The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
Launch of Pono Studio Headphones
Old 13th May 2014
  #4891
Airwindows
 
chrisj's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by bogosort View Post
I suspect much of what people perceive to be a problem with digital is really a problem with the mix (mixing to a DAW requires very different techniques than mixing to tape), or a problem with the master (there are no winners in the loudness war). Presumably we're all audio engineers here: if someone wants his mix to sound more like vinyl, he should learn how to mix so that it does! If people really are craving that vinyl sound, he should have no shortage of work.
They are (that and 'tape sound'). Look around. As a developer I can assure you, people are way less interested in accuracy than they are in 'vibe and tape/vinyl sound'. I've always coded plugins that maximize audio fidelity, such as wordlength reducers, also compression that's more transparent than usual. What sells is the 'ANALOG DOOD' colored stuff that does the 'sound' for you, so I try to cover all the bases, doing the tone-shaping while also retaining as much transparency as I can (since any processing in the digital domain always loses you that, gradually eroding the tone towards the 'crunchy' quality Bob O. speaks of)

I sympathize with the idea that a playback device should be perfect, or that it should deliver playback filtration that is pure and totally free of in-band coloration. BUT, if you give people a choice between

1) a playback that processes the input sound by four adds and a multiply, delivering an output that starts to roll off near 20K within the range of hearing, but does it gracefully before hitting weird cancellations well OUT of the range of hearing, or

2) a playback that does tens or hundreds of multiplies to get an output with absolutely no inaccuracy within the range of hearing and perfect cancellation in the stop band, at the expense of just that heavier processing (we'll assume 24 bit playback, 32 or 64 bit processing, and that we're implementing the FIR normally with standard digital EQ math)

People are going to prefer 1.

As listeners, we don't care about measurement perfection. What we latch onto is different harder to measure parameters, like Bob O's 'crunchy'. It is hard to express in words what we're trying to refine here, and harder to reduce to measurements. Yes you can measure the noise floor of quantization artifacts, you can measure aliasing, but these problems are peculiarly damaging in a way that's hard to reduce to numbers. And, likewise, trying to push the boundaries of what's possible in 'vinyl-like performance' goes in funny directions where explaining the benefit starts to seem pretty looney.

If you had a perfect algorithm for taking input data, and getting a zero-ripple smoothed output with only four adds and a multiply out of it with perfectly flat passband, then maybe you could say the Pono averaging was a fatally flawed tradeoff for its tiny departure from linearity. But you cannot simply throw processing at the problem to get measurement results and expect the sonic output to be ideal.

Look at it this way. People make mighty grandiose claims over SACD, despite some known problems with it. But one thing it DOES have going for it, is a great lack of digital processing. The rawest form can't even be edited. You have to just play back the bit stream untouched, to use it. And some listeners are adamant that this is way beyond ANY PCM audio—not just CD, but even high resolution PCM.

And it's notable for the near-absence of processing, calculating, and math-ing. And Pono is said to be choosing a filtration method that's as near as you can get to not processing. Food for thought.

Maybe 'raw digital' will prove to be more alive-sounding than 'well-cooked digital'
Old 13th May 2014
  #4892
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thad E Ginathom View Post
Maybe, but I'd say that if there was a straw man, it was in the post I was answering.


What chaps like you seem to always disregard is what was written and what it was in reply to. The original post said hear, my reply was about hearing: Feeling wasn't in it, and I wasn't talking about feeling.

Hmmm... Digital hasn't got as much love in it. I think I would have to ask an expert on that. j_j? Has digital sound got as much love in it as analogue vinyl? Did anybody ever measure that?

OK... seriously now... Nope. The experience of horrible plastic 'jewel case,' much less that of a file on hard disk, does not even begin to compare with the experience of playing an LP. Does that have to be repeated? Doesn't everybody here over about 40 years old know that? And aren't we expected to know that it is not about the sound, it's about the experience.

