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Launch of Pono Studio Headphones
Old 9th May 2014
  #4801
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bogosort's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Decompress View Post
That's funny, because the people who were exercising their "personal faith" and complaining about what turned out to be the sound of jitter, back before jitter could be demonstrated, tested, or was even known to exist, had their shared "personal belief" proven correct once science caught up with what their ears had been hearing all along.
Complete nonsense. Jitter has been known and understood way before digital audio became a thing. You can search google scholar for dozens of articles from the 1960s on the issue of jitter in sampling.

These semi-veiled arguments against science are becoming irritating.
Old 9th May 2014
  #4802
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by j_j View Post
...I have encountered quite some equipment where the inventors/designers/whatever did not quite understand digital signal processing, so it's hard to know offhand.
JJ is being polite. A lot of developers throw code libraries around with little of no understanding of how they work or of the need for dither. The "you can't hear it" excuses for leaving out dither seem endless.

Unfortunately there's a lot of this along with a lot of really bad analog stages and power supplies found in common programs and equipment. I've found that most of people's complaints about digital audio can be traced to crunchy distortion and loss of space caused by lack of or faulty dithering and/or a lack of weight caused by horrible analog circuitry having no headroom.
Old 9th May 2014
  #4803
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bogosort View Post
Complete nonsense. Jitter has been known and understood way before digital audio became a thing. You can search google scholar for dozens of articles from the 1960s on the issue of jitter in sampling.
This is true however the first generation of digital audio transceivers were incompetent designs that caused all kinds of pretty obvious problems. I'll never forget the stereo image changing as one moved around a toslink fiber changing the spectrum of a massive amount of jitter created by the faulty transceiver chip. Master crystals located right next motor control chips in CD players also did not help at all.

The science is right but incompetent engineering design and incompetent listening test design has led to lots of skepticism about science.
Old 9th May 2014
  #4804
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
This is true however the first generation of digital audio transceivers were incompetent designs that caused all kinds of pretty obvious problems. I'll never forget the stereo image changing as one moved around a toslink fiber changing the spectrum of a massive amount of jitter created by the faulty transceiver chip. Master crystals located right next motor control chips in CD players also did not help at all.

The science is right but incompetent engineering design and incompetent listening test design has led to lots of skepticism about science.
So you're saying that parts of a complex audio system interacted in unexpected ways to create an audible phenomenon. That's interesting. Many on this thread have basically argued that any unexpected component interactions capable of generating audible phenomena are now completely impossible in modern audio systems.
Old 9th May 2014
  #4805
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bogosort's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarsBot View Post
So you're saying that parts of a complex audio system interacted in unexpected ways to create an audible phenomenon. That's interesting. Many on this thread have basically argued that any unexpected component interactions capable of generating audible phenomena are now completely impossible in modern audio systems.
Not a single person has argued that, though I'm sure it makes a convenient straw man for you.
Old 9th May 2014
  #4806
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ephi82 View Post
Just a little perspective on PONO's chances in the marketplace:

Consumers have bought so many Beats headphones by Dr. Dre that Apple announced that they will be buying the company for, hold on, $3.2 Billion

Interesting no?
HELLO? Anyone out there actually listening??????????????

All this freaking banter about the science and technology behind the recording and delivery of music to the consumer is somewhat interesting, but it pales in comparison to what is happening in the marketplace!

While many on this thread have bemoaned the marketing tactics of the folks at PONO, we stand witness today that a headphone manufacturer, making mediocre (but better sounding than standard ipod earbuds) headphones, have built a $3.2 Billion business!

Is there anymore evidence that you need to predict that PONO, promising a higher quality listening experience than an Ipod/Ipod/any other phone listening experience, will not be successful like Beats?

I know that many posters are participating to discuss things of a technical nature, and I have learned alot. However, it is SO interesting that a headphone brand, that offers a slight step up in audio improvement to current standard of Apple earbuds, is worth $3.2B. This means that there is a market for better sounding music and delivery systems!!!!!!!!! Rejoice my friends!!!!!
Old 9th May 2014
  #4807
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nuthinupmysleeve's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ephi82 View Post
Is there anymore evidence that you need to predict that PONO, promising a higher quality listening experience than an Ipod/Ipod/any other phone listening experience, will not be successful like Beats?
The difference is headphones are subjective. What sounds "better" is a matter of opinion to the individual.

