Neil Young says that the MacBook Pro has “Fisher-Price” audio quality and calls it “a piece of crap”

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jlgrimes
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Post 30 Jan 2020

Yonatan wrote:
30 Jan 2020
miscend wrote:
30 Jan 2020
I dunno, but I think older technology like Vinyl wasn't very high res. In the old days people either listened to LPs or cassettes. Regular iTunes AAC is probably clearer.
Yes, at least after x amount of listenings on vinyl and cassette...degradation is terrible.
I think what made vinyl great was that the mastering practices where different in how a modern song would get mastered.

With Vinyl bass, high frequencies, and overall loudness needed to be kept under control or it would sound complete crap. This promoted better mixing/mastering practices, where digital would take anything and now folks would try to push for more bass, more treble, more loudness resulting in a more unnatural sound.


When I buy lossless music from hdtracks.com, the sound quality has been phenomenal (some of the best I've heard). I'm thinking though it has alot to do with the mastering engineers knowing for a lossless format, the listeners usually want a more natural sound than an master that tries to put its fingerprint on the mix (and cater to folks who like it loud).

Yonatan
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Post 30 Jan 2020

The real question is how much cowbell, marimba and pineapple shaker we need to lose in our well crafted mixes, for the sake of compressed file sizes. :)

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Periwinkle
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Post 30 Jan 2020

I think it's apples and oranges if you'll excuse the pun. I've been abroad for the past few weeks. Before going, I downloaded everything onto my MacBook Pro and also packed a pair of Sony noise-cancelling headphones. This has enabled me to sit in coffee shops and doodle for hours on end. The Macbook has taken everything that I've thrown at it and the sound quality has been more than adequate for writing and arranging.

When I get back to London, obviously I'll copy everything to the iMac and run it through an apogee into my monitors.

A laptop is what it is (and IMHO the MacBook is a pretty solid one) - I don't see why anyone would use its internal converters for audio recording or final mixing/mastering. Its main strength is that it enables you to do things moderately well pretty much anywhere.
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joeyluck
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Post 30 Jan 2020

When anybody makes such an extreme comparison when voicing an opinion, that's when you know that their argument and opinion is BS; rooted in something personal. Fisher Price audio quality? Lol. He had a failed product and he clearly hates Apple and hates young producers that are winning Grammy's using MacBooks and any laptop, tablet, or device you give them.

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adfielding
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Post 30 Jan 2020

EnochLight wrote:
29 Jan 2020
I think he's just sore about his lossless audio quality Pono player failure.
Beat me to it. I can't believe he's still peddling this toss, six years later. I wrote a whole thing about it back in 2014.

http://www.adamfielding.com/wordpress/?p=850
jlgrimes wrote:
30 Jan 2020
I think what made vinyl great was that the mastering practices where different in how a modern song would get mastered.
Bingo. It blows my mind that some folks are still obsessed with the bigger-means-better sample-rate/bit-depth numbers game when it comes to consumer audio formats. I suspect a decent part of the resurgence of vinyl (besides the more obviously tangible aspect) has been the difference in mastering practises between formats, and it still seems silly to me that the vast majority of modern digital releases don't offer the same choice.

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EnochLight
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Post 30 Jan 2020

joeyluck wrote:
30 Jan 2020
When anybody makes such an extreme comparison when voicing an opinion, that's when you know that their argument and opinion is BS; rooted in something personal. Fisher Price audio quality? Lol. He had a failed product and he clearly hates Apple and hates young producers that are winning Grammy's using MacBooks and any laptop, tablet, or device you give them.
^^ THIS ^^
adfielding wrote:
30 Jan 2020
Beat me to it. I can't believe he's still peddling this toss, six years later. I wrote a whole thing about it back in 2014.

http://www.adamfielding.com/wordpress/?p=850
Nice article!
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Proboscis
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Post 30 Jan 2020

miscend wrote:
30 Jan 2020
I dunno, but I think older technology like Vinyl wasn't very high res. In the old days people either listened to LPs or cassettes. Regular iTunes AAC is probably clearer.
As far as I've always been concerned, it's a tough call to make. My first reaction would be 'no way, vinyl was better sounding', but that wouldn't be quite true for all music, of all time.

