Have you seen the latest videos and article to cast serious doubt on Neil Young and Pono initiative? I finally got around to viewing the David Pogue iPhone vs. Pono challenge. It’s pretty disappointing…and not because the results fail to show that the Pono or even high-resolution audio files are persuasive. You can check out the video by clicking here.
David Pogue used to be the tech guru at the New York Times. He would write on all thing tech including Apple devices and other compelling technologies. But he’s also an audiophile. I interacted via email with David a couple of times about the virtues of analog tape. He’s a member of a dedicated group of reel-to-reel fans that cling to their aging Technics RS-1500 and Revox machines in the mistaken belief that analog tape is the ultimate recording and reproduction format. I’m not going to punch into that tar baby but I can tell you that he wrote and said that he and his other analog tape devotees wouldn’t be interested in new high-resolution audio recordings that originated in any other format than analog…meaning if I were to transfer some of my 96 kHz/24-bit real high-resolution tracks to first generation analog tape that the sound quality would somehow be compromised. A third generation older analog master transferred to another analog tape does excite David and his Yahoo group but getting better fidelity in every measurement you can imagine was ruled out.
David also became a celebrity hosting the NOVA science show that I used to enjoy so much. I don’t anymore…the style of the program became intolerable to me. It’s just me, I guess. Now Mr. Pogue is the guru for Yahoo in the world of tech and they produced the short video review of the Pono device. The Yahoo tech page also has a lengthy review of the Pono Kickstarter campaign and its progress through to delivery of the devices and site late last year.
You should read the review and draw your own conclusions about the quality of the tests he performed and the accuracy of the review. You all know that I’m not a fan of Neil’s approach to high-resolution audio but David blew it with his “test” and review. For a guy that’s an audiophile (more accurately an “analog tape-o-phile”), he doesn’t seem to understand or even be aware of the “provenance” issue. He fell into the same trap as the Meyer and Moran discredited study.
He described his test:
How does it sound? I found 15 volunteers, ages 17 through 55. Each subject put on nice headphones — Sony MDR 7506 — and listened to three songs of different styles (“Saturday in the Park” by Chicago, “Raised on Robbery” by Joni Mitchell, and “There’s a World” by Mr. Pono himself, Neil Young). I bought these songs twice: once from the Pono store, in high resolution, and once from the iTunes store.
To Be Continued…