Dr. AIX's POSTS — 08 January 2015


I had a great day yesterday at the CES. For starters, I walked right past the HRA ballroom at 9:00 and visited the Sands Hall for about an hour. I know there were some folks that came by the booth during that time…I’m really glad that I made the effort. The first area was filled with health and fitness stuff. There’s something for every aspect of your health way beyond Fitbit. I happened on a group that was offering bone conduction headphones. They are worn like a reverse set of glasses with the active driver pressing on your temples. I put on a pair and the booth person started up a selection of music. I wasn’t impressed…and that’s not because I’m used to high-quality headphones like the new Sony’s or the Oppo PM-1s that I use at my booth. There was no high end. I mean these sounded like a set of speakers with the midrange and tweeters blown. So I asked if he could play something with lots of high frequencies. He switched the track with no improvement. Their “engineers” claim 20-20 kHz response…but they’re dreaming.

My next encounter was very interesting. I noticed a set of headphones with a whole bunch of sensors arrayed across the headband. The attendant explained that these headphones detect your brain waves in addition to supplying “24-bit” wireless audio. A light went off in my head. Perhaps these could be part of the research project that so desperately needs to be done regarding high-res making a different in your ear or brain. I don’t know much about the brain measuring stuff but ended up talking with the guy at the booth that does. He seemed very interested in working with me on seeing it the brain “hear” 96 kHz/24-bit PCM audio different than CD res or MP3s. This should be interesting.

After listening to Neil Young’s position that “higher numbers are better” (meaning sample rate and word lengths), my resolve in trying to determine whether that true or not was reinvigorated. Neil believes that he’s already proved it. Here’s an extended quote from his press event on Tuesday (I will provide an audio file once I get back to LA for you to listen to but for some reason I’m having trouble importing videos into my laptop).

“Our base level is 44 – 16 and we go up to 192 – 24…which is good for you audiophiles. If you’re not an audiophile, a larger number is better than a smaller one. Things go a lot faster, there’s a lot more happening. And it’s more fun to listen to. We proved that it’s more fun to listen to. So we don’t have to prove that anymore. All the musicians that I know, about a hundred of them got in my car where we played back our stuff. We had a little device that would switch back and forth between the songs and you could switch between all of the resolutions. We had four resolutions starting with the lowly MP3, and going up to the 192. They all came to the same conclusion…we didn’t have to tell anybody anything. We had a 100% win at 192…over 96, over any compressed files that were supposedly going to playback at 192 quality. Some of them came close but they didn’t come all the way. For some scientific reason, I can’t really explain why…musicians can all hear what some scientists say we can’t hear…but that’s OK. The main thing is musicians can hear this. Musicians make their music in the studio. That’s why I did this because I love what I hear.”

This “study” that Pono did would be a groundbreaking addition to the science of acoustics and audiology and even a great AES paper. It would put the question to bed once and for all. But I don’t I’m alone in being a little skeptical about his process, tools, procedures, and results. Stepping in to a 1972 Cadillac with a tricked out sound system driven by a Pono doesn’t exactly instill a lot of confidence in the results. I think more needs to be done.

I want to establish the same thing as Neil Young does…although I believe 96 kHz is more than enough. But it’s going to take more than his assurances to make me a believer. And if he has indeed proved that 192 kHz is the spec that is “more fun to listen to” then why are there only 15,000 albums of the total of 2.1 million available on the PonoMusic website available at that resolution?

Got to run.

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About Author


Mark Waldrep, aka Dr. AIX, has been producing and engineering music for over 40 years. He learned electronics as a teenager from his HAM radio father while learning to play the guitar. Mark received the first doctorate in music composition from UCLA in 1986 for a "binaural" electronic music composition. Other advanced degrees include an MS in computer science, an MFA/MA in music, BM in music and a BA in art. As an engineer and producer, Mark has worked on projects for the Rolling Stones, 311, Tool, KISS, Blink 182, Blues Traveler, Britney Spears, the San Francisco Symphony, The Dover Quartet, Willie Nelson, Paul Williams, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company and many more. Dr. Waldrep has been an innovator when it comes to multimedia and music. He created the first enhanced CDs in the 90s, the first DVD-Videos released in the U.S., the first web-connected DVD, the first DVD-Audio title, the first music Blu-ray disc and the first 3D Music Album. Additionally, he launched the first High Definition Music Download site in 2007 called iTrax.com. A frequency speaker at audio events, author of numerous articles, Dr. Waldrep is currently writing a book on the production and reproduction of high-end music called, "High-End Audio: A Practical Guide to Production and Playback". The book should be completed in the fall of 2013.

