Is High Resolution Audio Elitist?

Reading some of the responses to Pono, and to Neil Young, you have to wonder if some of the stronger negative takes on what is a plea for better sound quality are rooted in an emotional response as opposed to a technical one. I had a conversation with Jon Iverson of Stereophile about exactly this and he raised the point that for some, perhaps Pono and high res audio represent something that is simply out of their financial grasp which triggers a negative response. In order to justify this reaction, they grasp at straws, i.e. technical arguments that have been largely debunked like the 2007 study by E. Brad Meyer and David Moran of the Boston Audio Society, in order to feel better about their aversion. It's not that I can't afford the whole high res thing, I don't want it because it's stupid. So there!

The enjoyment of music is an emotional experience. We also tend to grow attached to the musicians we enjoy, so having someone like Neil Young turn from beloved artist to CEO and spokesman/salesman for a portable digital audio player and high res audio is kind of a double emotional whammy. I've already wrote about how one of the reasons I bought a Pono Player was because I'm a fan of Neil Young's music so there is most certainly an emotional element to my relationship with Pono. This happens to be a positive relationship, and having Neil Young out there promoting better sound quality and high res audio is something I view as a very good thing since I listen to and enjoy high res audio, often.

For others, having Neil Young promote high res audio is a bad thing. A recent article in Pitchfork by Mark Richardson titled "The Myth and the Reality of the $43 Download" appears to be rooted in this emotional reaction which then looks for justification in simplified explanations as to how digital works. Here's an interesting quote:

As the $399-pricepoint Pono cheerfully reminds us, audiophilia is wrapped up in money—those who sell it benefit from the difficulty of scientific "proof," and those who invest in it are bound to feel better about the money they’ve spent if they know (or can convince themselves) that they can hear a difference and are having a richer experience because of it.
Odd isn't it that Mr. Richardson suggests that the audiophile world relies on obfuscation in order to peddle our wares and those who enjoy the stuff they've bought are really misguided fools. I believe that this point of view reeks of envy and nothing else. Mr. Richardson goes on about money:
From the consumer standpoint, recorded sound moves from the source (LP, CD, digital download) through player (turntable, CD player, smart phone) through wires, a pre-amp, another wire, an amplifier, another wire, and a speaker system (stereo speakers, P.A., earbuds). The biggest engineering challenges, and the ones that will make the greatest difference in the sound, are the ones that involve things you can touch. Your needle, cartridge, and turntable have to spin precisely and be positioned just so to extract information from the vinyl record. Getting all that to happen in a way that results in quality sound is really, really difficult, which is why you can buy a turntable that costs $90,000. Almost no one can tell the difference between a $100 CD player and a $1,000 CD player, but almost everyone can tell the difference between a $100 turntable and a $1,000 turntable.
You see how silly things get when we try to rationalize an irrational position? Just because you can't touch a DAC chip, FPGA, or digital filter because they reside inside the chassis doesn't mean they don't matter. Silly.

I've even seen some blow back against Pono from people within the hi-fi industry, people who make DACs that support high res audio and others who make high res recordings! How these people do not see the benefit of having someone like Neil Young spread the word about better sound quality and high res audio outside of our relatively tiny audiophile industry is frankly beyond me and involves some psychology that is beyond my layman's understanding.

To his credit, Mr. Richardson concludes with some sound advice:

If I concentrated, I think I was able to detect a certain amount of clarity and definition in the low end of the high resolution versions, but sometimes I wasn’t sure, and it seemed possible that one was just a hair louder than the other. Regardless, we’re talking about perceived differences many magnitudes smaller than those that come with, say, an upgrade to a headphone that costs $50 more. Good sound is worth paying for if you can afford it, just make sure you start in the right place.
Sure, getting better sound quality than what's delivered by your iPhone, accompanying earbuds, and iTunes takes some time, effort, and money. This adventure isn't for everyone. As Neil Young put it, if you're happy with MP3s, good for you. You're done. If on the other hand, you are interested in better sound quality and a deeper connection to your music, don't let anyone tell you you're on a fools errand.

As Jon Iverson put it, we need to unbundle the emotional and technical objections to Pono if we want to better understand what all of the fuss is really about. So next time you read an anti-Pono screed, ask yourself if the person doing the railing against Pono isn't just blowing off some steam in turn generating nothing but hot air.

COMMENTS
Beetlemania's picture

I, too, am flabbergasted by the Pono push back from hi-fi insiders and apparent audiophiles. It's flat our counter-productive.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
And thank you for spreading the word.

Cheers.

Beetlemania's picture

To the extent that computer audiophiles are waking from their slumber, *you* deserve FAR more credit! Thanks.

I find it curious that computer audiophiles spend hours arguing music player software, RAM, linear PSs, etc., yet Pono's attempt to increase hi-rez offerings (and inspire better mastering) is met with a big "meh" or worse. Makes me think a subset of computer audiophiles care more about their computers than the music.

beaur's picture

Most of the article is spot on. Hi-res just happens to be the trendiest topic for the ranters!!
Additional factors could include; content ie what you are getting as hi-res, is it just an upsampled CD?. Value is also part of the equation. Why am I paying $25 for a 24/192 or $15 for a 16/44 download when the music may have been recorded at 24/192 so additional work/step was needed to down convert the file? File size and storage cannot account for very much of that difference.

judmarc's picture

File size and storage cannot account for very much of that difference."

Do you have actual figures for those costs?

Other than those, the major factor I can think of (and there may be many I can't) would be the lack of the enormous economies of scale in hi res distribution that obtain for CD distribution.

beaur's picture

The cost for storage or the cost for the files. For the files is easy. Just downloaded form Naim today and saw their prices. As for storage I know what I pay both for personal and for work, the difference between 1GB and 10 isn't double the cost and on a larger scale the savings come down even further ie 1TB of storage isn't double 100GB, at least where I shop.

notung's picture

The main point here is that most consumers don’t understand why they have to pay, at least, twice as much for the download version compared to the same album in the CD or SACD formats. Music labels save quite some money in CD cases, printed material and freight and stock costs while the main costs associated with downloads are files storage and bandwidth which are very low compared to the CD/SACD production costs.
Besides, “hi-rez” versions of recordings made from old tapes or from 16-44.1 masters can’t be considered hi-rez, so, why to pay, once again, $20-40 for something you already have and that, in most cases, it’s impossible to differentiate from your ripped CD?.
If labels want to reach again mass consumers, they should: 1) reduce prices below the equivalent CD street price, 2) start releasing all their new albums in true hi-rez (PCM 24-96/192 and DSD) and 3) really caring about quality during the recording sessions and mastering as some small audiophiles labels do.

