Neil Young rails against 'Fisher-Price' MacBook Pro audio for music production

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited February 2020
Famed musician Neil Young has complained about modern music being produced on Apple's MacBook Pro, declaring the audio of the notebook as being "Fisher-Price quality" and not good enough for high quality music production and referencing Steve Jobs in Apple producing for "consumers, not quality."




Neil Young has been on a crusade for audio quality for quite some time, including at one point championing high fidelity audio with his PonoPlayer and PonoMusic services. However, the musician has recently turned his ears towards Apple and the MacBook Pro, dismissing its suitability for high quality music production.

When asked about the 16-inch MacBook Pro and artists using GarageBand to get started creating music by The Verge , Young immediately refers to the notebook as "a piece of crap. Are you kidding? That's Fisher-Price quality. That's like Captain Kangaroo, your new engineer."

Young proceeds to go on about how the audio you can produce from the MacBook pro as being only as good as what is recorded.

"You can't get it out because the DAC is no good in the Mac Pro, so you have to use an external DAC and do a bunch of stuff to make up for the problems that the MacBook Pro has because they're not aimed at quality," Young proclaims. "They're aimed at consumerism."

He goes on to reference a conversation with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs about Apple's intentions, quoting "We're making products for consumers not quality." Young interprets this to mean "they don't want audio quality. They don't want to spend a lot of time on that. Audio quality is deeper than visual quality."

The PonoPlayer
The PonoPlayer


Expressing the "true audio dimension is so deep" due to the echo, the softness, loudness, differences in decay and the "beauty of sound," Young suggests "when you talk about doing that on a MacBook Pro, it makes me barf. This is where we are."

When asked about Grammy winners who use items like a MacBook Pro to assemble samples together, Young dismisses the question stating "I've never won a Grammy for music, so I wouldn't know about that quality." Young then rails against "poorly sampled" recordings that are low quality and are built to save memory and to "store more crap."

Young's own attempts to push for high-quality music at the time of streaming's growth was ill-fated, consisting of the PonoPlayer, a portable music player that cost $399 during its 2014 Kickstarter campaign. Despite promising high fidelity audio and being designed for lossless audio formats, the player failed to achieve a sufficient enough audience, with Young himself announcing the device's demise in April 2017.

The rant against the MacBook Pro may be another sign for some that Young is out of touch with the rest of the industry, as an artist who thrived at a time of AM radio and fundamentally disagreed with the idea of music streaming services. While Young dislikes Apple's products, nearly every other successful star continues to use them.

Billie Eilish won four major awards at the recent Grammy's, including Best Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Pop Vocal. The music was produced with brother Finneas O'Connell from a bedroom studio in their parents home, with a Pro Sound Network interview and video revealing the use of an iMac running Logic Pro X as part of the recording setup due to a need for immediacy.

On claiming the award for Song of the Year, O'Connell said "This is for all the kids who make music in their bedrooms."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 107
    Neil Young is a serial complainer.
    edited January 2020 dhawkins541charlesatlasrazorpitMacAwesome1984thinkman@chartermi.netmdriftmeyerredgeminiparepressthisjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 107
    tmaytmay Posts: 5,006member
    Neil Young's "get off my lawn" moments are in fact quite entertaining, as is much of his past catalog, but relevant to music production he is not.
    razorpitthinkman@chartermi.netredgeminipajony0watto_cobrachasm
  • Reply 3 of 107
    And Neil Young's Pono was in such high demand that they're the premier high-end digital audio device in the world!

    Wait.

    What's that you say?

    Pono went bankrupt in 2017?

    Oh! Never mind then. Carry on. Nothing to see here.
    randominternetpersonlkruppcharlesatlasMacAwesome1984anantksundaramthinkman@chartermi.netmdriftmeyerredgeminiparepressthisjony0
  • Reply 4 of 107
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,412member
    I like Neil Young and his music, but he does seem to sound like an old curmudgeon here. Like someone who tried it but couldn't grasp the concept, so now he just blindly dismisses it. And he obviously does not understand that you can create extremely high quality music on the Mac... it's how you encode and compress and distribute the final product that ultimately determines the quality of the sound.

    Also wanted to add... music does not have to be about sound quality or fidelity. More importantly - and Neil ought to know this - it's about artistry and being able to express yourself. Has anyone heard of Neil's band "Crazy Horse" - their sound can be loud and distorted. You don't need a high fidelity system to enjoy listening to it.
    edited January 2020 beeble42retrogustoMacAwesome1984anantksundaramOferkuduredgeminipakurai_kagerepressthisjony0
  • Reply 5 of 107
    I thought people had finally learned to ignore his blathering, whiny complaints about everything and anything.
    jdb8167MacAwesome1984thinkman@chartermi.netredgeminiparepressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 107
    pscooter63pscooter63 Posts: 1,036member
    "Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
    An Apple man don't need him around anyhow..."
    d_2razorpitjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 107
    He's complaining about the DAC (Digital-Analog Converter). Basically he's confusing the capabilities of any software product manipulating digital audio with the quality of the headphone port. So Neil, we should put a $300 DAC in every MBP and push the price up for everyone so that people who still listen to music with wires can have marginally better quality? Both my MBPs are on mute 99.9% of the time. But both of us should pay more so that you don't have to plug in a separate device to listen with your wires? Exactly what does the DAC have to do with the rest of your comments on music production and software? How does the DAC have anything to do with recording since it's output only? If I use $10k worth of equipment to record and output audio and use Garageband for production, what specifically is wrong with that? Displaying ones ignorance in public is unbecoming. Go back to your guitar (something you are actually supremely good at). No one cares what you think about the new fangled computers.
    mjtomlinraybochiatmaylinkmanMacAwesome1984GG1mdriftmeyercornpursekudu
  • Reply 8 of 107
    I would love to see the results of a hearing test on Neil Young and other venerable rockers who insist they can hear the difference between high-quality digital music formats.  Age and exposure to loud music takes their toll on most mortals.  Perhaps famous musicians have a secret cure for this. /s
    SolibonobobcharlesatlasrazorpitMacAwesome1984SpamSandwichthinkman@chartermi.netpembrokeredgeminipakurai_kage
  • Reply 9 of 107
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 1,426member
    Neil Young is a serial complainer.
    Then a perfect AI reader. 
    d_2mknelsonchiabonobobthinkman@chartermi.netrepressthis
  • Reply 10 of 107
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 1,426member
    How many albums has Young recored in the past 50 years? What does he know about sound quality or music? How dare he criticize Apple for anything. 

