December 11, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Beck Really Likes Neil Young’s Pono Audio Format

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Neil Young has been going around giving people demonstrations of his upcoming, high-definition digital music format, Pono.

Beck heard Neil’s demo backstage at the Bridge School Benefit last year (video above), he tells Pitchfork, and liked what he heard. This is a big vote of confidence for a format that might need it, considering that this guest author and others remain convinced that there is no point to high-resolution music, and that A/B tests that appear to indicate that it sounds better are really due to things like slight variations in volume.

Of course, we’re not going to offer up a qualitative opinion on Pono until we hear it ourselves, but this certainly lends credence to the idea that it is indeed righteous:

“I’ve personally reached the point where the sound of MP3s are so uncompelling, because so much is lost in translation. For years, people said the reduction in information on an MP3 was supposedly not really detectable, but I’ve compared them to CDs, and MP3s do sound a lot worse. If I have a choice, I always try to get the CD — and obviously the vinyl sounds a lot better than that. I still record and mix everything to tape, and I think it makes a difference. But by the time it gets reduced down to an MP3, it’s like you’ve shaved off all the nuance. The first thing that gets thrown out is the air that was in the room of whatever instrument or musician that was being recorded — that negative space in a song that takes the most information to capture.

“I did The Bridge School Benefit last year and I was backstage when Neil Young was playing with this audio format that he’s working on. I was already aware of the difference, sonically, but he had a little demonstration, and it’s pretty striking. Essentially, what we’ve been listening to for the last 15 years is the equivalent of transistor radio compared to what the recordings actually are. I don’t think people realize that. We’ve gotten so used to MP3s. They are convenient, but there really is a trade-off, and it’s hard to have any kind of emotional connection to a song. You can appreciate it intellectually, but not physically or emotionally.”

Also of note: Neil Young’s people appear to be calling club owners to convince them to play music from a Pono device (more on Pono).

(Thanks, Tom)