Neil Young, who a few years back famously described Apple as the “Fisher-Price” of sound quality, is giving his “I hate digital music” can another kick, claiming that even the late Steve Jobs listened to vinyl rather than his own company’s inventions. Speaking to Peter Kafka and Walt Mossberg at the “Dive Into Media” conference …
Music can be distracting as well
Noisy environments - music I find can be annoying, this is when I would rather not listen.
Never been into walking around listening, rather have music when it is quiet and I can relax.
Lots of sounds competing to me = stress and headaches.
I like Heavy Metal too.
digital media aren't the problem
It's the mastering engineers who compress the living daylights out of everything!
Fond as I am of old Neil he has some odd ideas about fidelity, given the abysmal quality of some of his recordings and the way he has made an art form of guitar distortion.
Personally I prefer CD to MP3 because I'm old too and can find tracks more easily in physical media than hunting through menus.
I have many vinyl albums but only a few (early Decca stereo and EMI Motown monos) which could really be said to sound better than the best CDs -- mainly because they were mastered at high levels (probably with lots of compression) and using valve (tube) equipment, so have a warm sound.
Many 'classic' 1970's US rock albums recorded on analogue transistorised studio equipment sound appalling on vinyl but may have been improved when remastered to CD.
Well produced material (e.g. The Doors albums which were recorded in a simple manner like modern jazz ) sound better once remastered to CD.
I have CD-Rs burnt from MP3 tracks converted to WAV and most sound okay to me.
Though Neil Young's music with Buffalo Springfield and some with CSNY is fabulous, a great deal is idiosyncratic to the point of being eccentric -- as are his views (like those of most musos) on electronics.
Rather than target digital music...
...I suggest he pursues a change in the law, and give SO13 a new remit to shoot anyone with a mobile speaker phone playing R&B on a train.
what they call 'R&B' these days?
Precisely. I have no problems with people playing proper R&B (Ray Charles and the like)
Of course of course, but the sad truth is, even the best music sounds like a mind-splitting cacophony through a small 1 inch mobile phone tweeter
What happened there???
One minute R&B was Rhythm and Blues (ok, with a bit of Soul, Funk and Rock 'n' Roll thrown in at various times).
Then it suddenly became people unable to hold a note, wailing endless scales with little or no rhythm at all - looking at you Ms. Carey...
The 80'shave a lot to answer for musically!
Or normal monitor speakers
My daughter is happy listening to music through a computer monitor it sounds dreadful, luckily a 5.0 system can easily out power it, then my wife moans.
Neil Young singing.....
...he sounds just like the old creepy guy from Family Guy.
The only way to make him sound better is to turn it off. Quickly.
"nobody currently pursuing higher-quality digital audio"
That's not strictly true; you can get some properly daft 'audiophile' grade digital music out there if you hunt.... its just that hardly anyone bothers to make anything other than MP3. At least they tend to be selling higher bitrate MP3 these days. A few places sell a moderately sized FLAC range (bleep.com is my usual destination) but they're strictly in the minority.
I don't bother downloading lossy digital music on general principle. I'm prepared to pay a little bit of a premium for FLAC (or, at a pinch, WAV or ALAC) but in its absense I'm off to Amazon and Ebay and the like, hunting for second hand CDs.
I went back to the store
They gave me four more
The guy told me at the door
It's a piece of crap!
Neil Young hates digital music
Which is presumably why the Blu-ray and DVD versions of his Archives: Volume 1 box set include codes to download all the songs as MP3s.
Compression - which type?
On the one hand we've got MP3 (or Ogg, AAC or WMV), which does to sound what JPEG does to pictures, i.e. throw away detail you might not notice. Low bitrate MP3s certainly do sound awful (particularly on cymbals). Higher bitrate MP3s are much better, and if you're listening in a noisy environment then you may well not notice the difference.
On the one hand we've got dynamic range compression which makes the softer parts louder, which if overdone can kill any light and shade in the music.
Both are problems, but if NY is opposed to digital audio then his beef is almost certainly with the former. A lack of dynamic range in recordings is certainly a modern problem, but it's nothing to do with whether it's digital or not.
it does seem as though modern recordings are getting worse in terms of the sound quality in general (and its been noticeable since the early 90's with the explosion of electronic dance music).
There are however a few exceptions, one that springs to mind was faithless with an old copy of insomnia still being a favourite for setting up sound systems for a lot of pro's (perhaps the groups original members classical musical background had something to do with a decent mix coming out)
you aint heard nothing
until you've heard an old Quad 22 setup with a pair of ESL55 speakers and a matching Quad FM tuner.
Frightening clarity and so good that they still demand high prices 50 years later.
Ain't that the truth
I was at someone's house recently who has that set up... I insisted he fire it up.
And he's a musician. And has thousands of vinyls and CD's...
Why are you offering up a 50yr old amp that's on ebay for 2200 dollars for a rebuilt version, it might be great. but doesn't add anything to Neil's argument about digital music.
Vinyl was listened to by Saint Jobs?! I MUST HAVE A RECORD PLAYER AT ONCE!
Whether true or not I don't much care. I'm not a massive music fan, in fact I probably listen to far less than most, but I know how expensive audio enthusiasts' equipment is and that's for a reason. You can't squeeze that much high-end equipment into something you carry around in your pocket, you can have it at home. To put it another way I can watch movies on my phone if I really want to but I wouldn't compare it to a home cinema setup. One is convenient and allows me to watch something on the go, the other is if I want a better experience.
