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

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Comments

  • Reply 81 of 179
    tmay wrote: »

    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.

    I have no doubt that at some point you'll be able to "refresh" your most degraded biological parts (ears, eyes) for new, improved versions.
  • Reply 82 of 179

    Now that my 128GB has effectively replaced my iPod Classic as my car music system, I was wondering if I could use if to store lossless audio (ALAC) and get it working as a hi-res player.

     

    Does the line-out for the Classic provide enough fidelity to a decent Receiver for me to get good sound, or is the iPod limited owing to the size and other engineering decisions made to achieve its primary purpose as an MP3 player?

     

    What about using some good headphones with ALAC on the Classic? I know SQ is highly subjective but there must be some quantifiable difference, right? Or is it negligible?

  • Reply 83 of 179
    elrothelroth Posts: 1,201member
    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.

    Whoever wrote that is totally FULL OF SHIT - the Pono player will play ANY audio file, including AIFF, FLAC, Apple Lossless, AAC and, yes, 128 mbps MP3s. Anything in your iTunes LIbrary, any CD you have, etc. People with absolutely no knowledge of the product are jumping up and down to criticize it, just to make themselves feel better. It's easy to say it's not worth it, it's lousy, etc., when what you really mean is you hope it's bad so you won't feel you're missing something.

     

    I'm very skeptical of Pogue and his setup, cheap Radio Shack switcher and all. Relaying sound through a cheap switcher will definitely degrade  The headphones he used are decent but not that great. Plus, the AI story above misrepresented the Ars Technica review. The reviewer, while saying he didn't think there was much difference between high-resolution files and high-quality mp3s, very much liked the sound of the Pono player:

     

    "We did notice a difference between songs rendered through a Pono Player and the same ones on either a stereo or a MacBook Pro. Mostly, we preferred on the Pono where the bass sat in the mix, which we noticed was less of a bitrate issue and more of the Pono Player's on-board mix of pre-amp and digital audio converter (DAC). We confirmed this preference after countless volume adjustments to make sure the Pono wasn't just tricking us with volume bumps. We should point out that this bass improvement was most noticeable on pop-rock albums; jazz and classical have plenty of bass action going on, but in those cases, it was actually the higher-end sounds (like an endlessly banged high-hat) that sounded noticeably brighter and crisper compared to other sound sources... we think $400 for an all-in-one, 128GB (expandable to 196GB) player with a quality pre-amp and DAC solution—as a quality piece of home kit that we can toss in a bag and enjoy at a friend's house or in a hotel room—is a reasonable price for something to max those songs out with."

  • Reply 84 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.

     


     

    Uh, no, digital audio output signals do not look like that even at 8 bits.

     

    Read this; and watch the video at the end also, it's pretty good:

     

    http://productionadvice.co.uk/no-stair-steps-in-digital-audio/

     

    Read this also:

     

    http://www.sonicscoop.com/2013/08/29/why-almost-everything-you-thought-you-knew-about-bit-depth-is-probably-wrong/

  • Reply 85 of 179
    noivadnoivad Posts: 186member
    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.


     

    Being a musician does not automatically qualify one as an audio or sound expert. If it DID then musicians would have no need to audio engineers in the studio to mic (place the microphones at the ideal distance and location), record, mix and master their performances.

     

    Your entire audio chain is only as good as the worst link in the chain. If you are playing MP3s on a $2000 amp on $4000 speakers, your MP3s will sound like the music has been dragged through mud because the lack of detail will be easily apparent when A/Bed with full bit rate and higher resolution audio files, if the listener has any ability to listen critically. The audio engineer in the test was pointing out the quality of the preview equipment affected the reproduction and the the signal path but the full context might have been edited out, if he did mention it. But if the listener lacks the interest in high fidelity, or can’t afford even modest home equipment, or can’t justify the price/performance costs, then, by all means, buy lossy audio tracks. Another thing is MP3s were popular when high speed was 128KBps and a large HD was 500MB. Now that internet speeds are commonly in MBps and a SMALL HD is 128GB, there is no reason not to move to lossless at the very least.



