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

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Comments

  • Reply 161 of 179
    This article is nothing more than apple propaganda. It's full of half truths and misconceptions. I had no idea they would be so threatened by an upstart competitor. And if they were using those garbage headphones apple ships with it's product than nothings going to sound better.
  • Reply 162 of 179
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,228moderator
    mieswall wrote: »
    To be honest, this "Hi quality formats are worthless" discussion is absurd. With that same criteria, the rubbish sold by android vendors would be also "good enough" compared with IOS.

    There's two separate things being discussed. The article is mainly about the value of the $400 Pono player vs the iPhone. An iPhone can play lossless audio formats although there's some software limitations with the default players.

    The comparison to Android is not close. It would be more like the difference between using iOS on a Retina display vs a standard display.

    Apple has a document about audio compression here:

    https://www.apple.com/itunes/mastered-for-itunes/docs/mastered_for_itunes.pdf

    They mention Beats headphones there in 2012 before they bought them, as a usage example to consider when encoding. They pay attention to the encoding quality and their encoders are higher quality than typical software.

    There are a huge number of factors that come into this. People mention tests of particular music genres like Classical and Jazz, which make up about 1-2% each of the market.

    http://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/rock-music-twice-popular-pop-america-rb-rules-streaming/

    In general, people listen to songs like this:


    [VIDEO]


    [VIDEO]


    The first video has over 600 million views. Listening to that at high resolution doesn't really improve it.

    Players like the Pono are designed for portable listening scenarios so you rely on headphone quality. The market is over 60% Beats, over 20% Bose.

    Then there's the environment people are listening to tracks in. A studio environment where people listen to compressed and uncompressed side by side might show up differences but there's psychological conditioning at play because the people are being coerced into looking for a difference. When people listen to music, they aren't focusing on looking for audio compression artifacts. The same is true for images. If you put uncompressed images next to 90% compressed or 422 chroma subsampled images, you can spot the difference if you flip back and forward. On their own, it's much harder.

    When you put all of these factors together - the chance that people will be listening to a particular genre of music, have high enough quality headphones or speakers, have a quiet listening environment, be playing tracks with little compression, be focusing on the audio quality vs the audio itself - the $400 Pono isn't likely to be a worthwhile purchase.
  • Reply 163 of 179

    agreed to some extent, it does come down to personal preference.

     

    Not everyone is an audiophile or listens to anything but mp3 or other compressed formats. However for those of us that do and buy a lot on bleep and boomkat it is nice to buy flac and not have to convert it just load and go. I think this is its best attribute.

     

    I don't have to convert my files to a lossless codec.

  • Reply 164 of 179

    The funny thing about a lot of the Audiophile comment threads is the abundance of Envy.

     

    People absolutely froth at the mouth with the mere suggestion that someone else has a more acute faculty than they do.

     

    Especially when many of them are keyboard-jockeys who haven't tried it out in real-life.

     

    Learn how to solder, buy a small cheap amp like a Lepai & start putting better caps in.

     

    Then listen to the same songs you know really well, in the same environment.

     

    Actual experience might surprise you with what you really can hear.

     

    -That is, if you can stop haterading long enough to do it.

  • Reply 165 of 179
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by superkaratemonkeydeathcar View Post

     

    The funny thing about a lot of the Audiophile comment threads is the abundance of Envy.

     

    People absolutely froth at the mouth with the mere suggestion that someone else has a more acute faculty than they do.

     

    Especially when many of them are keyboard-jockeys who haven't tried it out in real-life.

     

    Learn how to solder, buy a small cheap amp like a Lepai & start putting better caps in.

     

    Then listen to the same songs you know really well, in the same environment.

     

    Actual experience might surprise you with what you really can hear.

     

    -That is, if you can stop haterading long enough to do it.




    The funny thing about a lot of audiophiles is they think they have superior auditory senses, despite being unable to prove it - as in the case of the file I posted earlier.  No one has ever been able to hear the difference between the compressed bits and the source bits, despite most audiophiles claiming a huge, giant, massive difference between even 320 kbps compression and uncompressed.  The other characteristic of Audiophiles we have seen demonstrated here is the rejection of core scientific methods for testing human abilities - namely double blind tests - to ascertain whether their claims of superior abilities can be supported objectively.

     

     

  • Reply 166 of 179
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,469member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by superkaratemonkeydeathcar View Post

     

    The funny thing about a lot of the Audiophile comment threads is the abundance of Envy.