There's an excellent master quality format out there freely available for purchase that'll play in any the majority of SONY Blu-Ray players (even the bottom end ones) and makes CD sound silly (even from the 80s) and that's SACD. Sadly the 'kids' and there damned mp3 accessibility requirements largely scuppered the market. Quantity not quality again and again and again ...
Seriously though, the (temporary) triumph of mp3 over SACD and DVD-A was heartbreaking to anyone who actually cared about music and not sound/noise.
You know who to blame for that?
The record industry itself! Kids wanted music on their MP3 devices (pre-Apple iPod days) because:
a) CDs were still ridicilously expensive
b) The record industry did not want to recognise the digital age
c) SACD/DVD-A players were still very expensive and didnt come in macro/mini-hifi's very often
d) Napster was born
People like Neil Young are just moaning old gits and won't stand up to do something about it. Talk about trying to run down the new generation. What does that help to do? Nothing.
A lot of these so called kids do have good quality headphones when they care about music. It's just the record industry refused to provide the goods at a decent price. Piracy conquered and CD will be history within 10 years.
I liked it too - not much around now though sadly.
RE : the-it-slayer
c) Pioneer DV575 changed the price angle
d) I have seen it
Prices well I have no idea what the future of music will be
Lack of the ability to extract the files wrecked that.
Oh and that it doesn't actually sound any better than CD. The only reason it sounds better is the mastering. That's it.
I've been through the whole HD downloads scam. I used to buy studio masters from Linn and HDTracks...
So one day I downsampled some to 16/44.1 and did some extensive ABX testing in foobar...
Guess what, the 16/44.1 sounds EXACTLY the same.
HOWEVER, the 24/96 AND 16/44.1 downsampled versions often sound better than the CD version...why is that I wonder??? Answer...The mastering.
Neil Young sounds like a bunch of glass in a blender with a live frog
and still sucks at whatever bit-rate you encode/decode him at.
Let's get some things cleared
-CD-DA (Audio CD) can reproduce the entire frequency range and dynamic range the human ear can hear (22Khz is the maximum the ear can hear, 44.1Khz is the sampling of CD-DA, so the 2 times the maximum frequency sampling theorem is satisfied)
-You must have a CD player with a "proper" DAC to hear the full quality of AudioCD, or a CD-player connected to an external DAC using firewire/SPDIF/HDMI. Presence of 4x oversampling is required for a DAC to be concidered "good". WIthout oversampling, the digital to audio conversion is not that good.
-Most commercial AudioCDs today are badly mastered so that they play well on car stereos (the loud car stereo with it's over pronounced bass practically ruined the CD).
-If you can't get a good CD master, get a DVD-Audio
-Audio CD or DVD-Audio must be converted into flac .
-MP3s are lossy. And not even "transparent". The difference over the uncompressed can be heard. Get over it people.
Radio is incredibly popular still and the quality on that is terrible, even with technological advances. In it's heyday it was even worse. These days it is common to see "normal" people listening to music from the tinny loud speaker on their phone as they walk around. Also from what I've heard, younger people are using YouTube to listen to music.
The masses just do not care one bit about music quality, never have and never will. Enthusiasts will all ways buy good kit and vinyl or CDs even if they get a bit pricey and even if there is a free alternative.
I like what he says about piracy being the new radio though, he seems to kind of get it.
Youtube music is bad
I think I'll block it in Hosts again, the quality to me is painfull.
Neil Young is still alive?
If you call that living. Honestly, the last time he was relevant was when Eddie Veddar dragged Neil's drug-addled carcass in front of the music press as a grandfather of grunge.
Maybe he can blame this on Nixon as well.
You may like NY or not, but
He is right on both counts:
A - the mainstream audio quality is deteriorating and seems to do so with each new technological iteration. Simplicity and convenience comes at the cost of quality and the industry, wittingly or unwittingly, promotes this process. They dumb down the content and then they bring down the quality to the lowest common denominator, commoditising and devaluing the music. Then they complain about what they themselves have done.
B - "piracy" is one of today's discovery mechanisms. I am absolutely convinced that if RIAA will somehow manage to completely stop piracy their client's sales will suffer dramatically.
You sir, are absolutely spot on.
Point A was good too
Compression trashes the music
Surely it's not so much the fact that it's digital but I would suggest that it's more all down to the hideous audio compression and processing that wrecks modern-day recordings - likewise, radio these days. All engineered to try and make sounds seem "punchier", with the result that everything these days sounds (to put it bluntly), utter crap! Painful.
"Old Man" is my 8 year old's favorite song so STFU bitches!!!
Spot on guys
I have just started doing live sound engineering again after a long break. I hate the modern trend to have compression on the compression. WHen mixing live I use the minimum possible compression, and people at gigs have been coming up to me and saying, "Thats the best sound I have heard here in years" There is not one digital device in the signal chain.
People get used to the quality they listen to regularly, and the relatively poor sound of MP3 makes a live band thru a cranking all analog system sound awesome to them. Its a bit like hammond organ/leslie simulator, they can sound really impressive on their own, but when put up against the real thing, there is no comparison. The way the Leslie effects the air in a room is impossible to simulate. Good to see so many well informed posts here too!