With Pono, there is no indication it will sound "better"... it just has more high frequency information. Snake oil.
Old 9th May 2014
  #4808
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Beats has contracts with most of the majors for streaming. It probably has very little to do with headphones.
Old 9th May 2014
  #4809
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
Beats has contracts with most of the majors for streaming. It probably has very little to do with headphones.
I think you're right Bob. I was just pointed to the recent Time magazine ratings of headphones that put Beats near the very bottom. Shure at the top. Maybe widespread ratings won't kill sales but they probably won't help.
Old 9th May 2014
  #4810
Airwindows
 
chrisj's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by nuthinupmysleeve View Post
The difference is headphones are subjective. What sounds "better" is a matter of opinion to the individual.

With Pono, there is no indication it will sound "better"... it just has more high frequency information. Snake oil.
Less. Moving average filter, remember? Rolls off a bit earlier than it should, for 'warmth'.

And sure enough Bob Ohlsson has JUST posted about the dangers of crappy, inadequate analog stage design. And if there's one thing we know about Pono, it's that they went with an amusingly terrible form factor JUST to fit in beefy capacitors and power supplies. And this is a tangible design decision with known consequences. So this indicates it'll sound better, in spite of being a bit rolled-off on top, using solid hardware design not available to your microminiaturized phone in which all the analog circuitry and clock crystals are jammed in with CPUs playing 'Angry Birds'.

I guess every word you just wrote about Pono is opposite and wrong. Thank goodness! A crappy device trying to play back 192K poorly would be awful. In this, it turns out I agree with Monty (xiphmont). It's just that Pono is literally the opposite of those scare-tactic warnings.
Old 9th May 2014
  #4811
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Ephi82's Avatar
 

well i respect you guys a whole lot, (especially Bob O) but I think you are missing the entire point:

People are buying Beats because they give you more (and albeit pretty crappy) low end when streaming or whatever other modality that music is being delivered on.

What is so amazing is that they had such a soft market to get at,which are people listening with transistor radio quality earbuds!

If you dont think PONO can deliver a better (yet probably, by your standards) less than "best" sound experience, why cant they get $3.2B like Beats did ???????

Its not going to take more than a higher quality DAC and a clean and beefy analog output stage and some (dirty word to some of you purists) great marketing!
Old 9th May 2014
  #4812
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisj View Post
Less. Moving average filter, remember? Rolls off a bit earlier than it should, for 'warmth'.

I guess every word you just wrote about Pono is opposite and wrong. Thank goodness! A crappy device trying to play back 192K poorly would be awful. In this, it turns out I agree with Monty (xiphmont). It's just that Pono is literally the opposite of those scare-tactic warnings.
I think nuthinupmysleeve was talking about the higher frequencies stored in the 192k files, before the ma filter. Chris it seems you've worked with the moving average filter alot recently. Would there be a difference if it was operating on a 192 file containing the higher frequencies vs. a 44.1 upsample? Are the higher frequencies a prerequisite for the quality you're hearing?
Old 9th May 2014
  #4813
Gear Guru
 
Sounds Great's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
JJ is being polite. A lot of developers throw code libraries around with little of no understanding of how they work or of the need for dither. The "you can't hear it" excuses for leaving out dither seem endless.

Unfortunately there's a lot of this along with a lot of really bad analog stages and power supplies found in common programs and equipment. I've found that most of people's complaints about digital audio can be traced to crunchy distortion and loss of space caused by lack of or faulty dithering and/or a lack of weight caused by horrible analog circuitry having no headroom.
I've had a lot of various CD players and other devices that play CD's since 1983. Very cheap CD Walkmans, CD boom boxes, many computers with varying sound cards, as well as some very expensive players. I've noticed little if any difference in the sound of one to the next. It always sounds like CD to me. The differences in the mastering of the CD's make a thousand times more difference to my ears. Of course, YMMV.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ephi82 View Post
well i respect you guys a whole lot, (especially Bob O) but I think you are missing the entire point:

People are buying Beats because they give you more (and albeit pretty crappy) low end when streaming or whatever other modality that music is being delivered on.

What is so amazing is that they had such a soft market to get at,which are people listening with transistor radio quality earbuds!

If you dont think PONO can deliver a better (yet probably, by your standards) less than "best" sound experience, why cant they get $3.2B like Beats did ???????