     

    People absolutely froth at the mouth with the mere suggestion that someone else has a more acute faculty than they do.

     

    Especially when many of them are keyboard-jockeys who haven't tried it out in real-life.

     

    Learn how to solder, buy a small cheap amp like a Lepai & start putting better caps in.

     

    Then listen to the same songs you know really well, in the same environment.

     

    Actual experience might surprise you with what you really can hear.

     

    -That is, if you can stop haterading long enough to do it.


     

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post

     



    The funny thing about a lot of audiophiles is they think they have superior auditory senses, despite being unable to prove it - as in the case of the file I posted earlier.  No one has ever been able to hear the difference between the compressed bits and the source bits, despite most audiophiles claiming a huge, giant, massive difference between even 320 kbps compression and uncompressed.  The other characteristic of Audiophiles we have seen demonstrated here is the rejection of core scientific methods for testing human abilities - namely double blind tests - to ascertain whether their claims of superior abilities can be supported objectively.

     

     




    I don't necessary agree that no one has ever been able to hear a difference between compressed and non-compressed audio, but I do agree that no one I've ever met has been able to hear the difference between, for example, Redbook CD 44.1/16 and so-called high resolution audio like 96/24 or between an analog LP and a CD-R copy of that LP (If digital is so bad, how come they can't tell the difference?)  

     

    I believe I can tell the difference between standard MP3 and Apple AAC and my hearing sucks compared to what it was decades ago.   But having said all that, I took a listen to Sony's new hi-res playback system at a show and it did sound great, but it might have sounded great playing back standard resolution material as well.     A great triple-blind test would have been to have three of those systems playing back the same recording - one Redbook, one standard MP3 and one hi-res to see if one could tell the difference between them.

     

    I completely agree when it comes to double-blind tests.   I took a double-blind test at an AES convention many years ago and although we were in a very large hotel banquet room with bad acoustics, the results were embarrassing.   It really made me laugh that all these "golden ears" couldn't tell the difference (although I don't remember what the comparison was about).  

     

    But where I do agree with superkaratemonkeydeathcar is about the benefit of high quality capacitors.   Capacitors are incredibly inexpensive and yet almost all manufacturers cheap out and put in garbage in their products, which eventually fail due to leaky capacitors.   This isn't just an issue for audio components -- my son-in-law manages computer support for an organization and all their computer monitors were failing.   They were out of warranty and the manufacturer refused to do anything about it.   He opened them up, replaced a few capacitors and got them all working again.    Even with vintage audio tube-based equipment - the first thing that's generally done in a restoration is to replace all the caps. 

     

    Another issue is that I don't think most people know what good sound is anymore.   We've heard so much bad sound over the last few decades that I'm not sure most people (including recording engineers and mixers) would know it if they heard it.   Almost all recordings today are way over level-compressed and most use the same ProTools plug-ins and have a very common sound.   And most of the systems that I've heard even at high-end audio shows have sounded horrible to me - flat and lifeless, even though you can easily pay $50,000 for a pair of speakers.    And most consumer audio is junk.   I put my old Apt-Holman preamp and Crown power amp back into service because 2-channel music sounded so horrible going through my AV receiver, even when all processing was supposedly taken out of the signal path.   It's remarkable how much better that 35-year-old equipment sounds, playing back through the same speakers.   (The AV receiver sounds fine for movies).  

     

    There are some good headphones out there.   After my last pair of Sennheiser's died, I picked up a pair of in-ear plugs for $8 and it's quite unbelievable how great these sound for the money.    AAC music played back through them sounds exactly how I would expect it to sound. 

  • Reply 167 of 179
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,469member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mieswall View Post

     

    To be honest, this "Hi quality formats are worthless" discussion is absurd. With that same criteria, the rubbish sold by android vendors would be also "good enough" compared with IOS. That violates the basic principle of why we love and invest in AAPL.

    IMHO, Apple should buy Meridian (English high-end audio company). They have just disclosed a new compression and recording  format (MQA) that not only allows to stream high quality audio in a less than CD-size format, but also supposedly allows the digital file of such a good quality as to be an exact copy of the master tape (so much so, that they think it can be authenticated by the musician itself). If Apple is able to socialize this, it would be a human contribution as big as the very ipod/itunes.




    I might be confused, but I thought Meridian was already purchased by Dolby Labs.  

  • Reply 168 of 179
    zoetmb wrote: »
     
    The funny thing about a lot of the Audiophile comment threads is the abundance of Envy.