When I first became deeply interested/obsessed in listening to music in the 1980's, it wasn't of the artists of the time (which I still consider to be the worst decade for contemporary recorded music!), but of late 60's/early 70's artists. And of course the only formats were vinyl & tape. Even at that time, my ear would definitely determine that commercially released cassettes were inferior, so I mostly avoided them. And when CD became mainstream, I started buying a lot of albums I enjoyed, on CD format. And always found them to be inferior to their vinyl counterpart. I'm guessing this had a lot to do with the manner in which they were produced from the old masters. It really wasn't until a very long time later when some of the bigger artists remastered the originals, where we started to see a significant improvement in sound quality. The Beatles & Led Zeppelin are two that come to mind.

Then we moved into another format technology - that of MP3. And the quality of those old classics once again suffered a terrible quality loss, noticeable at even 320k compression. I've done enough blind tests in the past to confirm this, rather than holding a bias. But as we moved into 1990s and music became great again for a decade, those 90's bands didn't sound quite as bad when ripped to MP3, and certainly at 320k the quality loss was negligible. This was likely due to the recordings being part of the first wave of digital recording, using DAT.

Throughout the 2000's, as I started to listen to electronic artists, I started to notice something - that these artists' recordings sounded even better on MP3, even at a worse compression rate. I guess this is because it started as pure digital, with many more tools available to producers and engineers.

And in the decade we have just surpassed, even rock bands are capable of producing brilliant sounding albums that translate well to MP3. Which is why I think that the era of music, tied in with the end-user available technology of it's time, will produce the best quality listening experience. I still think vinyl is the most enjoyable listening quality, for albums released during the time of vinyl. As to why the trend towards some albums being on vinyl made in the past 15 years is a thing, it seems like hipster nonsense to me :lol:

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EnochLight
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Post 30 Jan 2020

I've been crate digging through my family's old record collection the past week, trying to mine some content for my MPC Live. There's quite a few things I absolutely loathe about vinyl, and some things that I miss:

..Things I miss:
  • Large album artwork and liner notes
  • The focus required to navigate tracks by manually picking up the needle and setting it down
...Things I loathe:
  • Jesus these things take up WAAAAAAAAAAAY too much room
  • Sorry but - sound quality is ASS. Scratches, pops, clicks - oooops - it just skipped!
  • Vinyl is physically incapable of reproducing modern music. Low frequency waveforms literally make the needle jump off the record
  • Searching through an album I haven't heard in years is taking FOREVER to find "that one track" of which name I can't remember. Would be nice if I could just skip by advancing the track like I do in [Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, etc].
  • Man, these really are huge. I forgot how much room they take up.
At the end of the day, I enjoy crate digging for sample content, but I will NEVER go back to using vinyl as the primary way I consume music.
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xboix
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Post 30 Jan 2020

Is Neil Young still alive????

Wow. Who knew?

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Proboscis
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Post 30 Jan 2020

EnochLight wrote:
30 Jan 2020
...Things I loathe:
Sorry but - sound quality is ASS. Scratches, pops, clicks - oooops - it just skipped!

Sure, if your family didn't look after their collection. Same could be said if you thrust an ice pick through your tweeter.

Although with old stuff that was very popular, the stamper would lose integrity due to over-use, and if new ones were not created, there would be a noticeable diminished integrity of the final product.

Vinyl is physically incapable of reproducing modern music. Low frequency waveforms literally make the needle jump off the record

If one has a crappy, unweighted table from Walmart, and never changes the cartridge, then sure. But I've never encountered any problems. I wonder if the German company DUAL are still producing quality turntables ? I was always very satisfied with their old school units

Out of interest, how do you know that modern music does this on vinyl ? I'm of the mind that modern releases have no place on record format, but there are some artists (downtempo trance with a dub vibe) I enjoy that have a decent amount of sub bass, that have released vinyl (for the hipster wankers, no doubt). In one such case, a 57 minute release from 2015 is on 180g vinyl and comes as a double album ! I see no justification for this not to remain on CD or as a digital download (which he released on MP3 & FLAC). But it would surprise me if that album release exhibited the issues you are proposing.


