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Article: Pono or Oh No - An Interview With Neil Young


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Chris, what's the role of the little black box?

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Chris,

It's hard to get the human dynamic and body language from the transcript.

 

Did you get the vibe that the Warner Brothers' rep cut your time short or were you expecting such a short interview? I wasn't there, so I can't tell if the rep was offended that you asked NY questions about some of his own music that's been upsampled. Did NY seem offended that you asked him a few tough questions?

 

Michael.

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

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Chris,

It's hard to get the human dynamic and body language from the transcript.

 

Did you get the vibe that the Warner Brothers' rep cut your time short or were you expecting such a short interview? I wasn't there, so I can't tell if the rep was offended that you asked NY questions about some of his own music that's been upsampled. Did NY seem offended that you asked him a few tough questions?

 

Michael.

I wish I would have video taped it. Neil was very conversational and down to earth. He was talking to me like we were friends and he was trying to educate me on his new discovery. It was so so cool.

 

The interview time actually went long. It wasn't cut because of any question. Neil was very interested in the items that I brought up where his music was apparently up sampled. He actually talked further after the the Warner rep said time was up. You can see in the transcript where he actually asked me a question at the end.

 

He wasn't offended at all.

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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You just got mentioned in a Pono Kickstarter update!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1003614822/ponomusic-where-your-soul-rediscovers-music/posts/781375

 

Prepare for traffic...

Terrific. Site traffic has been off the charts since I posted the press release last week :~)

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Terrific. Site traffic has been off the charts since I posted the press release last week :~)

 

Yeah, you might want to make sure everyone plays nice, though! I'd hate to see people getting their enthusiasm squashed by curmudgeons.

 

The Computeraudiophile.com website also has a Forum where many experienced computer audio and digital music hobbyists and professionals lend their expertise and information. Your questions, including “most” questions about PonoMusic and the PonoPlayer will likely be answered there quickly, and accurately by passionate, informed people who love these topics and know their stuff.
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Thanks for posting this interview. Excellent information that complements interviews with Neil Young by The Absolute Sound and Audiostream. It will be interesting to see how this shakes out in the next year. The positive thing is that friends of mine are already talking about PONO and higher quality audio. I was explaining more about this to a friend who is the music director at our excellent local public radio station. This station, WNCW.org, also has an excellent in-house recording studio that produces some terrific recordings from visiting artists. I've spoken with their engineer about his work that he records at 24/96 and he is hopeful that more music lovers will become aware of better quality recordings and playback systems. Any awareness of the availability of higher quality and less compressed recordings can only be helpful. I hope the naysayers give this a chance and instead use this as an opportunity to educate those that are not aware of what is available and what is possible. Get your friends to sit down in front of your system or let them listen through some high quality headphones. I've played Neil Young's "Harvest" to friends at 24/192 and they've all been impressed. Thanks for what you do Chris.

Mac mini late 2009 to TC Impact Twin by firewire, two 2 TB external USB drives plus networked from D-Link 323 NAS for music storage. Ethernet and WiFi connected to Sonos, Squeezebox Duet, Apple TV2 depending on listening room. Main 2 channel system: Jeff Rowland Consonance preamp, Krell D/A, Belles 350a amp to Von Schweikert VR4 Senior Mk2 speakers.

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Hi Jud - The little black box is the Ayre PonoPlayer without a real housing. Ayre didn't have much time to get things ready for the show. Needless to say the final version will look much better.

 

Right, but what I really meant is, what does the PonoPlayer do? It's not necessary to have one to listen to a Pono, is it?

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Right, but what I really meant is, what does the PonoPlayer do? It's not necessary to have one to listen to a Pono, is it?

Absolutely unnecessary. Pono will offer FLAC files without DRM.

 

The PonoPlayer will be part of the seamless integration similar to the iTunes Store, iTunes app, and and iPod.

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Great job Chris. I can't believe you got this chance! My middle son is named after Neil (since my wife and I are such Neil fans). You did WAY better than me. I would have Chris Farley'd it. :)

 

I LOVE that you asked about his upsampled stuff. $50 says he went and asked folks after the interview.

 

Thank you!

Ted

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Le Noise was originally recorded at 48khz 24bit, Chris Bellman, the mastering engineer, re-recorded the stream at 96khz 24 bit for the DVD and Blu-ray video release. Ordinary People from Chrome Dreams II was recorded in the late 80's at 48khz 24 bit digitally, the rest of the album was recorded on analog tape in 2006/2007.

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I especially liked reading this part -- and it makes it seem like they will share the technical information:

Pono will be transparent. There will be a page. You'll be able to read what it is. We can tell just like they can tell. All you have to do is look at it. If someone says what it is when they give it to us we'll check it. Those things matter and there's no reason why we can't have that.

 

Also +1 for what Frans says!

I like how if an improved version (higher sampled rate, better source, etc.) is made available for something you bought - you get it. Unlike HDTracks and others where the higher bitrate versions not only cost more (sometimes very prohibitively so), but you need to buy the same music twice.

