Somebody please buy Mr Young a shortwave radio...
Silly old fart.
"My music is being removed from all streaming services. It's not good enough to sell or rent," aging rock grumpster Neil Young said today. In a post on Facebook, the veteran musician explained: Streaming has ended for me. I hope this is OK for my fans. It's not because of the money, although my share (like all the other …
1. Your registration of email/username breaks iCloud keychain - fix it - it saves it under username, not email. Look to use the de facto form name standards.
2. 192 AAC / 256 MP3 beat FM radio at the best possible reception and signal strength.
3. Neil Young is angry at new things and upset that his DAC sucks.
4. Fix your registration, it's annoying that you suck so much.
"dangerously-close-to" is just another way of saying "actually-not-in-any-way", but i understand it would have taken longer to type. i can hear the difference in the high res tracks... but i do listen through professional studio level reference monitors.
i'd prefer discrete tracks/instruments over higher frequency sampling, but i'll take what i can get.
The thing is, (presuming you are referring to streaming encoding difference as great as e.g. Apple Music versus Pono) you say you can hear the difference. It could be that you are better than everyone else at judging which is best, but my own experience and my own tests to date have shown audiophile's are never as good at identifying source differences as they think they are (though perhaps I will meet one who is in he future and perhaps that will be you !) I started checking for fun because I once thought I was highly capable in identifying quality differences, but a pro sound engineer friend proved to me with a blind test in his home studio (which was every bit as high quality as the pro studio where he worked) that I wasn't. The point that he was making to me was that even as a pro engineer he wasn't as good at it as he would have liked to think he was either.
The gap between being able to discern a difference and being able to consistently ascribe which is "better" is simply huge and well known to psychologists who study and measure such things (it's one of the reasons Pepsi would run the Pepsi challenge in shopping malls - but that's another story). Time and again "quality" buffs fail to match their own expectations when they are subject to blind tests.
This following test is not confined to self confessed audiophiles (which is a shame because I feel sure the results would have been pretty much the same), but nevertheless somewhat illustrates the point I am making. And BTW Apple music is streaming AAC at the same bitrate as this test:
He needs to take his music of all DAB radio stations then: that's the worst digital compression/encoding you'll find.
For background music, few people could tell the difference between CD and 128kbps MP3. At 320kbps MP3, you'll be struggling even on a hifi system.
Oh, and his streaming service doing stereo 24-bit at 192kHz: that'll be a 9.2Mbps broadband connection you'll need (*), and will use over 4GB of your download quota for every hour of music.
(*) Actually with TCP/IP headers and ATM overhead, make that about 10.5Mbps to get 9.2Mbps usable throughput
Neil doesn't have a streaming service. It's a music download service. You are correct that an hour of uncompressed 24/192 music will take 4GB to download... but once downloaded that's it.
Nevertheless, you make a good point. Streaming services that offer CD quality and greater need to have an offline mode (typically only via premium membership) otherwise their listeners might get a shock when their next internet bill arrives!
"For background music, few people could tell the difference between CD and 128kbps MP3. At 320kbps MP3, you'll be struggling even on a hifi system."
Depends on what you mean by 'background', I suppose. Do you mean background style music or music that is just on in the background, while you are chatting to friends or dusting the bookcase?
I have a lot of music ripped as 192kbps MP3s for my portable player and almost all of it also ripped as FLACs for my home system. I can tell the difference between the two quite readily even when listening to them in MONO, using a single standard earbud through the integrated sound on my PC - bog standard Realtek job.
Between 320kbps and FLACs I am not sure I could quite so easily.
That said, unless you really know what to listen for and are quite familiar with the piece playing, you do need to hear the two copies one after the other to notice it most of the time.
I don't really know how to describe the improvement except to say that there is better clarity - especially in the top-end. It is like the difference between listening to speakers that have the tweeters around waist-high (on a shelf, say) and then repositioning yourself so they are at ear-height.
I think most people could hear the difference between a standard iTunes download and an uncompressed FLAC through even a modest system if they listened 'side-by-side'.
Honestly I agree with him and I am hardly some audiophile. For whatever reason I can hear especially percussion degradation artifacts (like its not recording samples fast enough almost) in iTunes purchased music. It actually doesn't sound that much better than my CDs ripped with AAC at 128kbs even though it supposed to (hear plenty of problems with both). Haven't tried their subscription service though.
