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Pushing back against the Pono critics


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Another variable: Many people actually prefer the sound of compressed music. Pogue's A/B tests seem to indicate people can distinguish between the two players. They just happen to pick the "wrong" one as sounding better.

FWIW I'm somewhat myopic, but don't wear glasses. I much prefer the look of the world with soft edges and slightly blurred surfaces, sort of like an impressionist painting vs a hyperreal air brush. Likewise with music, I actually find Magnapans a little too revealing - like the music gets lost in all that detail. I know - that's sacrilege on an audiophile forum, but I definitely do not prefer compressed music to uncompressed.

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

- Einstein

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I have to say that I am finding it hard to understand why Fremer, an analog guy through and through, is so passionate in his attacks on the Pono troofers. But he is, and his latest volley is extremely interesting.

 

This is Your Brain on CD Resolution Sound: Read The Study | Analog Planet

 

I will definitely be reading the Journal of Neurophysiology study to which he links sometime this weekend. Maybe while I'm listening to my Ayre Player in balanced mode.

 

If you read Fremer regularly, his biggest gripe is against Redbook and lower resolution. He agrees hi-res sounds better than Redbook, so he is defending it.

BTW, he has even once or twice agreed that: a well done hi res version of a recording, when played through high end equipment, is superior to the vinyl in some parameters. He enjoys listening to it, and could see why someone else wouldn't want the vinyl if they already had the digital.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protectors +>Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Strip/Protection>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three BXT (on their own electric circuit) >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three BXT

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Where are you getting all these really expensive headphones (just curious)? I'm sorry but I really do find it hard to believe that you prefer the iPhone when connected to your main system and kinda now wondering if you actually have a Pono player. :)

 

I live in the Austin area in a fairly upscale neighborhood. There are a lot of folks around here who love to talk stereo and have far more money to spend on it that I do, and *I* spent close to $2K on headphones. Well, my wife bought the 400is for me as a Christmas present, knowing how much I like Maggies. ;) But seriously, I help people out around here with both audio and (more frequently) computers.

 

And- as of about 30 mins, I do not have a Pono player any longer. Fastest sell on Craigslist, I didn't even have time to post it here before my phone beeped with an offer message.

 

Honestly guys, I know that at some of you hear an improvement, but it leads me to wonder how many of *you* actually compared your Pono to an iPhone, head to head? Even with just redbook files...?

 

-Paul

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

Robert A. Heinlein

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Interesting... Curious. Yes, I have done head to head redbook with my iPhone and sorry but to my ears there is really quite a big difference especially when played in my stereo setup (Unison Research S6/Kef LS50)... Enjoy the extra cash and go buy some music. (Preferably not from iTunes.:))

 

I live in the Austin area in a fairly upscale neighborhood. There are a lot of folks around here who love to talk stereo and have far more money to spend on it that I do, and *I* spent close to $2K on headphones. Well, my wife bought the 400is for me as a Christmas present, knowing how much I like Maggies. ;) But seriously, I help people out around here with both audio and (more frequently) computers.

 

And- as of about 30 mins, I do not have a Pono player any longer. Fastest sell on Craigslist, I didn't even have time to post it here before my phone beeped with an offer message.

 

Honestly guys, I know that at some of you hear an improvement, but it leads me to wonder how many of *you* actually compared your Pono to an iPhone, head to head? Even with just redbook files...?

 

-Paul

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Interesting... Curious. Yes, I have done head to head redbook with my iPhone and sorry but to my ears there is really quite a big difference especially when played in my stereo setup (Unison Research S6/Kef LS50)... Enjoy the extra cash and go buy some music. (Preferably not from iTunes.:))

 

Actually, I was just shopping on Acoustic Sounds - about to enjoy the cool sounds of:

 

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Taj MahalVM Bhatt-Mumtaz Mahal-DSD Single Rate 28MHz64fs Download | Acoustic Sounds

 

and

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Creedence Clearwater Revival-Bayou Country-DSD Single Rate 28MHz64fs Download | Acoustic Sounds

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

Robert A. Heinlein

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Wow, the Galloping Gourmet, I hadn't thought about him in forever. Graham Kerr, I think? And you are right, it was really somewhat of a food wasteland in much of America back then. My grandmother, bless her departed soul, was the worst cook I ever experienced growing up (or since). While she was a wonderful baker, and could make delicious baked goods, she was horrendous at preparing anything else. She literally boiled everything, including meat. You got beans, broccoli or other green vegetables cooked to the point where they were mostly gray, and beef that looked like a long used shoe insole. My mother, of course, insisted we be polite, and eat whatever grandma put in front of us, but my brother simply couldn't bring himself to eat that boiled beef. My mother could never understand why he kept getting these odd stains in his pants, which happened because he would sneak the beef off his plate and stuff it into his pocket. Thank god for those pastries at the end of the meal which we ate like starving orphans.

