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Pushing back against the Pono critics


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Michael LaVorgna wrote this article that, I think, deserves a wider audience among audiophiles. I have been stunned at how many supposed audiophiles have criticized Neil Young's attempts to raise awareness of how mp3s have diminished our enjoyment of music (and, to a lesser extent, how compression and poor recording/mastering have done the same). These naysayers even include some industry insiders!

 

Sure, Pono is not beyond criticism (for one, they need to improve the ability to browse their catalog, eg, by resolution, genre, etc). But, as audiophiles, shouldn't we support - not disparage - efforts to achieve better sound quality? Hell, yeah!

Roon ROCK (Roon 1.7; NUC7i3) > Ayre QB-9 Twenty > Ayre AX-5 Twenty > Thiel CS2.4SE (crossovers rebuilt with Clarity CSA and Multicap RTX caps, Mills MRA-12 resistors; ERSE and Jantzen coils; Cardas binding posts and hookup wire); Cardas and OEM power cables, interconnects, and speaker cables

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After reading that, I can see why.

 

The gratuitous viciousness and libelous attacks that come from the "subjectivist" camp undermine them far more than any "objectivist" critique could do.

Totally agree. I could never imagine an "objectivist" resorting to personal attacks and abuse against those who don't agree with them.

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

- Einstein

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Hey Beetle........I can understand your concern. The problem lies with the model PONO adopted to market the product, plain and simple. They've inadvertantly created a very narrow niche market for themselves......too expensive and no intrinsic value to the everyday listener and not expensive or physically endowed to please the high end crowd, which is a very small and quickly shrinking group.

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Totally agree. I could never imagine an "objectivist" resorting to personal attacks and abuse against those who don't agree with them.

 

LOL! Yeah, you pretty much never see that. "Objectivists" are models of civility and open-mindedness!

Roon ROCK (Roon 1.7; NUC7i3) > Ayre QB-9 Twenty > Ayre AX-5 Twenty > Thiel CS2.4SE (crossovers rebuilt with Clarity CSA and Multicap RTX caps, Mills MRA-12 resistors; ERSE and Jantzen coils; Cardas binding posts and hookup wire); Cardas and OEM power cables, interconnects, and speaker cables

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Hey Beetle........I can understand your concern. The problem lies with the model PONO adopted to market the product, plain and simple. They've inadvertantly created a very narrow niche market for themselves......too expensive and no intrinsic value to the everyday listener and not expensive or physically endowed to please the high end crowd, which is a very small and quickly shrinking group.

I assume you mostly are writing of the player. You may be right altho' it's competitively priced with iPods and the like. For audiophiles, two reviews I've read report that it is very nearly as good as the $2400 A&K.

 

But the music store is the heart of Pono. NY's gravitas seems large enough to affect the release of more titles, old and new, in 24 bit files. Moreover, Pono has been speaking of compression and other compromised mastering. I would like to think that most computer audiophiles would welcome another source of hi-rez files, especially one that might deliver mores titles and inspire better mastering. Hopefully, we'll also see prices come down.

Roon ROCK (Roon 1.7; NUC7i3) > Ayre QB-9 Twenty > Ayre AX-5 Twenty > Thiel CS2.4SE (crossovers rebuilt with Clarity CSA and Multicap RTX caps, Mills MRA-12 resistors; ERSE and Jantzen coils; Cardas binding posts and hookup wire); Cardas and OEM power cables, interconnects, and speaker cables

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I assume you mostly are writing of the player. You may be right altho' it's competitively priced with iPods and the like. For audiophiles, two reviews I've read report that it is very nearly as good as the $2400 A&K.

 

But the music store is the heart of Pono. NY's gravitas seems large enough to affect the release of more titles, old and new, in 24 bit files. Moreover, Pono has been speaking of compression and other compromised mastering. I would like to think that most computer audiophiles would welcome another source of hi-rez files, especially one that might deliver mores titles and inspire better mastering. Hopefully, we'll also see prices come down.

 

The music store is an even bigger failure IMO for both consumers and the artists.....people no longer have a desire to own media when everything is accessible from streaming. High resolution downloads will only inspire piracy which at the high quality level Neil suggests won't help with sustained revenue of a title over time.

 

He should have offered PONO as a streamer with Redbook or higher streaming service. I would have kept the PONO name for the player, and released a service called POGO. Sadly, Tidal had the clarity of vision and I'm really curious to see what iTunes does with the revamped BEATS.

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The music store is an even bigger failure IMO for both consumers and the artists.....people no longer have a desire to own media when everything is accessible from streaming. High resolution downloads will only inspire piracy which at the high quality level Neil suggests won't help with sustained revenue of a title over time.

 

He should have offered PONO as a streamer with Redbook or higher streaming service. I would have kept the PONO name for the player, and released a service called POGO. Sadly, Tidal had the clarity of vision and I'm really curious to see what iTunes does with the revamped BEATS.

