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Neil Young Pushes Pono, Says Piracy Is the New Radio 361

Posted by timothy
from the canadians-tend-to-be-smart dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Kia Makarechi reports that Neil Young isn't particularly concerned with the effects of piracy on artists but is more concerned that the files that are being shared are of such low quality. 'It doesn't affect me because I look at the internet as the new radio,' says Young. 'I look at the radio as gone. Piracy is the new radio. That's how music gets around. That's the radio. If you really want to hear it, let's make it available, let them hear it, let them hear the 95 percent of it.' Young is primarily concerned about whether the MP3 files we're all listening to actually are pretty poor from an audio-quality standpoint. Young's main concern is that your average MP3 file only contains about five percent of the audio from an original recording and is pushing a new format called Pono that would be 'high-resolution' digital tracks of the same quality as that produced during the studio recording. Young wants to see better music recording and high resolution recording, but we're not anywhere near that and hopes that 'some rich guy' will solve the problem of creating and distributing '100 percent' of the sound in music. 'Steve Jobs was a pioneer of digital music, his legacy was tremendous. But when he went home, he listened to vinyl.'"
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Neil Young Pushes Pono, Says Piracy Is the New Radio

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  • FLAC (Score:5, Informative)

    by Trintech (1137007) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:29AM (#41399973)
    Isn't FLAC already lossless? What makes Pono better?
    • Re:FLAC (Score:5, Funny)

      by Zandamesh (1689334) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:31AM (#41400005)

      Makes you think of ponies.

    • Re:FLAC (Score:5, Informative)

      by robmv (855035) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:36AM (#41400069)

      Looks like the name is trademarked [rollingstone.com], so this looks like a way to request money for "Pono compliance"

      • by gorzek (647352)

        Yup. There is no reason to invent a new format for this except to a) add DRM and/or b) get people to pay money for it.

        Besides, what even plays a Pono file? At least FLAC is well-established.

    • Re:FLAC (Score:5, Funny)

      by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:39AM (#41400115)
      Well, I read the headline as "Neil Young Pushes Porno". So there is that.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ant-1 (120272)
      FLAC is lossless from an audio CD perspective. There is a huge difference between studio recordings and CD content (you lose a lot on both ends of the spectrum, among other changes). That's why audiophiles prefer vinyl, because it captures more sound from thestudio recording. Pono is a try to capture like 100% of what the musician get on the studio tapes.
      • Re:FLAC (Score:5, Informative)

        by characterZer0 (138196) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:46AM (#41400257)

        FLAC can handle up to 8 channels, up to 32 bits per channel, and a sampling rate up to 655350 Hz.

        Redbook CDs use 2 channels, 16 bits per channel, and 44.1kHz sampling rate.

        FLAC is lossless from perspectives of much higher quality that CDs.

        • by Githaron (2462596)
          What do the studios record at?
          • Re:FLAC (Score:5, Informative)

            by Tapewolf (1639955) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:57AM (#41400441)

            What do the studios record at?

            I believe it's 24/96 or 24/192 mostly.

          • Re:FLAC (Score:5, Informative)

            by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:58AM (#41400479)

            more and more, they are doing recording to 24bit and 192k (as opposed to 44.1k which we get on cd). most studios agree that there is no need to record/capture higher than 24/192. you keep that format ALL thru out and mix-down to 16/44 only at the last step.

            much like you want to capture photos in .raw mode, keep them in 16bit color ALL the way thru pshop, then dither-down to 8bit jpg when you do a 'web save-as'.

            studios capture at 24bit (a/d converters are mostly junk beyond 23rd bit anyway) and at 192k or even 320 if they want bragging rights.

            some use 'odd' samplerates like 176.4 and 88.2 in addition to the more standard 96. I have files from 'high res' music sellers in pretty much all those formats. its a PITA for DAC and spdif chip guys, let me tell you ...

            • Re:FLAC (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Verdatum (1257828) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:46PM (#41401185)
              Well put. Adding on to this, If you're recording a performance that you just intend to mixdown and play back, you can do perfectly fine at 96. 192 is only beneficial if you are doing some serious timestretching. That being said, the ability to do serious timestretching can be extremely useful. And if you're just listening to the playback, even 44.1 is overkill.