    People absolutely froth at the mouth with the mere suggestion that someone else has a more acute faculty than they do.

    Especially when many of them are keyboard-jockeys who haven't tried it out in real-life.

    Learn how to solder, buy a small cheap amp like a Lepai

    cnocbui wrote: »
     


    The funny thing about a lot of audiophiles is they think they have superior auditory senses, despite being unable to prove it - as in the case of the file I posted earlier.  No one has ever been able to hear the difference between the compressed bits and the source bits, despite most audiophiles claiming a huge, giant, massive difference between even 320 kbps compression and uncompressed.  The other characteristic of Audiophiles we have seen demonstrated here is the rejection of core scientific methods for testing human abilities - namely double blind tests - to ascertain whether their claims of superior abilities can be supported objectively.



    I don't necessary agree that no one has ever been able to hear a difference between compressed and non-compressed audio, but I do agree that no one I've ever met has been able to hear the difference between, for example, Redbook CD 44.1/16 and so-called high resolution audio like 96/24 or between an analog LP and a CD-R copy of that LP (If digital is so bad, how come they can't tell the difference?)  

    I believe I can tell the difference between standard MP3 and Apple AAC and my hearing sucks compared to what it was decades ago.   But having said all that, I took a listen to Sony's new hi-res playback system at a show and it did sound great, but it might have sounded great playing back standard resolution material as well.     A great triple-blind test would have been to have three of those systems playing back the same recording - one Redbook, one standard MP3 and one hi-res to see if one could tell the difference between them.

    I completely agree when it comes to double-blind tests.   I took a double-blind test at an AES convention many years ago and although we were in a very large hotel banquet room with bad acoustics, the results were embarrassing.   It really made me laugh that all these "golden ears" couldn't tell the difference (although I don't remember what the comparison was about).  

    But where I do agree with superkaratemonkeydeathcar is about the benefit of high quality capacitors.   Capacitors are incredibly inexpensive and yet almost all manufacturers cheap out and put in garbage in their products, which eventually fail due to leaky capacitors.   This isn't just an issue for audio components -- my son-in-law manages computer support for an organization and all their computer monitors were failing.   They were out of warranty and the manufacturer refused to do anything about it.   He opened them up, replaced a few capacitors and got them all working again.    Even with vintage audio tube-based equipment - the first thing that's generally done in a restoration is to replace all the caps. 

    Another issue is that I don't think most people know what good sound is anymore.   We've heard so much bad sound over the last few decades that I'm not sure most people (including recording engineers and mixers) would know it if they heard it.   Almost all recordings today are way over level-compressed and most use the same ProTools plug-ins and have a very common sound.   And most of the systems that I've heard even at high-end audio shows have sounded horrible to me - flat and lifeless, even though you can easily pay $50,000 for a pair of speakers.    And most consumer audio is junk.   I put my old Apt-Holman preamp and Crown power amp back into service because 2-channel music sounded so horrible going through my AV receiver, even when all processing was supposedly taken out of the signal path.   It's remarkable how much better that 35-year-old equipment sounds, playing back through the same speakers.   (The AV receiver sounds fine for movies).  

    There are some good headphones out there.   After my last pair of Sennheiser's died, I picked up a pair of in-ear plugs for $8 and it's quite unbelievable how great these sound for the money.    AAC music played back through them sounds exactly how I would expect it to sound. 

    I agree with your general observation that most people don't know what good sound is anymore.

    Radio is the culprit, I think. People are so used to the extreme compression used for radio, that they have forgotten what good dynamic levels are.
  • Reply 169 of 179
    muppetrymuppetry Posts: 3,328member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post

     
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post

     
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by superkaratemonkeydeathcar View Post



     

    The funny thing about a lot of the Audiophile comment threads is the abundance of Envy.



    People absolutely froth at the mouth with the mere suggestion that someone else has a more acute faculty than they do.



    Especially when many of them are keyboard-jockeys who haven't tried it out in real-life.



    Learn how to solder, buy a small cheap amp like a Lepai


     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post



     





    The funny thing about a lot of audiophiles is they think they have superior auditory senses, despite being unable to prove it - as in the case of the file I posted earlier.  No one has ever been able to hear the difference between the compressed bits and the source bits, despite most audiophiles claiming a huge, giant, massive difference between even 320 kbps compression and uncompressed.  The other characteristic of Audiophiles we have seen demonstrated here is the rejection of core scientific methods for testing human abilities - namely double blind tests - to ascertain whether their claims of superior abilities can be supported objectively.