Speaking for myself, I am a VERY L O N G ways from streaming my music. My 30 Mbps Comcast can't even let me watch a lo-rez youtube video w/o choking. Zero chance I'm going to compromise my music listening like that.

Roon ROCK (Roon 1.7; NUC7i3) > Ayre QB-9 Twenty > Ayre AX-5 Twenty > Thiel CS2.4SE (crossovers rebuilt with Clarity CSA and Multicap RTX caps, Mills MRA-12 resistors; ERSE and Jantzen coils; Cardas binding posts and hookup wire); Cardas and OEM power cables, interconnects, and speaker cables

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You guys should read what he wrote. I don't think you will find either "side" doing anything like that here.

 

 

By "here", I assume you mean CA. Yes, I agree that it's not that bad here (and Chris would kill it quickly if it did go downhill to that degree). And I agree that Fremer was way over-the-line with personal attacks in his diatribe. But Fremer did not post here, nor did the objectivist who wrote this of JPlay users: "Snake oil for those whose disposable income far exceeds their intelligence? "

 

It took me about 20 seconds to find that example . . .

Roon ROCK (Roon 1.7; NUC7i3) > Ayre QB-9 Twenty > Ayre AX-5 Twenty > Thiel CS2.4SE (crossovers rebuilt with Clarity CSA and Multicap RTX caps, Mills MRA-12 resistors; ERSE and Jantzen coils; Cardas binding posts and hookup wire); Cardas and OEM power cables, interconnects, and speaker cables

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I didn't read it, so I don't know the context, but even that isn't personal in the same way as going after the author of an opinion piece, attacking his reputation, education, etc. It is more of a general comment. I often say people that live in my neighborhood have more money than brains. It isn't so much that they are stupid, but that they have more money ... (In my neighborhood, 38% of parents vaccinate their kids. On the much poorer, largely immigrant side of town, it is better than 90%).

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I often say people that live in my neighborhood have more money than brains. It isn't so much that they are stupid, but that they have more money ...

 

Why ? Do they waste it on Titanium or Carbon Fibre bicycle frames ?

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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You know I don't mind the player. The one thing Neil kept promising was masters like the musicans wanted. A more direct copy of what the music was. I am in favor of that if the original was 192 or even just 44. If there was one thing Pono could do that would put it above every other source of music it would have been supplying detailed and accurate provenance. So we know we are getting something better, something closer to the musican's vision of his work, something that hasn't been stepped on, and mastered to hell and back. (Unless the musicans want it mastered to hell and back).

 

His demo in his Cadillac with affirmations from musicians was an amateur hour dog and pony show. Okay, fine lots of products need marketing to catch your eye okay I'll let that one go.

 

Another thing that might make this go and well is pricing. Charging more for higher bit rate makes some sense, but all the competitors do that. The actual costs for that higher resolution upon download can't be anything approaching the extra price charged. I would imagine like most customers of older material you have already paid for it once or twice. The artist has benefitted. Do they really need to rake me over the coals one more time for even more. Heck some of the big time selling stuff should go cheap. Pono could grab some marketshare if they did that. I don't know if the slope of demand favors such a pricing structure in this busness or not. I do know if they keep current prices my purchases will be few, and at lower prices I would end up sending them three or four times the total money. And for all I know record companies won't agree to less. Again, at least for my slope of demand it is a money losing strategy for them.

 

Give us provenance that in time makes me feel like I can simply trust that anything on their music store is as close as we can get to the original recording. And price it competitively better. Meaning something like $12 to $15 regardless of resolution. If a given recording is no better than 44/24 fine $12 as the mastering should be better. If it is 192/24 then great no real reason you couldn't give it to me for $12 either. I know this is a business, but they are a small player late to the game. You need something extra to grab real marketshare and get a piece of the pie for yourself.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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I assume you mostly are writing of the player. You may be right altho' it's competitively priced with iPods and the like. For audiophiles, two reviews I've read report that it is very nearly as good as the $2400 A&K.

 

But the music store is the heart of Pono. NY's gravitas seems large enough to affect the release of more titles, old and new, in 24 bit files. Moreover, Pono has been speaking of compression and other compromised mastering. I would like to think that most computer audiophiles would welcome another source of hi-rez files, especially one that might deliver mores titles and inspire better mastering. Hopefully, we'll also see prices come down.

 

Since I own both the Pono and the AK240 and have tested them over a considerable time frame, I can say that the Pono (while a very good player in my opinion) does not compete with the SQ of the AK240.

 

As others have stated in other threads, the Pono music store and the Jriver software needs some serious work.

Aurender N100H --> iPad Mini --> WireWorld Silver Starlight USB Cable -> Mytek 192 DSD DAC --> Decware TABOO MKIII --> Decware Interconnects -> Audeze LCD-X and Sennheiser HD800 -> Moon Audio Silver Dragon Balanced Headphone Cables

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Michael LaVorgna wrote this article that, I think, deserves a wider audience among audiophiles. I have been stunned at how many supposed audiophiles have criticized Neil Young's attempts to raise awareness of how mp3s have diminished our enjoyment of music (and, to a lesser extent, how compression and poor recording/mastering have done the same). These naysayers even include some industry insiders!