But he's not pulling his music from iTunes, Google Music and so on, he's only pulling it from streaming. He should have complained 14 years ago, it is too late now - Apple has the same quality for streaming they do for music purchased from iTunes and as pointed out there are even a couple streaming services that offer lossless. He'd have called them out as the only ones who offer his music for streaming if he really cared about quality.
He's just upset his income has dropped, which is partially due to the lower streaming rates but probably more due to the fact his fanbase is aging and dying.
Hopefully there will be an optimal edge to aim for eventually.
Sadly, cost cutting always kicks in.
I don't have the experience of the audio side of things, but my short time examining the latest UHD videos, and I see a similar problem. First process the upgraded media with sub par samples and masters, making it worse than previously. Then once the higher quality is there, change the hardware to cheap rubbish so all the benefits are lost for profit chasing. The result? This years UHD TVs cost half the price, and have the pixel count, but worse everything else to all the previous years.
With audio, the better quality is really easy to get hold of and publish and sell... but cost cutting and profit margins kick in, and they distribute rubbish instead.
Thanks for that link 1980s_coder. Best analogy I've ever read:
"In our hypothetical Wide Spectrum Video craze, consider a fervent group of Spectrophiles who believe these limits aren't generous enough. They propose that video represent not only the visible spectrum, but also infrared and ultraviolet"
Very simplistic video which doesn't take into account real world musical signals. We don't listen to sine waves or square waves. Had he used a two-tone generator (non-harmonically related) I think it would have been a more interesting and realistic video and demonstrated intermodulation at lower bit depths. He also didn't discuss output filtering or phase response.
That appears to be a well written piece though I am not capable of assessing its validity. Its worth considering that the well written piece carefully states its terms of reference: hearing, we can't hear tones under 10Hz but we can feel them (as I was personally reminded at a local orchestra last week). My neighbours wouldn't appreciate it but a closer approximation to that experience would include that thump to the chest, not just what we can hear.
After all basic theory (which was correct) _proved_ the limit of information transfer on a phone line to be some 100s of K. The ADSL bods simply used the wires at frequencies they happened to be capable of rather than what was required for the voice network and fed into the theory. Thank you ADLS bods.
Loss being inaudible depends on the psycho-acoustical theories being correct and complete and the algorithms well implemented, lossless compression is better understood and can be trivially demonstrated to be correct (or not) I'm happier with flac than mp3 for those reasons. I'd rather have 24/96 than 16/44 for similar reasons, if there's no difference then so what (space is cheap), if there is a difference I likely have the closer approximation, I can downsample myself for portable devices (until they have sufficient storage for higher resolution).
Considering Neil Young's age and the fact that human hearing acuity deteriorates with age, and considering that it is more than likely that he has abused his ears in the course of playing amplified music for decades, is it really likely that he is hearing anything that other people would hear?
The only explanation that occurs to me, is that he is comparing the music as he remembers it sounding in the recording studio as he played it, and is then comparing his recollection of the sound with what he hears through the medium of his highly-imperfect-due-to-deterioration (both through natural loss of acuity and through abuse) hearing.
"The problem is that once you've heard it once, you hear it every time..."
I'm familiar with the difference between the music being played in the room by the musicians as it was being recorded, and the audio files captured from the mikes. The only way to hear the original music the way the musicians heard it, is to be in the room with them when they are recording it. Once that music has been played in the room, that sound is gone forever and can't be recaptured.
The differences at between the original waveform as captured by the recorders (which is not identical to the sound that was in the room). and 192kbs and higher compression are really slight. At a certain point, be it a 224kbs or 320kbs, or flac or ape or whatever else, there's no reason for compression to impede anyone's enjoyment of the recording.
Unless perhaps if someone is an audiophile and has been informed of the technical characteristics of the audio files before hearing them...
But we're listening to music, right? Not to the test tones that we needed to use in order to calibrate the electronics of 24-track Otaris, Studers, and Ampexes.
It's possible to hear a difference when comparing the sound from the microphone in the studio, captured to a 32-bit float wave, when compared to a 192kbs mp3 of that same file - and in my experience it the first capture that determines the quality of the sound as 16 and 24 bit waves really do sound very noticeably different.
