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Launch of Pono Studio Headphones
Old 20th April 2014
  #3451
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3rd Degree View Post
I haven't read every page of this thread
I have. I have also watched that video twice.

Quote:
but I don't I have read anything close to what I italicized in your quote.
there are a large number of people who are not only convinced that Pono will sound like the Audio Of The Gods, but that it will usher in a new Golden Age of Aquarius of people where people will listen to entire albums, listen to music as an exclusive activity (as opposed to Wallpaper), and stop perceiving the louder recording as "better sounding".

along the way, a number of people have used the "opportunity" created by the claims in the video to put forth their long-discredited ideas about "hidden resolution" "ultrasonic perception" and even the good old stairsteps.

I am not suggesting that you go and expose yourself to all of that reading. I am just telling you in advance what you will find if you do it.
Old 20th April 2014
  #3452
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
there are a large number of people who are not only convinced that Pono will sound like the Audio Of The Gods, but that it will usher in a new Golden Age of Aquarius of people where people will listen to entire albums, listen to music as an exclusive activity (as opposed to Wallpaper), and stop perceiving the louder recording as "better sounding".
It was also mentioned as a cure to male pattern baldness.

Alistair
Old 20th April 2014
  #3453
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arthur Stone View Post
I'm not disputing that (in general); but the discussion's about what was preferable...that is subjective.
This DJ prefers vinyl:



Alistair
Old 20th April 2014
  #3454
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3rd Degree View Post
I am not sure many expect a paradigm shift, I would imagine most who would be considering this would expect a player that is higher quality than an iPod that is worth the extra money.
If people's expectations of the Pono were only a higher quality iPod, then this thread wouldn't exist.
Old 20th April 2014
  #3455
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arthur Stone View Post
Is the metaphor is misplaced? Not sure about the sea level...maybe 96kHz given my level of understanding and limited knowledge about the workings of Pono and the sound benchmark in professional studios. I'm allowing for the possibility that I'm mistaken about that and perhaps 192kHz is critical to Pono's operation - in which case the sea level would be appropriate.

In the Pono video, Neil Young precedes the water metaphor by saying that the idea is to convey the authentic sound from the recording studio to the listener via the 'Pono ecosystem'. That can be tested by letting experienced individuals listen and make a judgement; if Pono is as good as claimed and reported (so far) then that makes the metaphor reasonable (in the context it is used); as to whether it is morally and ethically appropriate then that would depend on the intelligence the critic allows the video viewer: are interested viewers (potential customers) savvy enough to 'get' the metaphor in the context? Will viewers think the difference is exactly the same as listening below and above water or will they realise that it's an advertising metaphor?
Ok, I'll make no assumptions about what you know technically of analog or digital audio. But I do assume you've heard 192 kHz, or at least 96 kHz playback that has later been SRC'd to CD format. Thus you know that there's no surfacing from underneath the water. I won't even argue if you claim that higher sampling rates sound better -- because if there is a difference, it is subtle, at best.

Can we both agree that higher sampling rates cannot be the justification for the metaphor?

That leaves the playback electronics: a stereo DAC driving a headphone amp. Again, I will assume nothing about your technical understanding of these things and so will not offer a technical argument. But I assume you have listened to pro-level converters before, probably several different models. You know what high-end DACs sound like, probably through pro-level monitoring in acoustically-designed spaces. How much better do you think it can get than that? And how in the world do you imagine that it could be better from a portable device that's priced to compete in the consumer electronics sector?

As for the headphone amp, well, I've heard some bad amps (usually from those 8-channel horrors in studio live rooms), but let's assume that the standard for a typical consumer is the iPod amp. Is it a great amp? No, of course not, but neither is it terrible. I know I said I wouldn't get technical, but this is crucial: to drive speakers the headphone amp needs power and lots of it. But portable devices are useless without significant battery life. So the design engineer faces a compromise between linear amp gain and the battery's power budget. Naturally in a portable device the battery gets priority and so audio quality is compromised.

So unless the Pono engineers have revolutionized battery technology -- and if they did, I highly doubt they'd be wasting their time with iPod++ -- then they're faced with the same exact constraints that the Apple engineers face. So maybe the Pono dudes decided to cut into the battery budget a bit more; maybe they figured out how to save a few milliamps in the LCD display; maybe the latest microprocessor uses 10% less power. No matter what they did, it's necessarily an incremental improvement, and it's virtually assured that your converter's headphone amp or whatever has far less constraints on it, and therefore performs significantly better.