2013 MacBook Pro Retina -> {Pure Music | Audirvana} -> {Dragonfly Red v.1} -> AKG K-702 or Sennheiser HD650 headphones.

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I'm pro-PONO--floats all boats, good for music/audio, everyone, etc.--but there is one aspect the Mr. Young keeps talking about that has me baffled. To quote from Chris' interview:

 

"Producers will now be able to use resolution as an effect. It can be super clear if you want that. Or, it can be dull if you don't want that. Even within one recording you can go from low res to high res. You can use it as a tool. You can use it creatively. You can turn it on and off. The whole recording will have to be presented at it's highest resolution. But if the chorus and the hook are at 192, and the rest of the song is at 44.1 or 48, something compatible, then it's mixed at 192. The source was low res, the chorus was super high res, some of the vocals are really high res, some are dull. It's a new way to play. A whole new thing. That kind of creativity in the studio is possibly a new tool for the hip hop and rap community."

 

AND: "...(The Black Keys -CC), Yeah, they are great. They use a lot of compression in their mixing. They record at like 48. I've noticed what they do. They'll have more to play with. They can still have that sound and have it be a 192 master with just like one area of the song, maybe the hook, or one instrument be 192, just fucking, what the hell is that! The mix is made up of these two things (sample rates). You get source stuff that is 48k, it's not going to be higher than 48k unless you put acoustic echo on it and that echo will be at 192k. Using resolution as an effect is one of the offshoots of Pono. That's one of the creative tools that people like the Black Keys, Kanye West, Eminem, Jay Z, LIl' Wayne, can use."

 

 

Huh? I understand and hear the sonic differences between various bit-depths and sample-rates pretty well (frankly I feel most of the advantage to high-sample rates is that it lessens how much they typical DAC's digital filter can screw with the presentation--wider bandwidth is not the plus), so NY's notion of using various sample rates as a creative tool seems bizarre to me. I truly doubt that anyone will notice the difference if a 24/192 tune has certain instruments tracked at 24/48 and others at 24/96 or 24/192.

 

Don't get me wrong, I am a proponent of high-res and getting closer to the master tape (more like master hard drive these days right?), but variations of sample rate really don't change tonal color, and whatever differences in sense of attic, etc. are going to be pretty subtle.

 

Anybody care to comment on this?

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I'm totally pro-PONO--floats all boats, good for music/audio, everyone, etc.--and I backed the campaign. But there is one aspect the Mr. Young keeps talking about that has me baffled. To quote from Chris' interview:

 

"Producers will now be able to use resolution as an effect. It can be super clear if you want that. Or, it can be dull if you don't want that. Even within one recording you can go from low res to high res. You can use it as a tool. You can use it creatively. You can turn it on and off. The whole recording will have to be presented at it's highest resolution. But if the chorus and the hook are at 192, and the rest of the song is at 44.1 or 48, something compatible, then it's mixed at 192. The source was low res, the chorus was super high res, some of the vocals are really high res, some are dull. It's a new way to play. A whole new thing. That kind of creativity in the studio is possibly a new tool for the hip hop and rap community."

 

AND: "...(The Black Keys -CC), Yeah, they are great. They use a lot of compression in their mixing. They record at like 48. I've noticed what they do. They'll have more to play with. They can still have that sound and have it be a 192 master with just like one area of the song, maybe the hook, or one instrument be 192, just fucking, what the hell is that! The mix is made up of these two things (sample rates). You get source stuff that is 48k, it's not going to be higher than 48k unless you put acoustic echo on it and that echo will be at 192k. Using resolution as an effect is one of the offshoots of Pono. That's one of the creative tools that people like the Black Keys, Kanye West, Eminem, Jay Z, LIl' Wayne, can use."

 

 

Huh? I understand and hear the sonic differences between various bit-depths and sample-rates pretty well (frankly I feel most of the advantage to high-sample rates is that it lessens how much they typical DAC's digital filter can screw with the presentation--wider bandwidth is not the plus), so NY's notion of using various sample rates as a creative tool seems bizarre to me. I truly doubt that anyone will notice the difference if a 24/192 tune has certain instruments tracked at 24/48 and others at 24/96 or 24/192.

 

Don't get me wrong, I am a proponent of high-res and getting closer to the master tape (more like master hard drive these days right?), but variations of sample rate really don't change tonal color, and whatever differences in sense of attic, etc. are going to be pretty subtle.

 

Anybody care to comment on this?

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By giving the artist the full ability to release a record at 192khz 24 bit, the listener will get all of the nuances of the original master whether it be analog tape or digitally direct at 192khz 24 bit. Its the quiet nuances that make up the main difference between 192khz/24 bit and 44.1khz 16 bit sound. Of course it needs to be mastered correctly to have great dynamic range!

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Le Noise was originally recorded at 48khz 24bit, Chris Bellman, the mastering engineer, re-recorded the stream at 96khz 24 bit for the DVD and Blu-ray video release. Ordinary People from Chrome Dreams II was recorded in the late 80's at 48khz 24 bit digitally, the rest of the album was recorded on analog tape in 2006/2007.

 

Welcome to CA Mr. Shakey, and thanks for the clarification.

1070957250_Imprimatur.NihilObstatSepia3Crop(2).jpg.2162a44365e84a5df7d456bf8026ed67.jpg

 

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