(47) Readers Comments

  1. Great work as always, Dr. AIX!
    I was thinking of you as I thumbed through my latest issue of The Absolute Sound. I read their review of the latest “hi-res” music downloads, most of which were hi-res containers of older, lower-s res recording. The audiophile community, at least as represented by this esteemed magazine, is really not being mislead with the reviews of these downloads. They are, as far as I can see (I’ve been reading TAS since 1979), firmly committed to music that “sounds” as good as it can to “their” ears. Specs and snake oil really don’t matter. It’s but one path. They claim it’s the path of the absolute truth.
    We, with your help, now are learning that some forms of magic, are at their base, still magic.

    So pay attention to that man behind the curtain at your own risk.

    • Thanks Barry…

  2. It is glaringly obvious that your resentment and unceasing denigrating of the Pono move has more than just a moderate technical basis, i.e., clearly a carefully concealed personal element also fuels your passive/aggressive Pono campaign. Jealous maybe? I really don’t see how you keep describing a positive-going wave as just the opposite.

    Neil Young’s message can be interpreted differently than you have done, and he is speaking in non-technical terms so that folks who are not tweaked up can get the message .He is stating straight up that hi-res sounds best, and to me at least appears perfectly transparent about the need and goal of steadily increasing the number of hi-res titles available on the Pono music service. 15,000 hi-res titles and growing sounds fine to me to start , and HD Trax, your site and many more have 24/96 material available.

    Yes, many of us boomers including Neil Young can be both humorously and semi-accurately described as “hundred year old hippies.” Well guess what? Hundred year old hippies align with other hundred year old hippies, and there are an awful lot of us out there. As well, despite the 399.00 price, the player has a “cool factor” which may well help bring beats-wearing millenials into the hi-fi circle.

    Listen to the Beatles Mark; Let It Be; you must have better things to do than diss Pono. Oh, and very experienced musicians’ perceptions of sound quality are to be similarly dismissed, right? Come on now.

    As I’ve written before, the hangups for which you continually flay Pono are also easily understood as teething pains, not an attempt to dupe the public. I sincerely doubt that many Pono player owners bought them to elect the ‘worst’ formats, i.e. 128 MP-3 . Mark, Neil himself described 16/44 as “baseline,”, and again, if the ‘worst’ sound folks could typically hear was 16/44, that in itself is a major improvement over 128 MP-3. Over and out.

    • What’s obvious to you Craig, is not so obvious to the many others that appreciate the accurate reporting on the machinations of Neil and his team of insiders. Sometimes the facts hurt and you really need to adjust your thinking or perhaps cease reading the stuff on this site.

      There is nothing positive going on at Pono, where did you read that? They are very pressed for money as Neil Young stated on Tuesday, they’ve got 2.1 million ripped CD on their site, and 5000 “real HD-Audio” albums (made from standard resolution transfers), have sold 200,000 tracks since October (for a total upside of $120,000ish of revenue (remember that 70 % goes to the labels), and have a very limited supply of hardware to sell.

      He’s not speaking on non-technical terms for the group of audio journalists gathered for the Tuesday press event. When asked, he stated that all of the 2.1 million tracks are “high-resolution”…that’s untrue. The device is being eclipsed by better and most cost effect portable high-resolution hardware. The addition of DSD in 2015 is a smoke screen to keep themselves relevant.

      Teething pains don’t include being untruthful about the realities of the emerging high-resolution arena. As much crap as I gave HDtracks when they weren’t being straight about provenance etc…Neil needs to get his crew on board in the same way. I doubt it will happen. He said “Baseline” and “high-resolution”.