Beetlemania's picture

I wonder if it's partly an artifact of how the labels horribly reamed us for years with overpriced CDs (compare the profit margin of a CD and an LP circa 1987). Yes, a DL, with no physical product and supply chain, should not cost the same or more than a CD.

"better spent on subsidizing the recording companies to offer 24/192 "master" tracks as downloads"
24/192 files certainly CAN be made from master tapes. Look no further than the recent Beatles remasters (altho' the 24/192 versions are not commercially available). Stuff recorded at 16/44, of course, will never be hi-rez and anyone selling such deserves to be tarred and feathered.

burnspbesq's picture

you" have to" pay that much for high-res downloads because you have demonstrated, repeatedly, that you are willing to pay that much.

judmarc's picture

By the way, I'm enjoying my Pono a great deal. I think Charles Hansen did very nice work on the hardware (and filters?).

Michael Lavorgna's picture
I think Charles Hansen did very nice work on the hardware (and filters?).
Yup.
judmarc's picture

"while the main costs associated with downloads are files storage and bandwidth which are very low compared to the CD/SACD production costs"

As someone once said, "It's what folks know that just ain't so." I imagine *both* CDs and downloads are overpriced. I don't know what the average production cost per CD is, considering the tremendous economies of scale now built into the system. Nor do I know what the costs for hi res downloads are - do you? If so, I'd appreciate knowing (and what you pay Go Daddy doesn't count as actual information on the costs to the hi res download industry).

stevebythebay's picture

The trend has gone away from the sit down, and listen for an extended period, with single focus on the experience. Now it's multi-tasking song overlay of life background muzak. I suspect the newer folks to vinyl will get it. And other musicians get it. Seems it's all the folks in the middle (purveyors of one sort or another) who are having a food fight on this. Really degenerated into a pissing contest.

CG's picture

I agree 100%!

I bet that completes your day. :8^)

Vincent Kars's picture

"As the $399-pricepoint Pono cheerfully reminds us, audiophilia is wrapped up in money"

Compared with Chord Hugo/ Astell & Kern, Pono is a low baller :)

lithium's picture

I believe this issue has been debated to death and beyond now. I am in agreement that hi rez downloads which cost 40$ are overpriced but this is regard to my value perception of the commodity. I refuse to judge someone who is ready to pay the premium for superior audio quality. At the same time it is naively simplistic to dismiss criticism of high rez download pricing and perceived value as simple jealousy for unaffordable items.
I would also point out that though the chain is important, the largest jump in audio quality if you listen to at least decent quality music lies with upgrading your speakers/headphones, as mentioned in this Pitchfork article (in a very poor way I might add). I think it is high time this discussion stops getting framed as Us vs them conversation. There is a middle ground where we can acknowledge the limitations and benefits of both approaches. For example, I would insist that the well known limitations of high rez at present is limited availability, poor mastering impacting final quality and high pricing. I still buy CDs for a simple reason I can find everything I am looking for at low prices and enjoy my music without worrying about the quality of my investment, as I didn't invest much in the first place. These current stream of articles dissing Pono/neil young is definitely not scientifically grounded, however this is something every technical field that the general public is interested in has to go through. The solution will be to for people (like Michael) with the knowledge, experience and credentials to write mature rejoinder articles for the same publications that publish these.

Martin Osborne's picture

Audiostream, Analog Planet and Stereophile mag have hit the same point at the same time with a similar amount of backlash.

I can't help but feel the anti-Pono crowd - none of whom seem to have listened to it but are supremely confident enough to quote pop science and urban myth as fact may have accepted as gospel the idea of the CD as the pinnacle of fidelity.

Throw in some anxiety around another format war (I can still play my mp3's on my DSD capable dac - but for a very 'unscientific' reason I choose not to ...)and the chance to beat up on a prominent softheaded liberal hippy and his crazy ideas about changing things and you get a lot of **** talked.

I would also like to make the point that there is nothing 'elite' about hi res. I hear the extra musical body, space and 'air' of hi res download on my very basic system of j river, usb dongle dac, entry level amp and speakers.

mcullinan's picture

First, the general public doesn't care. Hires files are a money grab. Who is going to buy them but so called audiophiles. Does the hires file cause you to enjoy any piece of music that much more. I don't think so, its negligible. Also if they want hires to be successful they should charge the same as CD quality vs the super high prices. Say instead of CD quality we had 192/24 files back in the 80s. They would have charged the same amount back then. They just decided on an average resolution that was seen as optimal or full range. Now marketers are using the perception that you are getting more and feel that the price system they have worked out is successful. Maybe it is amongst audiophiles. As for Pono, its my understanding that these files for Pono were remastered? Is that true? Im not sure. So maybe its the remastering vs the Pono format that causes the improvement. I think Pono will fail. To be successful you need relative pricing. And it just seems proprietary so they can sell audio wares in their little pond vs an actual technological leap.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
Does the hires file cause you to enjoy any piece of music that much more. I don't think so, its negligible.
Yes, in fact, a high res file can and often does allow me to enjoy a piece of music more. That's the whole point.

As far as Pono goes, some of the downloads they offer are exclusive to Pono, some are not. However there is nothing proprietary about Pono, the Player or the music they sell. The Player can handle all of the popular file formats and the store sells FLAC downloads.

mcullinan's picture

Because you are an audiophile!! I hear subtle differences, like air around instruments and better timing.. pace?

But the general public won't care.
And Im an audiophile, but I guess a poor one lol so I haven't felt compelled to buy any hires material as of yet. Except for the initial purchase to see if in fact there was a difference ;)

Michael Lavorgna's picture
I care about the quality of my experience when listening to music. To say "Because you are an audiophile" is not the point.

While I'm hesitant to talk about the general public, the point that Neil Young and Pono are making, and it happens to be something I agree with, is people have not been given the choice for better sound quality when it comes to digital downloads largely because even CD-quality downloads have remained a niche market. The dominant players in the digital download space, Apple, Amazon, and streaming services, only deliver lossy quality.

Most people I know have big screen TVs, newer digital cameras, and the latest smartphones. Most of these same people are not in the film business, they are not professional photographers, and they use a fraction of what their smartphones are capable of. Why is it that with music appreciation, we're expected to be satisfied with decades old technology?

3231s60r's picture

My music purchasing stopped a few years ago. Hi Rez has brought me back in. I won't listen to MP3, I can't get thru a song. No enjoyment, like watching a old TV with lines flickering.

CG's picture

I'm curious - why does this seem to offend or bother you so? I'm being sincere and would like to understand. I may be missing a point of view that is really valuable.