In short, there is literally zero good reason for an audio engineer -- remember, we're the experts who've heard it all, good and bad -- should expect anything but iPod++ from the Pono. When audio engineers in this thread start buying into the consumerism hype, and then accuse those who haven't for closemindedness or somesuch, well . . .
Old 20th April 2014
  #3456
S21
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The pono engineers won't have revolutionised battery technology, but they will have made different design choices. Possibly 10x the AH battery capacity in that toblerone block. No need for the processor power to run Angry Birds.

And of course it will only be an iPod++.
Old 20th April 2014
  #3457
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The shape allowed fitting a large cylindrical cell. Still ony 8 hours run time, apparently.
Old 20th April 2014
  #3458
S21
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The ipod touch claims 40 hours playback. If pono have 10x the battery energy and a willingness to run for 1/5th the time then that would give a a hypothetical 50x the energy budget for each minute of playback.
Old 20th April 2014
  #3459
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(Duplicate post.)
Old 20th April 2014
  #3460
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One of the things we're hoping for from Pono is that the record labels will make higher resolution (or at least less compressed) masters available. I'm on record as being doubtful that it will happen. And now there's this:

Not Interesting | Real HD-Audio

... but he's still hopeful:

Who's On First? | Real HD-Audio
Old 20th April 2014
  #3461
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bogosort View Post
If people's expectations of the Pono were only a higher quality iPod, then this thread wouldn't exist.
This thread exists mostly because many want to argue about sample rate, educate on sample rate, or the like. Really, that's most of what the thread is.


I would hope people don't see this device as much more than a supped up iPod, at the price point it's at, and given that there are plenty of $1000+ iPod DACs, it's kind of unreasonable to expect much more.

I do think too many in this thread are acting like the people who think this product has potential are reading into the marketing hype like its gospel. Many who think it is a step in the right direction have directly stated that sample rate is likely (or certainly) the least important feature of this device. However, it seems to be by far the most discussed.
Old 20th April 2014
  #3462
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Hills View Post
One of the things we're hoping for from Pono is that the record labels will make higher resolution (or at least less compressed) masters available. I'm on record as being doubtful that it will happen. And now there's this:

Not Interesting | Real HD-Audio

... but he's still hopeful:

Who's On First? | Real HD-Audio
Maybe I am missing something here but it sounds like the artist hit up a manager of an artist and the manager wasn't enthused. I don't know anything about the author but in my research, I cannot tell if he would be in the position to really do much to convince based solely of his credentials. He obviously doesn't own the mixes or masters and it sounds like it's a very strong possibility that the artist does not either. It may have nothing to do with any possibility in "high resolution audio", the manager just doesn't want to deal with it himself.

It is an important asset and I don't see a label giving it out for experimentation. If he was a company that was serious about paying for many assets long term, I wonder if that would yield a different result. I would imagine that label would still want someone they hire to mix and master it again for a new format anyway.

I guess my point is, that article has some many other factors that are unknown to be telling in any way.
Old 20th April 2014
  #3463
S21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3rd Degree View Post

I would hope people don't see this device as much more than a supped up iPod, at the price point it's at, and given that there are plenty of $1000+ iPod DACs, it's kind of unreasonable to expect much more.
The dac/amp/iThingo held together with rubber bands might sound ok, but is a pain. Lots of external wires. Lots of things to charge separately. Looks like a bomb to the moviegoing public!

Putting it in one box would be good.
Old 20th April 2014
  #3464
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S21 View Post
The ipod touch claims 40 hours playback. If pono have 10x the battery energy and a willingness to run for 1/5th the time then that would give a a hypothetical 50x the energy budget for each minute of playback.
Well that's because it take more electricity to produce "better sound" even at the same volume! It's true! Just ask SmoothVibe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by S21 View Post
The dac/amp/iThingo held together with rubber bands might sound ok, but is a pain. Lots of external wires. Lots of things to charge separately. Looks like a bomb to the moviegoing public!

Putting it in one box would be good.
Size and running time will not matter because Pono will be "totally changing how people listen to music"! That means they will be sitting down to listen to the entire album from top to bottom, no more wallpaper or listening in the car at 60 MPH.

There will be no more Loudness War Mastering, so quiet passages would be totally buried if you were walking down the street or riding the bus! Only sit-down listening on audiophile systems will be happening in the glorious Pono Future that awaits us.