 

JC

 

TubeLover, I'm so glad that somebody recognized the reference! I think your right it was Graham Kerr, very nice pull. Ya its different in a lot of areas in modern society. I do all the cooking in my house and have probably 50 to 60 cookbooks, some I have never used...but bought and thought I might have depending on circumstances. Its really cool we have the information and the raw ingredients that our Mom's, and Grandmothers did not have access to....

 

Stuffing meat in is his pants is simply brilliant! :)

"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place". George Bernard Shaw.

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FWIW I'm somewhat myopic, but don't wear glasses. I much prefer the look of the world with soft edges and slightly blurred surfaces, sort of like an impressionist painting vs a hyperreal air brush. Likewise with music, I actually find Magnapans a little too revealing - like the music gets lost in all that detail. I know - that's sacrilege on an audiophile forum, but I definitely do not prefer compressed music to uncompressed.

 

Snowmonkey, I get it it. Hyper detail unless its done really really well sometimes sounds disjointed and you kind of get lost...It doesn't sound like music. Can't necessarily explain it but there you have it.

"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place". George Bernard Shaw.

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I feel so lucky - my Mom was a fantastic cook. My dad was too, and he was a meat cutter and would bring home absolutely delectable cuts of beef and such. Then grill them over an open wood fire in the back. Mom made fried chicken to drool over, veggies that were perfectly served, and special stuff, like mayos that had never met a can of condensed milk. Not that she could not make condensed milk do some wonderful things, especially with chicken and mushrooms. Or with home made cocoa fudge.

 

Worse, I had a flock of aunts who were as good as (or in some cases) better cooks than my Mom! Aunty Rosie's meatloaf for example, is still the best I have ever tasted. More like a savory steak loaf than anything else. Aunt Pearl was a wizard with anything, from fried hotdogs with a crispy skin to any kind of fish dish once could imagine. Aunt Wilma was the master of soups and cold collations, all of which were wonderful. And of course, some of my folks and friends all grew their own veggies.

 

A super market today looks pretty bad compared to the food we ate when I was growing up. Like I said, you guys make me feel very very luck. I can't remember anyone who was allowed to be a bad cook, the aunts would always descend should such an unwanted event even think of occurring.

 

Paul, I can't decide rather to be envious or put a pox on your house........It must have been marvelous growing up in the food based household. :)

"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place". George Bernard Shaw.

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I feel so lucky - my Mom was a fantastic cook. My dad was too, and he was a meat cutter and would bring home absolutely delectable cuts of beef and such. Then grill them over an open wood fire in the back. Mom made fried chicken to drool over, veggies that were perfectly served, and special stuff, like mayos that had never met a can of condensed milk. Not that she could not make condensed milk do some wonderful things, especially with chicken and mushrooms. Or with home made cocoa fudge.

 

Worse, I had a flock of aunts who were as good as (or in some cases) better cooks than my Mom! Aunty Rosie's meatloaf for example, is still the best I have ever tasted. More like a savory steak loaf than anything else. Aunt Pearl was a wizard with anything, from fried hotdogs with a crispy skin to any kind of fish dish once could imagine. Aunt Wilma was the master of soups and cold collations, all of which were wonderful. And of course, some of my folks and friends all grew their own veggies.

 

A super market today looks pretty bad compared to the food we ate when I was growing up. Like I said, you guys make me feel very very luck. I can't remember anyone who was allowed to be a bad cook, the aunts would always descend should such an unwanted event even think of occurring.

 

ok,now I'm hungry.

Vinyl is a hugely overpriced way to get flawed sound. Digital is an inexpensive way to get less flawed (though flawed nonetheless) sound.

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Their store is a great idea...the need for a stand alone music only player is yet to be demonstrated...a good phone with a good music app does much the same thing.

 

My phone has 8gb of storage, and I'd rather increase my investment in music than phone. Does it make a little more sense now?

Vinyl is a hugely overpriced way to get flawed sound. Digital is an inexpensive way to get less flawed (though flawed nonetheless) sound.

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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.

 

Why not using this amazing little thing?

http://nwavguy.blogspot.sg/2011/02/sansa-clip-measured.html

About $50 and with a 32gb microsd you'll have ~40gb to can carry all the music you need. Extra microsd cards dirt cheap nowadays. Day long battery, very usable interface and if you rockbox it, it will even play highres. Downsampled but who cares, it still sounds incredibly good for a $50 device. At least same as good as an ipod.

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My phone has 8gb of storage, and I'd rather increase my investment in music than phone. Does it make a little more sense now?