              That said, I love all the crazy technology, because I never get tired of watching the audiophiles lie to themselves about this or that.

            • Re:FLAC (Score:5, Informative)

              by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @01:19PM (#41401677) Journal

              Vinyl, um, no. For a lot of technical reasons that no doubt many others will point out, so I will try not to be redundant here.

              Directly from studio to flac, then you'd have something substantially better than CD, and substantially better than what vinylphiles think vinyl buys them. Not necessarily better than the studio's original, but at some point one has to say "that's good enough". Vinyl even at it's best (I used to collect the Sheffield Labs disks) is not as good as it could be. CD as a medium *could* be pretty good, (Example: Sheffield's "I've got the music in me") but the mix-down of commercial CDs is often horrible.

              I agree with your comment on photographing in raw mode, though. As you said, like audio, you stay at full depth and resolution with no compression artifacts all the way through the process, dithering/compressing at the end. But even there, people will tell you that jpg in-camera is the only way to go. One school of thought is that the camera has all these algorithms for compression and noise reduction and color correction that you aren't using if you shoot raw. To which I respond, "yes, that's true. And that's a good thing." With adequate tools and knowledge of your subject and intended goals, you can always do better than some all-purpose algorithm produced by the manufacturer. I strongly suspect that this is all true for audio production also.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Wrong, vinyl has a lower frequency cutoff (around 12kHz) and definitely picks up LESS of the original recording than anything except for maybe some badly-recorded analog tapes.

        • Vinyl became the audiophile standard as soon as CD players became cheaper and more ubiquitous ("mainstream") than turntables. Listening to music is a social act, and the way it's done defines the listener.

          • by Hognoxious (631665) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @02:44PM (#41402881) Homepage Journal

            I think I've found Noam Chomsky's slashdot account.

        • Re:FLAC (Score:4, Insightful)

          by justthinkit (954982) <floyd@just-think-it.com> on Thursday September 20, 2012 @01:08PM (#41401513) Homepage Journal
          Vinyl avoids the loudness war issue.
          .

          It has been a few decades since I heard a record but I imagine that records sound better (closer to the original sound) than CDs. At least until the first snap, crackle or pop.

        • Wrong, vinyl has a lower frequency cutoff (around 12kHz)

          Totally false. In the quadraphonic era, the CD4 encoding system encoded the extra two channels in carrier signals that were recorded at 45 kHz. So note that not only were ultrasonic signals RECORDED on vinyl, they were also RECOVERED by the stylus and cartridge, allowing the decoder to do its job of recovering 4 audio channels.

          So in reality, vinyl has a much higher frequency limit than CD audio, which is intrinsically limited to 22.05 kHz, (the Nyquist frequency), by 'virtue' of the 44.1 kHz sampling freque

      • Re:FLAC (Score:5, Funny)

        by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:53AM (#41400393)

        That's why audiophiles prefer vinyl, because it captures more sound from thestudio recording. Pono is a try to capture like 100% of what the musician get on the studio tapes.

        Nah, just throw a hum on there at 60Hz and they'll tell you it's magical.

        • by plover (150551)

          That's why audiophiles prefer vinyl, because it captures more sound from thestudio recording. Pono is a try to capture like 100% of what the musician get on the studio tapes.

          Nah, just throw a hum on there at 60Hz and they'll tell you it's magical.

          Don't forget to add lots of harmonics to make it sound like tubes were involved. It's not High Fidelity without the characteristic tube distortions.

          • Re:FLAC (Score:4, Informative)

            by jenningsthecat (1525947) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @01:55PM (#41402233)

            Don't forget to add lots of harmonics to make it sound like tubes were involved. It's not High Fidelity without the characteristic tube distortions.