I may be wrong, but I think it was Neil who brought up the vinyl comparison in his video, otherwise all this would be completely irrelevant.
Oh, so the experience has nothing to do with the hearing part, has it? I was under the impression that hearing what it sounds like makes for the feeling. Silly me.
Old 13th May 2014
  #4893
Gear Addict
 

So wondering if you all saw Neil on Fallon last night perform 'Crazy' in the direct to vinyl recording booth that Jack White restored and wonder if that album he did in that booth will be available for PONO?
Old 13th May 2014
  #4894
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
Oh, so the experience has nothing to do with the hearing part, has it? I was under the impression that hearing what it sounds like makes for the feeling. Silly me.
You quibble; you split hairs; you contort the argument, but hey...

Yes, sadly, in this context, it is the experience that tells people what they are hearing, and not the other way around.

You win. If you can call that "winning"
Old 13th May 2014
  #4895
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thad E Ginathom View Post
You quibble; you split hairs; you contort the argument, but hey...

Yes, sadly, in this context, it is the experience that tells people what they are hearing, and not the other way around.

You win. If you can call that "winning"
I am not after winning, maybe you are. I didn't contort, we simply disagree. Boohoo, whatever mate. As you were.
Old 13th May 2014
  #4896
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Decompress View Post
Your contempt for the people who've chimed in on this thread complaining about the sound of modern digital comes through loud and clear...
I know for a fact that JJ has even more contempt for the sound of a great deal of modern digital because so much of it is incompetently designed. His point is that incompetent design is the problem and not digital. He's not a popular guy with audio manufacturers, audiophiles or the crowd that worships ABX because he knows way too much.

JJ and Paul Frindle are the only two real experts who ever show up much on the internet. Their presence is a wonderful gift to all of us.
Old 13th May 2014
  #4897
Lives for gear
 
Timothy Lawler's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
...'accurate' is one thing, and feeling is another. It FEELS different to hear a vinyl record, and people like the feeling, in complete disregard whether it is 'accurate' or 'audiophile'. The sound of it, complete with crackles, etc, sets the scene in a way that emotion passes well from it to a human. Music generally wanting to communicate emotion, this can be a plus.

People don't feel the love so much with digital however, regardless how accurate or hifi it is technically. Because even at its best digital hasn't got as much love in it. At best it doesn't take love away. Vinyl ADDS love. I am sure you'll find a way to make me look like a dreaming lunatic based on this post, but if you take it to heart and ponder on it for a bit instead you may gather more of an understanding why people still bother with vinyl. But then you might not.
Well said and thank you for that, Karloff70.
Quote:
Digital... "at best it doesn't take love away".
Some of the technical posts I've read in this thread hit me, in a very basic way, as meaning the same thing.
Old 13th May 2014
  #4898
Lives for gear
 
doom64's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by walter88 View Post
Pyramix SRC is what the authors of the test I've been talking about (for probably too long now) chose as an example of a standard tool incorporated in the DAW used by many successful mastering studios.

I realize it doesn't look that great at infinitewav, and brought that up in the original test thread:
sample rate discrimination

.
Interesting...this was exactly Bob Katz findings when he did a listening test back in the 90s. Most everyone in the listening tests could hear a difference with ripples in the passband. No ripples...no audible difference. It's interesting that outputing 96 kHz from one DAC and recording to 44.1 kHz on another sounded better than software conversion, according to what's in that sample rate discrimination thread. Voxengo's r8brain Pro has a minimum phase mode that emulates this process:

"Like many existing SRC programs, r8brain PRO offers you a linear-phase conversion mode. But more importantly, you also have an option of using the minimum-phase conversion mode, which finally brings SRC with true analog qualities to affordable digital audio workstations: in this mode, r8brain PRO works like an ideal digital-to-analog converter followed by an analog-to-digital converter to resample the audio. This eliminates pre-ringing associated with linear-phase designs, while introducing only a minimal amount of phase coloration." - source: http://www.voxengo.com/product/r8brainpro/

Quote:
Originally Posted by walter88 View Post
The testers point though, and the relevance to Pono's claims, is that there is product out there where there are 96k files available, and CD, where because of the methods used in file creation, might be differentiated reliably in blind testing. Maybe Neil Young is only listening to 192 vs CD made with a not so great downsampler. It's just a variable to consider. There are probably 100 different SRCs at infinitewav, and some of them look a lot worse than Pyramix.
Pyramix is definitely not one of the worst for sure! But it gets beaten by the freeware Voxengo r8brain's SRC. Which I use all the time. I've also been bouncing and mixing down to floating point files ever since I had the ability to. Recording to higher sample rates, as long as I had the ability to.