    Seconded about the equipment used. The headphones used, while decent, certainly do not meet the requirements to produce the finer details. The WORST thing to listen on is headphones BTW, because a majority can’t even approach reference quality. The Sony 7000s (7506 in this case) have a certain sound profile that complements certain music, but it is no where near flat. A pair of $20 earbuds certainly won’t reveal finer detail either, and adding a $20 switch, with its additional noise will further muddy the signal. 

     

    As far as listeners: people, in general, have no idea what to listen for. They don’t know where the differences in quality come into play. The lossy compression algorithms model for masking and discard sounds that are usually masked by average equipment. Also, you can’t chose 2 songs someone has not heard before and play them to see which one has more fidelity. All you can do is ask them which one they prefer, and preference isn’t always what is more accurate, it can simply be which one sounds more appealing which is subject to which tonal profile they like better. This is where audio processing, either during encoding or decoding comes into play. Apple DACs are among the best, but they certainly are not trying to be flat. As stated by another comment mentioned, audio engineers need to mix for a wide range of playback, and if you buy high quality recordings, they will probably sound worse of mediocre equipment, as was used in the playback tests.

     

    Also, some people are confusing bit depth (16bit & 24bit) with sample rate (44.1 & 96 or 192KHz). Sample rate affects the highest frequency reproducible (and yes people cannot hear beyond 20KHz, but the sample might not capture the highest frequencies accurately without a combing effect if the sample was being taken off peak — which can happen with cymbal sampling and percussion decay), while bit depth affects the resolution and dynamic range. The more bits, the smaller steps between one value and another, and with 24-bit the dynamic range (dB) opens up to be about to the entire range of human hearing — even to the point of causing hearing damage is listened to at excessive levels, while still being able to reproduce the softest sounds and finest detail. 

  • Reply 86 of 179
    elrothelroth Posts: 1,201member

    Here's another opinion:

     

    "Compared to my iPhone 5S, the Pono Player delivers music while the iPhone delivers a reasonable facsimile thereof. Missing with the iPhone is the wonderful tone, the resolution or ability to hear into the recording, and that natural sounding presentation. Instead, you get a thinner, flatter, more anemic sound. The result being a less engaging experience, the ultimate sound quality of the output is limited by the iPhone's innards."

     

    Pono Player | AudioStream

  • Reply 87 of 179
    noivad wrote: »
    Your entire audio chain is only as good as the worst link in the chain. If you are playing MP3s on a $2000 amp on $4000 speakers, your MP3s will sound like the music has been dragged through mud because the lack of detail will be easily apparent when A/Bed with full bit rate and higher resolution audio files, if the listener has any ability to listen critically. The audio engineer in the test was pointing out the quality of the preview equipment affected the reproduction and the the signal path but the full context might have been edited out, if he did mention it. But if the listener lacks the interest in high fidelity, or can’t afford even modest home equipment, or can’t justify the price/performance costs, then, by all means, buy lossy audio tracks. Another thing is MP3s were popular when high speed was 128KBps and a large HD was 500MB. Now that internet speeds are commonly in MBps and a SMALL HD is 128GB, there is no reason not to move to lossless at the very least.


    Seconded about the equipment used. The headphones used, while decent, certainly do not meet the requirements to produce the finer details. The WORST thing to listen on is headphones BTW, because a majority can’t even approach reference quality. The Sony 7000s (7506 in this case) have a certain sound profile that complements certain music, but it is no where near flat. A pair of $20 earbuds certainly won’t reveal finer detail either, and adding a $20 switch, with its additional noise will further muddy the signal. 

    As far as listeners: people, in general, have no idea what to listen for. They don’t know where the differences in quality come into play. The lossy compression algorithms model for masking and discard sounds that are usually masked by average equipment. Also, you can’t chose 2 songs someone has not heard before and play them to see which one has more fidelity. All you can do is ask them which one they prefer, and preference isn’t always what is more accurate, it can simply be which one sounds more appealing which is subject to which tonal profile they like better. This is where audio processing, either during encoding or decoding comes into play. Apple DACs are among the best, but they certainly are not trying to be flat. As stated by another comment mentioned, audio engineers need to mix for a wide range of playback, and if you buy high quality recordings, they will probably sound worse of mediocre equipment, as was used in the playback tests.