 

Sure, Pono is not beyond criticism (for one, they need to improve the ability to browse their catalog, eg, by resolution, genre, etc). But, as audiophiles, shouldn't we support - not disparage - efforts to achieve better sound quality? Hell, yeah!

 

As a Pono owner, I can tell you that I wish I were not a Pono owner. Pure marketing hype, almost enough to get one to sign on the MeterReader train. :(

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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In my neighborhood, 38% of parents vaccinate their kids. On the much poorer, largely immigrant side of town, it is better than 90%).

The immigrants probably figure they can't afford iron lungs.

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

- Einstein

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As a Pono owner, I can tell you that I wish I were not a Pono owner. Pure marketing hype, almost enough to get one to sign on the MeterReader train. :(

 

Not making any judgement here, as I have never personally even heard one, but you are the first Pono owner that I've read anything negative from concerning strictly the player. It's hard to imagine Ayre screwing that hardware up. And Lavorgna raved about it.

 

JC

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After reading that, I can see why.

 

The gratuitous viciousness and libelous attacks that come from the "subjectivist" camp undermine them far more than any "objectivist" critique could do.

 

In "A Season on the Brink," John Feinsten tells a story about how, as a freshman basketball player at Indiana, current UCLA head coach Steve Alford fell into a deep funk because he was being persistently berated by his coach, Bob Knight. One of the upperclass players took Alford aside and advised him to (paraphrasing rather than quoting) "listen to what Coach is saying and ignore the way he's saying it."

 

That's equally good advice where Fremer is concerned.

Office: MacBook Pro - Audirvana Plus - Resonessence Concero - Cavailli Liquid Carbon - Sennheiser HD 800.

Travel/Portable: iPhone 7 or iPad Pro - AudioQuest Dragonfly Red - Audeze SINE or Noble Savant

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Totally agree. I could never imagine an "objectivist" resorting to personal attacks and abuse against those who don't agree with them.

 

That sound you just heard is irony breathing its last breath.

Office: MacBook Pro - Audirvana Plus - Resonessence Concero - Cavailli Liquid Carbon - Sennheiser HD 800.

Travel/Portable: iPhone 7 or iPad Pro - AudioQuest Dragonfly Red - Audeze SINE or Noble Savant

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I've decided, just for myself, that there is no Pono Player. There is an Ayre Player, which I own and thoroughly enjoy. All the rest of it is irrelevant nonsense. I will load my Ayre Player using drag-and-drop, which allows me (rather than a poorly designed application) to decide what goes into internal memory and what goes on the card. I will continue to procure music from the same sources I have been using--a combination of HDT, ProStudioMasters, eClassical, Bandcamp, record company and artist websites, and (when all else fails) physical media.

 

If you get a chance to fool around with an Ayre Player, judge it on its own merit, as what it is, a portable player, rather than as the putative center of a peculiar ecosystem that I think is overwhelmingly likely to fail. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. My personal view is that it shreds the value proposition for all of the A&K players, the Calyx M, and the Z2 Walkman. You may or may not agree.

Office: MacBook Pro - Audirvana Plus - Resonessence Concero - Cavailli Liquid Carbon - Sennheiser HD 800.

Travel/Portable: iPhone 7 or iPad Pro - AudioQuest Dragonfly Red - Audeze SINE or Noble Savant

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My iPod classic was forcibly extricated from my minivan last spring (along with my iPad mini). I never got around to replacing it before it was discontinued. Would this thing be too good as a car player? It is the only thing I (personally) can think to use it for.

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My iPod classic was forcibly extricated from my minivan last spring (along with my iPad mini). I never got around to replacing it before it was discontinued. Would this thing be too good as a car player? It is the only thing I (personally) can think to use it for.

 

I haven't tried it in the car yet; I normally stream music from my phone to the car stereo via Bluetooth, and I don't know whether my car would mute a device connected via line in when a call comes in. But since you've asked, and since I will be stuck in rush hour traffic for an hour after a doctor's appointment tomorrow, I will.

 

Worth noting: as of two minutes ago, there were 3,775 iPods Classic listed for sale on eBay.

Office: MacBook Pro - Audirvana Plus - Resonessence Concero - Cavailli Liquid Carbon - Sennheiser HD 800.

Travel/Portable: iPhone 7 or iPad Pro - AudioQuest Dragonfly Red - Audeze SINE or Noble Savant

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totally agree. I could never imagine an "objectivist" resorting to personal attacks and abuse against those who don't agree with them.

 

Very droll. LOL

 

OTOH, Michael Fremer's "unpublished" reply certainly shows that he hasn't mellowed with age. It's a good thing he doesn't hold any strong opinions. :)

 

And, of course, where would be without Mayhem and his predictable cynical negativism about anything and everything in this hobby, with the possible exception of speakers and room treatment.

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

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