My cell phone hasn’t been ringing lately. Anyone who tried to call me was ignored and sent to voice mail. A moment or two later, the phone would ping and display the call that I just missed. I checked all of the usual things. The volume wasn’t turned down, the ringer was turned on, the phone is not on “do not disturb” and I can hear rings in the Settings section. So what’s a person to do? Head to the Apple Store on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica and spend some time at the Genius Bar. That’s what I did for the past couple of hours…I waited over an hour to be seen by an Apple Genius support engineer named Mark.
He checked all of the things that I had already checked. It seemed as though I was doing everything right. Then he told me he was going to turn off the phone and reboot it. As soon as he said it, I told him, “that’s going to fix it…I can feel it. Why didn’t I remember to do that?” And sure enough, when the phone came back up and he called it…it rang just like it was supposed to. I felt pretty stupid. As a reasonably smart guy and former repair technician, the first thing you do is restart or pull out the power supply. I knew better. At least I got a couple of hours out of the office and treated myself to a nice lunch.
A little knowledge can sometimes go a long way. What may seem obvious and simple to one person can twist others into knots. That’s what happened the other day when I picked up the phone. Carl was asking why the “blue light” on his new audiophile Sony Walkman ZX2 didn’t illuminate when he plays his “high-resolution” FLAC files. What is it with the blue light thing? Is this a flashback to the dilithium crystals that powered the U.S.S. Enterprise? I think they glowed with a blue light as well. The Pono player also indicates something with a blue light. I think it means that you purchased the tracks via the PonoMusic website…so you know you’ve gotten “the best resolution available” on all of your favorite tunes.
When I drilled into the problem a little further, Carl told me that he’d ripped some CDs, sample rate converted them to 192 kHz/24-bit PCM and then encoded them as FLAC files with metadata. Why weren’t his new high-resolution files triggering the blue indicator on his Sony ZX2? I thought to myself, here’s a guy that just spent more than a $1000 on the latest high-resolution portable player from Sony and he doesn’t have a clue about what a high-resolution audio track is, how they are produced, and where to acquire them. Standard resolution tracks don’t magically become high-resolution worthy when converted to FLAC or upconverted to higher specifications. And the presence of a blue light on your Pono Player or the new Sony ZX2 doesn’t tell you anything about the fidelity of the file.
Wouldn’t it be better to address the core issues associated with high fidelity audio without blue lights, inconsistent logos (the ZX2 has the JAS hi-res audio logo), and ignorance of provenance? I certainly think so.