      The head of the DEG stated today on the final panel of the day that “compact discs aren’t high-resolution”.

      You need to stick to the facts. I’m just reporting what I know. I have no agenda with Neil or Pono. Just do the right thing. Rushing to get 2.1 million CD rips is not the right way to launch the Ponomusic site.

      • Input understood and accepted. It’s actually pretty simple and will let us end this back and forth. I and many others have faith in Neil Young. For your own valid but perhaps not over-riding reasons, you do not have faith in Neil Young. How about we leave it right there Mark?

        Let Pono rise or fall on its’ own, and fill your erudite columns with different topics than the almost unceasing digs at Pono that have now used up quite a lot of print. That is all I’ve been asking; find another topic, please.

        • That’s all fair enough Craig, but Neil Young is the mouth of high-resolution audio. He put himself in this position and when he does a big press event and an interview with Rolling Stones and shows up on NPR, would you not admit that I am obligated to talk about Pono and him. He was in the room with me, I shook his hand, and reached out to him about some of the issues…but I don’t count. Now that the new info graphic has come out, verifying what I’ve been saying for many, many months (the CD’s are in the HRA club), I think it’s time that Neil acknowledge that PonoMusic is not “the world’s largest high-resolution digital music store” (HDtracks has three times as many track…even it they are MQ-A designated) and that virtually ALL of their content is standard resolution CDs. The Pono device is well designed and delivers on the promise of great portable audio…but it’s not the best portable device out there nor the cheapest.

          I have no problem pushing back and forth with you. However, I don’t appreciate you saying the I have it out for Neil and Pono. I’m a fan, I appreciate what he originally promised, and I hope that he gets back to that promise. He’s struggling for money and losing his integrity. He’s one among many topics. Go back and check the last 6 weeks…I haven’t pestered him much at all.
          s n

          • I doubt that Mr. Young is personally hurting for money, and every smart business person I know will say,”always use someone else’s money.”

            I’m not contradicting anyhing you have written, just interpreting differently.

            You are in a very tough competitive business/market, and as far as I can tell, you both have music to sell as a very high priority, so my assumption of professional under-currents is not at all out of line. By pointing out that the Pono Music service is only quasi-hi-res, you are one way or the other re-directing the light to shine on your label’s output, which you may quite proudly say is 100% hi-res; great.

            You keep asking me to “be honest with myself ” re: Pono. Fine, but you too maybe need a little self-analysis here; it is illogical to think you wouldn’t have both an axe to grind and a competitive attitude. The fact that he is getting so much publicity for his apparently flawed move, compared to your apparently unassailable recordings, would piss me off too were I in your spot.

            But N.Y. is the only person who swings a big enough bat to bring shame on MP-3 and generate large-scale public support for a “better sound” campaign. By going for his throat, you may well be slitting your own.

            As long as I don’t see this ‘bitter bob’ routine, I won’t flog this topic anymore. I’d much rather tell you how much I love your Byrd/Almeida dvd-audio disc. We do have better things to share. Please Mark, think “Big Picture.”

            As screwed up as you find Pono, there is no question that Neil Young is all about the “Big Picture,”, no matter how flawed , no matter if mistakes were/are made. The jury will be out for quite some time reaching a final verdict on Pono. You seem to infer that judge, jury and others have convicted him and that all that need be decided is the punishment; how totally ridiculous and equally counter-productive. All you really need to say is,”My stuff sounds much better than his stuff and I can prove it,” and nothing else.

          • We’re just going to agree to disagree Craig. I don’t make a profit on the recordings that I have produced and make available on discs and downloads. I am a professor, own a large building with leased studios in it, run my own post production facility, and collect royalties on various license deals. I went into the high-resolution business to prove to myself and others that the fidelity level of commercial recordings could be better than what the major labels were issuing. I built a catalog of new real HD-Audio projects in stereo and surround to establish a new level of fidelity. According to the magazines, the artists I’ve recorded, and the customers that continue to discover our small catalog, I managed to attain that goal. I’m not alone in making superb recordings (Linn, 2L, Harmonia Mundi, and many more). The priority status of selling my catalog is actually very low.