            Enough of this 'lots of harmonics from tubes' BS. From a comment I posted in May of this year:

            "By the way, in the 'tubes vs transistors' debate, good triodes have the advantage of being more intrinsically linear than transistors. This means that they require less negative feedback to tame their distortion, and often sound wonderful with NO negative feedback. The THD figures of amps built this way are often quite poor, but look at their spectra and you'll see predominantly second- and third-order, with a smooth and rapid falloff of higher order harmonics. Occasionally solid-state amps can give this kind of performance, but tubes have an easier time of it. Designing a good-sounding, (as opposed to good-measuring), audio amp, requires a lot of skill, and a lot of knowledge about distortion mechanisms and how to counter them. Unfortunately the prevailing practice in HiFi is to add more gain, throw most of it away with additional NFB, get a nice low THD figure, and call the job done. Amps designed this way generally sound like shit, if not initially, then after 20 minutes or so of listening, at which time listening fatigue sets in."

            Solid-state amps, (most of which require lots of negative feedback to get anything close to a listenable output), and poorly-designed tube amps, (primarily pentode-based), are the ones that tend to have "lots of harmonics". Good triode amps have some second harmonic, a little bit of third harmonic, and not much at all in the way of higher-order harmonics. Although their THD figures may be higher, the amps sound better because they don't have the higher-order harmonics characteristic of high-negative-feedback designs.

            THD is a very poor metric for audio amplifier performance. This was widely recognized in the 1940's - audio engineers such as the BBC's D.E.L. Shorter proposed calculating THD by weighting harmonics by the square, or even the cube, of their order, based on the recognition that higher-order distortion is more audible and more objectionable. But marketing forces won out, and now we have a THD metric that is very poorly correlated with actual listening preferences.

            I think a lot of this talk about tube distortions comes from the guitar world, where amplifiers are designed to distort in controlled ways in order to impart a characteristic sound. Designing guitar amps and designing audio amps for home listening are very different disciplines.

      • Re:FLAC (Score:5, Informative)

        by Desler (1608317) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:59AM (#41400489)

        Audiophiles prefer vinyl because they think it gives better sound because they prefer the analog artefacts. In the real world, on average vinyl records and LP players were of pretty low quality and could be easily beaten by a properly mastered CD and even a mid-range CD player hooked to a decent AMP. The benefit is you save thousands of dollars on snake oil audiophile gear.

        • I love vinyl and I know for sure that it gives a less accurate sound than CDs. What's great about vinyl is the euphonic distortion it adds to the sound.
      • Re:FLAC (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pla (258480) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:02PM (#41400541) Journal
        FLAC is lossless from an audio CD perspective.

        No, FLAC is lossless. 99.99% of us just have no higher quality source material to encode than standard audio CDs.

        If a studio (or semi-indie artist) wanted to release 40 channels of 32 bit 192KHz raw data, FLAC could encode that just fine. Of course, that would take basically one DVD per song to store (roughly 1GB/minute given FLAC's typical 50% compression ratio), but it could do it just fine. :)


        That's why audiophiles prefer vinyl, because it captures more sound from thestudio recording.

        Sorry, but that doesn't even hold true from the "analog = better" point of view. Vinyl has a lower dynamic range, a lower maximum frequency, and much much lower stereo separation, than an audio CD. Audiophiles prefer vinyl simply because their "hipster douche" persona requires it.
        Keep in mind that audiophiles also prefer $600 ultra-low-oxygen digital interconnects with hand-wavy allusions to "bit slew".


        And as for the appeal to audiophiles, vinyl, and all things Steve Jobs... I got a kick out of TFA: "When asked if Young had approached Apple about the idea, Young said that he had, in fact, met with Jobs and was "working on it," but that "not much" ended up happening to the pursuit."

        Perhaps the fluffy dead-celebrity endorsements would work better if said celebrity had actually shown an interest in this new format?
      • Re:FLAC (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:07PM (#41400597)

        You are full of nonsense. First of all, FLAC [sourceforge.net] supports 24-bit samples and up to 655kHz sampling rate. Nobody can hear the difference between 16/44 and 24/96+ if they don't know which is which and vinyl is inferior in every measurable way. You don't have bat hearing so there is no need for high sampling rates [wikipedia.org] and the dynamic range of music fits well within 16 bits. Very few people even have a room/system that can reproduce 16-bits of dynamic range even if there was that much to listen to on the recording. Which there isn't, because almost all music, which didn't have 96dB range in the first place, has had the dynamics mercilessly crushed out of it. The quality of filtering algorithms is such now that has eliminated the any benefit at all to higher sampling rates, as revealed by double blind tests.