Its not going to take more than a higher quality DAC and a clean and beefy analog output stage and some (dirty word to some of you purists) great marketing!
Not so sure that applies. I think it is a much different thing to get people to try a different set of phones with their preferred playback unit (iPhone, Ipod, or whatever it is) than getting them to change the playback unit itself that already has 1000's of their favorite songs on it. Especially if it is also their phone.
Old 9th May 2014
  #4814
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ephi82 View Post
... Is there anymore evidence that you need to predict that PONO, promising a higher quality listening experience than an Ipod/Ipod/any other phone listening experience, will not be successful like Beats?
... . This means that there is a market for better sounding music and delivery systems!!!!!!!!! Rejoice my friends!!!!!
Don't open the champagne yet. Much of Beats' success is due to their marketing. Beats headphones are fashionable. (So are Apple products.) That, and Beats' licenses, is likely what makes them attractive to Apple. If what makes them fashionable was sound quality, they'd have bought someone like Sennheiser. It looks like Pono realise this is an unexploited angle. They're trying to create a buzz that makes high quality sound (and thus Pono) fashionable.

In summary, it has yet to be proven that there is a significant ("mass") market for "better sounding music and delivery systems".
Old 9th May 2014
  #4815
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....So the argument once again goes back to the limits of hearing, and that I can't possibly hear or perceive what I perceive. If I do perceive something BAD, then there's gonna be someone (no offense--my own brain included) quickly pointing out an excuse (theorizing) as to why I do perceive it.. for everything.. Where does it end? Never, I guess. Ears can't be trusted... Or can they???

Back when I first realized that I could pick out a duplicated CD-R over a replicated CD, in a blind test (10 for 10) I realized that we put a lot of trust into industry "truths", and things that "can't be questioned". In this example, engineers would have been quick to point out (rightly so) that there are numerous reasons as to why I could hear that difference in CD vs CD-R, and I could spend my whole life tracking down better codecs/CD-Rs/Burners just to find a cure for this.

Or I could just try to ignore that little hit to quality and deal.

Or better yet, I made the best decision...

I don't listen to duplicated CD-Rs when I want a reference.

Problem solved.

And so it is now with 16bit...
DONT USE IT.
PROBLEM SOLVED.

When PONO matures, we won't have to!!!

There. No need to mess with dithering settings/convertor issues/downsampling errors... the list GOES ON AND ON, it NEVER ends.. esp if you want to talk about component level. 24bit is superior in EVERY way, without the chance to mess it up on one more generation!

There is no question in my mind that many pro release 16bit CD's we can buy contain artifacts that weren't audible in the 24bit versions. Plus, 24bit you can gain stage more flexibly, without cramming bits up to the highest output voltage..

Would you rather hear the master tape playing back off a tape machine?
Or a 16bit/44.1 version of it? Sounds the same... oh, I mean except for the convertors in the way and bad analog stages, and .. and..

well.. 24bit is a giant step in the right direction.

I won't be too sad to see 16bit go away...

As for the upsampling argument...
The music that is being put on PONO I'm guessing won't be ripped from 16bit /44.1 CDs, ..I would hope NOT!

So maybe they'll upsample the collection to 192kHz from a 24/44.1...
I'm understanding of the pitfalls and possible consequences. If they happen to re-master though some piece of beautifying gear at 192, even better. I'm perfectly ok with this. Still gonna be a MASSIVE IMPROVEMENT over CD's, especially when listening at concert volume.

And an indescribable improvement over the consistently poorly compressed /encoded material streaming over the web and available for download.
Old 9th May 2014
  #4816
Gear Maniac
 
Decompress's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bogosort View Post
Complete nonsense. Jitter has been known and understood way before digital audio became a thing. You can search google scholar for dozens of articles from the 1960s on the issue of jitter in sampling.

These semi-veiled arguments against science are becoming irritating.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
The science is right but incompetent engineering design and incompetent listening test design has led to lots of skepticism about science.
Thanks for the correction bogosort. I was not aware jitter had been known about that early, and had assumed that it wasn't, given the reception received by people who heard differences between early CD players, which apparently turned out to be largely caused by jitter. Whether that issue was caused by the implementation of the science, or the known science itself, it remains that people were hearing artifacts which were not expected to be audible. And, as I said earlier in this thread, my understanding is that those people received much the same treatment then from the science zealots as people in this thread have received decades later.

Which brings up the issue of being skeptical or arguing about science. The issue isn't the science, it's the insistence by some that known science about hearing is all-inclusive. When science can claim that recorded audio is "better" now than it's ever been, yet people are increasingly preferring to listen to a comparatively ancient and obviously flawed format such as vinyl, there's clearly some kind of enormous disconnect there that's being lost upon the science zealots.