            As hard as it might be to believe, I’m more interested in elevating the fidelity of recordings available from everyone making records…not only my own. I have no axe to grind with anyone that is honestly trying to make quality recordings available to all of us. PonoMusic and Neil warrant attention because of his profile and his long history of advocating for fidelity better than compact discs. If you go back and read his tirades against CDs, you find out just how pissed off a person can be.

            But now that he wants to establish the “largest high-resolution audio site in the world” by filling it with 99.999% CD rips, I don’t get pissed off. I report.

            The long term health of a market for great sounding recordings is completely dependent on a catalog of great sound recordings. If early adopters get the same fidelity as they’ve been able to get for at least 3 decades, they will be less inclined to pursue more “so-called high-resolution” recordings. This diminishes the chances for success across the board. The HDtracks guys are doing it right. I chewed at their heals in the past because of upconversion and marketing spin. There’s still far too much hype behind the older recording parading as “true high-res” but they are at least honest about the CD resolution stuff that they’ve got.

            Neil Young’s company is struggling for its financial life, I know this for a fact. They’ve run blindly into the future of “high-resolution” by believing that audiophiles will repurchase CD fidelity for their new portable players. I firmly believe they would do much better to focus on quality rather than quantity. Get rid of the CD rips and focus on the new transfers of analog tapes to high-resolution.

            The arrival of the new “info graphic” the other day will make it pretty much impossible for Neil to continue to insist that his catalog is “high-resolution”…clearly the definition doesn’t include his offerings.

  3. Considering the level of hearing damage that some of these musicians have, I have to laugh at that one. Plus, listening in a car? Really?

    • Yeah, come on. It was 100% 192 kHz…that what he pitched them and then delivered something much lower.

  4. We saw the news clip of the musicians after the Neil Young experience. It was a religious revival — and the newly-healed were singing alleluia! A skeptic in that crowd would have been dead meat.

    Where does that leave science? I’d love to have my man open up the blackbox switch. Let’s call James Randi.

    • I honestly think that Charlie built a really good device…it’s it the best. Not from what I’ve heard. And in fact, the unit that Neil used in the famous car testimonial video was a prototype designed and built by Robert Stuart and the team at Meridian. How about that for a bait and switch. There’s a whole sorted story here too…but most told to me in confidence.

      • Wow. That’s incredibly interesting. I’ve thought it was curious that after leaving the Pono team Meridian’s rollout of MQA had a lot of similar marketing verbiage to Pono: Getting back to “the music the artist wanted you to hear”

        What are the chances that what Neil Young’s famous friends were raving about hearing in the Cadillac was really MQA?

        • The only Pono players were 3-4 Meridian units at the time. The current model hadn’t yet been designed and built.

    • Interesting…I would politely point out that AIX Records produced the first DVD-Audio disc for Motorola AND launched the first high-resolution digital audio download site…iTrax.com was launch almost a year ahead of HDtracks. And we remain the only site that actually delivers real HD_Audio.

  5. Mark wrote: “Stepping in to a 1972 Cadillac with a tricked out sound system driven by a Pono doesn’t exactly instil a lot of confidence in the results. I think more needs to be done.”

    That’s putting it lightly.

    Mark wrote: “I want to establish the same thing as Neil Young does…although I believe 96 kHz is more than enough. But it’s going to take more than his assurances to make me a believer.”

    It’s pretty obvious the man’s full of it and hasn’t got a clue; I’m not a fan of his so have no problem sayin’ what I see’..

    • I am a huge fan and have a Gold DVD on my wall thanks to the work I did with Neil Young. And yes, he’s still spouting untruths and misinformation to help bring attention to his struggling company.

  6. “We proved that it’s more fun to listen to. So we don’t have to prove that anymore”

    REALLY, THAT’S STILL HIS POSITION? That’s the most ridiculous thing I think I’ve ever heard about a listening test and I’ve heard some crazy stuff written in the audiophile mags over the last 40 years.. Any the best he can still offer for a listening room/equipment is his 72 Caddy system???