My own view is this: You can buy and drink cheap beer as well as expensive beer. For many, the end result is the same, and for what they desire, cheap beer is just fine. (For some, free beer would be even better, even if it tasted like recycled cat urine). Some people appreciate other aspects of drinking beer, which they find in more expensive products. Honestly, some just like to brag about how they can afford beer that's $10 a bottle, even if they don't really care about the other aspects.

Each to their own. (I'm agnostic, since I don't drink beer.)

I'm not sure why Pono seems to incite so many people. Nobody is forcing anybody to buy the Pono player or download from the Pono website. I don't think anybody has ever suggested that Pono's existence means the end of MP3 versions of songs, but I could be wrong about that.

So, what is it that riles so many people up?

qwak's picture

Maybe because Neil is saying: Don't be fools to drink that crappy cheap beer - visit my new pub where you can taste how should real beer taste. So you are there and what you see...most of the beer is that cheep beer you should not drink... :) I believe PONO is great player, Hires is great, Neil is doing great job promoting quality but “cd sounds like 200 feet below water compared to 192/24” those are very strong words (and silly)...John H. Darko wrote great article about this http://www.digitalaudioreview.net/2015/01/price-and-prejudice-ponos-ongo...

Michael Lavorgna's picture
He makes some very good points (and I enjoy the way he writes). Bravo!
Price and prejudice: Pono’s ongoing uphill battle
CG's picture

Nice article - thanks!

As I mentioned on that other thread talking about the NY Poat article, back in the early 60's a newly released LP sold for about $6. Back then oil used to make vinyl was cheap and LPs certainly had economies of scale in manufacture and distribution. At the time, they certainly were the highest resolution vessel for music reproduction commonly available.

That $6 becomes about $35 in 2015 dollars when adjusted for inflation.

So... If you only consider the content value, the price has stayed pretty constant for the highest resolution offerings.

Now, whether anybody thinks that's a good value is up to them. My own view is that it is sometimes and others not so much. I think it's a better value than paying $85 to see some touring band play through a wretched sound system and where the stage is so far away that you can barely see the performers. But, that's just me.

tulysses's picture

As already mentioned, there could be several reasons for objections to Pono and maybe hi res in general, but I think Michael is asking about the motivations of those who raise obviously invalid objections, which are often very strongly worded. It seems there is some emotion blinding their reasoning (excluding the cynical attempts to get web traffic). I agree some are jealous based on economics, but there is also a group who really can't seem to discern much in the way of audio quality and therefore insist those who say they can are either charlatans or deluded, rather than admit their own weakness in this area. In both cases there is a backlash against "those who can". On the economics side, let's not equate price with cost. Cost is one element in pricing, but in this area, consumer demand elasticity and minimal competition (exclusive rights) are far more important. Most consumer driven companies try, not always successfully, to price products where they will maximize profit given perceived demand, rather than on a cost plus formula. We can resent and second guess their pricing strategy, but are unlikely to change it.

Fozzie's picture

I suppose someone could consider Hi Rez audio "elitist," in the sense that the farther one goes in any type of hobby the more "elitist" one becomes. Consider wine tasting, for example. A dedicated oenophile can detect "the faint soupçon of asparagus" in a glass of $200-a-bottle white burgundy, and many casual wine drinkers would consider the person an elitist wine-snob.

I would consider him an elitist wine-snob if he considered any wine under a certain price point "undrinkable," or if he were simply making up his taste descriptions only to impress others. If, on the other hand, this person were to be able to point out the subtle nuances that make a "great" wine, or to be able to pick out inexpensive wines that share characteristics of a "great" wine, then I would not consider him an "elitist" at all.

With respect to Hi Rez audio, I own quite a few hi rez files from HD Tracks and enjoy listening to them. However, I've A/B'd some of them against 16/44 files and I have a very difficult time telling the difference. I have a decent system (Mac Mini running Amarra - Devialet 200 - Monitor Audio Gold GX 100 speakers). Maybe it's my system. Maybe the tracks I A/B'd were upsampled from 16/44 in the first place. Maybe my 47-year-old ears don't work. Anyway, I still find it amazingly joyful to sit and listen and continue to futz around with this hobby!

ashutoshp's picture

on the Analog Planet. Richardson claims that vinyl is worth it but not the high-res stuff. So if that's the case, here is Michael Fremer, a vinyl addict who has already spent >300 (holy) grand on his audio chain, fight for the high-res cause in response to Mario from Gizmodo*.
Richardson cites CNet (NOT Steve G. BTW) which cites the Xiph.org video by Chris Montgomery aka Monty. I know folks keep on harping about this video but hell, Monty wrote Ogg Vorbis... wouldn't he/they get royalties from Spotify with ~60 million subscribers? I know they also created FLAC but lets be serious. Anyway, shouldn't there be a little bias anyways? I would be... a little but that's why I'm not in the business.
I for one am REALLY excited AND optimistic for high-res audio. ANY publicity is good publicity. Hey, don't young'uns ALWAYS do what they're told not to! I teach at a major University and I have seen many students wear expensive/good headphones which will surely let them hear a difference.
Being a bit of a recording enthusiast myself, DACs aren't as big a deal as they're made out to be. Good drivers, DAWs, some TLC and level-matching usually can make DACs sound pretty similar. The upstream stuff however, like the microphone, the ADC path, now there's a variable that can make or break. And more money buys better, no doubt. There is a lot more to audio recording than obvious. Check this link http://www.soundonsound.com/articles/Technique.php
Anyway, my point is Neil Young and Pono are great for high-res. They'll make artists think and experiment.

*Gizmodo is a strange website. Steve Jobs incidentally banned them from Apple events after they decided to publish the iPhone 3Gs stuff despite being requested/threatened not to. And i think heads rolled at Apple which the Gizmodo editor regretted later on in several letters and an apologetic email to Steve Jobs.

rthurlow's picture

... but I am so glad to be done with that clicky, poppy, surface-noisey, fragile, fussy medium I can hardly believe it's making a comeback. I still have a box in the basement, but I love my digital.

Reed's picture

I picked up a new CD player, normally $500, on special for $350. It is so much better than the players of long (and not so long) ago. I'm totally amazed and am buying CDs now instead of high rez, because the line is a bit more blurry.

For some reason, I tend to like the players/DACs with ADxxxx chips best, AKMxxxx second and don't really like TI or Sabre chips. However, there are many who rave about Sabre. It's a preference thing. To say one is like all of the others is rediculous.

