Sounds like (see what I did there?) Neil Young’s Pono Player is bullshit:
My test compared Pono files against Apple’s iTunes files, which come in 16-bit/256Kbps AAC format (more on formats below). That’s much better than the radically compressed MP3 files of 1998.
There’s another factor at play here, too: Pono is going to extraordinary lengths to acquire remastered versions of the songs in its catalog. “If we are looking for a popular master and find it has not been sampled at the highest rate, we try to access it and, with the cooperation of labels and artists, maximize the recapture at the highest resolution,” Neil Young wrote to me. “We reach out to the creators, if they are still with us, to include their knowledge in the mastering. Sometimes they will even supervise it. This is a long process, but we are providing the absolute best available and pushing for improvement in resolution for maximizing the labels/creators’ art whenever possible.”
Clearly, if Pono’s testing involved a remastered, high-resolution audio file going head-to-head with an original, crummy MP3 of the same song, you’d hear a difference.
The thing is, that’s not a fair test. The music we buy today from iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and similar online stores has much higher quality than low-res MP3 files. Why would you spend $400 on a new player and re-buy all of your music files if the result sounds no better than what’s on your phone already?
Fuck you, Neil.
via Daring Fireball