    Neil, you want to PROVE something you do so with double blind tests. Anything less would be laughed out of any scientific testing community in the world. But I guess this sort of BS has been passing in the wacko audiophile world for years.

    Hey I got an idea, I bet if he put a half dozen PHT magic dots on the Caddie’s air cleaner his listening panel could hear even more fun in the music a block away 100% of the time too, and get 10 miles more to the gallon at the same time. 🙂

    These idiots should take a listen to your Mark Chesnut HD recording if they want to hear REAL music.

    • Thanks Sal… The Mark Chesnutt record is not an audiophile favorite…bit I love it.

      • I don’t understand your reply at all Mark? Didn’t you record Your Room in true HD? Or are we talking musical tastes? It’s the only thing you’ve recorded that I bought cause I didn’t find anything else of musical interest to me.
        Does it have to be jazz or classical to be a “audiophile favorite”? If HD is going to be successful it will have to be offered in musical styles that are popular and sell in larger numbers and I’m sure you’re aware that country music outsells jazz and classical by a large margin as a genres in the US
        Why did you dis your own work?

        • I’m talking about the musical style…the Texas crooner doesn’t usually light up attendees at the trade shows. I did it just like all of the others….in real HD-Audio

          • I’m surprised as I think I detect more of a musical elitist attitude here.
            Who cares what “lights up attendees at the trade shows” ? Do you want HD to become part of main stream audio and itrax to sell a lot of records or forever be stuck in the small world of audiophile cliches.

            “Chesnutt has charted more than thirty singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, including eight No. 1 singles.[1] He released eleven studio albums and a Greatest Hits package. His first three albums — Too Cold at Home (1990), Longnecks & Short Stories (1992), and Almost Goodbye (1993) — and his 1996 Greatest Hits album have all achieved RIAA platinum certification in the United States, while 1994’s What a Way to Live was certified gold.”

            How many records has John Gorka sold? Paul Williams is mainly known as a writer of songs for other popular artists and movie. Laurence Juber who? None has had any real commercial success as solo artists and I doubt their solo releases has equaled Chesnutts sales all combined.

            You seemed to want to make a big deal out of having Willie Nelson in your catalog which I looked forward to buying. Then only to find out he only sang on one or two songs on Paul Williams album.

            Sad as it is sounds looks like I and the rest of the general music buying public will be stuck looking to HDTracks and Neil Young to pend our money with, since itrax seems to look down on recording a hugely talented and successful “Texas crooner”. I guess itrax and AIX will forever be stuck offering a catalog of artists that only a very few are interested in.

            Hard for me to express how disappointed I am over this whole affair, I was hoping for a brighter future here.

          • I love the sound and music on the Mark Chesnutt project. And I’m equally frustrated that I can’t record a bunch of big artists…at least the ones that could do what I need them to do (sing and play their stuff in a live recording session). It’s all about money and marketplace. A whole record of Willie Nelson would break the bank and his label and handlers wouldn’t allow it. I’ve done the artists that I’ve done to prove that making high-resolution albums is possible, cost effective, and compelling.

            The reality is that the commercial artists will never embrace high fidelity recordings. Just listen to the high-resolution TOm Petty BD Disc or the “Audiophile mastered” Nine Inch Nails project from a year ago. I’m of with these realities. There are thousands of customers that have discovered how wonderful John Gorka and Laurence JUber are.

            The future is not bright.

        • Sal, I think you’re completely misinterpreting Mark’s comments if you think he’s “dis-ing” his own recording. He was merely saying that the Mark Chesnutt album wasn’t big with the audiophile crowd, not that he doesn’t like it or isn’t proud of it. If he was “above” recording music like Mr. Chesnutt’s then why did he record it at all? Re-read the thread. Mark is merely reporting the reaction of others and not putting down his own recordings which I’m sure he loves like one of his children.

  7. Shouldn’t papers addressing these issues ALREADY be on the AES website? If not, one might conclude that the AES is useless and irrelevant to audio progress. Or, one might conclude that the answers are already well known and not worth investing further time and effort in experiments by the unbiased scientific community.