I don't like the elitist label. It makes it sound like it is for only the rich. I do think the only ones who want high rez are people who really get into listening to music, not the casual listener. The trick is getting people back into music, whatever the format. Now there are movies at home, games, hundreds of cable TV stations, Internet, etc. that compete for peoples time and money. When I grew up, we had none of that. I spent lots of time in front of the stereo, and the only way to get music was vinyl at the music store and the radio.

notung's picture

First of all, we audiophiles should be grateful to Neil Young for spreading the message we all want better audio quality and not just from the audio formats but also from recording sessions made with care. But, IMHO, I don’t think that the Pono, Astell& Kern and the likes will ultimately make it, why?
1) Just a matter on convenience. When we’re in the move, we carry our smart phones, iPad and, if in business, even our notebook. Do we really need another gadget in our pocket to listen hi-rez (that in most cases is not) in a noisy environment (underground, train, plain, street, etc.) with, at best, $100 earbuds?, audio quality differences between true hi-rez files and FLAC at 16-44.1 are so subtle that you need hi-end gear and silence to really appreciate.
2) You can now reproduce hi-rez in iPhone or HTC using media players like Onkyo HD, I am sure we’ll see this year other smart phones and hi-rez media players too.

bobflood's picture

and like every other war, the participants pick a side and start shooting at the other side. To the victor goes the spoils. This reminds me of VHS vs Betamax and 8 Track vs Cassette. Too young for those, how about DVD vs Blue Ray or 1080P vs 4K.

All I can say for sure is that history shows that the technologically superior format rarely wins. Time will tell on this one.

Reed's picture

FLAC vs Apple Lossless vs AIFF vs DSD ...at 44.1 vs 96 vs 176 vs 192 vs DSD64 vs DSD128. Coming is DSDx4 and DSDx8. Oh, and add to the whole thing downloads vs streaming. And we want the average consumer to "get on board already".

Reed's picture

Blu-Ray audio discs are now coming out...and I'm not sure if I should count SACD.

bobflood's picture

DXD (352 PCM) and 384 PCM and I am sure that there is an engineer working on 32 bit versions of all of the above. At this rate the new CD will be a 500 GB SSD loaded with one album the metadata.

Reed's picture

Trying to explain It all to anyone who is a novice, or even seasoned audiophiles, new to this stuff. On this site, there is a 2 page beginner guide, a software guide, a DSD DAC list, etc. I sat down with my highly technically savy daughter who mostly listens to Spotify and tried to explain.

At the end of it all, she ignored it and enjoys the heck out of using my turntable...which scares the hell of me, by the way.

bobflood's picture

is the name of this movie. The only way to save computer based audio is to separate it from the computer. What we need are audio appliances that are as easy to use as that turntable. We are starting to see some but they are still targeted at too high a level of knowledge and skill.

Steven Plaskin's picture

Thanks Michael for bringing this discussion to AudioStream.

I feel Pono is a wonderful enhancement to our hobby. The more hi res sources, the better it is for all of us. To hell with the critics; let's enjoy the music.

AlexMetalFi's picture

Michael:

Your heart is the right place, but your science is unfortunately not.

The problem with the Pono is it based on a premise that doesn't make sense, i.e. that higher sampling rates and greater bit depths equal better sound. That just isn't true and no upstanding engineer is going to agree with that blanket statement as is. In fact, 192kHz can actually sound worse (see xiph.org for an excellent reason why, Google "192khz xiph").

In your previous post you conflated filtering ("pre-ringing") with higher sampling rates when in fact they are orthogonal - one doesn't necessitate the other. Good filter design can be achieved at Redbook (16-bit/44.1kHz) and higher sampling rates can make certain DACs actually sound WORSE (again, see the xiph.org article).

Furthermore, Pono NEVER EVER advertises the technology behind the player nor the intrinsic benefits of the format they are peddling (i.e. FLAC which is far from revolutionary and has been around for years). Pono's marking department seems content with parading around Mr. Young and telling everyone that their stuff sounds better WITHOUT offering a SINGLE shred of scientific fact to back that up. Show me ONE scientific study that the Pono folks use to bolster their claim that their downloads are any better than any of the other content providers out there (e.g. HDTracks, Bandcamp, iTunes, etc.).

The idea that Pono is some revolutionary device that will usher in a new age of high fidelity downloads doesn't quite jibe with reality which is the simple fact that Pono offers NOTHING new - not technology wise, not content, nada. In fact, the only attractive part of Pono is that because of substantial crowdsource funding and some star power, they can offer a solid sounding player at the $400 price point. That's about it.

To address your "urban myth" comment:

The overwhelming majority of times the reason why high-res does indeed sound "better" is because typically the new high-res reissue comes with a different mix and/or master. That is key. A lot of times to make the pot sweeter, labels will remaster for dynamics and of course that means it will sound a lot better than its original low-res counterpart.

If you think all of these detractors are just foolhardy, financial strapped weenies, I challenge you to do the following:

1) Load foobar2k
2) Add the ABX plugin
3) Take your favorite track in high-res and convert it to 320 CB3 MP3
4) Load both the high-res and the 320CBR MP3 version
5) Use the ABX plugin to play them
6) Guess which time foobar2k plays the high-res version vs the 320 CB3 MP3

Please do this 50 times or even better, a 100 times. Publish your results. If you hit even over 50% I would be shocked.

This post isn't to say that high-res doesn't have a future nor a place in the marketplace - greater bit depths are definitely more advantageous at the mix/mastering stage and allow more headroom for post-processing. And storage and bandwith are cheaper obviating the need for lossy compression. But selling high-res the way Pono does is an absolute disgrace to the many brilliant engineers, scientists, and musicians who have worked tirelessly for decades in understanding how our ears and mind work.

Sincerely,

Alex

Michael Lavorgna's picture
Please do this 50 times or even better, a 100 times.
What have I done to deserve such ludicrous and pointless punishment?

Alex, let me simply suggest you are barking up the wrong tree.

AlexMetalFi's picture

I'm not sure how that is "punishment?" Do it 10 times then Mike. See how you do. In fact, I encourage all readers of Audiostream to try this exercise. It is exercise not to convince yourself that you hear a difference, but WHY you hear it. :-) (hint: confirmation bias).

You asked me why are some self-professed audiophiles against the Pono? You suggested in your post it was due to financial reasons. Don't you think that might be a hair offensive to some folks? (especially ones who have spent thousands of dollars in this hobby)

I'm not attacking you personally or Audiostream in general. Like I said, I firmly believe your heart and ears are in the right place.

I'm simply giving you or at least trying to give you a cogent and alternative reason why some audiophiles (like myself) aren't too pleased with the way Pono is marketed nor the claims they are making.

Beetlemania's picture

to compare 16 and 24 bit. I made a couple of mistakes at first but locked onto the difference - I can only describe the 24 bit as a more "relaxed" presentation - and identified them correctly the next 8 consecutive times before growing bored. I was unable, however, to reliably distinguish 44 kHz from 96 or 192 kHz.

