Another Pono Post: Where’s the Classical Music? and How Can Anyone Trust Neil Young’s Damaged Ears?

03/13/2014

I’ve written about Neil Young’s Pono recently (here, here, here), and a commenter to one of my posts made me realize something. While Neil and his friends are waxing so effusively about high-resolution music, why are they ignoring what is probably the largest segment of the high-res sector: classical music?

Pono seems much more interested in studio music, and the testimonials in the promotional video all discuss how much better things sound, but often compared to what the musicians are used to hearing in the studio, on the type of audio equipment that few people own. What about classical music? Here, it’s not at all about the studio, but live recordings in concert halls. I would think that, given the classical music market and high-resolution music, this genre wouldn’t be slighted.

Also, why is the video on the Pono Kickstarter page showing people listening to Pono in a car? Seriously? They’re all so excited listening to the music, but in an environment that is totally unadapted to listening to serious music. It makes no sense. And the testimonials of the musicians in the video sound just like something on the Home Shopping Network. We have no idea what they were listening to, what formats were used as comparisons to the Pono sound. And did they do blind tests, or were they simply told which is which, so they could be prepared to think that Pono was better?

Also, Neil Young is known to have tinnitus, and some hearing loss; so how can he hear the differences in these different formats? As he has said, “I hurt my ears and they’ll never be the same again.” I’m sure that many of the aging rock stars in the promotional video also have hearing loss; it’s what happens to musicians. So people should trust what they say?

See also: Music, not Sound: Why High-Resolution Music Is a Marketing Ploy.