    There’s Oohashi, but that’s been contraindicated by subsequent efforts to confirm it. So that’s out.

    My biggest concern is that relentless talk on this topic is always from people with a stake in the answer: Meridian, Pono, Madrona Digital, iTrax, DSD download sites, etc. That’s a big concern for humble audio consumers like me who don’t want to be manipulated and ripped off.

    So far, there is no ‘clinical’ evidence that we can hear or otherwise sense audio above 20 kHz, that I am privy to. There’s PLENTY of evidence to the reverse. So, the sensible conclusion is clear. And on that basis, we should be looking to sub-20 kHz differences to explain why high-res audio might sound better. But all indications are that no-one wants to look there because they pretty much know the answer they will find if they do.

    The reason I am here is because I am interested in being at the leading edge of audio progress in playback technology, so I am happy to be convinced. But OTOH I am not going to lap up hype; I prefer solid evidence. So far, my position is that 1644 is skirting the margins and I prefer better margins, so 2496 more than comfortably clears the margins of audibility for me. I’m not buying the notion that there’s a clear audible advantage, though. What I *am* buying is the clear audible advantage of surround sound. It has been objectively demonstrated, both via listener preference experiments and sound field reproduction measurements. There must be a ‘science’ of mixing and mastering music to comply with the above experiments and measurements, and I am interested to know whether the studio engineers are on top of this, or don’t really know much about it? Perhaps a further article from you might tackle this, Mark?

    • There are a number of papers…including the thoroughly discredited Meyer and Moran study. My own curiosity is tweaked…I want to do a rigorous test and determine if it’s true. If we can’t tell the difference or our brains don’t show some physiological changes then I happy to report the high-resolution audio is for naught.

  8. i read it several times to avoid any misinterpretation, but no it’s true, Mr Young demo’d hi res in a car. Then again why am I surprised by the thought processes of a man who recorded his last album in a telephone booth…

  9. I think it was in your column, Mark, that you mentioned a medical study that explored the idea of perceiving high frequency signals above 20 kHz through other organs than their ears – I think the study was proposing the eyes as ultrasonic sensors. In my online search to review this study, I came across this other interesting study in which brain activity was monitored in response to “inaudible high frequency sounds” up to 100 kHz. The authors conclude, “These results suggest the existence of a previously unrecognized response to complex sound containing particular types of high frequencies above the audible range.” They also determined that subjects found “full range sound” (high frequency components above 22 kHz, or HFC, plus low frequency components below 22 kHz, or LFC) was more “pleasurable” than LFC alone. Here’s the link to the study, which also has an extensive list of references: http://jn.physiology.org/content/83/6/3548

    • Thanks very much.

    • That’s the Oohashi paper, which I mentioned above should be put aside, based on subsequent attempts to replicate its ‘hypersonic effect’ failing in every respect, i.e. listeners and measurements. That’s not just my opinion, but the considered opinion of those who tried to replicate it, and others who have tried to summarise the results of these attempts.

  10. A Japanese team including Oohashi has expanded their research on human physiological response to high frequency sound in a new paper published in April 2014. They conclude that while high frequencies above 32 kHz produce positive brain response, response below this frequency is negative. The full paper can be found here: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0095464

    • Thanks

  11. At start-up of the Pono project, Neil Young did a great job to make people aware about better sound quality and how much more enjoyment and emotional involvement high res audio can provide to the listener: “the soul of music”. Also here in Switzerland, daily newspaper reported about Pono and the idea behind it. This brought automatically the discussion to the point how much we loose with lossy formats like MP3 – good job. This was the message, the idea, the philosophy of the project.

    Now, at the stage of product launch and the implementation of the eco system on the market, the sometimes brutal reality compels the actors to compromise more and more the basic idea. The plain and simple message at the beginning “bring back the soul of music” begins to melt. In order to get enough content on the download portal, CD quality files and HRA files, transferred from analogue sources, are added to the portfolio. Nothing against this – in principle – as we are eager to get the music we love in the best available format – but also in a “sincerely” format (no standard format in a bigger bucket for more $). Despite doing so, creates a lack of credibility. This is true for all download sites.

