PONO Editorial?

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Suntower
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PONO Editorial?

Post by Suntower » Sat Mar 21, 2015 11:01 pm

Call me a hick and a Luddite, but I know very little about PONO... and (gasp) I don't find 16/44.1 a tragedy.

But I found the author's enthusiasm intriguing... so this is a sincere (if perhaps 'noob' question)

How does this work without decent transducers? Even if the $400 player and media has all the beauty of being at the concert hall, what's the big deal without decent cans or speakers (which most people do not nor ever will have)?

IOW: I may be missing something, but it seems like this only addresses -half- of the challenge of getting people back to listening to quality sound. And in fact, I think the other half (transducers) is actually a tougher nut to crack than D/A or compression.

What am I missing?

As always, thanks for a great magazine.

---JC

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Post by kslight » Sun Mar 22, 2015 7:51 am

There is a big Pono thread back from when it was announced debating it's merits.

My argument is that my problem with the quality of music released is the loudness war approach to mixing and mastering...and any extended resolution of that is worthless to me. A lot would probably need remastered to get any benefit...and honestly I think that getting remastered versions at 16/44.1 would take us 95% of the way there, that Pono only addresses the least significant parts of audio quality. Not saying that sample rate and D/A don't matter...but really the source is where it's starts. Coupled with the fact that unless the Pono is a huge success, most of the artists I listen to probably don't have the budget or rights to reissue their back catalog remastered for Pono...

IMHO

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Post by JWL » Sun Mar 22, 2015 9:22 am

Yeah. Well then.

I think that people who believe that some aspect of digital audio (ie, the fact that it's digital at all, or even high bit rate mp3s) are the biggest problem in good-sounding music are either delusional or selling something. Did I just say that out loud?

I mean, in one of the recent pono-related videos floating around that had Neil Young in it, they didn't even understand the difference between audio compression (dynamic range fiddling) and data compression (as in mp3s).

I completely agree that earbuds, and piss-poor engineering/mastering from the loudness wars are by far bigger impediments to good musical listening experiences than anything else.

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Post by Suntower » Sun Mar 22, 2015 11:11 am

As I wrote, I really have no dog in this fight.

But IMHO, it doesn't matter what the signal is, the battle is lost unless it becomes fashionable to actually -listen- to music again, for long periods of time, as an activity unto itself.

Otherwise, how do you convince the listening public to invest in decent speakers or headphones?

The battle seems lost as much due to portability (ie. how people listen to music these days) as it is to the quality of the medium. I'm trying to the of the last time I went to ANYONE'S house (other than a few weirdos like me) and they actually -listened- to music.

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Post by dfuruta » Sun Mar 22, 2015 11:39 am

High bit rate mp3s sound fine to me. As far as I can find, the credible studies out there show that the difference between 44.1/16 and higher isn't audible. Until there's some proof, seems to me this is in the same category of marketing bullshit as fancy cables & high-bandwidth mic preamps. Kind of disappointed tape op didn't think a little more critically.

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Post by roscoenyc » Mon Mar 23, 2015 5:31 am

If you strive for the most enjoyment you can get from music and don't look at music as a passive thing Pono and other HD Tracks sources can be great.
My assessment of PONO's marking strategy is that they really left the D to A out of their pitch. A better D to A sounds better.

What tells me it's catching on is that more labels are asking for 192/24 masters in addition to the 44.1 and vinyl masters.

It's surprising that many top mastering rooms don't have the gear to work 192 right now but I believe that will change within this year.

For me it's just fine to have products that are marketed towards the "active listener".
It's not for everybody and that's just fine with me.

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Post by Scodiddly » Mon Mar 23, 2015 4:25 pm

I'd agree that transducers are a lot more important than higher resolution at this point.

Also, of course the record companies are jumping on board. They smell a chance to sell you your music collection all over again.

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Post by floid » Mon Mar 23, 2015 5:03 pm

People that i know are interested in audio devices like "soundbars" and "bump cans" and features such as "aux input" and "bluetooth". Because that's what's available. It's what's marketed, is maybe more accurate.

I didn't know PONO was balanced until i read the T.O. article. But it begs the question: what is the typical consumer going to find at a typical retailer that they can even plug it in to? A line debalancer from Radio Shack? Oh, wait...
Village Idiot.