To think, all those studios with better gear than me not recording to higher sample rates because computers weren't up to par. They should have done it, even just for archival purposes. Kind of like how the producers of Cheers, Seinfeld and Friends did it right by shooting to film. In this age of HDTV we can experience those shows in true high definition...because someone was future proofing. If HD audio is the future, there's a lot of music that wasn't future-proofed. It's sad, really. Especially with the better DSP developments coming out every year that benefits from higher sample rates.
Old 13th May 2014
  #4899
Lives for gear
 
doom64's Avatar
Can someone please take a portable recorder to one of these PONO listening tests (Newport Beach, May 30th is the next one) and record a direct out to your portable recorder. I am VERY curious to know if people are listening to different masters. If the PONO reps don't want you to do that report back. Not being able to record a direct out signal to me is a sign that they are trying to cover something up.
Old 13th May 2014
  #4900
Gear Guru
 
Sounds Great's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by j_j View Post
Add to that some of the distortions that create an exaggerated perceived dynamic range, a broader soundstage, and so on, and you have something that might be preferred. Accuracy is not the issue here, preference is, and preference isn't to be argued unless somebody is claiming their preference should be universal.
As fate would have it, I had been already thinking about commenting on this issue as I was recently listening to Led Zeppelin IV on my turntable and thinking about this.

Some of the distortions being thrown about in the discussion of vinyl playback are actually not distortions at all. But rather an accurate playback of the distortion in the original recording process. I can hear overloading/distorting of various stages of the making of this record much more clearly on vinyl than I can on CD. I can see how it would be very easy to mistake some of these distortions as being added by vinyl playback when in fact the playback is giving a more accurate picture of what is actually there.
Old 13th May 2014
  #4901
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by doom64 View Post
Can someone please take a portable recorder to one of these PONO listening tests (Newport Beach, May 30th is the next one) and record a direct out to your portable recorder. I am VERY curious to know if people are listening to different masters. If the PONO reps don't want you to do that report back. Not being able to record a direct out signal to me is a sign that they are trying to cover something up.
I second that. Seems fair. One of the things that seems odd to me is that they're showing a player that's Meridian, not Ayre. So if there IS going to be a moving average filter in there, it's probably not in there yet. Yet people still say it's "amazing". "incredible". "greatest thing I ever heard". How can the Ayre be the same, or would it? How different or similar could they be?

But yeah, it would definitely be interesting to look at the files they're playing in a DAW.

Last edited by walter88; 13th May 2014 at 08:19 PM.. Reason: added DAW
Old 13th May 2014
  #4902
Gear Guru
 
Sounds Great's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by doom64 View Post
Can someone please take a portable recorder to one of these PONO listening tests (Newport Beach, May 30th is the next one) and record a direct out to your portable recorder. I am VERY curious to know if people are listening to different masters. If the PONO reps don't want you to do that report back. Not being able to record a direct out signal to me is a sign that they are trying to cover something up.
Portable recorder? What format would it be recording on?
Old 13th May 2014
  #4903
Lives for gear
 
bogosort's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisj View Post
They are (that and 'tape sound'). Look around. As a developer I can assure you, people are way less interested in accuracy than they are in 'vibe and tape/vinyl sound'.
Again, the mix engineer can color the sound any way he sees fit; the playback device itself should be transparent.

Quote:
(since any processing in the digital domain always loses you that, gradually eroding the tone towards the 'crunchy' quality Bob O. speaks of)
What? Please explain how any (and by implication, all) digital processing leads to "crunchiness". I think you misconstrue Bob.

Quote:
As listeners, we don't care about measurement perfection. What we latch onto is different harder to measure parameters, like Bob O's 'crunchy'. It is hard to express in words what we're trying to refine here, and harder to reduce to measurements.
Real, roll-up-your sleeves engineering is difficult, sure. So what? If we care enough about audio quality, it's worth the effort it takes. The foundation has already been laid, the structure already built. All we have to do is paint the walls.

Quote:
But you cannot simply throw processing at the problem to get measurement results and expect the sonic output to be ideal.
I said the exact opposite: those who argue for higher sampling rates are the ones who want to throw processing at the problem; I am advocating empirical research to discover where the problems lie.