    Also, some people are confusing bit depth (16bit & 24bit) with sample rate (44.1 & 96 or 192KHz). Sample rate affects the highest frequency reproducible (and yes people cannot hear beyond 20KHz, but the sample might not capture the highest frequencies accurately without a combing effect if the sample was being taken off peak — which can happen with cymbal sampling and percussion decay), while bit depth affects the resolution and dynamic range. The more bits, the smaller steps between one value and another, and with 24-bit the dynamic range (dB) opens up to be about to the entire range of human hearing — even to the point of causing hearing damage is listened to at excessive levels, while still being able to reproduce the softest sounds and finest detail. 

    First it s totally naive to equate price of audio equipment with sound quality. A $30 'class D' amp is acoustically perfect. No amp can sound better. No headphones or speakers are anywhere near perfect. About the purist speaker set up is a pair of cheap full range drivers mounted at ear-height in a large flat wall with holes cut through to the outside with all doors and windows closed and sealed. So for around $60, you can achieve the best sound quality at any price.

    There is good reason to record at greater bit depths and sample frequencies - to provide leeway in the post chain. There is no reason ever to reproduce at greater than 16 bits, 44 KHz. Never. Never.

    What level of compression to use depends upon your brain. Mine cannot hear the difference from uncompressed to 160 Kbps AAC.
  • Reply 88 of 179
    croprcropr Posts: 955member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post



    I'm a lossless audio guy, and you are not going to notice the difference between an MP3 and lossless audio file unless you have top quality headphones/speakers. If you have those then you will notice a huge difference.



    It depends on the type of music.  For classical music you here it immediately, even with lousy speakers.  For modern music you indeed need high quality speakers, before you hear the difference between lossless and high bitrate MP3 files.

  • Reply 89 of 179
    davidwdavidw Posts: 975member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

     



    Sure, LPs sound great on a $2,000.00 turntable, $3000.00 vacuum tube power amplifier, $500.00 preamp, and the $3500.00/each Klipsch La Scala speakers to go with it. Just ask any audiophile. 


     

    And CD's would also sound great on such a system. But with all things being equal, the same system with a moderately priced turntable ($200 - $300) with a decent cartridge and a good CD player with a decent built in DAC (not a DVD player that plays CD's), most listener would still prefer the sound of the LP on a turntable. The reason why most listeners thinks CD's is the better sounding format is because most of their LP listening experience consist of listening to LP's on a record player that's mosly made of plastic that requires taping a nickle to the headshell so the worn out stylus doesn't skip. To these listeners, just not hearing snap, crackle, pop, and record surface noise makes the CD the better sounding format by a mile. Never mind how the music actually  sounds. There's a reason why the makers of high end CD players, CD transports, DAC's and various digital enhancers strive to make CD's sound like vinyl LP's. And it's not the snap, crackle, pop and surface noise they're going after.    

     

    One can upgrade either so that it sounds better than the other with a better turntable, better arm, MC cartridge, external phono stage, better built CD players, CD transports, external DAC's, op amp with tube buffers, jitter reducer and such, but in the end, with unlimited resources ($$$$$$) for upgrading, the LP will win over most of the listeners.  And of course, I'm talking about playing well recorded music on well pressed albums, not something from K-Tel or Pickwick records or LP's with electronicly enhanced stereo or rap for that matter. Not all albums sound better on a vinyl LP than on a CD. 

  • Reply 90 of 179
    trydtryd Posts: 135member

    I think it is best described like this : "If you believe there is a difference, then you will hear a difference." In other words - it depends more on what you believe than what you actually hear. The real problem with recorded sound these days is the mastering of the recordings. Recordings are mastered to sound fine on ordinary equipment, which means reducing the dynamic range and boosting the bass. This will sound fine on any player, iPod, iPhone, Pono - whatever.

     

    I used to be in the vinyl-camp. I was late to the CD-table. I was also late to the mp3/AAC table. I was firmly of the belief that vinyl was best, and that mp3s were unlistenable.

    Today I only play CDs and files from my computer. I stay away from mp3, but have a lot of ACC (although I now rip everything in lossless, mostly for archiving purposes - no use in throwing away information when it is the only copy you have - not for any acoustic reasons).

    I play CDs on my headphone rig (SONY XA5400ES SACD player with STAX 009 electrostatic headphones) and files on my stereo (from an iMac through an Abrahamsen DAC to a Conrad-Johnson amp to a set of Sonus Faber Guarneri Memento speakers). I sometimes listen to the files on my iMac through a set of Sennheiser HD800 headphones fed by a Woo Audio WA-2 headphone amp). 

