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Launch of Pono Studio Headphones
Old 15th March 2014
  #691
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bogosort View Post
Are you sure the reason it makes you feel bad is the 16/44.1 format, and not the mastering?
Are you sure that's what I said? Read my very first post, #292, back 97 pages or so.
Old 15th March 2014
  #692
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmoothVibe View Post
Brent, I believe this is one of the main reasons why you skip even tracks in CD quality, they are produced by samples and plugins.
CDs are irritating and fatiguing to me regardless of how they're produced. I'm pretty sure they are for most people, even if they don't realize it and think, well, that's what records sound like. It has nothing to do with golden ears.
Old 15th March 2014
  #693
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
CDs are irritating and fatiguing to me regardless of how they're produced. I'm pretty they are for most people, even if they don't realize it and think, well, that's what records sound like. It has nothing to do with golden ears.
I got fooled when you mentioned new music in CD gets you tired quickly, as if that is not the case when you listen to old music in CD quality.

It is because CD quality is a limitation.
Old 15th March 2014
  #694
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmoothVibe View Post
I got fooled when you mentioned new music in CD gets you tired quickly, as if that is not the case when you listen to old music in CD quality.
No, you got fooled because you misread what I wrote. And then you went and mis-paraphrased it. Wouldn't want anyone else to get fooled, now would we?
Old 15th March 2014
  #695
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Quote:
Ayre, founded two decades ago, makes high-end music equipment
Three years ago they were caught red handed buying up $500 Oppo universal optical disc players, transfering the contents to a nice box with Ayre written on the front and trousering over $5,000 extra for their 'high endedness'.

I reckon Mr. Young himself doesn't realise this is largely snake oil but it's not in the interests of those around him to let on.
Old 15th March 2014
  #696
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RonaldDumsfeld View Post
Three years ago they were caught red handed buying up $500 Oppo universal optical disc players, transfering the contents to a nice box with Ayre written on the front and trousering over $5,000 extra for their 'high endedness'.

If that's indeed true that's pretty sleazy, and frankly puts me off pono a bit. I know these things go on but it's not very cool really...

Ayre DX-5 at $10,000 is a rebadged $500 OPPO.
Old 15th March 2014
  #697
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RonaldDumsfeld View Post
Three years ago they were caught red handed buying up $500 Oppo universal optical disc players, transfering the contents to a nice box with Ayre written on the front and trousering over $5,000 extra for their 'high endedness'.
Look into this further, please. It seems Ayre started with Oppo machines, but rebuilt them with new power supplies, analog circuitry, etc. Whether these improvements were worth the cost is another story, but it doesn't seem like a simple "rebadge" job.

Regardless, the Pono player's planned cost is pretty much in line with similar products, so it doesn't look like we have an overpriced piece of garbage here.

Cheers,
Eddie
Old 15th March 2014
  #698
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 666666 View Post
Yes, indeed. We badly need this. As Neil pointed out, the audio quality of mass production music has so severely deteriorated over the years... and now it is indeed total CRAP as he put it. It is. This cannot be argued. If you can't "hear" and understand that it is crap then sadly your ears must already be conditioned in a very negative way. But if you have an open mind and are willing to attempt to appreciate good sound, there is hope... you'll need to work at it. And it will be an ever glorious revelation once you're there. Better than sex... really. To put it down and say it's bunk just shows total ignorance.

We can all argue until the end of time who can or cannot hear this frequency or that frequency or this codec etc, bla bla bla. It's pointless. Some folks can indeed hear at least 24-bit / 96k AIFFs over everything that is lesser... I know I can. So why argue about it? If you can't hear it, fine... don't buy it. But it should at least be widely available for those who can hear it and appreciate it. End of story!
No offense, but the confirmation bias in this thread directly mirrors the bias of humans when it comes to 192/24.

I have NEVER heard of a controlled double blind test where people could pick out 24/96 vs 16/44.1. Why not? Why can't poeple do it?

One can argue "you need to be trained" or "it's subtle" but if that's true, then 24/96 doesn't BLOW AWAY anything. If there is a difference, it's extremely subtle, so subtle many mastering engineers and other "golden ears" failed to pick it out in testing.