     






    I don't necessary agree that no one has ever been able to hear a difference between compressed and non-compressed audio, but I do agree that no one I've ever met has been able to hear the difference between, for example, Redbook CD 44.1/16 and so-called high resolution audio like 96/24 or between an analog LP and a CD-R copy of that LP (If digital is so bad, how come they can't tell the difference?)  



    I believe I can tell the difference between standard MP3 and Apple AAC and my hearing sucks compared to what it was decades ago.   But having said all that, I took a listen to Sony's new hi-res playback system at a show and it did sound great, but it might have sounded great playing back standard resolution material as well.     A great triple-blind test would have been to have three of those systems playing back the same recording - one Redbook, one standard MP3 and one hi-res to see if one could tell the difference between them.



    I completely agree when it comes to double-blind tests.   I took a double-blind test at an AES convention many years ago and although we were in a very large hotel banquet room with bad acoustics, the results were embarrassing.   It really made me laugh that all these "golden ears" couldn't tell the difference (although I don't remember what the comparison was about).  



    But where I do agree with superkaratemonkeydeathcar is about the benefit of high quality capacitors.   Capacitors are incredibly inexpensive and yet almost all manufacturers cheap out and put in garbage in their products, which eventually fail due to leaky capacitors.   This isn't just an issue for audio components -- my son-in-law manages computer support for an organization and all their computer monitors were failing.   They were out of warranty and the manufacturer refused to do anything about it.   He opened them up, replaced a few capacitors and got them all working again.    Even with vintage audio tube-based equipment - the first thing that's generally done in a restoration is to replace all the caps. 



    Another issue is that I don't think most people know what good sound is anymore.   We've heard so much bad sound over the last few decades that I'm not sure most people (including recording engineers and mixers) would know it if they heard it.   Almost all recordings today are way over level-compressed and most use the same ProTools plug-ins and have a very common sound.   And most of the systems that I've heard even at high-end audio shows have sounded horrible to me - flat and lifeless, even though you can easily pay $50,000 for a pair of speakers.    And most consumer audio is junk.   I put my old Apt-Holman preamp and Crown power amp back into service because 2-channel music sounded so horrible going through my AV receiver, even when all processing was supposedly taken out of the signal path.   It's remarkable how much better that 35-year-old equipment sounds, playing back through the same speakers.   (The AV receiver sounds fine for movies).  



    There are some good headphones out there.   After my last pair of Sennheiser's died, I picked up a pair of in-ear plugs for $8 and it's quite unbelievable how great these sound for the money.    AAC music played back through them sounds exactly how I would expect it to sound. 




    I agree with your general observation that most people don't know what good sound is anymore.



    Radio is the culprit, I think. People are so used to the extreme compression used for radio, that they have forgotten what good dynamic levels are.



    Although you only have to go and listen to some good, live music, to realize what it should sound like. That's not so uncommon, is it?

  • Reply 170 of 179
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,469member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post





    I agree with your general observation that most people don't know what good sound is anymore.



    Radio is the culprit, I think. People are so used to the extreme compression used for radio, that they have forgotten what good dynamic levels are.



    It's not just the compression or all the other processing that radio uses today.   Poor quality components in almost all radios plus vastly increased levels of interference has diminished radio quality incredibly.   A long-time radio engineer named Herb Squire put together a demonstration tape that was presented to the FCC some years ago showing what both AM and FM sounded like on good quality consumer radios produced in the 1930s through the 1970s.   The quality was outrageously good compared to today, even on AM.   So good that it's quite shocking.   Not that it matters all that much...I doubt that OTA FM radio will survive another 20 years and I doubt that AM radio in most markets will survive another 10.  In fact, we might see the end of AM radio almost exactly on its 100th anniversary. 

     

    I remember when tube-based car radios could pick up long distance stations at night.  In New York, you could sometimes pick up Chicago.  When I attended school in Boston, even on a cheap clock radio, I could hear New York's WABC-AM at night.   And man did those tubes sound great.  Today most car radios use ICs for tuning that cost about a dollar.  Although it's the overall poor fidelity of radio that bugs me the most - not the inability to tune in stations long distance. 

     

    We always think that technology leaps forward, and it does in terms of convenience.   But in terms of audio quality, we've taken steps backwards.   My bet is that a mid-range tube receiver from the mid-1960s, like something from McIntosh, Fisher, Scott and others would sound spectacular compared to anything today, as well as speakers from the likes of Acoustic Research, Advent, Wharfdale and others, although it's impossible to prove unless someone could come up with a virgin set of those speakers in which none of the components had deteriorated.   

