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Launch of Pono Studio Headphones
Old 11th March 2014
  #1
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Launch of Pono

I'm sorry, I find this completely exciting.

- c
Old 11th March 2014
  #2
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Nothing to be sorry about, I wish it great success!

Old 11th March 2014
  #3
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If ever a product was destined to bomb ... Pono.

They are solving a problem more than 80% of consumers care nothing about. Do I care? Yes. I'd love everything on 192kHz/24 bit, but the guy on the Subway with Beats and an iPhone doesn't give a damn.
Old 11th March 2014
  #4
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I don't care at all about having 192/24 files, 320kb Mp3 is good enough for me. But it is a very good price for 128 GB memory (with 64 gb switchable), and i would think the playback on the same files would be significantly better than my old glitchy ipod :D


Quote:
Originally Posted by billcarroll View Post
If ever a product was destined to bomb ... Pono.

They are solving a problem more than 80% of consumers care nothing about. Do I care? Yes. I'd love everything on 192kHz/24 bit, but the guy on the Subway with Beats and an iPhone doesn't give a damn.
Well, they have made 400k in barely any time at all. I think enough people care. It doesn't have to outsell apple to be succesful.
Old 11th March 2014
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PVJesper View Post
I don't care at all about having 192/24 files, 320kb Mp3 is good enough for me. But it is a very good price for 128 GB memory (with 64 gb switchable), and i would think the playback on the same files would be significantly better than my old glitchy ipod :D




Well, they have made 400k in barely any time at all. I think enough people care. It doesn't have to outsell apple to be succesful.
I already load 44/16 on external devices like my iPhone and iPad, and I'd load higher quality files if I had them. I'd like to see the idea succeed, but I just don't see that happening with the "Pono Player".

With phones becoming cameras and music players people are typically just not willing to carry a second device around, even if it has mega more megapixels.
Old 11th March 2014
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billcarroll View Post
I already load 44/16 on external devices like my iPhone and iPad, and I'd load higher quality files if I had them. I'd like to see the idea succeed, but I just don't see that happening with the "Pono Player".

With phones becoming cameras and music players people are typically just not willing to carry a second device around, even if it has mega more megapixels.
It's not just about the player though, but about record companies supplying their output at high quality through ponomusic.

I feel warm inside from this. Wherever it reaches, it is a start in a good direction of a future with better sounding music than mp3's.
Old 11th March 2014
  #7
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I don't get it.

First of all, it's a $400 Tobelrone bar. I don't want that in my pocket, unless the 1990's baggy pants make a comeback!

Second, iTunes has been increasingly adding content on "iTunes Plus" which is 256Kbps AAC format, which is good enough for my needs in a portable player (comparable to 320Kbps MP3, which people can't typically differentiate from CD)

iTunes Store: iTunes Plus Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Given the price premium for iTunes Plus music is not much (29c more on average) and the content is DRM free, what would be the incentive to pay $399 (seriously!?!?!) for yet another thing to carry around, and have to buy music at a higher price?

Ask yourself, if Neil Young wasn't involved and they weren't trying to line up a string of "name" artists to endorse/support it and give you the warm fuzzies under the whole mantra of "artistic integrity" and giving you the quality you deserve blah blah blah, does the tech really seem compelling? If it said Samsung or Acer or LG on the side and was announced at CES, would this thing even be on your radar?

This whole thing (especially the kickstarter part) is a marketing exercise, building something out of people's misinformed perception of a need when in fact there are options (iTunes Plus, HDTracks etc) already in existence for audio enthusiasts who care about quality. You really think Neil Young couldn't come up with the 800K himself or with a few private investors? Nonsense, the kickstarter campaign is largely a marketing ploy.

Nothing personal against Neil, but I'm not interested. At all.
Old 11th March 2014
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bambamboom View Post
I don't get it.

First of all, what a terrible shape to stuff in your pocket.

Second, iTunes has been increasingly adding content on "iTunes Plus" which is 256Kbps AAC format, which is good enough for my needs in a portable player (comparable to 320Kbps MP3, which people can't typically differentiate from CD)

iTunes Store: iTunes Plus Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Given the price premium for iTunes Plus music is not much and the content is DRM free, what would be the incentive to switch to the Pono, pay $400 (seriously!?!?!) for yet another thing to carry around, and have to buy music at a higher price?