If you REALLY BELIEVE you can hear a difference then do yourself a favor and read up just a little on confirmation bias. Your mind is your enemy when it comes to your own objectivity. If you think you are immune.. then you are making the point... you are actually providing evidence of your own confirmation bias.

Once you understand confirmation bias, then there's only one thing left to do.. test yourself.

That, my friend, is the real "end of story."
Old 15th March 2014
  #699
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
Well, if he manages to sell the albums for that to people who end up enjoying them in this format I don't have a problem with that. Why do you? You don't have to buy them.
I don’t have a problem with that, and no, I don't have to buy them.

What I do have a problem with (inasmuch as I'm just ranting about it on an internet forum, i.e. not really a 'problem' in the general scheme of things!) is Pono being peddled as some sort of pop-star led 'people’s crusade' against an invisible dark force that has been preventing artists from releasing their music as they would prefer, which is undeniably the rhetoric Neil Young is using here:

“It’s about you hearing what we hear - we wanted you to be a part of this and help us launch this new music system into the world. We think that as music lovers having you along with us from the very beginning with the special players that we’re offering will be a cool thing for you to be part of and for us to be part of with you. Just so I can sleep at night I want to bring back real music. Pono is ‘the one’, ‘the whole’, I want everybody to hear music that way. That’s why we’re on Kickstarter - so we can share this with everyone and everyone who loves music can share in the release of Pono and the launch of the real music experience. That’s what we’re here to do.” Neil Young (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects...iscovers-music)

The invisible dark force is of course the record companies, who with very few exceptions, (Linn records being one) have been actively preventing material being released at better than CD quality in a non-physical format for years, despite the technology being available since the mid 90’s.

So why does the critical role of the record companies feature nowhere in Mr Young’s high-profile drive for a hi-res democracy? It's the elephant in the room.

The truth is EMI/UMG could have started re-releasing 24/96 masters two decades ago and 24/192 from the turn of the century. (Although I suspect only a bat could differentiate between those two formats.) Why have they not done this, i.e. backed an affordable and durable Hi Res format for music to replace CD? Paranoia, that if they do finally release something sounding like the original master they lose control, and control of yet more format releases means profits. It’s not rocket science. They have recouped their investment many many times over on classic albums - why exactly do those of us who have already purchased the product need to pay full RRP of perhaps $24.99 again? What is the cost/sales ratio here? I suspect it’s about 1000:1, even after they’ve paid a top mastering engineer to clean up the old tapes. (By the way, EMI/UMG posted earnings of $693.8m on sales of $6bn in 2012. Updated: Universal Music Group Earnings Up; Vivendi's Adjusted Profit Shrinks | Billboard)

Anyone who thinks Neil Young and his super-wealthy buddies are launching Pono as a charitable act “just so he can sleep at night” is living in cuckoo-land. Read this billboard article on how an open debate was shut down once someone asked what sort of cut the Pono posse are getting of that $24.99, in other words just what sort of murky deal they have made with the devil, aka the record companies? ('What's Your Cut?' Neil Young's Pono Talk at SXSW Gets Awkward | Billboard) Anyone with a serious investment to make would surely want to know that. Is this really about “sharing what we hear with everyone who loves music”, or is it that, as the Billboard article concludes, about "even the most seemingly benevolent entrepreneurs [having] something to hide."

I have no dog in this fight and I am all for improving format resolution within reason beyond the 30 year-old RBCD standard. But if Mr Young wants me to "be a part of this and help [them] launch this new music system into the world" he is first going to have to explain why it will cost me an additional $24.99 on top of the $14.99 I have already spent on Album X in order to "hear what he hears"; that sort of mark-up seems to me to be out of all proportion to the incremental improvement he/his record company is offering on a product that has already been paid for.
Old 15th March 2014
  #700
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nuthinupmysleeve View Post
I have NEVER heard of a controlled double blind test where people could pick out 24/96 vs 16/44.1.
This is strange to me because I have described one multiple times in copious detail in this very thread. Conducted at The Magic Shop Blue Room. It involved 16/44 all the way up through 24/96 and DSD. The differences were absolutely discernible.