Old 20th April 2014
  #3465
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A lot of the hysteria in this thread seems to come from pono opposers literal interpretation of their marketing hype. Its marketing, and as some have mentioned, no more egregious than other marketing campaigns of new products. And it is designed/directed for the consumer market. Yes, there are already more expensive players out there, and yes, this will not be better than converters/playback in a top studio, but they seem pretty confidant that the design as discussed will be a big improvement over an iPod. Most consumers have never listened to hi res audio thru top converters in a recording studio so this will be their first experience with hi res. Couple that with a better dac and better amp and I bet that anyone comparing an mp3 played on an iPod vs a hi res flac played on the pono will hear a significant difference. Myself, like others can hear a difference between mp3 and higher res, I'm sure the average Joe will hear it when played back on a higher quality system. A great test would be to hear the same mp3 played on each unit as their should be a difference there as well but we will have to wait and see on all of these things for now...
Old 20th April 2014
  #3466
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cakewalk View Post
A lot of the hysteria in this thread seems to come from pono opposers literal interpretation of their marketing hype.
The hysteria is fully on the side of the true believers IMO.

There is no hysteria from the criticizing side. Just frustration with a lot of the non-sense being posted. This thread isn't even this long because of the marketing. Most of the people critiquing would just make a simple comment and move on. Then you get the true believers actually defending the BS marketing. That is what causes these endless discussions to continue.

Alistair
Old 20th April 2014
  #3467
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnderTow View Post
The hysteria is fully on the side of the true believers IMO.

There is no hysteria from the criticizing side. Just frustration with a lot of the non-sense being posted. This thread isn't even this long because of the marketing. Most of the people critiquing would just make a simple comment and move on. Then you get the true believers actually defending the BS marketing. That is what causes these endless discussions to continue.

Alistair
Take a look at the quote from joeq just above mine for an example. It seems like most of the defenders are saying its possible it will sound great, just like I am.
Old 20th April 2014
  #3468
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakewalk View Post
A lot of the hysteria in this thread seems to come from pono opposers literal interpretation of their marketing hype. Its marketing, and as some have mentioned, no more egregious than other marketing campaigns of new products. And it is designed/directed for the consumer market. Yes, there are already more expensive players out there, and yes, this will not be better than converters/playback in a top studio, but they seem pretty confidant that the design as discussed will be a big improvement over an iPod. Most consumers have never listened to hi res audio thru top converters in a recording studio so this will be their first experience with hi res. Couple that with a better dac and better amp and I bet that anyone comparing an mp3 played on an iPod vs a hi res flac played on the pono will hear a significant difference. Myself, like others can hear a difference between mp3 and higher res, I'm sure the average Joe will hear it when played back on a higher quality system. A great test would be to hear the same mp3 played on each unit as their should be a difference there as well but we will have to wait and see on all of these things for now...
On the contrary, there are a number of outright lies and grotesque distortions in the Pono marketing. Some of it is simply non-science and nonsense. An insult to people who know better and a potential victimization of those who don't.

It's strikes me as disreputable. Like any marketing that uses false statements and distortions.


Now, I'm a huge fan of Neil Young's first decade of recorded music but that's his music -- not his 'science.' It's clear, I think, that Neil doesn't know any better, judging from the incoherent nonsense he spouts about audio. But some of the people behind the making and marketing of this product clearly must know better. And that's what makes it so troubling.
Old 20th April 2014
  #3469
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So then everyone is in agreement? Pono = iPod++.
Old 20th April 2014
  #3470
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnderTow View Post
The hysteria is fully on the side of the true believers IMO.

There is no hysteria from the criticizing side. Just frustration with a lot of the non-sense being posted. This thread isn't even this long because of the marketing. Most of the people critiquing would just make a simple comment and move on. Then you get the true believers actually defending the BS marketing. That is what causes these endless discussions to continue.

Alistair
I wish there was an emoticon for "scratching my head in disbelief"

I am a sales and marketing executive by trade, and recording/musician hobbyist.

IMO, the amount of marketing BS spewed around in the pro recording gear market, targeted at audio engineers, is no less than what is experienced in other markets, including the one PONO is in.

Audio engineers as consumers are no less susceptible to marketing to consumers in other markets. You need to look no further that many of the threads on this forum for evidence of this.

Many of the 3400+ posts on this thread are from solemn AE's decrying marketing BS, and I just find that supremely amusing and ironic.

The sad thing is that PONO may (its not a lock), just may, raise the awareness that there are both better sounding(and I mean mastered) recordings and better playback equipment than their experience with an IPOD and MP3's.

Why would AE's object to that happening?

Peace
Old 20th April 2014
  #3471
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
On the contrary, there are a number of outright lies and grotesque distortions in the Pono marketing. It's bozo non-science. An insult to people who know better and a potential victimization of those who don't.

It's strikes me as disreputable. Like any marketing that uses false statements and distortions.
Sounds like you're needed on any one of those Steven Slate threads then.
Old 20th April 2014
  #3472
I don't know that there's any much hysteria on either 'side' -- but there are definitely folks doggedly pursuing their positions, without question.