Ask yourself, if Neil Young wasn't involved and they weren't trying to line up a string of "name" artists to endorse/support it under the whole mantra of helping the artist and giving you the quality you deserve blah blah blah, does the tech really seem compelling? If it said Samsung or Acer or LG on the side, would this thing even be on your radar?

This whole thing is a marketing exercise, building something out of people's perception of a need when in fact there are plenty of options already in existence for audio enthusiasts who care about quality.
You don't have to buy music from them. Use whatever music you have or want.

400 bucks for a 128gb music player is very good. That the playback probably is better than average is a plus. The possibility of buying high quality music is a plus.

But yes, it' wont exactly fit neatly into a jeans pocket.
Old 11th March 2014
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PVJesper View Post
400 bucks for a 128gb music player is very good.
Sure, but it's still $400 that I don't need to spend. I can fit more iTunes Plus songs on my existing iPhone than I can fit FLAC's on a Pono, and I doubt I'll be able to tell the difference. Even if I can, the difference will be so small that I won't care. Even if Pono's were free I still probably wouldn't use it - the convenience of everything in one device is king for me. My iphone serves many many useful functions and the days of a dedicated portable device that is a one-trick pony are long since over.
Old 12th March 2014
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bambamboom View Post
Sure, but it's still $400 that I don't need to spend. I can fit more iTunes Plus songs on my existing iPhone than I can fit FLAC's on a Pono, and I doubt I'll be able to tell the difference. Even if I can, the difference will be so small that I won't care. Even if Pono's were free I still probably wouldn't use it - the convenience of everything in one device is king for me. My iphone serves many many useful functions and the days of a dedicated portable device that is a one-trick pony are long since over.
The convenience factor is a very valid argument/opinion/whatever.

But you will fit many more iTunes plus songs on the Pono, than your iphone. You don't have to use FLAC, just because you can.

For me, i can't barely fit my music on the Ponos 128GB, and most of it is 320 kbps Mp3s
Old 12th March 2014
  #11
its a nice idea but I also cant understand the shape design choice. Also all the artists saying they havent heard anything like this since vinyl and CD quality sounds like a rubber band in comparison...isnt this all placebo? 44.1 16 bit for playback is pretty good isnt it if you have decent converters?

I assume one of the things making this sound good is the decent quality converters on the player perhaps outperforming the norm...but I would have thought if you want better quality audio prehaps spend a few hundred on some nice earphones and 320kbs is fine?

I havent got this far into investigation but do the artists get more money? If thats the case Im all for it...but false ideas about quality at 192 breathing like analogue (promo videos) Im not sure about having to deal with those sorts of file sizes just for the sake of it...
Old 12th March 2014
  #12
I don't see any reason why we shouldn't have access to full resolution (via truly lossless compression is fine with me) of the main part of the world's music library, right now, via streaming or sales.

Compared to HD video, sending FLAC or AL files (of the existing media base) out is trivial.


Now, Neil Young, Pono's most famous supporter/partner, has some somewhat peculiar ideas about the science of sound, but his basic idea -- getting the best quality possible out there to consumers -- is a good one.

Sadly, as others suggest, fidelity seems almost last on consumer's minds. The new Beats Music didn't even bother mentioning their all-320 kbps streams in their waves of hype, I don't think.

In the US, Spotify Premium is a mix of fidelities, with some 320's. Only a few stream services, Google, Xbox, and Sony's PS systems, as I recall, offer all-320. Beat's soon-to-be-retired sister service, MOG, had all 320. It sounded great but it languished in the shadow of Spotify and Rdio -- which both have a mix of lower bitrates. IIRC, Rdio doesn't even go above 256. But try to get a tech writer to write about audio quality -- without attaching some sort of PR incentive.