Controlled double-blind with ATC monitors and EMMlabs converters.

- c
Old 15th March 2014
  #701
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver Sonya View Post
... 16/44 all the way up through 24/96 and DSD. The differences were absolutely discernible.
Yeah, but "discernible" isn't enough to make all those folks in the video react the way they did. In the Pono paradigm (which ol' Neil doesn't explain very well) the high sample rate is just the icing on the original-masters cake. And the player is basically a cute plastic branding icon.
Old 15th March 2014
  #702
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver Sonya View Post
This is strange to me because I have described one multiple times in copious detail in this very thread. Conducted at The Magic Shop Blue Room. It involved 16/44 all the way up through 24/96 and DSD. The differences were absolutely discernible.

Controlled double-blind with ATC monitors and EMMlabs converters.

- c
OK, you're the first! All the other ones I've read about resulted in no better than guessing.

What were the percentages of correct selections for you with the different formats?

Was the switching done in analog or digital domain? How did you level match them?
Old 15th March 2014
  #703
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Yeah, but "discernible" isn't enough to make all those folks in the video react the way they did. In the Pono paradigm (which ol' Neil doesn't explain very well) the high sample rate is just the icing on the original-masters cake. And the player is basically a cute plastic branding icon.
A good question. The point is the difference is very subtle, if there even is a difference. Someone would be an extreme victim of confirmation bias to go away raving about the incredible difference... unless of course there were other differences as we've suggested before.
Old 15th March 2014
  #704
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nuthinupmysleeve View Post
One can argue "you need to be trained" or "it's subtle" but if that's true, then 24/96 doesn't BLOW AWAY anything. If there is a difference, it's extremely subtle, so subtle many mastering engineers and other "golden ears" failed to pick it out in testing.
One of my favourite recordings to listen to in my studio is a recording of John Taveners 'The Lamb'. It's such an emotional performance in virtually brings me to tears every time, and thats no easy task when listening on a pair of ruthlessly analytical monitors!. The quality of the recording is excellent too, you really get a sense of the space the boys are singing in, you can even hear the sound of traffic passing by in the street outside the building it was recorded in.

Here's the funny thing... its a 224kbps VBR mp3 file, that only peaks as high as -22dbFS. Yes you people heard me right, I bought it in mp3 format, not even 320kbps mp3!.

Yet I also have high res uncompressed unlimited recordings that don't sound half as good as that lowly mp3.

Which highlights an important point, do a recording right, mix and mastering it really well, and that quality really shines through, yes even in mp3.

It is a shame that the promotion of Ponos high quality is mainly focused on the delivery format rather than the horrific destruction that hard digital limiting/clipping does, but if this Pono movement means far more contemporary music is available to the public in non-limited form then that is at least a step in the right direction.

I just wish that the damage caused by limiting was made more distinct in this regard to informing consumers, otherwise the public will think things sound better because its a 192/24 recording, rather than realising the truth that it sounds soo much better than their existing mp3/CD album because the waveform hasn't been smashed to death by a limiter or clipper at the mastering stage.

If they start releasing 192/24 music for Pono thats still digitally limited it'll be a big dissapointment, hopefully not!.
Old 15th March 2014
  #705
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 666666 View Post
Whenever I bounce a 24-bit mix down to a 16-bit format I always hear the difference immediately. Mind you, it's in a studio environment with excellent monitoring, not on an iPod with ****ty converters and $14.99 ear-buds. But, there IS a degradation there from 24 to 16. 24-bit is surely superior and can be heard, at least on competent equipment.
Are you comparing 24/96 mix to a 16/44.1 mixdown? If so, the difference you are hearing is the sample rate -- your converter may indeed perform better at 96 kHz than 44.1, as may your plugins/virtual instruments. But the only difference between a properly dithered 24-bit and 16-bit recording is the noise floor. That's it. The mathematics and physics of quantization are perfectly understood; there is nothing subjective about it.
Old 15th March 2014
  #706
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nuthinupmysleeve View Post
OK, you're the first! All the other ones I've read about resulted in no better than guessing.