Searching through an album I haven't heard in years is taking FOREVER to find "that one track" of which name I can't remember. Would be nice if I could just skip by advancing the track like I do in [Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, etc].

This is because people have become attention-deficient. Personally I still like to sit down and listen to a whole album, rather than skip around. Although it could be argued that CD/MP3 is superior because one does not need to get off their ass to flip from side A to side B :lol:

Something that I LOATHE about MP3 is that songs that segue from one to another lose that continuity.

Steedus
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Post 30 Jan 2020

Proboscis wrote:
30 Jan 2020
EnochLight wrote:
30 Jan 2020
...Things I loathe:
Vinyl is physically incapable of reproducing modern music. Low frequency waveforms literally make the needle jump off the record

If one has a crappy, unweighted table from Walmart, and never changes the cartridge, then sure. But I've never encountered any problems. I wonder if the German company DUAL are still producing quality turntables ? I was always very satisfied with their old school units.
There's actually some truth to this. I don't know the technical specifics, but this album was initially meant to be released as a vinyl exclusive, but test pressings just couldn't reproduce the incredibly low sub-bass content, so it had to be released on CD and DVD-A instead.

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orthodox
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Post 30 Jan 2020

Proboscis wrote:
30 Jan 2020
Something that I LOATHE about MP3 is that songs that segue from one to another lose that continuity.
You need a state-preserving encoder (eg LAME) and a gapless playback supporting player (LIST).
I prefer to encode a single file AAC or FLAC with cuepoints, but again, not many players can show that list of tracks.
Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise. -- L.Carroll

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moneykube
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Post 31 Jan 2020

EnochLight wrote:
30 Jan 2020
I've been crate digging through my family's old record collection the past week, trying to mine some content for my MPC Live. There's quite a few things I absolutely loathe about vinyl, and some things that I miss:

..Things I miss:
  • Large album artwork and liner notes
  • The focus required to navigate tracks by manually picking up the needle and setting it down
...Things I loathe:
  • Jesus these things take up WAAAAAAAAAAAY too much room
  • Sorry but - sound quality is ASS. Scratches, pops, clicks - oooops - it just skipped!
  • Vinyl is physically incapable of reproducing modern music. Low frequency waveforms literally make the needle jump off the record
  • Searching through an album I haven't heard in years is taking FOREVER to find "that one track" of which name I can't remember. Would be nice if I could just skip by advancing the track like I do in [Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, etc].
  • Man, these really are huge. I forgot how much room they take up.
At the end of the day, I enjoy crate digging for sample content, but I will NEVER go back to using vinyl as the primary way I consume music.
gave away most my vinyl to a friend with a 5000 dollar turntable and speakers that make your ears bleed... in my set up... my house vibrates to much to properly play a record. I hate the short periods between switching and cleaning records... I do think they sound a tad warmer though

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orthodox
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Post 31 Jan 2020

moneykube wrote:
31 Jan 2020
I hate the short periods between switching and cleaning records...
Unrelated, but I once saw a guy on ketamine trying just to turn over a record for 10 minutes, and he didn't succeed.
Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise. -- L.Carroll

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EnochLight
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Post 31 Jan 2020

Proboscis wrote:
30 Jan 2020
Sure, if your family didn't look after their collection. Same could be said if you thrust an ice pick through your tweeter.