  • Reply 171 of 179
    muppetry wrote: »
     
    zoetmb wrote: »
     
     

    The funny thing about a lot of the Audiophile comment threads is the abundance of Envy.


    People absolutely froth at the mouth with the mere suggestion that someone else has a more acute faculty than they do.


    Especially when many of them are keyboard-jockeys who haven't tried it out in real-life.


    Learn how to solder, buy a small cheap amp like a Lepai
     
    cnocbui wrote: »
     



    The funny thing about a lot of audiophiles is they think they have superior auditory senses, despite being unable to prove it - as in the case of the file I posted earlier.  No one has ever been able to hear the difference between the compressed bits and the source bits, despite most audiophiles claiming a huge, giant, massive difference between even 320 kbps compression and uncompressed.  The other characteristic of Audiophiles we have seen demonstrated here is the rejection of core scientific methods for testing human abilities - namely double blind tests - to ascertain whether their claims of superior abilities can be supported objectively.

     



    I don't necessary agree that no one has ever been able to hear a difference between compressed and non-compressed audio, but I do agree that no one I've ever met has been able to hear the difference between, for example, Redbook CD 44.1/16 and so-called high resolution audio like 96/24 or between an analog LP and a CD-R copy of that LP (If digital is so bad, how come they can't tell the difference?)  


    I believe I can tell the difference between standard MP3 and Apple AAC and my hearing sucks compared to what it was decades ago.   But having said all that, I took a listen to Sony's new hi-res playback system at a show and it did sound great, but it might have sounded great playing back standard resolution material as well.     A great triple-blind test would have been to have three of those systems playing back the same recording - one Redbook, one standard MP3 and one hi-res to see if one could tell the difference between them.


    I completely agree when it comes to double-blind tests.   I took a double-blind test at an AES convention many years ago and although we were in a very large hotel banquet room with bad acoustics, the results were embarrassing.   It really made me laugh that all these "golden ears" couldn't tell the difference (although I don't remember what the comparison was about).  


    But where I do agree with superkaratemonkeydeathcar is about the benefit of high quality capacitors.   Capacitors are incredibly inexpensive and yet almost all manufacturers cheap out and put in garbage in their products, which eventually fail due to leaky capacitors.   This isn't just an issue for audio components -- my son-in-law manages computer support for an organization and all their computer monitors were failing.   They were out of warranty and the manufacturer refused to do anything about it.   He opened them up, replaced a few capacitors and got them all working again.    Even with vintage audio tube-based equipment - the first thing that's generally done in a restoration is to replace all the caps. 


    Another issue is that I don't think most people know what good sound is anymore.   We've heard so much bad sound over the last few decades that I'm not sure most people (including recording engineers and mixers) would know it if they heard it.   Almost all recordings today are way over level-compressed and most use the same ProTools plug-ins and have a very common sound.   And most of the systems that I've heard even at high-end audio shows have sounded horrible to me - flat and lifeless, even though you can easily pay $50,000 for a pair of speakers.    And most consumer audio is junk.   I put my old Apt-Holman preamp and Crown power amp back into service because 2-channel music sounded so horrible going through my AV receiver, even when all processing was supposedly taken out of the signal path.   It's remarkable how much better that 35-year-old equipment sounds, playing back through the same speakers.   (The AV receiver sounds fine for movies).  


    There are some good headphones out there.   After my last pair of Sennheiser's died, I picked up a pair of in-ear plugs for $8 and it's quite unbelievable how great these sound for the money.    AAC music played back through them sounds exactly how I would expect it to sound. 


    I agree with your general observation that most people don't know what good sound is anymore.


    Radio is the culprit, I think. People are so used to the extreme compression used for radio, that they have forgotten what good dynamic levels are.


    Although you only have to go and listen to some good, live music, to realize what it should sound like. That's not so uncommon, is it?

    I guess not, though in my experience, I've heard a whole lot of terrible quality live music. Classical music is reliable, of course, though only the distinguished tend to go to classical music concerts.
  • Reply 172 of 179
    muppetrymuppetry Posts: 3,328member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post

     
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

     
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post



     
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post



     
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by superkaratemonkeydeathcar View Post



     



    The funny thing about a lot of the Audiophile comment threads is the abundance of Envy.