What were the percentages of correct selections for you with the different formats?

Was the switching done in analog or digital domain? How did you level match them?
I strongly recommend you try one, don't just read about it! Those people aren't you!

RE: percentages et al: I don't recall. The "scientific" (blind) portion of the test wasn't administered by me. I wasn't taking notes. I was just closing my eyes and expressing preferences. It was super dull.

By my request, we listened quite loudly, certainly more loudly than most people listen to music. And the source was a raw 30ips 1/2" master tape of music I knew very well. (One song from Fugazi's "Red Medicine.")

When not listening "blind," (which, as I said, was excruciatingly dull), my main observations on the differences in resolution were not in frequency response. It was more in a difficult-to-describe sense of increasing vividness. I found I was able to hear more of the textural details --- "Red Medicine" is a trippy, heavily-manipulated album, it's certainly no purist documentary recording --- and feel exactly where each element/event was panned.

Admittedly I am a mastering engineer by trade as well as a lifelong music obsessive. I've spoken at AES and Tape Op mastering panels, etc. I am definitely not the average listener.

Everybody's different though. And yes, the Pono video is certainly promotional and makes no claims to be scientific. They're just trying to get people excited. I don't begrudge them that, although I know there are many here who do.

- c
Old 15th March 2014
  #707
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver Sonya View Post
I am excited about the Pono concept, as is evident by my posts on this thread, but I do find it very ironic that Metallica and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers ---- two of the most infamous victims of the loudness war --- now have signature models.

- c
If Metallica is involved it is only about the dollars.

Many moons ago I worked for them indirectly (company I worked for supplied lighting) and everybody who knows them knows that Metallica is ONLY in it for the money. If there had been less money in music in the '80s they'd all be bankers, lawyers or in Lars' case professional tennis players.

Since they got involved my last drop of hope that Pono might be changing anything for the better have evaporated.
Old 15th March 2014
  #708
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My advice to everyone is try blind experiments YOURSELVES. Don't just read about them. Try some empirical experience.

Be forewarned: They are definitely no fun.

- c
Old 15th March 2014
  #709
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
These days I'll buy a CD on sale (new/reissue, doesn't matter) for, say, 10 bucks at Best Buy and put it on and I'm lucky if I make it through 2 songs before I'm so irritated and antsy that I just shut the damn thing off.

So I'm paying 5 bucks a song for something that makes me feel bad.
if you get "irritated and antsy" and "feel bad" from listening to a piece of music, I submit that a LOT MORE has to be wrong with it than the delivery resolution!

Adding 8 more bits of - let's be honest -unused dynamic range, and some ultrasonic frequencies to perhaps please your dog is probably NOT going to change the way you feel after these two songs. The songs themselves would need to be different, and that could happen NOW - without any new device.

As for the seemingly vanished experience of sitting down and listening to an album all the way through-

#1- music has changed. Everything is mastered to within an inch of its life and we all know it. The constant unvarying level and blaring high frequency that cuts through the other sounds going on in our lives makes for better wallpaper - but not better "sit down and listen" music.

#2- albums have changed - they are being sold as singles on the download sites and fewer and fewer places even exist where you can buy the CD. The programming of song order is a lost art. Good programming is often detrimental to the exposure of the songs the label wants to expose.

#3 - we have changed. We are all plugged-in and hyperstimulated from morning to night. We watch commercials that have more edits in 60 seconds than Casablanca had in an hour. We microwave our dinners and wonder why it's "taking so long". We glance furtively at out Devices even as we are watching television, sitting in a movie theater, driving a car, working in the studio or "conversing" with another human being. Because doing ONE THING at a time is "too slow" for us.