Although with old stuff that was very popular, the stamper would lose integrity due to over-use, and if new ones were not created, there would be a noticeable diminished integrity of the final product.
It's not just a family collection that may have been beat up. Try perusing a record store for used records - the state of the vinyl's condition is all over the place. If your solution is: only buy new and make sure you take care of them there records! Then I'd say you proved my point. Sticking with lossless digital is a far, far better IMHO. It just sounds better, and always will. ;)
Proboscis wrote:
30 Jan 2020
If one has a crappy, unweighted table from Walmart, and never changes the cartridge, then sure. But I've never encountered any problems. I wonder if the German company DUAL are still producing quality turntables ? I was always very satisfied with their old school units
You misunderstand. Vinyl is physically incapable of producing low frequency waveforms (anything below 40 Hz) - no matter how expensive your turntable is. The needle will be forced to skip/jump through the waveform valley. It's simple physics. Very low frequency effects and low bass that is out of phase can make the stylus go up and down so far that it leaves the surface of the record altogether. This literally means you just can't master some forms of music on vinyl.

There are a multitude of videos demonstrating this on Youtube that you can pull up, or I can post one. Let me know.
Proboscis wrote:
30 Jan 2020
Out of interest, how do you know that modern music does this on vinyl ? I'm of the mind that modern releases have no place on record format, but there are some artists (downtempo trance with a dub vibe) I enjoy that have a decent amount of sub bass, that have released vinyl (for the hipster wankers, no doubt). In one such case, a 57 minute release from 2015 is on 180g vinyl and comes as a double album ! I see no justification for this not to remain on CD or as a digital download (which he released on MP3 & FLAC). But it would surprise me if that album release exhibited the issues you are proposing.
See above. They were clearly mastered specifically for vinyl.

Proboscis wrote:
30 Jan 2020
This is because people have become attention-deficient. Personally I still like to sit down and listen to a whole album, rather than skip around. Although it could be argued that CD/MP3 is superior because one does not need to get off their ass to flip from side A to side B :lol:
Perhaps, or perhaps people just found a better approach with better technology that is more suited to listening to music. People have nostalgic memories of sitting down and listening to an album on records all of the way through, sure. But many people - myself included - have memories of only liking 1 or 2 songs off the entire album and still having to bounce around manually to find the lead groove or flip the record to play said tracks. It just makes sense to be able to access those tracks digitally and instantly, at any time, and anywhere. Well, IMHO anyway. :lol: But I realize YMMV. Everyone prefers something else.
Proboscis wrote:
30 Jan 2020
Something that I LOATHE about MP3 is that songs that segue from one to another lose that continuity.
I haven't used MP3 in many, many years. Been more of a fan of FLAC, as it saves space yet is a lossless format. Gapless playback has been a thing for many, many years as well - never had an issue playing back albums or tracks that fade into each other (such as a mix album) when gapless playback is on.
orthodox wrote:
31 Jan 2020
Unrelated, but I once saw a guy on ketamine trying just to turn over a record for 10 minutes, and he didn't succeed.
LOL! :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Oquasec
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Post 31 Jan 2020

Macbooks are one of the best laptops to get for a reason
Producer/Sound Designer.

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Proboscis
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Post 31 Jan 2020

EnochLight wrote:
31 Jan 2020
>
You raise some valid counterpoints. I'm not going to requote the parts I'm replying to, as it's getting too hard to keep it tidy :D

You are correct - many, dare I say most albums on the second hand market these days are going to sound like ass. In the last days on me collecting vinyl, I was going to a lot of record fairs, and my inspection of records pre-purchase was fastidious, and while visually one could often determine the preservation, there were still some lemons that I ended up taking home. Since another 25 years has passed, I'm sure the market is much worse now. The sad thing for me is that I sold hundreds of my albums around 10-15 years ago for next to nothing, most of them in impeccable condition, and it was just before the vinyl renaissance :cry: All I have now are some rarities that have a pretty high market value, which I never play.

My point overall though is that vinyl was not inherently a bad format for quality for it's time, and because it may be garbage now (as a second hand market item), it was a brilliant quality for its time, and due to the recording and mastering techniques of the day, was no less pleasing to the ear than digital.

As to the incapabilities of audio reproduction in the low end for newer music, this isn't a problem with the vinyl, it's a problem with the mastering - as you pointed out in my example of a bass-heavy modern artists' vinyl release. I wonder if the listening experience of said album would be lacking, when compared to the official FLAC release ? I have no way of knowing, since I don't own the vinyl version. But it comes back to my long held belief anyway... that modern music has no place on a redundant medium anyway.