        Perhaps you meant the music sounded better in the studio right after the musicians/producer finished mixing it and before it was sent off to some jackass who calls himself a "mastering engineer" and crushed the life out of it and clipped all the peaks.

      • I believe that is wrong. I will cite [1] http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4303 [skeptoid.com] and [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinyl_record#Vinyl_quality [wikipedia.org] as sources. 1. "It's a hard science fact that digital is capable of reproducing higher frequencies than vinyl, above the range of what most people can hear. " [1] 2. "CD-4 LPs contain two sub-carriers, one in the left groove wall and one in the right groove wall. These sub-carriers use special FM-PM-SSBFM (Frequency Modulation-Phase Modulation-Single Sideband Freque
      • by mk1004 (2488060)

        That's why audiophiles prefer vinyl, because it captures more sound from the studio recording. Pono is a try to capture like 100% of what the musician get on the studio tapes.

        Not trying to post flamebait, but [citation needed]. Vinyl has its own limitations, and I keep hearing people claim that it's "better" than CD. Vinyl has limits on SN, noise floor, channel separation, frequency response and dynamic range, just like any other playback medium. Mechanical limitations of the mastering process has its own set of problems. Of course, Pono is going to be better than CD, all else being equal.

        It reminds me of the old "tubes are better than transistor amps" argument. A common comment

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        That's why audiophiles prefer vinyl, because it captures more sound from thestudio recording.

        Incorrect.

        Vinyl "sounds better" because it does, mostly because of the dynamic range compression applied to digital media. We know this as the "loudness wars".

        One of the side effects is that digital media like CDs clip when the sound peaks. Clipping is very harsh on the ears and most people try to avoid it.

        However, "analog" media like vinyl and vacuum tubes don't clip. Vinyl can't clip because a louder sound just de

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>>vinyl, because it captures more sound from thestudio recording

        Not hardly. When a record is *brand new* it has some high frequency harmonics (upto 25,000 hertz), but those quickly get rubbed-off the record by the needle. Of course being analog it will never be a perfect amplification of the little record ridges into audible sound. There's always distortion. PLUS vinyl adds *extra* sounds to a recording, like the hiss of the needle rubbing the record and the humm of the motor. It also suffer

      • Re:FLAC (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Psyborgue (699890) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @03:52PM (#41403769) Homepage Journal
        I seem to recall a blind test a while back where audiophiles were unable to tell vinyl from a CD recorded from vinyl. Audiophiles also claim gold plated cables sound better (when double blind test show they don't) and that SACD sounds better than CD when in reality double blind tests show that's impossible. And FLAC supports 24 or even 32 bit floating point audio as well as ridiculous sample rates.
    • by pla (258480)
      FTA: "The famous musician has filed several trademarks related to a new high-definition MP3 alternative, reports Rolling Stone. The government could register the trademarks by the holidays."

      Neil Young primarily seems concerned with not having his own proprietary format to fight over.
    • by miknix (1047580)

      Probably because they cannot try to widespread the use of the format and then when everybody is using it, sneak in some sort of DRM.

    • Re:FLAC (Score:4, Informative)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:43AM (#41400193) Journal

      Based on TFA's (somewhat fragmentary) description, this 'Pono' nonsense appears to be some dreadful 'ecosystem' that includes high quality recordings in some format; but also "Pono's cloud-based libraries" and quite probably some sort of 'social' crap.

      Also, given that TFA has some stuff from Young about how CDs ruined everything, the plan presumably also includes using a lossless, or less-lossy, format on the same sources from which CDs are generated, rather than to sling CD audio around.

      FLAC would certainly be capable of being the compression system for such a scheme(and, let's face it, all lossless compression systems are going to sound the same, even wholly unoptimized ones like 'well, just gzip the .wav file...', so the only real question is whether somebody's patented magic sauce math will save you enough bandwidth to be worth the licensing fees, or whether using FLAC(possibly with some ghastly proprietary data fields or DRM wrapper) is easier and cheaper).