None of the above factors will change with increased bandwidth or an increased dynamic range in the playback device because today's music is not even using the bandwidth and dynamic range we have!!

the "hopes" being pinned on this device are sadly way crazy. It is still digital, and up until a very short while ago these exact same people were telling us digital was the Devil with no exceptions.
Old 15th March 2014
  #710
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver Sonya View Post
This is strange to me because I have described one multiple times in copious detail in this very thread. Conducted at The Magic Shop Blue Room. It involved 16/44 all the way up through 24/96 and DSD. The differences were absolutely discernible.

Controlled double-blind with ATC monitors and EMMlabs converters.

- c
What was the methodology? What were the controls? What was the final probability of guessing in your trials? What was the final probability of guessing in the groups' trials?

In science, when an experiment produces surprising results that don't jibe with the established theory, the first thing you do is question the methodology. If your test was good, you should really publish the results.
Old 15th March 2014
  #711
Quote:
Originally Posted by bogosort View Post
What was the methodology? What were the controls? What was the final probability of guessing in your trials? What was the final probability of guessing in the groups' trials?

In science, when an experiment produces surprising results that don't jibe with the established theory, the first thing you do is question the methodology. If your test was good, you should really publish the results.
Some science papers demonstrate that the ears are not the only part of the body involved in 'hearing.' The science behind this is good enough that at least one 'name' company has patents on the application of these technologies.

The human body is more remarkable than many understand e.g. cells can communicate with each other using bioluminesence where the strength of light is the equivalent of one candle at a 1/4 mile distance.

The bottom line is that in addition to subjective impressions about listening tests there is scientific data which shows even subtle differences can affect perception.

Links:
What you cannot hear CAN affect you
People Hear with Their Skin as well as Their Ears - Scientific American
Sony patents a brain manipulation technology | Ars Technica
Old 15th March 2014
  #712
... thank you Arthur Stone.
so true ...
Old 15th March 2014
  #713
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bogosort View Post
What was the methodology? What were the controls? What was the final probability of guessing in your trials? What was the final probability of guessing in the groups' trials?

In science, when an experiment produces surprising results that don't jibe with the established theory, the first thing you do is question the methodology. If your test was good, you should really publish the results.
Are you at all familiar with Steve Rosenthal or the Magic shop ?
It is one of the four or five real studios in New York.
The Blue Room does some of the most significant audio restoration work
being done over the past decade in the United States. (The Rolling Stones/Sam Cooke/Frank Sinatra)
It would behoove you to do some research before posting.

Thanks

Be well

- Jack
Old 15th March 2014
  #714
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bogosort View Post
What was the methodology? What were the controls? What was the final probability of guessing in your trials? What was the final probability of guessing in the groups' trials?

In science, when an experiment produces surprising results that don't jibe with the established theory, the first thing you do is question the methodology. If your test was good, you should really publish the results.
This was not a formal test where we'd publish the findings in an AES white paper or anything like that.

There were many unusual elements. First of all: everyone in the room was an audio professional. There were no "regular people."
Also I had my hand on the volume knob. And we listened LOUD... much louder than most people listen to music. I don't think any of that would be the case if we were attempting some kind of academic study. It was just an informal way for the Magic Shop to demonstrate the differences for the purposes of my client's archiving project.

They played a passage from the song and the tester said "This is 'A'..." and then "This is 'B'..." Etc. Then we were asked to rank them in order of preference.

Personally I almost always preferred the one that turned out to be DSD. This is why I'm disappointed Pono does not use that technology.

The whole thing is not that interesting, really.

- c
Old 15th March 2014
  #715
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arksun View Post
One of my favourite recordings to listen to in my studio is a recording of John Taveners 'The Lamb'. It's such an emotional performance in virtually brings me to tears every time, and thats no easy task when listening on a pair of ruthlessly analytical monitors!. The quality of the recording is excellent too, you really get a sense of the space the boys are singing in, you can even hear the sound of traffic passing by in the street outside the building it was recorded in.

Here's the funny thing... its a 224kbps VBR mp3 file, that only peaks as high as -22dbFS. Yes you people heard me right, I bought it in mp3 format, not even 320kbps mp3!.

Yet I also have high res uncompressed unlimited recordings that don't sound half as good as that lowly mp3.