I've seen listening tests where no single auditor always preferred the sound of either bit depth for every instrument - they all preferred a mixture of 16 and 24 bits.
And there's the effect of dithering algorithms when you dumb down your stereo master from 24 bit or 32 bit floats to 16 bit audio to make a cd... But after that, once you are taking your audio from the two-track master, effort is required to make any derived files sound more than very marginally inferior.
It shouldn't be an issue.
With a decent set of headphones I can easily distinguish between 320kbs MP3 and 16bit FLAC (ie CD quality). But under most listening circumstances I agree with you. Certainly anything beyond 16bit FLAC is completely pointless in my opinion. I still have a Spotify account though, mainly for discovery of new tunes.
>With a decent set of headphones I can easily distinguish between 320kbs MP3 and 16bit FLAC (ie CD quality).
Lossy is lossy and any time you remove or alter information in any decent amount you stand a good chance of at least some of the population noticing it.
Lossy is lossy
Not necessarily. Algorithms like MP3 rely on the characterstics of the ear to discard things which the ear simply can't hear. A loud sound at one frequency will mask a quiet sound at another, such that the ear genuinely cannot hear the quieter sound. If you can't hear it then you can safely throw it away without problem. Yes, it's lossy, but the lost information is inaudible under the circumstances and so doesn't matter.
>Yes, it's lossy, but the lost information is inaudible under the circumstances and so doesn't matter.
That's the theory anyway but up to at least AAC 256kbps for some recordings I can hear a difference. Perhaps they figure inaudible to %95 of listeners on any one recording is good enough. iTunes certainly gets paid regardless but when a lot of modern music is pathetically autotuned anyway what difference does it make to the kids.
M1 "...discovery of new tunes."
Sometimes the best enjoyment comes from something captured on a cassette tape recorder in 1970s Cambodia, or around a campfire in Mali, and then broadcast on shortwave.
Audiophiles are often similar to watching a movie for the pixels, instead of the plot.
After some critical listening, my view is that most legacy recordings that have been remastered to 24/96 are not worth buying if you have either the CD or FLAC. But properly recorded HD material can sound extremely good.
Take a listen to some of the HD samplers on 2l.no. This stuff has re-kindled a sleeping interest in audio in me :)
With a decent set of headphones I can easily distinguish between 320kbs MP3 and 16bit FLAC (ie CD quality)
No, you can't. You may be hearing a fault in the codec or compression algorithm for one or other processor, but physiologically the human ear cannot hear that difference.
How the hell are you going to do double blind testing if you bought some songs on iTunes and don't want to risk pirating the FLAC or spending money to prove some asshat on the internet wrong by rebuying music? I know what I hear and I have not been impressed at least with the quality of the handful of the tunes I bought on iTunes. I do admit the few lossey I have bought from some other sources actually have been CD quality to my ears. It might have to do more with how they are encoding them than the AAC itself.
Oh come on
He's had a hair up his ass about digital from day 1, fuck knows why, but quality aint it.
his complaining about poor recording quality is like 1 Bentley driver complaining to another with the AC on and the window open for the extra damage it's doing to the environment!
have to agree with the man here, i refuse to pay for any streaming service.
they screw artists and fans at the same time.
listening on your phone earphones sure you can deal with low quality to a certain extent, but play anything on decent speakers at any reasonable volume and you need as high a quality as you can get, ideally studio master quality, data is cheap, why the hell cant i have it?
Completely sensible suggestion for 48k 16bit flac as standard from an above comment.
As a DJ i refuse to deal with anything less than a WAV file, but it seems the shops are using this as a way to extract even more money out of me now, looking at you beatport. £1.20 for a track, but want it as flac or wav, oh add another £1.85 on top. Bastards.
Try playing a 128k mp3 on a 80kw funktion one sound system and see how that goes down...
I've been a Niel Young fan for decades, but he's just plain fooling himself if he thinks AM radio sounded better than even the lowest bit-rate streaming services.
A good song is still a good song regardless of the audio quality.
And a bad song is still a bad song -- even with a lossless megabit-per-second codec hooked up to thousands of dollars worth of amps and speakers.
Just write good songs, Niel. If they're worth listening to, they're still worth listening to through via a 9-transister AM radio with a 2" speaker or via an 32Kbps lossy codec.
