Neil Young launches new music player based on magic beans and unicorn poop.

Neil Young has unveiled at SXSW a new $400 pocket music player that only plays one specific file type, encoded at “high resolution”. The file type will only be sold through a single proprietary store.

Look at these bloody things.

Just look at this bloody thing.

Quite apart from the bit where the triangle edge sticks into your thigh — I think Jony Ive is losing no sleep here — just imagine how much of your expensive high-resolution audio will make it through your earbuds. Or your Beats by Dre. This is like bringing Betamax to the market in 1994.

The actual sound format appears entirely made of audiophile woo. Dig this from Friday’s press release:

Ayre’s custom designed and implemented digital filter. It is minimum phase, with no unnatural (digital sounding) pre-ringing. All sounds made always have reflections and/or echoes after the initial sound. There is no sound in nature that has any echo or reflection before the sound, which is what conventional linear-phase digital filters do. This is one reason that digital sound has a reputation for sounding “unnatural”.

Or, from today’s press release:

PonoMusic is a revolutionary movement conceived and founded by Neil Young with a mission to restore the soul of music – bringing the highest-quality digital music to discerning, passionate consumers, who hunger to hear music the way its creators intended, with the emotion, detail, and power intact.

I can play FLACs — including 24-bit ones — on my phone. Bit-perfect copies of my CDs. And it’s also a phone.

If Neil Young, age 68, who’s played feedback-drenched noise on stage for the past forty-odd years, can reliably tell a Pono file from a FLAC prepared from said Pono file in A/B/X testing, I will give you a lollipop. Two lollipops.

(HT Daniel Lopez on the RationalWiki Facebook group.)

4 thoughts on “Neil Young launches new music player based on magic beans and unicorn poop.

  1. You seem to be missing the point: both CDs and MP3 files are significantly compromised in terms of sound quality. Even the FLAC files you rip from CDs are no better than the CD!

    Compare any good condition vinyl to its CD version: not the same. The CD is inferior because of digital compression. Neil is working with labels to provide uncompromised digital versions, previously unavailable to the public.

  2. Your claims concerning digital compression in CDs and the magic of vinyl are not even wrong. You appear literally not to understand how sound gets onto CDs, just for a start.

    The one good thing that could come out of this is a lot of digitisations with good mastering.

  3. everyone that makes music has moved past 16/44 many years ago. music is only dumbed down for the consumer based on ancient standards and lots of ignorance.

    most people will hear or feel the difference between 16/44 “standard def” and high definition audio.

    your post is full of ignorance and bad assumptions.

    letting the DSP industry teaching you about audio is a bad idea. these people are not audio masters, they are audio assassins.

    use your ears and your senses and ignore junk science.

  4. A/B/X testing, specifically on said “audio masters” shows that the people making the claims literally can’t tell the difference.

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