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Post by kslight » Mon Mar 23, 2015 6:39 pm

It's perfectly fine to release a product for better sounding audio, however, let's get back to better sounding audio before worrying about the playback device.

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Post by digitaldrummer » Tue Mar 24, 2015 12:02 pm

Blu-Ray
4K
$$$

now you have 4 copies of that movie and a garage full of old TVs right? yep, it's just an opportunity to re-sell you the records you already bought once or twice already.

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Post by TapeOpLarry » Tue Apr 07, 2015 7:05 pm

kslight wrote:It's perfectly fine to release a product for better sounding audio, however, let's get back to better sounding audio before worrying about the playback device.
Chicken or Egg?
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Post by Suntower » Tue Apr 07, 2015 9:48 pm

digitaldrummer wrote:Blu-Ray
4K
$$$

now you have 4 copies of that movie and a garage full of old TVs right? yep, it's just an opportunity to re-sell you the records you already bought once or twice already.
LOL. However, at the risk of blaspheming, I believed in the -idea- of CDs. People forget how fraught/crappy vinyl was. Yeah, it was fine for old guys with Macintosh tube amps and turntables with little gyroscopes, but yer average bloke treated them no better than people treat iPods and earbuds today.

The real difference? THE ARTWORK!

What drove me nuts about CDs was:
a) the price
b) the insultingly crap artwork

But sound? Durability? It was -definitely- a HUGE (mostly) step forward.

What I find interesting is that CDs did not coincide with improved -listening-. IOW": they came out just at a time when people were not actually -listening- to music as much. So they re-bought their music collection but did NOT upgrade their transducers. So... the average guy never heard the improvement... except to the extent that you can turn the apparent loudness up to '11'.

I haven't upgraded my TV because, as has been pointed out... what's the point unless I get the whole megillah... HD content and all? It -is- a Chicken/Egg deal.

I won't get PONO unless someone makes a set of earbuds that sound -really- good. I mean, what's the point of having 'HD' audio if I'm still listening through, basically, some really cool looking hearing aids?

I believe that -most- people (outside of 'connoisseurs' will feel the same; they will accept that 'bud' quality is just the price of convenience. And as we all know, convenience always wins out.

YMMV

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Post by Injured Ear » Wed Apr 08, 2015 6:13 am

There are some really great sounding earbuds out there. I should know, I've lost or broken several sets of them!

Unfortunately with earbuds and sanitary issues, there's not really a try before you buy option. With some vendors you can purchase several sets and return the ones you're not happy with, but it is a hassle. And with the various shapes of people's ear canals, what sounds good to one person may not sound good to another.

There are many sets of headphones that are quite good sounding. Just look at how many "what headphones do you recommend/what headphones are good for mixing" threads there are on the forums and how many pages they run!

Listening on a good set of cans or buds is one of the best "immersive" listening situations.

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Post by kslight » Wed Apr 08, 2015 8:16 am

TapeOpLarry wrote:
kslight wrote:It's perfectly fine to release a product for better sounding audio, however, let's get back to better sounding audio before worrying about the playback device.
Chicken or Egg?
More than chicken and egg, I think CDs and/or high bitrate mp3s are already capable formats within the limitations of the average playback system, and my biggest complaints to either are related to the production values of the recording/mixing/mastering and the quality of speakers, not the format themselves. Maybe the Pono is a step in the right direction, but IMHO it is a very minor and misguided one, mainly it seeks to fix a problem without the most effective solution.

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Post by JWL » Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:40 pm

kslight wrote:
TapeOpLarry wrote:
kslight wrote:It's perfectly fine to release a product for better sounding audio, however, let's get back to better sounding audio before worrying about the playback device.
Chicken or Egg?
More than chicken and egg, I think CDs and/or high bitrate mp3s are already capable formats within the limitations of the average playback system, and my biggest complaints to either are related to the production values of the recording/mixing/mastering and the quality of speakers, not the format themselves. Maybe the Pono is a step in the right direction, but IMHO it is a very minor and misguided one, mainly it seeks to fix a problem without the most effective solution.
This. Absolutely.

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