    My experience? I don't hear much difference (if any) between the formats. I don't hear any difference between 256 kbps AAC and lossless. I don't hear any difference between CDs and 192 kbps AAC. I have played mp3s, AAC and lossless files through my system to a professional working with acoustics (among other things he was working on designing a concert hall for best acoustics), and he couldn't pick what was what (even though he was perfectly clear before we started that mp3 sounds like "shit").

     

    The conclusion? There may be differences from one player to the other, but this is mostly due to the quality of the electronics - the DAC etc., not whether it is 24/192 or 16/44, lossless or ACC (as long as the bitrate is not too low). They all sound fine. But you will hear what you want to hear. If you firmly believe that the Pono sounds better, it will sound better (to you).

     

    And to noivad: You say : "your MP3s will sound like the music has been dragged through mud because the lack of detail will be easily apparent when A/Bed with full bit rate and higher resolution audio files, if the listener has any ability to listen critically." In my experience this is not true. The quality is in the recording and the mastering, and in the converion software. I have A/B'ed CDs, lossless and mp3s through my 30000$ system (and my 8000$ head-phone rig) and there is no firm conclusion - some mp3s sound bad (when they are low resolution and ripped with a low-quality ripper), others sound fine (I have experienced being able to tell the difference between an MP3 and a lossless file, but I have been wrong in deciding what was what - I have not been able to hear the difference between 256 kbps AAC and ALAC).

  • Reply 91 of 179
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ECats View Post



    "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.



    "Audiophiles" have not been "thoroughly debunked" or wine tasters either.

     

    If you cannot tell the difference when listening to an even half-decently recorded piece of music through a pair of Sony music centre speakers  and then through QUAD electrostatics then that is either because your ears are broken or the rest of the equipment in the chain is not up to much.

     

    I once visited a HiFi shop to buy a new amp and a tuner. The guy suggested I consider listening to a replacement turntable given the rest of my setup. I said No thanks as I just wanted what I came in for and anyway, it was only reviewers who imagined that they could hear differences between turntables. Anyway, I let him play some to me. They were all behind me so I didn't see and one jumped out as so much better than all the others even with all using the same amps, speakers, arm and cartridge but the better one, a Linn Sondek was SO much better that I had to rethink my entire plan. I ended up changing my turntable instead of getting a new amp and tuner - I didn't buy a Linn in the end but the point I'm making is that if you have a quiet environment, good source material and quality equipment you will hear differences. The problem with HiFi, as other posters have said, is that once you go above some nebulous halfway point, it gets insanely expensive for tiny incremental benefits even if they do exist, but in the lower areas of the price range, getting some quality gear can make a huge differences without a huge outlay.

     

    Also, some wine tasters can identify a wine specifically, even to a vintage in blind tests so clearly there is ability and discrimination there. I really enjoy wine myself and I absolutely know that there is bad wine (though much less of it today), good wine and wonderful wine, though I've had little of the latter sadly. If you think not, go and buy a bottle of £3 Cotes-du-Rhone and then buy a bottle of Guigal's Cotes-du-Rhone and if you can't tell that Guigal makes a superior product then you are both blessed and cursed. Blessed because you can continue to buy cheap plonk and miss nothing and cursed because you will never experience the sublime joy of a wonderful bottle of wine. Interestingly, women tend to be, on average, much better wine tasters than men.

     

    For a quick comparison with headphones, listed to quality source material (AAC from iTunes or higher) on your iPhone using Apple's standard earbuds. Then plug in a pair of iGrado mobile headphones and listen again. The differences is plain as day and all you have done is change the standard equipment for better quality equipment. Audiophiles can definitely get up their own ***** quite often, but it is true that some things in the world are made better than others and deliver a better experience because of it.

     

    Some things - you know, like Apple kit?

  • Reply 92 of 179
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,979member
    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.