And there are folks on both 'sides' who have most of their facts straight -- as well as folks on either 'side' who clearly don't seem to understand even the statements they themselves are making in support of 'their case.'

IOW, business as usual. Just a little moreso than usual. heh
Old 20th April 2014
  #3473
Quote:
Originally Posted by camus View Post
Sounds like you're needed on any one of those Steven Slate threads then.
I did, indeed, offer a few corrective points to Mr Slate with regard to some of his statements in a thread where I had started out in sympathy with him, in the situation of the moment, though the particulars escape memory. It seemed to me, without a doubt, that he had a tendency to overstate some cases and under-qualify some conditions. And, for sure, that definitely bothers me.
Old 20th April 2014
  #3474
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Just another thought:

I would love to see this ABX testing methodology that has proven that there's no difference between CD and 24/96-192, used to test whether AE's can consistently hear differences between their "absolute must have piece of gear" vs another make of similar quality and characteristic.
Old 20th April 2014
  #3475
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ephi82 View Post
Just another thought:

I would love to see this ABX testing methodology that has proven that there's no difference between CD and 24/96-192, used to test whether AE's can consistently hear differences between their "absolute must have piece of gear" vs another make of similar quality and characteristic.
And who said ABX testing can prove there's 'no difference between CD and 24/96-192'?

If anyone did, they were wrong. It may have been the result of sloppiness or unqualified or improperly qualified statement, but it's wrong, period.

ABX can only show us what tested individuals can differentiate between sources with enough consistency to let us derive confidence that the results are not due to chance.

It's hard to believe that there has discussion at this at this length and depth and yet such fundamental misunderstandings continue.



Hey, but speaking of ABX testing, which IS very useful even if limited, that gives me a chance to link to this new cross-platform ABX tester. I haven't had a chance to check it out but it was posted in another recording forum community I participate in. Happily, we also have the ABX tester plugin for Foobar as well as the Mac ABX-Tester. More options couldn't come at a better time. http://lacinato.com/cm/software/othersoft/abx

_______________


Going back to the crux of Ephi82's post, though, it highlights one of the 'limitations' of ABX testing. While we can set up long-term ABX testing in various fashions, it IS clearly best-suited to situations where we are comparing two very similar, static sources.

Let's take a good look at how that works out in practical terms:

You can attempt to set up an informative ABX test of, for instance two mic preamps. Of course, you eliminate variables between the two. You use a signal splitter to send identical signals to both devices (though this potentially compromises overall performance -- it should at least do it equally). And then you ABX the two results.

But, of course, experienced RE types understand that it's all but impossible to get a well-rounded impression of a given mic preamp by listening to one sound source through one mic. To evaluate a mic preamp properly, you need to see how it responds in a wide variety of circumstances, different sources, different mics/impedances, different output levels, and that usually means a wide variety of situations making such extended testing difficult, at best.
Old 20th April 2014
  #3476
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ephi82 View Post
IMO, the amount of marketing BS spewed around in the pro recording gear market, targeted at audio engineers, is no less than what is experienced in other markets, including the one PONO is in.
No one is suggesting otherwise. The latest compressor or preamp du jour rides the hype wave and then sinks or swims based on its merits. Of course AEs are as susceptible to marketing as anyone else, but the difference here is the timbre of the hype.

We can use the Warm Audio 1176 clone, one of the more recent hype trains, as a case study: when it was first announced, GS was abuzz with excitement. A sub-$600 1176! Huge threads were started, mouths were frothing at prototype pictures, dealers were selling out non-existent inventory on pre-orders. There was genuine excitement among many GS members. Naturally, though, there were some members who were skeptical that a $600 compressor could live up to the hype. They voiced their skepticism, short debates ensued, but ultimately the hype wave washed it all over.

I haven't heard much about the WA-76 since then. I have no idea if its owners are happy or disappointed with the product. But I do know that, for all the hysteria surrounding it, no one expected anything more than an 1176-type compressor. There were no illusions of a musical revolution or metaphors of surfacing from underneath the water. If someone caught in the hype wave had proposed such a thing, he would have been mocked or simply dismissed.

But Pono fever is very different. People are literally hoping it will usher in a new era of music appreciation! This is hardly the same brand of hype that accompanies the latest summing box. It's only natural, then, that the pushback is more vigorous.
Old 20th April 2014
  #3477
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
And who said ABX testing can prove there's 'no difference between CD and 24/96-192'?

If anyone did, they were wrong. It may have been the result of sloppiness or unqualified or improperly qualified statement, but it's wrong, period.