    People absolutely froth at the mouth with the mere suggestion that someone else has a more acute faculty than they do.





    Especially when many of them are keyboard-jockeys who haven't tried it out in real-life.





    Learn how to solder, buy a small cheap amp like a Lepai


     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post



     







    The funny thing about a lot of audiophiles is they think they have superior auditory senses, despite being unable to prove it - as in the case of the file I posted earlier.  No one has ever been able to hear the difference between the compressed bits and the source bits, despite most audiophiles claiming a huge, giant, massive difference between even 320 kbps compression and uncompressed.  The other characteristic of Audiophiles we have seen demonstrated here is the rejection of core scientific methods for testing human abilities - namely double blind tests - to ascertain whether their claims of superior abilities can be supported objectively.



     








    I don't necessary agree that no one has ever been able to hear a difference between compressed and non-compressed audio, but I do agree that no one I've ever met has been able to hear the difference between, for example, Redbook CD 44.1/16 and so-called high resolution audio like 96/24 or between an analog LP and a CD-R copy of that LP (If digital is so bad, how come they can't tell the difference?)  





    I believe I can tell the difference between standard MP3 and Apple AAC and my hearing sucks compared to what it was decades ago.   But having said all that, I took a listen to Sony's new hi-res playback system at a show and it did sound great, but it might have sounded great playing back standard resolution material as well.     A great triple-blind test would have been to have three of those systems playing back the same recording - one Redbook, one standard MP3 and one hi-res to see if one could tell the difference between them.





    I completely agree when it comes to double-blind tests.   I took a double-blind test at an AES convention many years ago and although we were in a very large hotel banquet room with bad acoustics, the results were embarrassing.   It really made me laugh that all these "golden ears" couldn't tell the difference (although I don't remember what the comparison was about).  





    But where I do agree with superkaratemonkeydeathcar is about the benefit of high quality capacitors.   Capacitors are incredibly inexpensive and yet almost all manufacturers cheap out and put in garbage in their products, which eventually fail due to leaky capacitors.   This isn't just an issue for audio components -- my son-in-law manages computer support for an organization and all their computer monitors were failing.   They were out of warranty and the manufacturer refused to do anything about it.   He opened them up, replaced a few capacitors and got them all working again.    Even with vintage audio tube-based equipment - the first thing that's generally done in a restoration is to replace all the caps. 





    Another issue is that I don't think most people know what good sound is anymore.   We've heard so much bad sound over the last few decades that I'm not sure most people (including recording engineers and mixers) would know it if they heard it.   Almost all recordings today are way over level-compressed and most use the same ProTools plug-ins and have a very common sound.   And most of the systems that I've heard even at high-end audio shows have sounded horrible to me - flat and lifeless, even though you can easily pay $50,000 for a pair of speakers.    And most consumer audio is junk.   I put my old Apt-Holman preamp and Crown power amp back into service because 2-channel music sounded so horrible going through my AV receiver, even when all processing was supposedly taken out of the signal path.   It's remarkable how much better that 35-year-old equipment sounds, playing back through the same speakers.   (The AV receiver sounds fine for movies).  





    There are some good headphones out there.   After my last pair of Sennheiser's died, I picked up a pair of in-ear plugs for $8 and it's quite unbelievable how great these sound for the money.    AAC music played back through them sounds exactly how I would expect it to sound. 






    I agree with your general observation that most people don't know what good sound is anymore.





    Radio is the culprit, I think. People are so used to the extreme compression used for radio, that they have forgotten what good dynamic levels are.






    Although you only have to go and listen to some good, live music, to realize what it should sound like. That's not so uncommon, is it?




    I guess not, though in my experience, I've heard a whole lot of terrible quality live music. Classical music is reliable, of course, though only the distinguished tend to go to classical music concerts.



    Agreed that there is lots of bad live music, but I've heard plenty of good stuff too, and not just classical. You only have to hear it once to realize the difference.

  • Reply 173 of 179
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,469member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

     



    Although you only have to go and listen to some good, live music, to realize what it should sound like. That's not so uncommon, is it?




    Actually it is uncommon, because almost all live music is ridiculously amplified and processed with the possible exception of classical music in a decent hall.

    Even most shows on Broadway are processed and mixed to rock band levels.  

    And no one seems to understand the benefit of dynamic range anymore.   

     

    Not too many years ago I was in a club and the opening act was a solo flute player.   You'd think that they couldn't blow (sic) that, but the sound mixer blasted the flute up to heavy metal levels.   It was completely absurd.    I never thought I'd have to wear hearing protection to listen to a flute.  