Which highlights an important point, do a recording right, mix and mastering it really well, and that quality really shines through, yes even in mp3.
Yes. Exactly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arksun View Post
It is a shame that the promotion of Ponos high quality is mainly focused on the delivery format rather than the horrific destruction that hard digital limiting/clipping does,
Yes. Exactly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arksun View Post
but if this Pono movement means far more contemporary music is available to the public in non-limited form then that is at least a step in the right direction.
This is where I get lost. How is putting one pound of burnt meat into a four pound container a "step in the right direction?"

Especially when you've proven (to yourself) that it doesn't matter?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arksun View Post
I just wish that the damage caused by limiting was made more distinct in this regard to informing consumers, otherwise the public will think things sound better because its a 192/24 recording, rather than realising the truth that it sounds soo much better than their existing mp3/CD album because the waveform hasn't been smashed to death by a limiter or clipper at the mastering stage.

If they start releasing 192/24 music for Pono thats still digitally limited it'll be a big dissapointment, hopefully not!.
Hopefully not indeed. The loudness war should not be a part of the product being sold thru the Pono store. If it's a different file, it should be re-mastered.

Not sure why this video couldn't explain this fact.
Old 15th March 2014
  #716
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I just noticed the Fugazi archival project is listed on the Magic Shop's site, which makes me happy.

- c
Old 15th March 2014
  #717
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bogosort View Post
What was the methodology? What were the controls? What was the final probability of guessing in your trials? What was the final probability of guessing in the groups' trials?

In science, when an experiment produces surprising results that don't jibe with the established theory, the first thing you do is question the methodology. If your test was good, you should really publish the results.
How about this?

To all the people who think the difference between sample rates and bits are as dramatic as the video portrays, find a finished mix that you have in a higher format. Even 24 bit 44.1kHz would suffice.

Truncate it to 16 bit 44.1kHz then up sample it back to the original resolution and post both files for us to compare. Let's see if we can all hear the difference.

Judging by the reaction in the video, I'm guessing that 100% of us will get it right.
Old 15th March 2014
  #718
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I recognize that you're really upset about this, but the video suggests that Neil Young played people an MP3 from a cheap iPod, a CD on a CD player and then hi-res stuff from the Pono player. There were more variables than just file type.

- c
Old 15th March 2014
  #719
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arthur Stone View Post
Some science papers demonstrate that the ears are not the only part of the body involved in 'hearing.' The science behind this is good enough that at least one 'name' company has patents on the application of these technologies.
Even if the science behind this was indisputable, it is utterly irrelevant to music production and audio engineering. Or are you suggesting that ultrasonic information is a qualitative factor in music enjoyment?

Quote:
The human body is more remarkable than many understand e.g. cells can communicate with each other using bioluminesence where the strength of light is the equivalent of one candle at a 1/4 mile distance.
Not sure what your point is. I think we're all suitably impressed by the amazing electro-chemical machinery that is the human body. You seem to have a strong belief that 24-bit audio sounds "better" than 16-bit, and I suspect you're bringing up these irrelevant "mysteries" of human sensory perception to bolster this belief. After all, maybe we don't understand enough of human hearing to really say which is better, right?

Wrong. The physics of quantization have absolutely nothing to do with human perception. We can 100% quantify exactly what it means to quantize an amplitude to varying word lengths, and the only difference between 16-bit and 24-bit quantization is about 48 dB of noise floor. There is literally nothing else different. We don't need to know anything about the ear-skin-brain system to know that if you think you hear a difference, it's literally all in your head.
Old 15th March 2014
  #720
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Quote:
Originally Posted by themaidsroom View Post
Are you at all familiar with Steve Rosenthal or the Magic shop ?
It is one of the four or five real studios in New York.
The Blue Room does some of the most significant audio restoration work
being done over the past decade in the United States. (The Rolling Stones/Sam Cooke/Frank Sinatra)
It would behoove you to do some research before posting.
And the relevance of that is? Do you assume that because they are restoration experts, they're also experts in empirical research? Unfortunately, it's really, really easy to conduct bad tests.
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