A good song is still a good song regardless of the audio quality.
A good song is still a good song even when no one is listening to it. And silence is a better and more respectful treatment for a good song than playing it in crap quality.
What streaming does (audio and video, btw) is - it lowers the plank of acceptable quality for the masses of audiochavs who do not know any better. So, crap music at crap quality for the masses - this is a dream of a nu-media executive.
I don't care for NY's Pono or him throwing toys from the pram. I don't really need anyone to tell me something I knew for decades myself...
In my experience, any music that you can even barely tolerate to hear on radio without running away (or sawing your own ears off), will sound good live. At least as long as it's played competently.
Although I can think of one exception to that rule. Having seen a pretty good Rolling Stones tribute act a couple of times. The second time I saw them was the day after I'd seen the actual Rolling Stones at Hyde Park - and suddenly they didn't seem so good anymore.
No it won't because then the streaming services would charge for it anyway, leaving everyone with shit audio quality and the purveyors of said shit audio quality even better rewarded.
I know "make it free" is a kneejerk reaction among some sections of the commentariat but seriously, try thinking. It can help.
I remember walking into a real audio shop who had the Doors vinyl playing on high end equipment. The quality of the reproduced audio was VERY noticeable. Why would it be any different moving from low end streaming to high end analog? Streaming has its place where low quality is not perceivable because of equipment or surroundings. Analog has it place for accurate reproduction. Neil Young should know!
Exactly, mpinco. Most people have no idea what good sound is. We are surrounded by so much half-shit audio it's unbelievable and unlistenable starting with sound techs who are equally fucking clueless all the way to shit speakers being cranked way too hard and much gimmickry in-between.
The technology and quality is there and has been since the 1970 with the only real advances being miniaturization, yet bookshelf speakers, MP3 and Beats headphones are considered quality apparatuses for listening.
What utter shit.
In terms of sound quality none of them are anything to write home about.
If you want a stunning album to listen to then hunt out "A Meeting by the River" by Ry Cooder and V.M.Bhatt. Now that is an album that would benefit from a 24/96 presentation.
Young's stuff? Not so much.
really, audio production techniques, software, hardware have come sooo far in the past 10 years, and we still get crap trax. Thank every record company for this gouge in the ear.
this is how the record companies make me feel when I listen to shit produced these days...
might as well stick pencils in both ears...
I admit that I have a few MP3s from Amazon with squeals and a few AACs from iTunes with fuzziness, but saying that's worse than 8-track, AM, FM, or cassette is ludicrous.
8-track : Like telephone hold music but in stereo, a complex tape path designed to add fluttering effects, and CLICK-THUMP right in the middle of a song.
Cassette : Full frequency response range if your head azimuth exactly matches the recording head azimuth, choice of bad SNR (Dolby off) or bad fluttering (Dolby on), and increasing fluttering with age.
FM : Pretty good frequency response, massive dynamic range compression, dynamic range limiting to keep receiver IF and DEMUX PLLs working, amplitude pumping, and dropouts.
AM : WTF
"I don't need my music to be devalued by the worst quality in the history of broadcasting or any other form of distribution.
He really would have had kittens over my 'played to within an inch of its life' cassettes of Rust Never Sleeps and Weld that used to be the favourite accompaniment to a bottle of scotch and a long night printing in the darkroom. I'm pretty sure the tape player was a colleagues skip salvage, but at least had the virtue of being loud.
Brilliant musician, but while he has something of a point, there really is such a thing as being a bit too precious.
Credit to him for stating that his receipts are low more because of bad deals rather than payment rates per se.
But as for the comments on audio quality, please take your sanctimonious head out of your arse.
Tidal, Qobuz and Deezer Elite all provide streaming at CD quality. So you simply can't say that the options don't exist.
And whilst it does matter to me when I'm at home listening to my hifi, there are times when quality matters less. I can't appreciate the quality listening on headphones at work, or on the train. High quality MP3s are good enough in those circumstances.
It's other people that make the choice about what is good enough for them, it's not your job to dictate to them. But, if you don't want to receive any money as an artist, go ahead and remove the options for people to hear your music and earn you money, knock yourself out.
