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.
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.)