I'm not sure if you're using 'nostalgic' to sound derogatory, but I've grown up listening to artists (from generations before my time) that actually gave a lot of thought to how their album plays out, and order the tracks in a manner that would best represent the emotion they are attempting to convey. The best example of this is (Led Zeppelin's) Jimmy Page's firm stance on never, ever releasing a single, because any given song should be listened to in the context of what came before and after it on an album. And it didn't hurt their sales any, with seven #1 billboard albums in their relatively short 10 year career.

So yes, to each their own regarding listening preferences, but I feel that something has been lost, not gained, with the digital format revolution. Even with most artists that do release singles, I've always felt that it's rare that the most commercially well-received tracks are often not an artists best tracks.

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Proboscis
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Post 31 Jan 2020

orthodox wrote:
31 Jan 2020
Unrelated, but I once saw a guy on ketamine trying just to turn over a record for 10 minutes, and he didn't succeed.
This isn't confined to being a problem with just vinyl. A number of years ago, 'someone I know' :lol: took too much of a novel psychedelic out of a lab in China, and was drawn in to the pits of hell while listening to a digital version of Pink Floyd's 'Meddle', particularly the 24 minute song 'Echos', which to 'his' mind, lasted for hours, and 'he' was incapable of stopping VLC player because the morphing full screen album art would punish him by prematurely ending that dark journey into sound, and the music itself has a grip on 'his' fragile consciousness. So he laid on the ground shivering for the 'hours' it took for the song to finish. :oops:

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motuscott
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Post 31 Jan 2020

Fisher-Price?!
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kuhliloach
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Post 31 Jan 2020

I feel bad for Neil. Technology is obviously very confusing to him, but he has good ideas and a good heart. Just so confused.

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orthodox
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Post 31 Jan 2020

Proboscis wrote:
31 Jan 2020
orthodox wrote:
31 Jan 2020
Unrelated, but I once saw a guy on ketamine trying just to turn over a record for 10 minutes, and he didn't succeed.
This isn't confined to being a problem with just vinyl. A number of years ago, 'someone I know' :lol: took too much of a novel psychedelic out of a lab in China, and was drawn in to the pits of hell while listening to a digital version of Pink Floyd's 'Meddle', particularly the 24 minute song 'Echos', which to 'his' mind, lasted for hours, and 'he' was incapable of stopping VLC player because the morphing full screen album art would punish him by prematurely ending that dark journey into sound, and the music itself has a grip on 'his' fragile consciousness. So he laid on the ground shivering for the 'hours' it took for the song to finish. :oops:
My guy was a different story, that was a quest. When the first side of the record was over and the music stopped, he somehow managed to guess that something needed to be done, so he got up from the couch and walked to the turntable on wooden legs, in the Robocop style. Even that was incredible, like he had his autopilot pre-programmed, because the brain just cannot form any rational thought and hold it, let alone put it into action. The movement coordination is broken as well, so is the speech. Anyway, that was the easiest part. When he came to what he suspected was the source of the problem, he stared at the turntable and started to think. The task was not a trivial one, he needed to determine the sequence of actions, at least the first thing to do, but to that moment he might have forgotten the reason why he was standing there and who he was. He looked around several times like asking for help and even said 'Aaaaah?'. Then the initial intent returned and he began to investigate the device. Eventually, he reached the record. He lifted it from one edge with his finger and let it back like he wasn't quite sure about his skills or whether that was really the right move. So, he didn't make it. Even if he had mastered the turn over thing, he would still need to figure out how to run it.
Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise. -- L.Carroll

Yonatan
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Post 01 Feb 2020

Vinyl is probably mainly emotional and thus psychoacoustics plays a role.