Quote:
Look at it this way. People make mighty grandiose claims over SACD, despite some known problems with it. But one thing it DOES have going for it, is a great lack of digital processing. The rawest form can't even be edited. You have to just play back the bit stream untouched, to use it. And some listeners are adamant that this is way beyond ANY PCM audio—not just CD, but even high resolution PCM.

And it's notable for the near-absence of processing, calculating, and math-ing. And Pono is said to be choosing a filtration method that's as near as you can get to not processing. Food for thought.
You are making gross generalizations about the detrimental effects of finite precision calculations. While there are well-known pitfalls to avoid (such as subtracting two nearly equal numbers), it is naive and misleading to suggest that any DSP calculation creates audible problems.

To some here, quantization is mysterious and spooky enough; we don't need you feeding their imaginations with ghost stories.
Old 13th May 2014
  #4904
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by walter88 View Post
Thanks doom64, just watched the video you referenced. Interesting stuff, and especially interesting that he's looking at an album that has different mastering treatments on CD and HD Tracks.
Having said that, I hope this doesn't become a trend (CD smashed, 96k "hi-res" not smashed), because I think it's backwards thinking BS. Treating the CD like a BS radio format or something, when it's capable of reproducing as perfectly as 96k, as shown in all blind testing to this point, when the two sampling rates are done right. Somebody's going to have to have the courage to take that less smashed mastering treatment for "hi-res" and put it on the CD. And see that it sells just as many records as the smashed would.

Last edited by walter88; 13th May 2014 at 09:36 PM.. Reason: replaced duplicate words
Old 13th May 2014
  #4905
Lives for gear
 
bogosort's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
JJ and Paul Frindle are the only two real experts who ever show up much on the internet. Their presence is a wonderful gift to all of us.
+1000. I've learned so much from their posts and presentations. It's truly a privilege (and a thrill, what can I say, I'm an audio geek) that a lowly second-year engineering student like myself can interact with these badasses.

And that goes for you too, Mr. Olhsson. We try to follow in your huge footsteps as best we can. Thank you for the guidance and wisdom along the way.
Old 13th May 2014
  #4906
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

I learned practically everything I sort-of know from JJ's posts back in the '80s and '90s before he got silenced by nondisclosure agreements.
Old 13th May 2014
  #4907
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
I am not after winning, maybe you are. I didn't contort, we simply disagree. Boohoo, whatever mate. As you were.
No problem: no winning or loosing, just an exchange in passing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
JJ and Paul Frindle are the only two real experts who ever show up much on the internet. Their presence is a wonderful gift to all of us.
It is the stuff to be learnt that has probably kept me coming back to this thread, rather than pono/porno.

JJ might be blunt, but his explanations are so accessible, even to me, a mathematical dunce and an audio novice. Thanks are due to many others too.
Old 13th May 2014
  #4908
j_j
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sounds Great View Post
Some of the distortions being thrown about in the discussion of vinyl playback are actually not distortions at all. But rather an accurate playback of the distortion in the original recording process. I can hear overloading/distorting of various stages of the making of this record much more clearly on vinyl than I can on CD. I can see how it would be very easy to mistake some of these distortions as being added by vinyl playback when in fact the playback is giving a more accurate picture of what is actually there.
I'm afraid you'll need some evidence for that. I would agree that the distortions in vinyl enhance the distortions intentionally put into the recording.
Old 14th May 2014
  #4909
Gear Guru
 
Sounds Great's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by j_j View Post
I'm afraid you'll need some evidence for that.
In this case evidence such as the double blind test would likely prove inconclusive either way, as you would probably agree. So what would you suggest?


Quote:
Originally Posted by j_j View Post
I would agree that the distortions in vinyl enhance the distortions intentionally put into the recording.
Of course I am talking about unintentional distortions in the process as well as those purposely added.

But that is an interesting statement that you feel vinyl distortions would enhance those already present. Care to elaborate?
Old 14th May 2014
  #4910
j_j
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sounds Great View Post
In this case evidence such as the double blind test would likely prove inconclusive either way, as you would probably agree. So what would you suggest?
Actually, you can probably demonstrate this in a difficult, but proper test.