AlexMetalFi's picture

Thanks for doing the exercise! I think you will find more and more material is indistinguishable between their standard resolutions and high-res. Again, as I stated, I'm not anti high-res per se.

I'll leave you all with a little Shakespeare:

"More strange than true: I never may believe
These antique fables, nor these fairy toys.
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends."

Cheers!

Alex

Michael Lavorgna's picture
Which is just fine and it's also why you don't see how listening to bits of the same track 100 times is a form of punishment. I do.

This is the closest I'll ever get to a test - HD Downloads: A Blind Test (almost).

Cheers.

AlexMetalFi's picture

...10 times. I don't think that's torture Mike. Obviously, 100 times is a bit much.

The point I was making is not that you don't hear a difference nor that you don't enjoy the high-res version more, but why you do so? And more importantly, if it turns out that statistically speaking, discern-ability is somewhat random for most, why would you pay extra for it? And more importantly, how do you propose Neil Young and Co. deliver on their promise to the masses who can't hear the difference (if any does indeed exist, which in your own article say it maybe recording dependent)?

What I find so incredulous about Pono is it offers nothing new. Nothing. FLAC has been around forever. HDTracks offers the same downloads as Pono. The Pono player AFAICT doesn't offer anything intrinsically revolutionary in its design despite being a testament to the excellent work Ayre engineers are capable of.

But to market it as so much better than the CD and to blame the MP3 for the plight of fidelity in modern music is dubious at best.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
So you are out to save the masses from what you believe to be the deceptive marketing practices of Pono. While you're at it, you may as well go after every audio company that offers high res compatible products, a list which is far too long to fit here but I'd suggest starting with Sony. Perhaps you can convince their engineers that high res audio is simply a matter of confirmation bias with a few ABX comparisons.

What Pono offers is a Player, an app, and a music download store which can simplify the experience of acquiring and listening to CD-quality and high res music. I'm not aware of another company offering a similar service.

I blame the MP3 for delivering crap sound quality while being sold as CD-quality which is clearly not the case.

AlexMetalFi's picture

The masses will make the choice and I'm fairly confident paying $24 dollars for "1989
over the $12 CD price is going to be a tough sell.

We both know that is not how Pono was marketed by Neil Young. He claimed it was revolutionary and that it is so much better than MP3s AND CDs. These claims seem dubious at best my points above.

What's sad about your perception of the MP3 is that no matter what I say, you have convinced yourself it sounds like "crap" - despite the millions of dollars spent on research, the thousands of hours spent by engineers and musicians to perfect and continually perfect the psychoacoustic model of our ear, and despite the fact that the MP3 has single handily helped more people discover new music than the CD ever will.

Couple all that with the fact with the sad truth that it is the Loudness War not lossy compression that has destroyed countless number of albums. And it is the Loudness War that needs to be ultimately addressed because it is the QUALITY of bits you throw through your favorite DAC not the QUANTITY of them that will have the most impact on fidelity.

I enjoy high-res downloads. I listen to them all the time. I think high-res will become the defacto standard anyway simply because storage, bandwidth, and the cost of silicon will allow it to happen. But certainly not because Neil Young suddenly discovered what a FLAC file is.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
... you'll see that originally they were working with Meridian who have since come out their MQA technology which was originally developed for Pono. I'd imagine you've read about this but one of the claims Meridian is making is that it delivers better sound quality as compared to CD. Bob Stuart of Meridian has gone into some detail about this and the psychoacoustic research it is based on.

So yes, earlier in the Pono marketing campaign the language they used was based on this Meridian approach. Once they broke with Meridian and joined with Ayre and JRiver, the story changed. At least that's the way I see it.

I agree with you that the quality of the recording is paramount to all other concerns. I've said this many times before.

I enjoy high-res downloads. I listen to them all the time. I think high-res will become the defacto standard anyway simply because storage, bandwidth, and the cost of silicon will allow it to happen.
I enjoy high-res downloads as well.
AlexMetalFi's picture

I've recently wrote about MQA and it was actually Darko who confirmed the Pono and MQA connection for me (but thank you again, I did not know that until very recently). I am very suspicious of the licensing model behind MQA and time will only tell if Meridian's intent is what they claim (it's not DRM and an open format).

Btw, the format is lossy as I understand it for non-enabled MQA hardware - not like MP3 but lossy nonetheless since it reuses bit-depth.

My colleague said it best about high-res: If Neil and friends are SO interested in bringing high-res to the masses, why not make each high-res digital download cost less than the comparable CD (like Bandcamp)? Why should a high-res digital download that has not been re-mastered/re-mixed etc. cost more than the LP and twice the CD?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
Have you read John Darko's Price and prejudice: Pono’s ongoing uphill battle? It's well worth a read and confronts this issue head-on.

I absolutely agree that the current pricing model for high res downloads limits their appeal.

AlexMetalFi's picture

Yes, I did. It's a nice article, but it side steps some of the bigger issues (at the end even he admits that to some extent with his comment about mastering) at hand.

But the crux of his argument regarding price I fully agree with.

prerich45's picture

Agreed, especially this comment:

I blame the MP3 for delivering crap sound quality while being sold as CD-quality which is clearly not the case.

People can argue the sampling rates all they want - however, I'm a firm beleiver in lossless formats, and for that - I will pay a lil' bit more :)

bobflood's picture

in a sad kind of way. The artists and musicians among us are always seeing the beauty and emotional impact of a work and the scientists and engineers are looking for the equations to explain it and the computer to model it on. The argument never ends it seems. The rest of us are stuck in the middle.

This all started because the question of Elitism was raised. If you define Elitism as something for a small group then Hi-Res audio of any flavor is going to fit that definition. Hi-Res audio is an orphan product in that there is no way at this time to bring it to a large audience even if there was a high demand for it. Hi-Res has no physical medium to carry it to a broad audience and none is in the works or even planned.

It will be either downloads or streaming and both are problematic for Hi-Res audio. The level of computer knowledge and the equipment needed for storage, back-up and proper playback are well beyond the casual listener not to mention the whole license to play vs ownership issue.

Streaming is also a problem for Hi-Res audio. Technically it can be done, but given the early stage of internet infrastructure development it can't be done on a widespread basis with any degree of reliability or consistency. It may never be able to be done without resorting to compression tricks like MQA, FLAC or the variable bitrate lossless technique that Naxos/Orastream is using. There is no way anybody is going to stream a 192/24 WAV file or DSD of any kind to you anytime soon if ever. Even the compression techniques that are lossless result in a lower sound quality than a straight wave file. The difference is highly dependent on the computer hardware, OS and playback software used. If you want a real scientific challenge then test that.

Pono is taking a beating because it has wrongly been tagged as a format when it is in fact just another record store the has it's own player. Pono's big mistake has been not having a streaming service of its own to augment the downloading service.

Neil Young's band at one time was Crazy Horse. It is very sad that he has tied the future of Pono to a dead horse. Music downloads are dropping every year as are CD sales and sales of physical media in general. Streaming is the future like it or not. Qobuz has realized this and is making adjustments. Tidal, Spotify and the rest could care less about downloads.

This is not to say that all physical media and downloads will cease, they won't. The few collectors among us will keep them alive. What will be the case is that in order to reach a large market and achieve the economies of scale needed to survive and make a profit, streaming will have to be the primary vehicle used.

Seeing that streaming Hi-Res audio at scale is iffy for the foreseeable future without resorting to some kind of compression, then yes, Hi-Res audio will be for the "Elite" few with the money, time, equipment and skills needed to listen to it.

We in this hobby need to step back and see this from the perspective of our friends and family who have never heard the word "DAC" and have no idea what it means. These are the people we want to support this whole Hi-Res audio thing. This optimistic at best.

We also need to stop being apologetic about our hobby and what we spend on it. If some people call us elites with a negative connotation, we need to just let it go and ignore it. It is afterall their loss in missing the joy of hearing music in the special way that only a true "HI-FI" system can bring.

Ours is the only hobby that I know of that is singled out for such criticism. I don't see it with the car people, the watch people, the wine people or even the gun people. The only way to change this is with better education of the critics and our friends and family. A tougher hide on our part would help as well. We bleed too easily.

CG's picture

The same commentary could be applied to higher resolution television. The CATV companies haven't expressed any plans to broadcast 4K or similar formats. Streaming, of sorts, will by necessity be through very high speed internet service, at far higher rates than any high resolution audio service would require. Otherwise some sort of physical media will be used for distribution. Or downloads.

It's interesting that 4K is also taking the same sorts of public floggings that high resolution audio is taking. Why is this? Where's a sociologist when you need one? So, we're not alone. I think one difference between cars, et al, and the electronics is that overall cars have been around for a long time and are well understand in terms of what constitutes performance. Another is that the sorts of people who write about cars may criticize a particular product's performance or styling, but very rarely do they ever question the underlying desire for performance. There may be discussion of the applicability of performance in any one direction, like a very low center of gravity being great for a sports car but not so good for a car to take on a ski trip, but nobody goes around telling the world how fast car can't possibly be fast. Why is that?

Shp's picture

I don't know if Pono will survive. But you're onto something with its ironic adoption of a dying distribution model while simultaneously claiming technical superiority.

If they can't add streaming, Pono might be the best sounding Zune every made. (Oh, wait...that streamed radio.)

Shp's picture

So @marcjud and others are talking about the price of storage and how it might affect hi-rez download pricing.

This is actually quite easy to calculate.

Here someone mentions file sizes for different Kind of Blue resolutions. He ripped from vinyl at 5.6 mhz DSD, then stripped to the below sample rates.
16/44 - 486 MB
24/96 - 1588 MB
24/192 - 3176 MB
2.8 DSD - 1946 MB
5.6 DSD - 3892 MB

In short, DSD is 8 times bigger than 16/44.

Looks check out storage pricing at Amazon. Up to 49 TB, the price for standard storage (i.e., “most quickly accessible”) is $0.0295 / GB. The price goes down the more you store. You can use this URL to calculate actual cost including data transfer.

http://calculator.s3.amazonaws.com/index.html

Amazon doesn’t operate in MB – GB is the smallest unit of measure. And 1 GB is free. So let’s imagine uploading a 100 GB of music at 16/44, storing it for a month and making only one sale. That costs $10.50/month.

The 5.6 DSD is 8 times the size of 16/44. If we change all of the numbers to 800/800/800, we get $94.50/month.

Of course, you’d hope to make more than one sale. So let’s look at the whole album in DSD, about 4 GB. To upload it once, store it for a month, and sell it 1,000 times, the cost is $358.65. At that scale, the entire storage and bandwidth cost is $.35/album sale. In this scenario, the premiums aren't based on file size/transmission.

What happens if you're only going to sell 10 albums? Then Amazon hosting & storage charges $2.25 total or $.22 cents per album.

File size is not the reason hi-rez download sites are charging so much. Low general interest and a fractured market, such that no one provider sees true economies in storage and bandwidth charges, might be playing a small role. But frankly even that would not account for the multipliers they're applying.

For studios that already had high quality sources around, the multiples are just what they believe the market will bear.

For studios that are taking the time now to record and master super high quality or who are remastering, obviously they are making an investment. (Sadly too often those remasters aren't really any better than the original)

The good news is there is plenty of room for those prices to come down because there is nothing in the inherent cost-structure of hosting/distribution that is forcing them to be so high.

Reed's picture

You really need to buy 2 hard drives, one for the one you use and one to backup your music. You might think you are safe with a RAID drive, but a recent lightning strike proved to me that isnt fool proof. As you load files, you also then have to somehow add them to your backup drive as well. Additionally, that price for me tripled because I have had hard drives from 3 seperate manufactures fail on me. I'm waiting for 3TB flash drives to come down in price before I consider rebuilding my server once again.

Shp's picture

Hi Reed

All the calculations are correct - it's just data you plug into Amazon and it gives you a quote.

You're writing from the perspective of your home library. That's not the approach a hi-rez company should take in managing and distributing media.

But you could do something similar using Dropbox, Google Drive, etc., to backup your music onto the cloud. I haven't tried Drive, but Dropbox automatically syncs folders so "backing up" would just be automatic whenever you saved a file. Pricing is $9.99/month for up a terabyte.

Reed's picture

If you want to get locked into monthly payments for storing music. No thanks. I worked hard to eliminate all of my monthly payments, except utilites. Not looking to add back.

ab_ba's picture

Mark Richardson is one of my favorite music critics. I usually agree with him, and here is no exception. I’m also grateful to AudioStream for catching his article - I read Pitchfork regularly, but I only learned about his piece through this site.

I took Mark’s article to be saying, essentially, “don’t plug your white earbuds into your Pono and expect magic.” He’s speaking to a readership that is more focused on trends in music than on sound quality. Some of Pitchfork’s favorite bands (Grimes, Death Grips) really sound about as good at hi-res as they do on iTunes. Music has always been recorded with its medium of playback in mind - David Byrne wrote eloquently about this in How Music Works.