     

    Some years ago I went to hear the Ed Palermo Big Band (about 20 musicians) at a venue that didn't ordinarily have bands.   They brought in a portable mixer and they covered the band with just a few microphones, aside from the vocalists.   It sounded pretty good.   I then saw the same band at the now defunct Bottom Line where they put mics on every single instrument and the levels were beyond the threshold of pain.   What really bugged me was that the sound mixer was wearing a wool hat that covered his ears.   And when I complained, he treated me like I was some kind of wuss instead of someone who just wanted to hear good sound.   When the levels are that hot, the mix just turns to mush and you can't make out any individual instruments.   Vocals completely distorted. 

     

    Unfortunately, both musicians and sound mixers have such ego problems, they always think louder is better.   The mixer wants to feel that they're adding something to the show and I think you'll find 9 out of 10 times that the levels increase later in the performance, partially because tedium sets in and the mixer can't hear anything, so they keep turning it up.   Most musicians I know have tinnitus and severe hearing loss.   Even though they're usually behind the house speakers so levels are lower, they're all deaf and you'll always see musicians turning to the stage mixer and asking them to turn up the level on their instrument.     

     

    Most halls now have stage monitoring systems just for the band that have more power than that that used to power to entire Fillmore East back in the day.   And that's nothing compared to the house system.   And instead of using all that power to lower distortion levels, they use it to blast people out of their seats.    One day, there's going to be a class action lawsuit on behalf of workers in music clubs who have had their hearing damaged because the levels in most venues violate OSHA regulations if the club were a factory and not a place to hear music.

  • Reply 174 of 179
    muppetrymuppetry Posts: 3,328member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post

     
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

     



    Although you only have to go and listen to some good, live music, to realize what it should sound like. That's not so uncommon, is it?




    Actually it is uncommon, because almost all live music is ridiculously amplified and processed with the possible exception of classical music in a decent hall.

    Even most shows on Broadway are processed and mixed to rock band levels.  

    And no one seems to understand the benefit of dynamic range anymore.   

     

    Not too many years ago I was in a club and the opening act was a solo flute player.   You'd think that they couldn't blow (sic) that, but the sound mixer blasted the flute up to heavy metal levels.   It was completely absurd.    I never thought I'd have to wear hearing protection to listen to a flute.  

     

    Some years ago I went to hear the Ed Palermo Big Band (about 20 musicians) at a venue that didn't ordinarily have bands.   They brought in a portable mixer and they covered the band with just a few microphones, aside from the vocalists.   It sounded pretty good.   I then saw the same band at the now defunct Bottom Line where they put mics on every single instrument and the levels were beyond the threshold of pain.   What really bugged me was that the sound mixer was wearing a wool hat that covered his ears.   And when I complained, he treated me like I was some kind of wuss instead of someone who just wanted to hear good sound.   When the levels are that hot, the mix just turns to mush and you can't make out any individual instruments.   Vocals completely distorted. 

     

    Unfortunately, both musicians and sound mixers have such ego problems, they always think louder is better.   The mixer wants to feel that they're adding something to the show and I think you'll find 9 out of 10 times that the levels increase later in the performance, partially because tedium sets in and the mixer can't hear anything, so they keep turning it up.   Most musicians I know have tinnitus and severe hearing loss.   Even though they're usually behind the house speakers so levels are lower, they're all deaf and you'll always see musicians turning to the stage mixer and asking them to turn up the level on their instrument.     

     

    Most halls now have stage monitoring systems just for the band that have more power than that that used to power to entire Fillmore East back in the day.   And that's nothing compared to the house system.   And instead of using all that power to lower distortion levels, they use it to blast people out of their seats.    One day, there's going to be a class action lawsuit on behalf of workers in music clubs who have had their hearing damaged because the levels in most venues violate OSHA regulations if the club were a factory and not a place to hear music.




    Maybe I've been lucky, or just selective in the live music I choose to attend. I completely agree with you on the over-amplified stuff though - I've always suspected that it's simply because the bands and sound engineers have wrecked their own hearing and can't tell how bad it is. I find it un-listenable.

  • Reply 175 of 179
    zoetmb wrote: »
    muppetry wrote: »
     


    Although you only have to go and listen to some good, live music, to realize what it should sound like. That's not so uncommon, is it?