 

Run JRiver at home and stream to JRemote on your phone. (grin) It does redbook just fine, and you can transcode to MP3 if your have bandwidth issues.

 

Unlimited access to *all* your music, and your music is pretty much always available, so long as you have a wifi point nearby or a good cellular data plan. :)

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

Robert A. Heinlein

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Run JRiver at home and stream to JRemote on your phone. (grin) It does redbook just fine, and you can transcode to MP3 if your have bandwidth issues.

 

Unlimited access to *all* your music, and your music is pretty much always available, so long as you have a wifi point nearby or a good cellular data plan. :)

 

An iPhone doesn't do hi-res audio and not everyone wants to be or is connected to wifi at all times... I'm not sure why it's not okay for people to want a separate DAP from their phone... I love my pono and wouldn't want to get rid of it... And I also have to ability to use my phone, just because you didn't like your pono (if you had one) doesn't mean the rest of us can't.

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An iPhone doesn't do hi-res audio and not everyone wants to be or is connected to wifi at all times... I'm not sure why it's not okay for people to want a separate DAP from their phone... I love my pono and wouldn't want to get rid of it... And I also have to ability to use my phone, just because you didn't like your pono (if you had one) doesn't mean the rest of us can't.

 

Wow- your attitude is showing there a little.

 

1. iPhones certainly can do hi-res if you feed them to a Dac, like an iFi iDSD. Including DSD.

 

2. I find it hard to believe you are being snippy about a hunk of gear like the Pono. Of course it is alright for you to like it. It is not very nice of you to make nasty remarks like that though. I'm pretty sure that in terms of design and quality, a Pono's construction is somewhat inferior to an iPhone, but thst does not make it a worthless toy. It is a pretty nice player.

 

On the other hand, it is quite alright for people to like iPhones, Androids, or snything else better if the want to.

 

3. I did not make a big deal iut of the Pono because Of tge original reasons I posted.

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

Robert A. Heinlein

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Wow- your attitude is showing there a little.

 

1. iPhones certainly can do hi-res if you feed them to a Dac, like an iFi iDSD. Including DSD.

 

2. I find it hard to believe you are being snippy about a hunk of gear like the Pono. Of course it is alright for you to like it. It is not very nice of you to make nasty remarks like that though. I'm pretty sure that in terms of design and quality, a Pono's construction is somewhat inferior to an iPhone, but thst does not make it a worthless toy. It is a pretty nice player.

 

On the other hand, it is quite alright for people to like iPhones, Androids, or snything else better if the want to.

 

3. I did not make a big deal iut of the Pono because Of tge original reasons I posted.

 

Doesn't an iPhone down sample to 48/16? Everything I've read online says it does. I know you can put 48/24 files on it but I've never been able to put on anything higher and I've never heard of an iPhone playing Dsd files.

 

Sorry, if you feel that way. I've just been noticing all your posts how you didn't like the hype, the wait time about it looking like a hunk of candy in your pocket (all the typical bashing) and when a couple of people including me asked what model you had, you didn't reply, just that you had the fastest Craigslist sale. It just had me questioning if you truly did have a pono player or if you were just trolling, and if you did I sincerely apologize.

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It all depends on the needs of the person and how good they want their portable device to sound. I have an iPhone 4S which sounds okay but when my term was up I decided to get a Samsung Galaxy 5S and it's just terrible for a quality listening experience. I really don't think the care with smartphones are about getting the best sounding dac's and other electronics for sound quality whereas that's all a DAP is for... Do I think players like Fiios, Pono, Sony, A&K etc, will ever be popular in the mainstream, the answer is NO. The amount of people I know that listen to music through Youtube on their phone is incredible, people just don't care enough... I'd love to see that change over time, but agree I love the idea of the Pono store but I do really think the music labels really need to adjust the price point, when they want $37 for a Rolling Stones record, that's where I just off and really think the boat will sink before it ever floats.

 

Try a decent android phone, the USB audio player pro app, a few high rez files and any DAC...I use the Dragonfly...

 

Takes up far less space than the pono and plays the same resolution bypassing the phone DAC entirely.

I have found you an argument; I am not obliged to find you any understanding – Samuel Johnson

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My phone has 8gb of storage, and I'd rather increase my investment in music than phone. Does it make a little more sense now?

 

My phone came with 16gb of storage so I promptly added a 32GB sd card...problem solved.

I have found you an argument; I am not obliged to find you any understanding – Samuel Johnson

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Try a decent android phone, the USB audio player pro app, a few high rez files and any DAC...I use the Dragonfly...

 

Takes up far less space than the pono and plays the same resolution bypassing the phone DAC entirely.