I have faced a dilemma I feel isn’t shared by too many - the music I mostly listen to really wasn’t recorded with playback quality in mind. Yet, I love getting the best quality playback I can, even though it doesn't really matter for half of what I listen to. Muppetface over on head-fi has a lot to say on this topic too.

In the end, I think most of us would agree with Mark’s main points:
- If you want to improve your enjoyment of music, first get yourself some decent headphones.
- Then, if you want more, improve your gear, and your file formats. (but, get those headphones first!)
- Hi-res is never going to catch on till it’s affordable.

I’ve noticed a lot of knee-jerk dislike of audiophilia, even among people who would seemingly be in the target demographic. I’ve got several friends who have zero fear of appearing elitist - they buy beautiful black cars seemingly on a whim, and they’ve always got the latest television, and yet they seem to think spending $500 on good headphones would just be letting somebody take advantage of them. They’d rather save their money. For them, it just feels too easy to end up buying snake oil, so they steer clear of all of audiophilia. It certainly doesn't help us that we can't present a consistent message to the wider world: "this is what matters the most. After that, these things also matter..."

Michael Lavorgna's picture
I'll check out his music reviews.

Cheers.

rthurlow's picture

I am not currently rushing out to buy a Pono, as I am at a state where I am more likely buying more music and cheap Sansa players to replace the ones my kids lose. But I have a DVD-Audio/SACD system, and know that red-book CD audio can be beaten.

I would expect I could hear and appreciate the benefits of a Pono or a high-end Sony. I don't find the Pono's price especially onerous, either - how much were the first Walkmans in today's dollars?

I DO wish the high-res revolution hadn't pretty much discarded multi-channel audio, though. To my ear, multi-channel was the thing that blew me away, not the sampling rate and bit depth improvements. So I would be spending in another direction if there was stuff to buy (sob!).

Shp's picture

I think the article and thread are similar to a bunch of organic health food people discussing whether their diets and Whole Foods are elitist.

And the answer to both is probably the same. "Yes."

Imagine a conventional food eater and an organic food eater debating whether, blindfolded, they can tell the difference in organic and GMO apples, grass fed cattle and free range omelettes.

The Whole Foods shopper can debate all the intricate differences between different organic certifying organizations, GMO, raw food vs. cooked food, etc., And the conventional eater will just nod while noshing down a Fatburger, completely happy.

See what I mean?

For a bit of fun, search YouTube for "Whole Foods Parking Lot," shot around the corner from me.

Tom D's picture

yes there is a such thing as good beer and yes hires downloads can sound better then cd's. Funny how somebody here has combined my 2 vises.
First someone said "good beer". I used to drink cheap beer but a few years back I became an IPA guy. In the winter I also dabble in a few of the nice barrel aged stouts. Once you acquire a taste for the good stuff you can not drink cheap beer any more. It is so much more enjoyable to sit back in front of your speakers in the sweet spot and drink a really good IPA or 2 while you listen to your favorite hi res tunes then to drink a six pack of some garbage beer. Totally different experience. anyway, I think music is why we are here.
I don't have a Pono but a couple years back Michael helped me understand computer music and helped me(quite patiently. thanks again Michael) set up a nice system. Two years later everything I listen to comes from my NAS. Lots and lots of ripped CD's and quite a few hi res downloads. Every Tuesday, part of my day consists of checking out whats new on HD tracks and Acoustic Sounds.
do I like spending big bucks on something that doesn't physically exist? Not really. Do the hi res downloads always sound better then there CD counterparts? Again, no, not always. But when they do sound better, you can here things in the music that you have never heard before. I haven't had a turntable since before I had kids so I can't compare to vinyl but the fact that hi res sounds good and you get the bonus of being able to play any song, any time without getting out of your chair makes it all worth while to me. No need for a scientific answer. I just know what my tastebuds and ears tell me

Michael Lavorgna's picture
Hi Tom,

Great to hear you're enjoying your system.

Cheers.

Tom D's picture

Yeah , I still hate computers but I sure love computer music now. I'm addicted though. I try and buy every song that I have ever heard and liked, and I like a lot of stuff. This week, although not the norm, I bought 3 albums from HD tracks and I'm still considering another one and I also just ordered a couple cd's from Amazon. Also planning a big upgrade on my 25 year old amp. Having a hard time convincing myself to spend the big bucks on that one though.

marcusavalon's picture

Does the format really matter?

I listen to music for pleasure.

Whilst no doubt I will enjoy the added quality at a price of 24/192 I doubt I will try and renew my CD entire collection in hi Resolution downloads maybe some all time favourites if they are available. They are too expensive and I am not making the music industry a 3rd fortune by replacing everything again as I have already done from Vinyl to CD especially as there some doubt a to the provenance of some of the older recordings. Somebody mentioned the Beatles in 24/192 studio master quality the Beatles albums were recorded in the 1960's on 'Valve ' technology equipment with 1948 designed tape recorders. A long time before the digital era and a seriously doubt the tapes had anything like a 24/192 band width. You may get a digital studio master copy but it is not a 24/192 recording.

cundare's picture

"Someone who makes you feel as though you're inferior" -- as coined by elitist billionaire right-wing political talkshow entertainers in the 1980s.

If you went to grad school and I dropped out of high school, you're an elitist. If I can hear the difference between a compressed Who reissue of "Tommy" and the original pressing, and you can't -- well, there you go.

My point is, "elitist" is just a word. Understanding its meaning and subtext is what's important.

PS -- since nobody else has mentioned the elephant in the room, the 64GB version of the new 5th-Gen iPod Touch is listed today on Amazon for $419. Are Apple buyers "elitist" too?

Maury's picture

Here we are in 2015 being told that a $400 purchase is elitist. The same people telling us this have spent $30-50,000 minimum on a car. Hey there are used cars that run well that you can get for $3,000, you elitists. This is just part of the recurring attack on people who enjoy listening to music and find it is more of a priority than something the writers feel is a more appropriate way to waste money. When I made this argument to someone with the same position as the article writer, they were baffled. "What is the problem with spending $10, 000 more on a car to get some features you want," they asked? "That is sensible compared to spending a couple of thousand on a CD player." I kid you not.

mcullinan's picture

In essence they couldn't really tell them apart. That says something doesn't it? We could say well the headphones were crappy, or maybe it was a noisy environment. They picked the Apple.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
Yes, the 15 people involved in the listening comparisons preferred the iPhone to the Pono Player. That tells me that for those people, within the confines of that listening environment, their preference was for the sound of the iPhone over the Pono Player.
mcullinan's picture

I would say that his (the interviewer's) attitude definitely affected the outcome of some of the groups opinions but not the double blind results.