I have also experienced the sense of closeness to the music when handling those plates.
You feel as if you are so close to the bands and the recordings. You nearly can touch it!
You can approach vinyl collection as if it was your pet, you clean them, you look for scars, you put them not in direct sunlight, you even have to be very careful when putting the needle on and you have to adjust the speed variation to match, and as closer you get to the center of the vinyl, the more gentle you have to be with the speed as the needle rotates faster there, and thus always the inner tracks are often sounding very harsh on used vinyls. The first tracks on every side is what get preserved the best, as long as it is free of scratches.

I do experience a "warmer" sound when listening to good vinyls. A bit of the high end leaks out from the player.

With CD, a lot of terrible ones were to be found many years as companies transferred recordings onto the CD in bad ways, some where even from vinyl recorded onto CD, others where not adjusted to CD format etc. So, later we got all those re-issues "Remastered for CD" albums.

I also think Mastering technique and general audio knowledge might one main explanation why we might prefer Vinyl, beside the psychoacoustics and the emotional attachment to the physical handling of the records and it´s superior size for artwork. The advantage of CD was when they had thicker booklets inside where one could get a lot more info, but some vinyl LP also had that.

And what I like with Vinyl LP is also the part of having 2 sides. There is similar to a theater 1st and 2nd act. I like the feel of it.It fitted the art of making an album and you had just about 45 minutes of music to get in there. A perfect live performance setup.
CD sometimes cranked in too many songs (good for "Best of" compilations but not for ordinary albums)

What I do not like is the whoobling of records that are a bit bent or uneven, but if not too bad, I guess even that makes the records non static, so that even the straightest synth pop would get some wavy organic micro variation to its beat, just those things that makes it feel a bit more "human".
And scratches are the worst, and the degradation to (mainly) the inner tracks (which many times was good tunes) making you think they would need an extra internal De-Esser inbuilt to the Record player.

CD, MP3 and Flac etc. Yes, it has moved to a more non-linear style of listening, less focused, but more on the fly listening. And on streaming services, you get now both commercial ads and are exposed to tracks not of your choice (soundcloud, spotify, youtube etc.)

All this aside, I always thought Neil Young was more of a Lo-Fi artist. but he seems to be a Hi-Fi guy in a Lo-Fi clothings.:) I really think he is a good guy and nice that he speaks his mind and opinion out even if it is not 100% scientifical proven. At least it gets us to discuss and share thoughts. As long as he is not the Pope or the President... ;)

Those Pono things looks like an (HiFi) alternative to iPod? Never used any of those two.

Lov2sing
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Post 01 Feb 2020

I am sorry Neil Young feels the way he does, but could the audio be in his ears that have gone bad and not within the technology? I will turn 60 this year (which Neil Young is way older than I and is no longer young) and have engineered many projects and what I I find is my own hearing lost is more a factor than technology.

I am sure he has merit to many of his gripes, but I doubt he is hearing close to 50% of what younger ears are. In saying all of that, I also know as we age wax in our ears grow; which could kill much of the sound. Most people do not want to say it, but we are getting older and our body parts are too. Sorry Neil, but I believe you are just not hearing what the technology is putting out and then blaming it. Maybe it is time for a reality check. Could it be you have maybe heard one to many notes, and have lost the ability to fine tune your hearing.

To the fact Apple does not have the best laptop speakers, I grant that ;however that is when you replace their inboard gear with a solid set of headphones which are calibrated. I find this helps more than listening to a laptop in open air. In any case grandpa always grip about sound :ugeek: What you say sonny? Speak up!
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eusti
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Post 01 Feb 2020

Ok. Deleted a bunch of off topic posts. Can we get back to the topic now, please. Take it to DM if needed. Thank you.

D.

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orthodox
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Post 01 Feb 2020

I don't mind. Back to Neil.

He seems to have some experience in studio work, and while he might not hear some HF details, he can still hear things like 'soap', 'mud' and lack of 'depth' that MP3 sometimes introduce. He may have made a mistake with his Pony thing, and maybe he is overexaggerating things now, but I don't take that literally. For me, it's not about the technology, although the technology might have had a hand in the current spreading of poor quality music. I see it as a calling for more careful attitude to music making and to sound quality. The guy is defending the peaks from the rising crap.
Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise. -- L.Carroll

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