 

The pono isn't that big. If you're going by photos it can be deceptive. The size is the same as a phone... I remember reading a nice review of the dragonfly in Stereophile awhile back... I'm all set I've got my phone and my pono, I'm good to go, not looking for anything.

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Doesn't an iPhone down sample to 48/16? Everything I've read online says it does. I know you can put 48/24 files on it but I've never been able to put on anything higher and I've never heard of an iPhone playing Dsd files.

 

Sorry, if you feel that way. I've just been noticing all your posts how you didn't like the hype, the wait time about it looking like a hunk of candy in your pocket (all the typical bashing) and when a couple of people including me asked what model you had, you didn't reply, just that you had the fastest Craigslist sale. It just had me questioning if you truly did have a pono player or if you were just trolling, and if you did I sincerely apologize.

 

Yep, I truly did put out the $$ and try the Pono, it just isn't my cup of tea is all. I didn't mean to sound like I was bashing it, just saying that it isn't automatically better for everyone than an iPhone. Apologies if anything I said led you down another path.

 

If you listen through the iPhone's DAC, I do believe it downsamples everything. But I was pointing out that you an attach just about any USB DAC you want to the iPhone with a $19 camera connector, and play just about any resolution you want, up to and including DSD. Sure that isn't a fair comparison, but it is possible. I often take an iFi iDSD Nano with me.

 

-Paul

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

Robert A. Heinlein

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If you listen through the iPhone's DAC, I do believe it downsamples everything. But I was pointing out that you an attach just about any USB DAC you want to the iPhone with a $19 camera connector, and play just about any resolution you want, up to and including DSD. Sure that isn't a fair comparison, but it is possible. I often take an iFi iDSD Nano with me.

 

-Paul

 

Now, that makes more sense to me why the Pono player is unnecessary for your needs. Unfortunately I don't remember you mentioning that you were using the iPhone with an outside portable dac attached to it. If you did, I missed it.

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Now, that makes more sense to me why the Pono player is unnecessary for your needs. Unfortunately I don't remember you mentioning that you were using the iPhone with an outside portable dac attached to it. If you did, I missed it.

 

Post 100 I think, but it really isn't important. :)

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

Robert A. Heinlein

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Not sure what you mean?

 

Edit.. I see.

 

No, I meant, you are right. When I read back over what I wrote, I could see how you would take it as being rather aggressive, and I honestly didn't mean it that way. I really had not read that article by David until just a few posts ago when someone posted it thinking it was Mikey Fremer. Sincere apologies.

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

Robert A. Heinlein

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It's interesting that there has been so much chatter about Pono, iPhone, and other portable players and no one discussed the amplifier. I use a pair of custom molded Ultimate Ears IEMs and discovered that they sounded WAY better with an outboard amplifier. The amp in the iPhone was good for maybe 30 minutes, then the bass starts to get sloppy and it goes downhill from there.

 

So beyond the DAC itself, having a descent amplifier is a huge plus.

Analog: Koetsu Rosewood > VPI Aries 3 w/SDS > EAR 834P > EAR 834L: Audiodesk cleaner

Digital Fun: DAS > CAPS v3 w/LPS (JRMC) SOtM USB > Lynx Hilo > EAR 834L

Digital Serious: DAS > CAPS v3 w/LPS (HQPlayer) Ethernet > SMS-100 NAA > Lampi DSD L4 G5 > EAR 834L

Digital Disc: Oppo BDP 95 > EAR 834L

Output: EAR 834L > Xilica XP4080 DSP > Odessey Stratos Mono Extreme > Legacy Aeris

Phones: EAR 834L > Little Dot Mk ii > Senheiser HD 800

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Have to preface this by saying the obvious: there is no reliable way to disaggregate the effect of switching from single-ended to balanced mode from the effect of switching from the stock Noble IEM cable to Moon Audio Black Dragon. Also note that these impressions come from using the Noble PR in R mode; haven't tried P mode, and haven't tried installing the Moon Audio balanced cable on my UERM.

 

With that said:

 

HOLY MOLY!

 

What does balanced mode give you? Lower noise floor, wider and deeper soundstage, maybe a little better transient response, beautifully tight and extended bass, dead-on instrumental timbre (to cite only one example, I can't remember ever hearing Lee Morgan's trumpet on "Moment's Notice" sound better on any mobile device with any headphones), maybe a little bit less of the "edge" that some people claim is characteristic of DACs built around ESS Sabre chips.

 

What I have now is better than what I had two hours ago, and it's not close.

 

I strongly recommend that if you have headphones that you are using with the Ayre Player that can easily be used with a balanced cable, try it in balanced mode. Obviously I can't guarantee that you'll hear the magnitude of improvement that I'm hearing, but it's absolutely worth a shot.

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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