    A further lack of credibility is also provoked, by communicating the project in the way Neil has done it at current CES. I have to state, that I only refer to the excerpt here in Marks post, I’m eager to hear the entire speech. How trustworthy is a message who tells you, that a couple of musicians have heard a difference between 192k and 96k sampling rate during a car ride, respectively in a car audio environment? And then further to argue, that this is against scientific findings, which implements, that one or the other party is wrong. To me this is absurd and detracts credibility from the Pono project, which started so much promising. It’s a pity and marketing wise not well done.

    Why not going with the reality and truth. Neil’s speech was addressed to people who are professionals, given the nature of an exhibition with non-public access. No need to tear down the communication to a fairy tale level. There is/was possibility to talk business and technologies on a more professional level. It would have been to the benefit of the Pono project.

    • I will be posting the audio and video when I get back to Los Angeles.

  12. Upsamplers attempt to “fill-in” the missing musical information. They take a “best-guess” at what it would have been based on the previous and next information. If they are really good at this, the difference between the actual 24/96 recording and an upsampled from 16/44.1 to 24/96 is actually very small. This means that dynamics, smoothness and other positive attributes of the original hi-res track will be in the upsampled track. Listening tests on good upsamplers verify that this is indeed the case.

    Steve N.
    Empirical Audio

    • Upsamplers do attempt to fill in or interpolate between values but they do not change the essential fidelity of the original event. They make the process of accurately restoring what was capture better.

      • Does Upsampling shorten impulse response time ?

    • Jay wrote: “Upsamplers attempt to “fill-in” the missing musical information. They take a “best-guess” at what it would have been based on the previous and next information”.

      Given the musical waveform is precisely captured up to (44.1/2)kHz using 44.1khz a sampling frequency, what’s missing? I believe you’re confusing audio upsampling with video scaling.

  13. It would hold more water if ANYONE in these negative positions regarding Pono would actually have LISTENED to a player for their opinions. Without personal experience the attitudes expressed here seem like nothing but jealousy. Seems to me that Mr. Young is opening new vistas for many, many listeners.

    So you shook hands with Neil but didn’t give him the courtesy to listen to his player before condemning it? Your credibility is lacking from where I sit. Pick up a player, download the 192/24 copy of “After the Gold Rush” from the Pono store, and then tell me it doesn’t sound better than my iPod.

    • Patrick, I HAVE listened extensively to the Pono player and have said without hesitation that he’s built a really good player. I listened to a bunch of standard resolution transfers and I loaded some of my files on the device as well. If you read what I’ve been writing, my problem is that there are only 5000 192 kHz/24-bit files available out of 2.1 million. Do the math. What was off limits for this man for years is not perfectly ok. I have a problem with the lack of integrity.

      • My apologies as I have only seen you discussing 44/16 CD rips on a Pono. I agree that Neil has changed his sales pitch, no doubt based on potential sales. The CD rips on Pono are very clean, easy to access, and too expensive for my tastes (here’s hoping they get to a $9.99 price or lower). It is nice, however, to have a source for a lot of the music I want to obtain in digital form. As for the player, it is getting fairly good reviews from all quarters. It’s not an AK-240 but at its price point it performs well. Now if the studios will increase the release of their masters we’ll be in business. However, we’ll need to work on Neil regarding surround.

        • I don’t think Neil is going to embrace surround…he was pretty harsh when he talked about it during the press event.

  14. Today KPCC’s “The Frame” opened with an interview with Neil Young about Pono.


    When he gets going some of his hyperbole is pretty unique, if not surreal. There’s one line in particular I’d love to see on an ad, in “High Times” perhaps.

    PONO. “This is not like an automatic trunk opener on your watch.” – Neil Young

    • Thanks for the information and link. I listened to the show…same old Neil.

    • Haha, that’s a great quote! I don’t think I know what it means. I will need to listen to the interview for context.

  15. Dear Mark Waldrep.

    For some scientific reason 2*2=4
    But, I musician, verily I say unto you that 2*2=3,999999999 😉


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