    rayboMacAwesome1984
  • Reply 11 of 107
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,412member
    spice-boy said:
    Neil Young is a serial complainer.
    Then a perfect AI reader. 

    I wouldn't go that far... Not "reader", but "commenter". It seems like most of the posters here who complain don't actually read anything except the headline.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 107
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 1,426member

    beeble42 said:
    He's complaining about the DAC (Digital-Analog Converter). Basically he's confusing the capabilities of any software product manipulating digital audio with the quality of the headphone port. So Neil, we should put a $300 DAC in every MBP and push the price up for everyone so that people who still listen to music with wires can have marginally better quality? Both my MBPs are on mute 99.9% of the time. But both of us should pay more so that you don't have to plug in a separate device to listen with your wires? Exactly what does the DAC have to do with the rest of your comments on music production and software? How does the DAC have anything to do with recording since it's output only? If I use $10k worth of equipment to record and output audio and use Garageband for production, what specifically is wrong with that? Displaying ones ignorance in public is unbecoming. Go back to your guitar (something you are actually supremely good at). No one cares what you think about the new fangled computers.
    C'mon you guys ridicule Samsung's specs being .001% slower than a comparable Apple spec, I am more likely to believe someone in the music industry over a tech nerd. 
  • Reply 13 of 107
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 1,426member

    tommikele said:
    I thought people had finally learned to ignore his blathering, whiny complaints about everything and anything.
    I do the same with yours. 
  • Reply 14 of 107
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 1,426member

    mjtomlin said:
    I like Neil Young and his music, but he does seem to sound like an old curmudgeon here. Like someone who tried it but couldn't grasp the concept, so now he just blindly dismisses it. And he obviously does not understand that you can create extremely high quality music on the Mac... it's how you encode and compress and distribute the final product that ultimately determines the quality of the sound.

    Also wanted to add... music does not have to be about sound quality or fidelity. More importantly - and Neil ought to know this - it's about artistry and being able to express yourself. Has anyone heard of Neil's band "Crazy Horse" - their sound can be loud and distorted. You don't need a high fidelity system to enjoy listening to it.
    Still in mono are you?
    raybo
  • Reply 15 of 107
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 1,426member

    Neil Young is a serial complainer.
    We all are here, who you kidding?
    raybo
  • Reply 16 of 107
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,412member

    beeble42 said:
    He's complaining about the DAC (Digital-Analog Converter). Basically he's confusing the capabilities of any software product manipulating digital audio with the quality of the headphone port. So Neil, we should put a $300 DAC in every MBP and push the price up for everyone so that people who still listen to music with wires can have marginally better quality? Both my MBPs are on mute 99.9% of the time. But both of us should pay more so that you don't have to plug in a separate device to listen with your wires? Exactly what does the DAC have to do with the rest of your comments on music production and software? How does the DAC have anything to do with recording since it's output only? If I use $10k worth of equipment to record and output audio and use Garageband for production, what specifically is wrong with that? Displaying ones ignorance in public is unbecoming. Go back to your guitar (something you are actually supremely good at). No one cares what you think about the new fangled computers.

    The built-in DAC is exactly what he's complaining about, but for some reason, drags the rest of the process along for the bashing? Would he blame the guitar for the shitty sound coming out of $20 amp?
    shaminowatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 107
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 1,426member

    "Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
    An Apple man don't need him around anyhow..."
    So sensitive to any criticism especially when it might be true of your beloved Apple. Critique makes things better, if you ever created anything in your life you would understand this. When you stop listening to criticism (of your work not your person) what you create will be subpar. 
  • Reply 18 of 107
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,821member
    well, off to buy a PC which reportedly is far superior for music production...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 107
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 8,890member
    More fodder for the haters. Gotta feed ‘em now and then.
    cornchipaegeanwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 107
    DrummerladDrummerlad Posts: 14unconfirmed, member
    Hey Neil Young, this might be the number one stupidest thing I’ve ever hear you say.   Macs are designed to be hooked up to other recording gear.  Like Universal Audio for instance.  I’ve got about $50k in “stuff” hooked up to my Mac, and I’m happy to put the quality up against anything Neil is doing!  The Mac is the controller!  
    Wake up dude!  You’re behind the times!  
    seanismorrisd_2raybochiaretrogustoanantksundaramsphericmacplusplusshaminorandominternetperson
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