    This test is conducted reflecting reality where people will use regular headset. What's the point of using this player with $500 headset? Audiofile is overrated for portable devices and this test proved the point.
  • Reply 93 of 179
    trydtryd Posts: 135member

    There obviously is a difference in the quality of audio equipment. There is also a difference in the sound signature of different equipment - my STAX headphones are very analytical - you can hear every instrument very clearly - while my Sennheisers are very good at reproducing the ambience of the recording venue, while not being quite as analytical. I love them both, but they have different signatures. I also have a Krell amplifier which is very cold and clinical, while my Conrad-Johnson amp has a round, well-balanced sound. Switching from Quad 2905s to Sonus Faber Guarneri also made change in the sound signature of my system - the Quads reproduced the stage very well - you could almost walk around the room and "touch" the musicians - while the Guarneris sound fatter/rounder while not pinpointing the instruments like the Quad did.

    But in my experience this was true whatever format was being reproduced, whether mp3, AAC, lossless or CD (and even vinyl, but the record player added some warmth (extra distortion)).

    The age of the listener also plays a big role - I am quite old, so younger ears may detect the difference between the formats better (although todays youth who listen to headphones at high volume and with little dynamic range probably have worse hearing when they reach their 30's than us old folks who have passed 60)

  • Reply 94 of 179
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,425member
    Many years ago I did a blind test between CD and 320 mbit/s MP3.
    It was almost impossible to find which one was better, but in the end I had a slight preference for one of the two. It turned out that this was the MP3 version.
  • Reply 95 of 179
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,425member
    davidw wrote: »
    And CD's would also sound great on such a system. But with all things being equal, the same system with a moderately priced turntable ($200 - $300) with a decent cartridge and a good CD player with a decent built in DAC (not a DVD player that plays CD's), most listener would still prefer the sound of the LP on a turntable. The reason why most listeners thinks CD's is the better sounding format is because most of their LP listening experience consist of listening to LP's on a record player that's mosly made of plastic that requires taping a nickle to the headshell so the worn out stylus doesn't skip. To these listeners, just not hearing snap, crackle, pop, and record surface noise makes the CD the better sounding format by a mile. Never mind how the music actually  sounds. There's a reason why the makers of high end CD players, CD transports, DAC's and various digital enhancers strive to make CD's sound like vinyl LP's. And it's not the snap, crackle, pop and surface noise they're going after.    

    One can upgrade either so that it sounds better than the other with a better turntable, better arm, MC cartridge, external phono stage, better built CD players, CD transports, external DAC's, op amp with tube buffers, jitter reducer and such, but in the end, with unlimited resources ($$$$$$) for upgrading, the LP will win over most of the listeners.  And of course, I'm talking about playing well recorded music on well pressed albums, not something from K-Tel or Pickwick records or LP's with electronicly enhanced stereo or rap for that matter. Not all albums sound better on a vinyl LP than on a CD. 

    Ha ha, the old LP argument again (it was fun to follow that in the 80's).
    The only reason some people like it better is because the distortion of the sound fits their preference better.
    You can make a CD with the same distortion mix and they will like it the same.
    It's a fact that the way sound is reproduced from an LP is hugely distorting the original (the sound must be transposed from a high frequency to a lower one distorting the signal in the process).
  • Reply 96 of 179
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,425member

    "Audiophiles" have not been "thoroughly debunked" or wine tasters either.

    For a quick comparison with headphones, listed to quality source material (AAC from iTunes or higher) on your iPhone using Apple's standard earbuds. Then plug in a pair of iGrado mobile headphones and listen again. The differences is plain as day and all you have done is change the standard equipment for better quality equipment. Audiophiles can definitely get up their own ***** quite often, but it is true that some things in the world are made better than others and deliver a better experience because of it.

    The most important quality factor to consider is what you can discern yourself.
    It is useless to buy equipment of higher fidelity than your own sensory system.
  • Reply 97 of 179
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,425member
    tryd wrote: »
    I think it is best described like this : "If you believe there is a difference, then you will hear a difference." In other words - it depends more on what you believe than what you actually hear. The real problem with recorded sound these days is the mastering of the recordings. Recordings are mastered to sound fine on ordinary equipment, which means reducing the dynamic range and boosting the bass. This will sound fine on any player, iPod, iPhone, Pono - whatever.