What if you repeated the test but output the Ponos sound to a 2.1 audio system. Maybe the results would be significantly different. Or used a headphone amp (always more dynamic and resolving imo) and some HD800s. But those are things the general public wouldn't buy anyway.

I think more important than better quality sound is trying to get the younger generation listening to music more and more varieties of music. Like can I ween my 12 yr old daughter off One Direction. uh, Its impossible. And will she ever like rock music... lol . All I know id when I went to the past New York Show there were very few people under 30. Its a serious thing.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
The person running the test knew which device was connected during the tests. There was also no mention of level matching so we cannot be sure if this was done which is an essential aspect of any A/B test. But these are nit picky objections that may or may not have relevance. I'm not surprised that some people prefer the sound of their iPhone but that says nothing about sound quality, high res audio, or the Pono Player.

We have two teenage daughters and I'm just happy that music is an important part of their lives.

macaronian's picture

Anyone having little prior experience with analog audio may have gone through several cycles of digital music, CD, mp3 and streaming. Each with progressively lower quality but increasing convenience. Now they are being asked to consider starting over with HD Audio while giving up simplicity for complexity.

Rather than being "anti-Pono" they are likely searching for validation of their current "CD quality" music collection by insisting there can't possibly be any audible difference. If there were a guarantee that spending more would buy greater musical satisfaction I think they would be inclined to make the jump to HD. After all, there seems to be no limit to the amount people are willing to spend on headphones to listen to mp3's. That's because it is a single purchase rather than a complete upending of what took years to collect.

I'm old enough to have most of my music collected on vinyl and I avoided repurchasing most of it on CD's. When it comes to audio quality, I'm good to go. The digital generation is being asked to consider the devaluation of their investment in music. It's going to take affordable (sub $350) portable players with a terabyte of storage before many will consider reformulation their music library.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
Even worse, for those people with large lossy libraries who have invested over the years in downloads from iTunes and Amazon, the notion that their purchases are of inferior quality and there's nothing they can do to change that is a bitter pill to swallow.

As John Atkinson has said, one of the great things about vinyl is it grows with the quality of your system, pardon my paraphrasing. The better your vinyl replay setup, the more you'll hear from your records.

I find this to be the case with CD-quality files as well.

Dylster1100's picture

Hello...just wanted to say I enjoyed reading all the posts about the Ponos player and the lively debate about it,and h.d. downloads in general...first of all i wanna say its nice to see good intelligent discourse on a subject without anyone getting upset with other viewpoints..too often people don't communicate well...which led me to join about five minutes ago.
As I am typing this I am ripping my cds onto my computer..I recently installed a new sound card,an Asus essence stx II..because it has rca outputs and a decent dac and clock,so I can connect it to and old Rotel preamp/poweramp combo..the reason im detailing this is because I can change the sampling rate and bit depth of the sound card on the fly..and listen to it subjectively..
Subjectively being the operative word..I can clearly hear a difference between the 44.1 khz vs 96 or 192 khz sampling. The difference,to my ears,becomes more apparent when listening to,for example, the Led zeppelin II hd download vs the remastered ripped copy of the same. I guess the important thing is.. the discussion gets us listening and thinking and talking..

Tom D's picture

Funny nobody has commented on something that I find quite ridiculous. I am forever growing my music collection. I buy as much hi res as I can but plenty of times have to still cd 's. Many times when I find a cd on Amazon, the mp3 version actually costs more then the cd. Costs more, sounds worse and is not a physical entity. Talk about something that's not a good deal. Who buys these?

Personally, I own only 2 mp3 songs. I own them because I couldn't find them in a better format that I could rip to my NAS. Whenever those 2 songs play, I can tell that they are mp3s. For the record, the songs are Phil Vasser "Don't Miss Your Life" which I think was only available as a single mp3. The other is Hotel California from the Farewell tour dvd. The one with the trumpet solo intro. Great version of one of my favorite songs but I could only find it on the dvd or as a lousy mp3

I have a great love for music and I really don't begrudge spending a little extra money to make my hobby more enjoyable. I also make a point of not wasting money on anything that I really don't need.... except of course good beer!

I have 3 children. My daughter is only 9 but my 2 boys play guitar and piano. I show them the difference between mp3s and hi res and they can hear it. My guitar player loves 80's rock! He like to play Satriani, Vai, Van Halen... My piano player is more of a classical music guy but he also just learned some Billy Joel stuff. Rootbeer Rag, Piano Man(harmonica and all), and New York State of Mind. This week he's learning Pirates of the Caribbean. The Jarrod Radnich version. pretty darn cool. Hopefully my daughter learns an instrument soon too.

I try and share my love for music with the kids. Lots of times we'll crank my stereo and I have them play a long. It's pretty cool.

Douglasp_75's picture

Do yourself a favor. Download DVDEA (audio extractor) and rip that DVD song as a flac or wave. Also if the dvd has both the 5.1 or 2.0 version rip both. Now you can get rid of that MP3 and you will only have 1 MP3 song in your library.

Deli's picture

We are trying to convince the average Joe to buy higher resolution music when they don’t even have a system they can enjoy it on. I can’t enjoy it in my car, and I can only enjoy it, as designed, portably, if I have a fancy player or an outboard DAC/amp. I think that kills hi-rez. Everyone can play CDs (or files burned from them) and enjoy them (somewhat close) to what they have to offer.
Fellow enjoyers of music, and the magazines which pander to us, need to realize the average Joe is really poorer than we care to admit. My entire system’s expense is usually lower than a single component reviewed in Stereophile. I accept that, but I still think Emotiva, Dayton Audio, and Fluance aren’t too embarrassing company to hold.
We keep wondering why the unwashed masses haven’t bought into hi-rez, it’s because they don’t currently have systems to experience the benefits of it. We are putting the cart before the horse. If the average Joe doesn’t have a decent system, they probably don’t have a good portable system either, so how can you expect them to invest in something they don’t even have the ability to enjoy?
I think I can tell the difference between the Flaming Lips (yeah, I know, loudness war) or Porcupine Tree on DVD-A compared to CD, but only once I compiled my current system.
And yeah, Lithium is correct, hi-rez downloads which cost $40 are overpriced, especially when he brought up the fact, “the largest jump in audio quality if you listen to at least decent quality music lies with upgrading your speakers/headphones,”—so true.
Martin Osborne has a point sighting the misnomer that, “the CD as the pinnacle of fidelity.” But, if that is the best their system can resolve, I can’t blame them for not pursuing more.
Let’s focus on getting our friends and family to buy half decent gear FIRST, and then we can pander quality material to them AFTER. I’m doing my part in that department, I hope the rest of you are doing the same.

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