test was not up to snuff. This would be like testing a cheap machine-made chinese telescope mirror against fine handmade mirror of the same diameter, but testing by observing the night sky from the light pollution of the suburbs. No, you're not going to see the difference between mirrors in those conditions.

     

    Just because the guy was a musician does not mean he has the skill to conduct a scientific test.

  • Reply 73 of 179
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

     

    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.

     




    The stairstep analogy does not apply because the sample is taken at an instantaneous point in time, it has no time component. In addition, your illustration (if it was applicable) would refer to sample rate, not word length which only affects dynamic range.

     

    Here is a link to a video that explains how sample rate and word length affect audio quality.

  • Reply 74 of 179
    normmnormm Posts: 570member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

     

    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.

     


    16 bits is 65536 different levels of magnitude.  That's less than a micron in vertical resolution on the scale of the diagram you've provided!  That is, your diagram is bull.

  • Reply 75 of 179
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,469member
    jbdragon wrote: »
    If that's all it takes, then what's the point? That argument, the last gasping for straws is pretty lame.

    People will prefer louder all else being equal. Many studies have proven this. Back in the early 70s, I sold audio equipment at Korvettes, a long defunct New York area department chain store. Even there we had a patch board to compare two speakers in which you could equalize levels, otherwise it's not a fair comparison.

    While the Radio Shack switcher may be a piece of junk, it's not going to colorize the sound. It either connects the analog signal or it doesn't.

    Even with better headphones it doesn't surprise me that most wouldn't hear a difference. I'm an ex-recording engineer and years back I bought a stand alone CD recorder that also had the capability to record at 96/24. Never heard a quality improvement as compared to Redbook 44.1/16 when copying from vinyl or CD. Now that's not quite the same as when the source has been recorded at 96/24 or higher, but the difference would be subtle, especially when listening to today's over level-compressed, over-processed, digital effects recordings.

    I haven't heard the Pono myself, so I can't conclusively say if it's better or not.

    One other factor is that most people have never heard good sound. If they perceive a difference, they may actually prefer inferior sound, same as most people prefer an overly bright, overly saturated TV picture.
  • Reply 76 of 179
    Pogue's qualification is that he was "a musician?" That's funny!

    Portable devices are generally not designed or intended for critical listening. I use my i-devices for music in the car, the airplane, or the gym. In those places the music is mainly soundtrack. But as a retired sound engineer, I also like to sit down and listen deeply and critically, and that's done at home using better source material and better equipment. There's no way the Pono competes with what I have at home, and for the other places I listen, anything beyond what I can get out of an iPhone with good headphones is lost due to ambient noise and other listening environment limitations. That's why I see no upside to a device like the Pono. It fills a nonexistent niche.

    Sorry, Neil. I like your music, but I thought Pono was a dumb idea from the get-go.
  • Reply 77 of 179
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,469member
    mstone wrote: »
    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.

    <img alt="" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="54996" data-type="61" src="http://forums.appleinsider.com/content/type/61/id/54996/width/350/height/700/flags/LL" style="; width: 350px; height: 213px">

    All a higher bit rate accomplishes is a better level accuracy as if 65,535 different potential levels within 96db or so of dynamic range potential capability wouldn't be enough. And with most recordings today, there is so little dynamic range that it will make absolutely no difference. On a solo classical violin performance, maybe, but I doubt anyone but a trained musician could tell the difference.

    You're talking a resolution far greater than that capable on a mixing console even in 16 bit. No one can move the fader that small an amount.
  • Reply 78 of 179
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by chadmatic View Post

     

    Soooo many computer experts... Apple should have asked you guys.




    Apple knows better.

  • Reply 79 of 179

    Lengthy article, but the best explanation I've read so far as to why hi-def isn't what it's cracked up to be.

  • Reply 80 of 179
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,832member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by hamiltonrrwatch View Post

     

    Lengthy article, but the best explanation I've read so far as to why hi-def isn't what it's cracked up to be.




    Kudos for the link.

     

    As an aside, and as a Senior Citizen, I can see a future market in stem cell related research; improving eyesight and hearing.

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