Mostly the Beats hype appeared constructed to assure confused listeners who couldn't decide what to play next that help was on the way in the form of friendly robots that would tell them what they like. I'm thinking they have expensive market research that shows that listeners don't appear to care at all about fidelity but are held in a thrawl of anxiety by the challenge of picking what to play next...
Old 12th March 2014
  #13
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Just out of curiosity: In the last 20 years how much stuff has actually been recorded, mixed and mastered in 192/24?
Old 12th March 2014
  #14
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The big 3 labels agreed to remaster, so I assume they're re-recording master tapes with modern converters..?
Old 12th March 2014
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by O.F.F. View Post
Just out of curiosity: In the last 20 years how much stuff has actually been recorded, mixed and mastered in 192/24?
Not that much, is my guess.

HDTrax did a bit of an expose a while back, IIRC, checking 'high resolution' 'HD' format tracks for signal-to-noise ratio and HF cut-off and found that a large number of "HD" releases had the suspicious combination of a frequency range limited to about 20 kHz and a signal noise ratio limited to about 90 dB -- strongly suggesting that the source material was simply repurposed CD Audio masters put in a higher resolution format. Now, to the extent* that those higher resolutions represent a 'bigger bucket' to hold at least all the fidelity of the original, there's no 'harm' -- unless, of course, one paid a premium for that 'high resolution' format carrying plain old CD quality audio.


*Some serious design types like Dan Lavry have suggested that there's no point in higher-than-96-kHz sample rate formats and that even a 'quad' rate like 192 kHz can actually degrade accuracy, because the tiny time window may not allow proper signal level measurement for each sample. Since Nyquist-Shannon clearly and unequivocally demonstrates that, when properly antialias-filtered, higher resolution than necessary for a given frequency bandwidth is unproductive, Lavry and cohort suggest it is far better to design a 96 kHz converter with maximum dynamic accuracy.
Old 12th March 2014
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by ds11 View Post
The big 3 labels agreed to remaster, so I assume they're re-recording master tapes with modern converters..?
Sure they are.

heh heh heh


I suspect you will find a number of provisos and strategically worded qualifications in that... I strongly suspect they will 'remaster' some material and that some of that 'remastered' material may well get a treatment worthy of the name -- but that other material may well get a more, shall we say, cosmetic treatment.


_______________



Having recently been forced to switch between all-320 kbps stream services (my beloved MOG is being axed for the blinged-out Beats Music which I find particularly unlovable; I moved to Google All Access, which is mostly reasonably lovable*), I've got player interfaces on my mind...

Now, if you're strictly an album listener, you listen to an album from A-to-Z, you probably don't interact with your player much.

But for guys like me loved a big, eclectic mix of music, a good, flexible player UI is crucial. I grew up sequencing party tapes and such. I literally hired out for background music for events as a little kid. (It was pretty low-key, DIY, but, you know.) I'd make tapes, I'd sequence the 'mood music.' Later, after I overcame my social awkwardness and started throwing my own parties, I really got into it. I even had tapes for winding things down and getting the final stragglers out.

For me, good play queue management, a good, flexible shuffle (or combination of shuffle types), maybe some sorting options, the ability to find a song quickly in not just the song database -- but in a current play queue -- these things are really important to people like me.


* G has the best online player queue management I've used out of the 5 services I've subscribed to. (Six if you count a two week Beats Music trial; I've got a 30 day Beats trial coming up in a few days during the final month of MOG, too. So I'll have a chance to see if the Beats folks fixed any/many of the myriad of missing or broken features.) That said, I'm not entirely comfortable with their stream quality -- it's all 320 kbps, for sure, tested, but it is noticeably different from MOG's 320s or 320's I prepare using LAME on its normal 320 settings. When spectragraphed, though, captures of the Google streams showed more HF content above 16-17 kHz than MOG, at least in one set of 'graphs. The MOG 'graphs showed the imposition of a gradual filter above 16 kHz, though it was my impression that the MOG sound was better 'defined.' Mind you, my own hearing drops off precipitously above 10-11 kHz, though I've trained myself to differentiate things like lossy codecs pretty well. By focusing on timbre details, I've been able to differentiate 256 kbps from 320 kbps. But that may well go more to how lossy compression works, anyway. Perhaps it's paradoxically 'easier' for my frequency-limited hearing to suss out the diff. I dunno.
Old 12th March 2014
  #17
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I think they should change the name. First thing I thought about were naked people having sex. Maybe I need to change my thoughts.
L.
Old 12th March 2014
  #18
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I am sick of Multi-banded Limited Mush.
Old 12th March 2014
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ds11 View Post
The big 3 labels agreed to remaster, so I assume they're re-recording master tapes with modern converters..?
The thing is I assume in my naïveté that the vast majority of master tapes from the last 20 years exist in 24/48 at best.
For the digitizing of analogue tapes IMO 24/96 is more than sufficient and I suspect most of the audible benefit does not lie in the extended frequency response but in the possibility of using less drastic filters during the process.
Old 12th March 2014
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lenzo View Post
I think they should change the name. First thing I thought about were naked people having sex. Maybe I need to change my thoughts.
L.
"There is no such thing as a dirty book, it's just the way you read it."
Alex Harvey