    • Re:FLAC (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:49AM (#41400297)

      flac is fine and it works great. not sure what else you want to improve on it.

      it does not have 'trailing garbage' like mp3 does (mp3, without hacks, does not know the *exact* duration of the song; the last block could have unknown padding). this is what causes all the issues in gapless playback.

      flac *does* count to the last sample, and so you can append flacs and get gapless playback as the source cd intended.

      flac supports 24/192, which is pretty much the highest you'll find for anything commercially buyable. I build and test dacs and i2s systems and all my 24/192, 24/176, 24/96, 24/88.2 stuff is in flac format. and I have to keep testing with all the samplerates and word depths (16, 20, 24, even 32) on my hardware.

      flac is even seekable (old shorten (shn) was not as easily).

      flac has tags and they are rich enough to be useful.

      just not sure what's wrong. probably nothing. what's going on neil? why isn't flac doing it for ya?

      "music man, better keep your head,
      don't forget what the redbook said."

    • by Githaron (2462596)

      This [xkcd.com] explains it:

  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:30AM (#41399981) Homepage Journal
    I read the headline to say "Neil Young Pushes Porno". Maybe this format should have opted for a different name...
  • Oh... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:30AM (#41399995)

    The only reason I clicked to read more of this is because I first read it as 'Neil Young Pushes Porno'...

  • by ZombieBraintrust (1685608) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:31AM (#41400017)
    This article is trolling for comments about mp3 blind tests on quality audio.
    • Are you implying that ""The spirituality and soul of music is truly found when the sound engulfs you and that is just what 2012 will bring. It is a physical thing, a relief that you feel when you finally hear music the way artists and producers did when they created it in the studio. The sound engulfs you and your senses open up allowing you to truly feel the deep emotion in the music of some of our finest artists. From Frank Sinatra to the Black Keys, the feeling is there. This is what recording companies

      • by CRCulver (715279)

        Storage is cheap, bandwidth is cheap, and software is cheap(once written); and all of these things are widely available in quantity; but the quality of the audio gear that most people are actually listening through has hardly been a beneficiary of Moore's law...

        I once heard the assertion on some audiophile forum that even today's anonymous Chinese crap sounds better than the average person's setup in the late 1960s, so when people today hear classic rock records on ordinary computer speakers, they percei

        • I'd be totally unsurprised if a cheap-ass transistor amp sounds better than a cheap-ass pre-transistor or early transistor amp. I would mostly be worried about the fairly relentless downward pressure on the size of the speakers and headphones in use.

          Even a modestly competent cheapy bookshelf speaker of no particular distinction doesn't sound nearly as tinny as even the speakers on a $3k laptop; because it doesn't have to fit in a few cubic centimeters of available chassis space. Similarly, while there are g

    • by pnot (96038) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:06PM (#41400589)

      It's trolling so hard! It's even got Steve Jobs and a vinyl's-the-best claim in the same sentence! I am disappointed, however, at the lack of:

      1. "We should all use valve amps because the sounds just, y'know, warmer, and therefore better.

      2. "My sound quality improved 800% when I switched to Neil Young endorsed Monster cables!", exclaimed an unnamed consumer.

      3. "Double-blind ABX trials are actually irrelevant because. erm, well you're just not sufficiently attuned to understand. Go away."

  • by ittybad (896498) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:36AM (#41400081) Homepage
    There is a missing R.
  • by Psyborgue (699890)
    Doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. I'd like to sit his coked out ass down for a double blind test and see if he can tell the difference between 128kbps mp3 and 24bit 96khz uncompressed. I bet you he couldn't, and if he could, I guarantee he couldn't at 160kbps.
    • Re:Dirty Hippie (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:43AM (#41400199)

      (notsureifserious)

      if serious, though, 24/96 really is a step up from regular redbook (16/44.1) audio. and redbook is about 2 steps up from mp3 when br=192k (approx).

      at 256 and 320 encoding, mp3 starts to sound reasonable on high res audio gear (such as what a mastering studio would have access to).

      the main issue, really, is how well the source was done. if the source was not done well, 16/44 is fine enough or even overkill. but for carefully done productions, 24/96 *is* really sweet. at home, using a clean path system and decent headphones, 24/96 is worth it. on sprks, it gets harder to tell; but people with good hearing can tell. its not BS.

