Old Man, Check Out Your Tracks, They Sound A Lot Like iTunes…

(sing the title like Neil Young’s Old Man)

Jim Dalrymple is happy to report Neil Young has put his albums back in Apple Music.

So nobody bought your shitty, Toblerone-shaped PonoPlayer, did they, Neil? I think a lot of us knew this wasn’t going to work when he first launched his Kickstarter project for it back in October of 2014.

Slate contributor Seth Stevenson reviewed the PonoPlayer in February of 2015. He compared the remastered, ‘PonoMusic’ version of Neil Young’s “There’s a World,” with the iTunes version.

He couldn’t tell the difference, so he conducted the experiment on his colleagues:

I figured maybe my ears were faulty. So I ran an informal experiment. I asked several Slate colleagues to turn their backs while I played them the same 30-second clip on both devices, through headphones. Then I asked them to pick which clip they thought was higher resolution. I mixed up the order—at times playing the Pono first, and at times the iPhone. Some people borrowed my Polk headphones for the test while others used their own equipment. (The quality ranged from Apple earbuds to Klipsch in-ears to high-end Sony studio cans.)

Bottom line: Not one person had any clue whether they were listening to the Pono or to the “inferior” iTunes track. There was zero confidence in determining which was which. When forced to state a preference, six out of seven people actually picked the iPhone as the higher-quality experience. An eighth person refused to guess because he simply had no idea. These folks were in their 20s and 30s, all avid music listeners. A couple of them write about music professionally and one is a video producer.

I think Young’s intentions were good, but I think he wanted to believe so badly that his music sounded better that he convinced himself he was hearing higher fidelity sounds where none existed.

Neil Young unintentially made a placebo music player and sound format.


Music, Product