;-)
Old 12th March 2014
  #21
isnt anyone a but preturbed by some of the chat on the Kickstarter video from all the musician endorsements?

Quote:
when you make it to 192 you break through into the air. its a visceral release - your body feels good...

richer and fuller - fatter

very warm analogue sound that gives digital records a certain sort of bottom and glue - and closeness that digital doesnt do

clarity warmth and vitality

curved round and a dynamic - doesnt hit a wall

highs like butter - feels everything in its place

sounds so warm and human

hear the song in a deeper way and touches your soul more
Sorry if that sounds cynical but Im unconvinced the 192 is necessary although a nice converter might be helping...?
Old 12th March 2014
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by SWAN808 View Post
isnt anyone a but preturbed by some of the chat on the Kickstarter video from all the musician endorsements?



Sorry if that sounds cynical but Im unconvinced the 192 is necessary although a nice converter might be helping...?
I certainly know of no good science to suggest that 192 kHz sampling rate is beneficial, from either the theoretical or practical side -- and a solid rationale why using 192 kHz SR simply makes the task of accurate measurement more difficult -- for absolutely no benefit in the audible spectrum.

192 seems largely driven by marketing types and others who think 'more is better' and have no real understanding of how digital audio works.

There was an amusing audiophile mag interview with a high end designer whose company makes a top end product that ties together conventional PCM at rates up to 192 as well as DSD for those who want to have a single unit that handles it all.

The designer -- a legitimately smart guy -- was walking on egg shells trying to avoid insulting the audiophile readership (and part of the the presumed market for this unit) while not saying anything false. He did actually talk about the practical problems facing quad rate SR (the sufficiency for accurate dynamic measure) as well as addressing the misconception held by some DSD enthusiasts that it is possible to mix and edit, set levels, etc, natively within the format, which, of course, if one understands the format, is simply not the case. Try telling that to some folks, though. Anyhow, it was a fascinating dance. It was like watching Bill Clinton answering technical questions about sexual activity. Only this guy was a lot better.
Old 12th March 2014
  #23
Gear Addict
This is interesting to me only for the possibility of having a wider selection of hi-res music available. I like HDtracks, but their catalog is limited (no Neil Young, for one thing). It will be possible to buy downloads from Pono without having to buy the player, right? If so, that is good news.

The portable player does not interest me that much. It'll likely sound better than an iPod, but hearing the diff between hi-rate MP3s and FLACs while driving or running around outside is a dubious proposition. I can see this only as a limited niche product -- maybe some über-audionerds will want one, but I doubt it will sell in large numbers.

For home use, there are already many dedicated devices for playing hi-res digital music, as well as computer-based players such as J River. How would Pono differentiate itself in that space? Besides, most serious music fans' libraries would take up much more than 128GB, even if stored in 44.1/16 FLAC files. And it would be way too cumbersome to have to swap out cards.

Anyway, best of luck to anyone willing to provide alternatives to mediocrity in today's recorded music marketplace.

Cheers,
Eddie
Old 12th March 2014
  #24
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I think debate about sampling rate misses the point.

Hi-res audio has been available for a while in various formats, but culturally it has been consigned to nerdy/geeky zone. A legendary charismatic artist like Neil Young championing this initiative stands to take it out of the nerd demographic and more towards something people feel is cool. Like vinyl.