      • Not a step up. (Score:5, Informative)

        by pavon (30274) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:59PM (#41401373)

        No, it's not a step up [xiph.org]. No-one has ever been able to reliably distinguish a 24/96 recording from it's downgraded 16/48 version in a properly conducted double-blind test.

        It is absolutely necessary to oversample when acquiring data (since all analog filters have some roll-off), and it is good to use higher dynamic range when mixing to keep the repeated rounding errors below the noise floor. But once the final recording it is mastered, there is no benefit to distributing or listening to the result at higher than 16/48.

      • by Psyborgue (699890)
        24 bit is useful for mastering when you have to do repeated operations on the audio. Nobody can tell the difference in a true blind test. It's a placebo.
    • by jedidiah (1196)

      I always thought that 128k MP3 sounded "wrong". Couldn't tell you why though. I just perceive it well enough to be annoyed enough by it to make my own better quality rips.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      well.. or flac and his new format.

      somebody just got a good pumping of money from him.

    • by xorsyst (1279232)

      Who on earth actually encodes MP3 at constant bit rates any more? This isn't last millennium, you know.

  • Low Quality = Radio (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jason Levine (196982) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:39AM (#41400129)

    Back in the days of Napster, I thought that the recording industry's best course of action would have been to purchase Napster. My idea would have been for them to limit the bitrates of freely shared music (say, to 128kbps) while selling higher bitrate versions of these songs. Listening to a 128kbps copy would have been the equivalent of hearing it on the radio and would have guided people to buy the full-quality version.

    Remember, this was before P2P sharing and before Apple/Amazon/etc opened online music shops. The recording industry would have turned piracy into a source of revenue. More than that, though, they would have gotten ahead of Apple/Amazon/etc and would have been the main source for legal digital music purchases.

    Yes, some people would have complained and found other ways to freely share MP3s greater than 128kbps, but if they did it right, I think most people would have remained. Instead, they shut down Napster and from its corpse sprang the P2P programs that the recording industry played Whack-A-Mole against for the next decade.

    • by Dwedit (232252)

      You are aware that Napster was the very first popular P2P file sharing program, right? You're talking about it as if it's not.
      Granted it used a centralized server to connected to, but the downloading and uploading was entirely P2P.

    • Hey I'd enjoy playing whack-a-mole for a decade instead of pushing a dead model and losing money hand over fist!

  • Sound Quality (Score:4, Interesting)

    by johkir (716957) <jokirby.vmth@ucdavis@edu> on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:40AM (#41400141)
    Most of the people listening to mp3s (that I know, self included) don't listen to the music on a nice system. Earbuds rarely provide definition or range of the actual recorded material. Yes, they may provide frequencies from 50-15,000 Hz, but you're not really feeling the bass line as recorded. Even if listening to a CD/DVD with 5.1, with the earbuds on, it may as well be a mp3.
  • This 'news' is from (quote TFA) Posted 1/31/2012 4:18 PM | Updated 1/31/2012 4:18 PM... Next up, Elvis died.
  • by Omega Hacker (6676) <omegaNO@SPAMomegacs.net> on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:42AM (#41400175)
    He clearly doesn't understand the first thing about the human ear or brain. The *bitrate* is 5% of the original CD, but the human-effective *datarate* is ~95%. That last ~5% of the signal is various harmonics, twitchy bits, and other stuff that the human ear is simply incapable of hearing, but in terms of actual spectral data it's pretty incompressible. Lossy audio compression makes the perfectly legitimate trade-off that you can completely skip that incompressible chunk of the audio signal that the human ear can't actually hear, and save bandwidth.

    Modern psychoacoustic models take into account both the physical and mental limitations of the human body. A prime example is "masking", where a louder sound will completely overcome a quieter sound, and do so for a period *longer* than the loud sound. Think of the ear as having an AGC with a slow response: it has to adjust the "gain" for the louder sound and ends up missing the quiet bits before it, then has to adjust the gain back down before it can pick up the quiet bits after. Simple compression trick: toss the quiet bits cause you can't hear them anyway.