    I used to be in the vinyl-camp. I was late to the CD-table. I was also late to the mp3/AAC table. I was firmly of the belief that vinyl was best, and that mp3s were unlistenable.
    Today I only play CDs and files from my computer. I stay away from mp3, but have a lot of ACC (although I now rip everything in lossless, mostly for archiving purposes - no use in throwing away information when it is the only copy you have - not for any acoustic reasons).
    I play CDs on my headphone rig (SONY XA5400ES SACD player with STAX 009 electrostatic headphones) and files on my stereo (from an iMac through an Abrahamsen DAC to a Conrad-Johnson amp to a set of Sonus Faber Guarneri Memento speakers). I sometimes listen to the files on my iMac through a set of Sennheiser HD800 headphones fed by a Woo Audio WA-2 headphone amp). 
    My experience? I don't hear much difference (if any) between the formats. I don't hear any difference between 256 kbps AAC and lossless. I don't hear any difference between CDs and 192 kbps AAC. I have played mp3s, AAC and lossless files through my system to a professional working with acoustics (among other things he was working on designing a concert hall for best acoustics), and he couldn't pick what was what (even though he was perfectly clear before we started that mp3 sounds like "shit").

    The conclusion? There may be differences from one player to the other, but this is mostly due to the quality of the electronics - the DAC etc., not whether it is 24/192 or 16/44, lossless or ACC (as long as the bitrate is not too low). They all sound fine. But you will hear what you want to hear. If you firmly believe that the Pono sounds better, it will sound better (to you).

    And to noivad: You say : "your MP3s will sound like the music has been dragged through mud because the lack of detail will be easily apparent when A/Bed with full bit rate and higher resolution audio files, if the listener has any ability to listen critically." In my experience this is not true. The quality is in the recording and the mastering, and in the converion software. I have A/B'ed CDs, lossless and mp3s through my 30000$ system (and my 8000$ head-phone rig) and there is no firm conclusion - some mp3s sound bad (when they are low resolution and ripped with a low-quality ripper), others sound fine (I have experienced being able to tell the difference between an MP3 and a lossless file, but I have been wrong in deciding what was what - I have not been able to hear the difference between 256 kbps AAC and ALAC).

    You are absolutely right.
    Mastering of recordings was a problem in the 70's and 80's also, but mostly for pop not classical music.
    (One exception was Jean Michel Jarre, who produced DDD CD's as one of the first (he was the first I think).)
    The sound equipment was also 'bassified' with default bass boosters turned on.
    People like distorted bass sounds and equipment sellers knew that from the start.
  • Reply 98 of 179
    xixoxixo Posts: 422member
    With a name like <em>Yahoo Tech's</em> David Pogue you know you're reading a trusted source. For me, Yahoo = Qwality every time. (also banjo music and squealing pigs)
    /s

    If he "used to be a professional musician" then he's probably suffering from tinnitus.

    If he's David Pogue, then he's also certainly suffering from pompous-ass-itis.
  • Reply 99 of 179
    knowitall wrote: »
    The most important quality factor to consider is what you can discern yourself.
    It is useless to buy equipment of higher fidelity than your own sensory system.

    The thing is, us humans are fitted with eyes that work just as well as those of others. And ears. And taste buds. There will be some people who are perhaps born with less good vision or hearing but most of us are pretty much the same. Some will have better vision or hearing, but again, most of us are equally well equipped. The thing that makes a difference, in my view, is your brain. Some people never really look, or listen, or taste or smell properly. You need to pay attention.

    I remember in a class I was in, the wonderful witch Doreen Valiente, was asked if she thought humans had a sixth sense. She replied that she didn't know, but she felt sure we'd be far better off paying attention to the five we already have. Perfect answer.
  • Reply 100 of 179
    The Hunan brain is an analogue bio computer. It evolved to process analogue sound. No matter the quality of digital sound, data are lost. A lot of what comes through in analogue sound is outside the Human frequency range. We don't hear as much as feel it. All of that is lost in digital files. The primary design criteria for digital sound files has always been file size. Many reading have heard little analogue music in their lifetime. Digital is incredibly convenient, I use it, but it always sounds grainy. I hear the grain. Pono was a nice idea, but it's destined to fail. Digital is digital, and we're sailing forward in that paradigm. David Crosby's first solo album was recorded on tape, of course, at 30 inches/second, which was twice the rate normally used. To my ear, that album sounds incredible. There's a depth and richness that goes way beyond audible range. I think Neil wants people to experience that, because it is closer to the actual sound. He did the best he could. Here's to the crazy ones.
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