ABX can only show us what tested individuals can differentiate between sources with enough consistency to let us derive confidence that the results are not due to chance.

It's hard to believe that there has discussion at this at this length and depth and yet such fundamental misunderstandings continue.
Blue, my jaw just dropped when you said this.

Much of the criticism leveled at PONO (and people who have been buying Hi Res audio files) is that the ABX testing done, using the specified methodology, demonstrated that no one could differentiate with consistency beyond chance between the previously stated sources.

That sure sounds like an argument against PONO's marketing and claims and a justification held by many posters as to why PONO is a waste of money.

You cant tell me that this has been a consistent theme in this thread?
Old 20th April 2014
  #3478
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ephi82 View Post
Much of the criticism leveled at PONO (and people who have been buying Hi Res audio files) is that the ABX testing done, using the specified methodology, demonstrated that no one could differentiate with consistency beyond chance between the previously stated sources.

That sure sounds like an argument against PONO's marketing and claims and a justification held by many posters as to why PONO is a waste of money.

You cant tell me that this has been a consistent theme in this thread?
The distinction rests on the notion of proof. TK was correctly pointing out that ABX cannot definitively prove anything (which is not a specific fault of ABX; it is true for any experimental design).

The argument against higher sampling rates is broader than any ABX result. Fundamentally it is based on the mathematics of information theory (which is provable). Because the universe is messier than mathematics, the argument against higher sampling rates also includes physics and engineering. These represent the impetus for the hypothesis: higher sampling rates do not improve the listening experience.

The various ABX tests that are often brought up are well-known experimental tests of this hypothesis. But as in all science, an experiment cannot prove the hypothesis; it can only reject the null hypothesis.
Old 20th April 2014
  #3479
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ephi82 View Post
Blue, my jaw just dropped when you said this.

Much of the criticism leveled at PONO (and people who have been buying Hi Res audio files) is that the ABX testing done, using the specified methodology, demonstrated that no one could differentiate with consistency beyond chance between the previously stated sources.

That sure sounds like an argument against PONO's marketing and claims and a justification held by many posters as to why PONO is a waste of money.

You cant tell me that this has been a consistent theme in this thread?
Ah, my friend, you're not quite understanding what I'm saying, I'm afraid.

ABX can't prove there's 'no difference' -- it can only show whether the test-taker can differentiate with statistical confidence.

Now, perceptual scientists, when attempting to determine nominal limits of human perception, will frequently use some form of ABX or other rigorously double-blind testing in order to develop statistical baselines, and that body of data can then be used to project with some confidence the upper limits of that perception.


So, someone might (sloppily) suggest that ABX proves there's no difference -- but, assuming they know generally what they're talking about -- what they SHOULD have said to be as correct as possible might be something more like: Given our current knowledge of the limits of human perception, it's unlikely that anyone would be able to consistently differentiate between CD-A and double or quad sample rates under normal listening circumstances.

(The last we have to add because, as previously discussed, it can be reasonably easy to differentiate 16 bit sources from longer word length like 24 bit by zeroing in on low level details like fade-outs at what would, with normal level source, be very loud, perhaps even painfully so. As chrisj's test demonstrated some hundreds of posts ago.)
Old 20th April 2014
  #3480
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bogosort View Post
No one is suggesting otherwise. The latest compressor or preamp du jour rides the hype wave and then sinks or swims based on its merits. Of course AEs are as susceptible to marketing as anyone else, but the difference here is the timbre of the hype.

We can use the Warm Audio 1176 clone, one of the more recent hype trains, as a case study: when it was first announced, GS was abuzz with excitement. A sub-$600 1176! Huge threads were started, mouths were frothing at prototype pictures, dealers were selling out non-existent inventory on pre-orders. There was genuine excitement among many GS members. Naturally, though, there were some members who were skeptical that a $600 compressor could live up to the hype. They voiced their skepticism, short debates ensued, but ultimately the hype wave washed it all over.

I haven't heard much about the WA-76 since then. I have no idea if its owners are happy or disappointed with the product. But I do know that, for all the hysteria surrounding it, no one expected anything more than an 1176-type compressor. There were no illusions of a musical revolution or metaphors of surfacing from underneath the water. If someone caught in the hype wave had proposed such a thing, he would have been mocked or simply dismissed.

But Pono fever is very different. People are literally hoping it will usher in a new era of music appreciation! This is hardly the same brand of hype that accompanies the latest summing box. It's only natural, then, that the pushback is more vigorous.
I think that's fair.

I am going to bet that those who like the WA-76 think it's really warm, in a warm , but transparently warm, way.
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