    Actually it is uncommon, because almost all live music is ridiculously amplified and processed with the possible exception of classical music in a decent hall.
    Even most shows on Broadway are processed and mixed to rock band levels.  
    And no one seems to understand the benefit of dynamic range anymore.   

    Not too many years ago I was in a club and the opening act was a solo flute player.   You'd think that they couldn't blow (sic) that, but the sound mixer blasted the flute up to heavy metal levels.   It was completely absurd.    I never thought I'd have to wear hearing protection to listen to a flute.  

    Some years ago I went to hear the Ed Palermo Big Band (about 20 musicians) at a venue that didn't ordinarily have bands.   They brought in a portable mixer and they covered the band with just a few microphones, aside from the vocalists.   It sounded pretty good.   I then saw the same band at the now defunct Bottom Line where they put mics on every single instrument and the levels were beyond the threshold of pain.   What really bugged me was that the sound mixer was wearing a wool hat that covered his ears.   And when I complained, he treated me like I was some kind of wuss instead of someone who just wanted to hear good sound.   When the levels are that hot, the mix just turns to mush and you can't make out any individual instruments.   Vocals completely distorted. 

    Unfortunately, both musicians and sound mixers have such ego problems, they always think louder is better.   The mixer wants to feel that they're adding something to the show and I think you'll find 9 out of 10 times that the levels increase later in the performance, partially because tedium sets in and the mixer can't hear anything, so they keep turning it up.   Most musicians I know have tinnitus and severe hearing loss.   Even though they're usually behind the house speakers so levels are lower, they're all deaf and you'll always see musicians turning to the stage mixer and asking them to turn up the level on their instrument.     

    Most halls now have stage monitoring systems just for the band that have more power than that that used to power to entire Fillmore East back in the day.   And that's nothing compared to the house system.   And instead of using all that power to lower distortion levels, they use it to blast people out of their seats.    One day, there's going to be a class action lawsuit on behalf of workers in music clubs who have had their hearing damaged because the levels in most venues violate OSHA regulations if the club were a factory and not a place to hear music.

    So much truth in your post, I can barely stand it.

    The real kicker is that a larger dynamic level leads to a much greater emotional attachment to the music. When the dynamic level is uniformly loud, the brain just starts switching off.

    I have found, through extensive listening, that a greater sense of musical ecstasy is achieved through listening at a particular volume. Too loud overall, and it quickly becomes wearing on the ears. A big dynamic range allows one to listen to the gaps in the music and draws one in.
  • Reply 176 of 179

    @zoetmb:

    5 other things you can do for amps are:

    1) Replace all the beige carbon-film resistors with 1% or less tolerance, 1 Watt or larger, Metal-Film (aqua-colored).

     

    It won't have the same impact as switching from stacked-film-chip-caps to gigantic MKPs on the input caps, but it will greatly reduce system noise, as Carbon-Film is notorious for it.

     

    2) Better quality pots. Hopefully, Alps, but at least something as good as a CTS. (this, coupled with resistors & caps can really clean up crap in the tone section)

     

    3) Bigger power caps with a few cross-leg bypasses 1, 2, or 3 orders of magnitude smaller, if they're not already there in the circuit. -Reduces noise & dips in instantaneous power fluctuations. (especially useful for chip-amps)

     

    4) MKP caps on the Output-filters & slightly different values if the amp allows it. -Not super noticeable, but does change some things, usu. super high-end harshness.

     

    5) Change Brand, & Series of Caps.

     Guitar equipment is usually total crap, but it's about production, not Re-production.

    In the same vein, a cap that's +/- just as "good" but sounds different might make the amp your cup of tea. Like a Fine-Gold vs. Silmic vs. Panasonic FC vs. FM vs. Muse.

     

     -Sort of the same way speaker mfrs. figured out "Flat" for speakers back somewhere around the 80s-90s, but discovered Flat is boring & sound-signature is more interesting & lively.

     

    Digi-Key has great prices & reasonable shipping, so they can make it pretty fun & doable to experiment & see what you like.

     

    -Cheers!

  • Reply 177 of 179

    Yahoo Tech's David Pogue must have a tin ear. I've done blind tests using high end headphones and the Pono easily won.

  • Reply 178 of 179
    Have you had a chance to hear the ponoplayer yet? Yeah, I didn't think so. It'll blow your socks off, pal. Suckers..
  • Reply 179 of 179
    sphericspheric Posts: 1,779member
    You registered just to post that empty shell of a comment, on a thread that's been dead for months, about a product nobody cares for?

    My hat's off to you, sir.
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