It doesn't really matter if you stream in a format designed to handle one billion bits and frequencies going from 0.0001Hz to 1THz - it all depends on what you encode into it, and how.If anything from the original soure to the final data decrease the quality, any format - even the best one - will just encode crappy qualliy, and can't automagically improve it.
Thereby the real question is: how streaming services create the data they stream? Is there any stage in the pipeline where they take advantage of some reduction in quality to optimize storage and/or bandwidth for the format they chose?
I agree. But I will add that any audio format is also only as good as the sound reproduction equipment used to play it.
As streaming stuff is by definition mostly played back on devices known for their crappy audio stages and speakers - even assuming that the quality of information contained in the bitstream is good, the end result will necessarily be crap.
Qobuz, stream in lossless formats at CD quality
If you listen to soprano parts on "Mozart: Messe En Ut Mineur" by Philippe Herreweghe, on Qobuz, you will hear nasty (and very obvious) clipping. I don't know about Tidal, they probably do not have this record anyway. Original CD does not have any clipping (I have it).
I would guess that lossless streaming services have entered the loudness war (or perhaps they were always there, I just failed to notice before). For me that was reason enough to cancel my subscription. For music I really like I still buy CDs, thanks.
I do subscribe to Spotify for casual listening, and I do not have expectations of great quality, or even great choice.
I use streaming services to find new music close to what I already like; I don't care if the quality is not particularly good because I'm probably listening to (usually) up to about four random tracks from an album in their entirety to decide if I actually like the general sound/style of the band in question. This is far better than the 30 second clip you get on Amazon.
If I do like it I buy it on CD or, for preference, vinyl.
As I already know Neil Young (and do have a couple of albums from when he was good) the withdrawal of his material makes no odds to me whatsoever. It will, I suspect, prevent other people who use streaming services as I do from discovering and buying his recorded material. So his loss.
If I had to guess based on my interactions with properly trained musicians (can argue if he is but I think you would be surprised) he would be able to tell at least to 256kps if not beyond. Well ok he is older and probably had some hearing damage over the years but some of his session musicians could. Good musicians really do hear music better than average people due to training and being weeded out if they don't.
He wrote the words. He wrote the music. He learned to play a staggering array of instruments on which he plays his music while he ... sings ... his words.
So, if anyone has any right to say how the music in question gets distributed it is Neil Young. If you think your opinion should matter more, start making your own music. Sampling other people's stuff and remixing it doesn't count. Original works or properly attributed covers only (you can hire people to play the instruments if you can't be arsed to spend the time learning how yourself).
Can't stand much of Neil Young's work personally, so no great loss to me either way, but as far as I'm concerned those with no skin in the game have no say about it.
...when people down-vote comments that criticise data-reduced music formats.
It has it's place as a compromised music medium, but I'd like to know how many of these down-voters have listened to a high-quality audio system fed from a high quality 24/96 source playing well recorded and mastered source material? I wonder if these are the same twerps who comment on the audio quality of video's on YouTube of high-end systems?
Mentioning the word "audiophile" seems to evoke the same bile. Yes - there is a hell of a lot of bullshit and Emperors New Clothes syndrome in the audio market; £10k Ethernet cables, directional speaker cables, magnetic supports, and a whole cottage industry founded on peddling bollocks to stupid people. But there are some truly great products out there which do sound fantastic and are capable of producing a wonderful musical experience.
Go to an audio dealership or a HiFi show and listen to some real kit.You might discover what music reproduction really sounds like.
Oh, AC, reading your words is like having a breath of fresh air :D
It's the same kind of dumb rebellion that made punk popular - "we can't play shit and we're proud of it!"
Equally, the audiopunks today: "the crappier the sound, the prouder we are! Cause - audiophiles!"
Well, let them, it's their loss.
There's no question that Young has a point but it's not the compression that's the problem; it's the lack of dynamic range in the original output. From the the 80s onward, DR was kept flat to allow reproduction over AM radio and cassette tape without distortion. The result when played over decent HiFi systems was flat and tinny. Young's Pono also reveal's the lifelessness of most recordings made in this period and many studios still keep the DR limited to avoid distortion effects. So he's wrong thinking that streaming kills the music; with a decent bit rate, streaming will reproduce DR if there's any to reproduce that is. Some of his old recordings were seriously limited in that respect but we loved them nonetheless!
Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019