    What's clear is that he's just fronting for the latest in a long line of "we're better at this than the entire rest of the world combined" snake-oil audio companies with a nifty little lock-in strategy. Just read the list of trademarks.....

    • ...I think I figured it out: he's a long-haul rocker, thus his hearing is pretty much shot anyway. His ears' gain only goes to 7.

      (oh, and I mistyped above, should read "adjust the gain back down")
    • and other stuff that the human ear is simply incapable of hearing,

      sorry, but you are wrong.

      for people like me (50's) I can't hear the details. beyond a point, it sounds 'good enough' for me. we each have our own threshold of where 'good enough' is enough.

      BUT, don't assume that a mastering engineer is going to have as dull a set of senses as you or I typically do. master chefs can taste their cooking creations to fine levels. pro photographers can obsess about micro-contrast and details. a lot of fields

      • sorry, but you are wrong.

        for people like me (50's) I can't hear the details. beyond a point, it sounds 'good enough' for me. we each have our own threshold of where 'good enough' is enough.

        BUT, don't assume that a mastering engineer is going to have as dull a set of senses as you or I typically do. master chefs can taste their cooking creations to fine levels. pro photographers can obsess about micro-contrast and details. a lot of fields have sensitive observers.

        I've known people who can detect absolute polarity (phase wiring on the back of your spkrs). I can't, but I've seen someone be able to tell, almost right off. people are not faking it! some have very good hearing. most don't, but don't judge by JUST your own experience.

        Um, I'm not going by "my experience" at all, this is fundamental and *very* well-understood physiology, not to mention basic physics. *All* human ears exhibit the masking effect, because (as expanded on by someone else below) there is a fixed dynamic range possible in the construction of the ear. Actual muscles and bones *move* to "change the input gain" in the ear, just like your pupils change size when it's bright or dark out. Some people have a wider intrinsic dynamic range than others, but only by a

    • by bipbop (1144919)

      Good post. To be fair, your post discusses an idealization of perceptual coding. In practice, old formats with known problems are in common use, and both old and new formats are often used at bitrates where a significant portion of noise added is above masking thresholds.

      People also listen in sub-optimal environments and on (very) colored speakers or with lots of EQ, which makes artifacting more noticeable by defeating the assumptions of the psychoacoustic models in question.

      This doesn't change your point

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday September 20, 2012 @02:26PM (#41402603) Homepage Journal

      He clearly doesn't understand the first thing about the human ear or brain. The *bitrate* is 5% of the original CD, but the human-effective *datarate* is ~95%. That last ~5% of the signal is various harmonics, twitchy bits, and other stuff that the human ear is simply incapable of hearing,

      I think you're the one who doesn't understand sound or hearing. The human ear/brain is indeed capable of hearing the difference between a pure sine wave at 440 Hz and a middle C tone played on a piano. The only difference between the pure sine and the piano is harmonics. If you couldn't hear harmonics you couldn't tell the difference between a guitar or a piano -- the only difference is the harmonics.

      Human hearing ranges from ~20-30 Hz to 15-22kHz. Most teenagers can hear all the way to 20 kHz. If you take three electronically produced 15kHz tones, one a sine wave, one a sawtooth wave, and one a square wave, that teenager can tell the difference between them. But record those three tones at 44.1k samples per second and you have only three samples per crest; not nearly enough to discern what the shape of the wave it is. That's why vinyl sounds better than CDs if your turntable and speakers are good enough -- and most aren't. In fact, with your average non-super speaker system, the lossy compression will indeed sound no different than the CD it was ripped from.

      You are correct, however, about the ear/brains' inability to hear a soft sound when overlaid by a louder sound; IOW its lack of dynamic range. Another lossy compression trick does the opposite; introducing gain on softer parts to make up for a lack of dynamic range compression introduces, and this is clearly audible on samples of LPs and cassettes; the scratches and hisses are magnified. You'll hear tape hiss on the MP3 that you couldn't hear on the original cassette (that said, by the time CDs came out, Dolby had made hissing cassettes a thing of the past).

      I also agree that he's shilling for a lock-in; when FLAC or SHN are uncompressed, you get an exact copy of the original digital signal. There's no need for a new, proprietary codec.