Frankly, I don't really care what Pono does to avoid sounding like typical sterile digital, whether it's higher sample rate, better quality components in it's construction, a novel filter, or something else. But I absolutely LOVE that the listeners in their promo video complimented it's sound by saying that it sounds like VINYL.

I personally think the most important comment in this thread was Bob's earlier observation that the sound of modern digital reminds him of the sound of certain tape machines with inadequate analog stages. If that's some part of the problem, then that's an issue of the implementation of the science, and not necessarily of the science itself. Regardless, I'm certain that every converter manufacturer whose products have that sound can trot out a slew of scientific specs which "proves" their converters are nearly perfect. All that leaves for listeners who hear otherwise to conclude is that either the scientific specs are being cherry-picked, or that there are some terribly important aspects WHICH CAN BE HEARD that are not known and/or not being measured.
Old 9th May 2014
  #4817
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Watch JJ's Heyser lecture that I posted a link to earlier. He explains specs very very well.
Old 9th May 2014
  #4818
j_j
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Decompress View Post
That's funny, because the people who were exercising their "personal faith" and complaining about what turned out to be the sound of jitter, back before jitter could be demonstrated, tested, or was even known to exist, had their shared "personal belief" proven correct once science caught up with what their ears had been hearing all along.
Wow, talk about historical revisionism.

Jitter was well understood in the 1950's, and was examined in detail in order to understand what happened in TDM analog phone lines.

Jitter was not new, EXCEPT to the audio industry, which refuses, time and time again, just like you've done above, to accept what everyone who does signal processing learned in college. (for instance, that's where I learned about jitter)

I have no idea why you would offer such a completely off-the-wall, nonsensical claim. Indeed, some uninformed individuals were "surprised". That often happens when uninformed people meet something old, eh?
Old 9th May 2014
  #4819
j_j
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by 21doors View Post
Could the noisefloor maybe become one with the signal during down-conversion, totally messing up the original harmonics???
Not if it's done right. And, before you ask, yes, there is certainly a reason I am qualifying that with 'done right', you betcha. :(
Old 9th May 2014
  #4820
j_j
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
JJ is being polite. A lot of developers throw code libraries around with little of no understanding of how they work or of the need for dither. The "you can't hear it" excuses for leaving out dither seem endless.
Yeah, they're right up there with the myth of "digital edges", in fact.

And sometimes from people who ought to know better.

(mutter grumble)
Old 9th May 2014
  #4821
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doom64's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Hills View Post
Don't open the champagne yet. Much of Beats' success is due to their marketing. Beats headphones are fashionable. (So are Apple products.) That, and Beats' licenses, is likely what makes them attractive to Apple. If what makes them fashionable was sound quality, they'd have bought someone like Sennheiser. It looks like Pono realise this is an unexploited angle. They're trying to create a buzz that makes high quality sound (and thus Pono) fashionable.

In summary, it has yet to be proven that there is a significant ("mass") market for "better sounding music and delivery systems".
Pono needs to be on next season's American Idol like beats were. Also, in rappers'/pop stars' music videos.
Old 9th May 2014
  #4822
j_j
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarsBot View Post
So you're saying that parts of a complex audio system interacted in unexpected ways to create an audible phenomenon. That's interesting. Many on this thread have basically argued that any unexpected component interactions capable of generating audible phenomena are now completely impossible in modern audio systems.
Nobody has argued that except maybe you. Would you care to support that complete whopper, now?
Old 9th May 2014
  #4823
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doom64's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by j_j View Post
Wow, talk about historical revisionism.

Jitter was well understood in the 1950's, and was examined in detail in order to understand what happened in TDM analog phone lines.
Is this where the term jitter bug comes from?
Old 9th May 2014
  #4824
j_j
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by 21doors View Post
I don't listen to duplicated CD-Rs when I want a reference.
If there is any testable difference (i.e. in a DBT or cognate) then your playback equipment is broken.

That wouldn't surprise me, given the lack of sufficient bypassing, poor grounding design, and lots of other ick I've seen in CD players that were obviously designed by a digital logic engineer. I hope. If not, it's even worse.
Old 9th May 2014
  #4825
j_j
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Decompress View Post
it wasn't, given the reception received by people who heard differences between early CD players, which apparently turned out to be largely caused by jitter.
If you were around during net.audio times (that's before rec.audio.*) you would know that somebody did, in a blind test, 9/10 and then 8/10 results in a very primitive, not so sensitive ABX test between a Maggotbox (err, Magnavox, jj, be nice) CD player and a CDP 101. In a noisy room, in fact.