It's no accident that this Pono story is at every media outlet today. When's the last time anything involving music or a0sound got this much attention?

Nobody gives a f**k about music and sound anymore. We're in an age when nobody values it anymore. Nobody thinks it merits paying attention to anymore. Step out of the studio, look around, talk to people. Recorded music's place in our society is at a very low point at this point in history.

I mean, how many depressing conversations have you witnessed in your own studio? "It's not gonna matter, it all ends up as a ****ty mp3 anyway, nobody's gonna hear that detail on earbuds, nobody's gonna pay for music, music has no intrinsic value unless it's used to sell something else, it'll just be streamed on Spotify, etc. etc....."

Pono is obviously a positive, artist-created and artistry-centered countermeasure to all that.

Discussions about the relative merits of sampling rates should come as a distant second to that.

- c
Old 12th March 2014
  #25
Im all for all that. Its just it taints the positives when you have a whiff of BS about 192khz. If you set out to do something noble might as well not sell out on the marketing and go too far the other way IMO...

Otherwise - I like the idea and Im coming round to the player as a general media centre. They should have stuck with 96k tho (what many albums are recorded at) and tbh recommended / built some great headphones to go with it - because they will make the real difference as well. Then you got a great package.
Old 12th March 2014
  #26
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they could have charged $1000 or more for this, seeing as how it's essentially a luxury item for baby boomers to rebuy all their favorite old records on again
Old 12th March 2014
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver Sonya View Post
Nobody gives a f**k about music and sound anymore. We're in an age when nobody values it anymore. Nobody thinks it merits paying attention to anymore. Step out of the studio, look around, talk to people. Recorded music's place in our society is at a very low point at this point in history.
I know what you mean, but I tend to disagree that interest in the sound quality of recordings is at a low point now. Most consumers have always listened to music on junk equipment -- remember those ridiculous console stereos? My Grandma had a Magnavox in her living room. It sounded awful, but she loved it. At least now we have the home theater market giving somewhat decent sound to the masses.

Car stereos are also generally much better-sounding now. And your average earbud-wearing listener is likely getting better fidelity than was obtainable from boomboxes playing 8-tracks back in the day.

The point being, true high-fidelity music reproduction has always been a niche market. I don't see Pono being any different in this regard. The intentions are all very good, and I wish them all the luck in the world, but I don't think it changes any games.

The cynical side of me sees the artists' backing as somewhat self-serving (with the exception of Mr. Young, whose passion in this area has always been obvious). Anything that increases the actual purchase of recordings is good for them, so why not jump on board? I don't blame them -- it's win-win from my perspective as someone who's already into hi-res music. But others may think this is all a desperate attempt to revive the declining practice of paying for recordings.

Now, when can I see the list of available downloads?

Cheers,
Eddie
Old 12th March 2014
  #28
KFW
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Ridiculous. Hardware and speaker quality is what will give you a noticeable difference (and I'm sure that's what made the music in that car sound great). I can't imagine who has fooled themselves to think this nitpicking of resolution makes a difference. You can even do it yourself in your recording program--just render a super high quality mp3 and a lower quality wav file, and be honest with yourself for a moment.

An article worth reading, that actually explains in great detail why 24/192 actually sounds WORSE in playback.

24/192 Music Downloads are Very Silly Indeed

And I have no idea where the argument that "people don't care about music fidelity nowadays" comes from. I'd say they care more than ever--hence why Beats have gotten so popular, and plenty of other headphones that actually reproduce the bass that modern productions have. Technology is improving, and it's not rare to see a casual music consumer drop over $100 on headphones so they can enjoy music more. I'd say that's a pretty far cry from 80's Walkman headphones on a portable tape player.
Old 12th March 2014
  #29
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I have lost my faith in the healing power of Mondo Sample rates.

the device may STILL be a good buy if they really did a GREAT job on the D to A conversion and the analog stage of the headphone amplifier. Otherwise it may be wasted.
Old 12th March 2014
  #30
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And...they just passed $950,000 in funding...in 12 hours.
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