  • Porno. (Score:4, Funny)

    by MrL0G1C (867445) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:45AM (#41400221) Journal

    You read that as Neil Young pushes Porno didn't you, you big perv.

  • by RazzleFrog (537054) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:46AM (#41400247)

    How does he figure that? Digital Music was around for years before the iPod and mp3 players existed 2 years before it was released. He definitely was a pioneer in marketing it but not in the technology itself.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      ...he's a clueless n00b, the sort that needs to be led around by the nose by a guy like Jobs. That's how he figures. He's clearly not someone likely to be ahead of the curve in terms of technology.

      Thus he's prattling on about this in 2012 and ignoring existing alternatives.

  • by BenSchuarmer (922752) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:51AM (#41400347)
    picking fights with U2 is a bad idea (you don't want to know how the Edge got his nick name).
  • Young wants consumers to be able to take full advantage of Pono's cloud-based libraries of recordings

    oh, oh.

    this does not sound good. its vage as hell on details, but it sounds like something is remotely dependant or tracked or numbered or tagged?

    I'm pretty sure he's solving a problem that only exists in the minds of those who want to make more money from consumers and their hunger for media. this does not sound like any kind of *technical* solution, the way this starts out reading.

  • I'm all for it. Recorded music fails to capture the live experience, which is the only standard to use in a "blind" listening test. I love classical and jazz, but can't stand it off a digital system. All of these tests just compare one recording method to another, they're pitting one imitation against another and arguing over which is the better imitation, without any reference to what was real.

  • That is what most people like. People prefer the audio artefacts found in these to the actual music.

    • by bipbop (1144919)
      It's empirically true that some people prefer MP3 artifacts in blind listening tests, some of the time. (Most people don't.) "Why" is an interesting question, though I don't know the answer.
  • by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:13PM (#41400665)

    The concept of distributing 24-bit studio recording data directly to consumers in order to get some kind of increase in sound quality has been thoroughly debunked. See this Slashdot article: Why Distributing Music As 24-bit/192kHz Downloads Is Pointless [slashdot.org]

    That article is well worth the read.

  • Either Pandora One or on TuneIn Fullasoul radio. I'm not sure what Pandora One uses but the quality sounds like what Fullasoul uses wihich is AAC.
  • When songs are recorded and mastered badly with no dynamic range no amount of lossless compression will save it.

  • OK I happen to share his desire to make good-quality content available to people, no problem there.

    But speaking from a studio perspective, and unless we're talking about analog masters from tape such as older recordings from the 70's and 80's, most modern masters are very seldom mixed to analog anymore, the majority of those who care about sound quality print digitally at resolutions of 24-bit / 96 kHz. [in MP3 language, that's 4608 kb/s, a fair amount of bandwidth] Now there are a few mastering houses wh
  • by valentyn (248783) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @02:29PM (#41402643) Homepage

    The original article at http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/neil-young-trademarks-new-audio-format-20120403 Rolling Stone says that Pono is "a revolutionary new audio music system" and "a modern-day iPod for the 21st Century". I'm not sure why that would include a new audio format - although Rolling Stone's URL seems to suggest that. I have seen this article misquoted all around the globe, though - everyone pointing at the same old Rolling Stone page, some mentioning "new audio formats", others mentioning "patents" for a new MP3-format - etc etc..
    I'd say hoax. Educated hoax, with press releases and trademarks and the lot, but still a hoax. Wake me up when the Pono system is for sale at the Neil Young Store.

  • I can't find a side by side comparison anywhere between these codecs. Is there a significant improvement over the other two 'piracy' standards?
  • by epp_b (944299) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @05:25PM (#41404823)

    Now, my history may be a bit rusty (do please correct me if I am mistaken), but as I understand it, radio started out with people playing their records and / or live music over the air. The rights holders got pissy, so the radio operators figured out a way to generate income and compensate creators.

    Is file sharing really any different? I know I've read about file sharing services trying to come up with ways to do the same thing (compensate creators), but nope... the MAFIAAs want total control over everything so they can keep ripping off artists in quasi-secrecy.

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