I know, the person was me.

The player turned out to have a bad design for rounding at low levels built into its 4x oversampling convertor.

Whoopsie. There went your your jitter argument.

Jitter did, however, cause massive skewing of the first MPEG-Audio test, thanks to a pathetic PLL in a "professional SPDIF DAC". AES/EBU and SPDIF are really not the nicest protocols in the world, and there's not really any excuse, the phone company (who I used to work for, Bell Labs, remember them, Acoustics Research and all that?) knew how to design better digital protocols in 1960.
Old 9th May 2014
  #4826
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doom64's Avatar
I finally watched the Pono Kickstarter promo video. It's funny that Mr. King of Squash (hypercompression) Rick Rubin said that Pono sounds beautiful. Yeah...maybe the sound of dynamic music opened your ears up. Thanks for ruining good quality rock music over the years, Rubin.
Old 9th May 2014
  #4827
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bogosort's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by 21doors View Post
Back when I first realized that I could pick out a duplicated CD-R over a replicated CD, in a blind test (10 for 10) I realized that we put a lot of trust into industry "truths", and things that "can't be questioned". In this example, engineers would have been quick to point out (rightly so) that there are numerous reasons as to why I could hear that difference in CD vs CD-R, and I could spend my whole life tracking down better codecs/CD-Rs/Burners just to find a cure for this.
Now this is surprising. I have no idea what you were blind testing, and I don't understand your distinction between duplication and replication, but I find it very difficult to believe that the same digital data coming off of one CD sounded different than coming off another.

Quote:
There is no question in my mind that many pro release 16bit CD's we can buy contain artifacts that weren't audible in the 24bit versions.
Exactly what kind of artifacts? Give us some examples. Should be easy, right?
Old 9th May 2014
  #4828
j_j
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by bogosort View Post
Now this is surprising. I have no idea what you were blind testing, and I don't understand your distinction between duplication and replication, but I find it very difficult to believe that the same digital data coming off of one CD sounded different than coming off another.
I'm aware of several players (none sold now, but who knows about ones sold nowdays, I don't) that had the DAC reference coming off the V+ with NO FILTERING. Guess what AM you could see from the DAC output? Could it be the servo operating? Yep. It could be. :(

Just for an example. Different discs might indeed sound different, but not due to the data on the disc.
Old 9th May 2014
  #4829
Quote:
Originally Posted by doom64 View Post
Pono needs to be on next season's American Idol like beats were. Also, in rappers'/pop stars' music videos.
This whole Pono debate for me is about better quality consumer audio.
If Pono is no better than CD, but sells gazillions of players because it's cool to the kids, that isn't a victory for me.
If some of the people in this thread will be proven 'right' because Pono sells well, that will be a hollow victory. The whole marketing platform is about bringing better quality audio to the masses, not about being a cool, hipster gadget that makes the founders wealthy.
Old 10th May 2014
  #4830
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bogosort's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Decompress View Post
Which brings up the issue of being skeptical or arguing about science. The issue isn't the science, it's the insistence by some that known science about hearing is all-inclusive. When science can claim that recorded audio is "better" now than it's ever been, yet people are increasingly preferring to listen to a comparatively ancient and obviously flawed format such as vinyl, there's clearly some kind of enormous disconnect there that's being lost upon the science zealots.
But that's the thing. It's easy to cite the limits of science and then follow with some arbitrary conclusion: "science doesn't know everything, therefore"

-- digital audio could be flawed, or
-- ultrasonic perception could be a factor, or
-- we don't know enough about human hearing to make definitive claims

etc.

But using that formula, any possible conclusion is equally valid: "Science doesn't know everything, therefore"

-- microscopic aliens could be orbiting Jupiter, or
-- elephants could be telekinetic, or
-- one out of every billion humans is immortal

etc.

Pointing out that science doesn't know everything is not an argument; it is meaningless at best, and completely dismissive of everything we do know, at worst.

As for vinyl's small resurgence and the supposed enormous disconnect lost upon the science "zealots", well, I think we can fairly call the recent vinyl thing a sociological phenomenon. The technical merits or otherwise of vinyl sound reproduction, however, is best kept in the domain of science.
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