Note the lack of the word "easy" anywhere in the previous sentence.
Old 14th May 2014
  #4911
j_j
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by bogosort View Post
You are making gross generalizations about the detrimental effects of finite precision calculations. While there are well-known pitfalls to avoid (such as subtracting two nearly equal numbers), it is naive and misleading to suggest that any DSP calculation creates audible problems.
While he is making generalizations that do not match my experience, I have seen some very badly constructed DSP in my life, including but not limited to:

Too short word length in the calculation (no single precision float does not always suffice, damnit)

Poor dithering (including none or wrong)

Fixed point processing that just can't possibly work

Failure to properly control aliasing in nonlinear operations

Gross examples of poor gain structure

There's more, too.
Old 14th May 2014
  #4912
j_j
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by doom64 View Post
I

Pyramix is definitely not one of the worst for sure!
I know jack about the Pyramix, but if it has +-.5dB ripple in the passband, that can be audible by itself and is also likely to cause pre-echo that is audible.

I said this before, but some malicious person came roaring in to distract from actual discussion, as usual.
Old 14th May 2014
  #4913
Lives for gear
 
bogosort's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by j_j View Post
While he is making generalizations that do not match my experience, I have seen some very badly constructed DSP in my life, including but not limited to:

Too short word length in the calculation (no single precision float does not always suffice, damnit)

Poor dithering (including none or wrong)

Fixed point processing that just can't possibly work

Failure to properly control aliasing in nonlinear operations

Gross examples of poor gain structure

There's more, too.
No doubt there is plenty of bad DSP in the wild. My objection was to his claim that any digital calculation wrecks the signal.
Old 14th May 2014
  #4914
Gear Guru
 
Sounds Great's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bogosort View Post
No doubt there is plenty of bad DSP in the wild. My objection was to his claim that any digital calculation wrecks the signal.
"Wrecks" is the wrong word. 'Change' would be accurate. But that is true of ever step of every process we do.
Old 14th May 2014
  #4915
Gear Guru
 
Sounds Great's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by j_j View Post
Actually, you can probably demonstrate this in a difficult, but proper test.

Note the lack of the word "easy" anywhere in the previous sentence.
But it seems like you are acknowledging that it hasn't really been done, yet are asking me to provide such proof in order to make the statement I did.

So where does that leave us?
Old 14th May 2014
  #4916
j_j
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sounds Great View Post
But it seems like you are acknowledging that it hasn't really been done, yet are asking me to provide such proof in order to make the statement I did.
Precisely. You make the claim, you provide the evidence. That's how science works.

I can show you how harmonic buildup works in the case of LP's rather nicely, and how that creates a sensation of exagerated dynamics and soundstage. That's not news.
Old 14th May 2014
  #4917
Gear Guru
 
Sounds Great's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by j_j View Post
Precisely. You make the claim, you provide the evidence. That's how science works.

I can show you how harmonic buildup works in the case of LP's rather nicely, and how that creates a sensation of exagerated dynamics and soundstage. That's not news.
But isn't saying the difference I am hearing does NOT exist also a claim?

An extreme example, but for illustration purposes, if I say an apple and orange are not the same, and you say they are, don't both of us have to provide evidence to support our claims in order to further the discussion?
Old 14th May 2014
  #4918
j_j
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sounds Great View Post
But isn't saying the difference I am hearing does NOT exist also a claim??
Spare me the lame exercise of the fallacy of the excluded middle, will you?

The burden of proof is on the claimant.
Old 14th May 2014
  #4919
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sounds Great View Post
I can hear overloading/distorting of various stages of the making of this record much more clearly on vinyl than I can on CD..
Sounds Great, not sure what you're hearing, but if I had one source with distortion in an area, and another source that's clean in that area, I would tend to think the clean one was right. Can you describe one of the occurances?
Old 14th May 2014
  #4920
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sounds Great View Post
But isn't saying the difference I am hearing does NOT exist also a claim?

An extreme example, but for illustration purposes, if I say an apple and orange are not the same, and you say they are, don't both of us have to provide evidence to support our claims in order to further the discussion?
I'm reminded of a certain teapot orbiting a certain former planet on the edge of the Solar System.
Topic:
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump