from the digital-revolution-blues dept.
"Pono, the Neil Young-endorsed Kickstarter project, is drawing more and more pledges. Now past the $2 million mark (with an expected goal of $800K), this project aims to create a audiophile friendly FLAC player along with its ecosystem (and by that they mean their own music store and syncing application).
The device itself features 2 audio outputs, one 'specially designed for headphones' and the other 'specifically designed for listening on your home audio system'. The player is controlled by an LCD touchscreen, and its triangular 'Toblerone' shape makes it easy to hold it upright with one hand or to lay it flat on surfaces. The player, which has 64GB of internal memory, comes together with a 64GB microSD card.
The board and its components, as well as a 'pre-prototype' model, are pictured in the project's Kickstarter page.
(Score: 5, Interesting) by Grishnakh on Thursday March 13 2014, @03:35PM
How about adding the ability to tune in internet radio stations? A standalone (or stereo system component) internet radio device would be a nice thing to have, but they don't seem to exist on the market at all today, even though there's zillions of internet radio stations out there. There are some consumer devices that tune in internet radio stations, but they all seem to be horribly hobbled by being limited to only being able to tune in certain stations that the device manufacturer wants you to be able to access (generally pay-only stations), rather than being able to program the device for any arbitrary internet radio station. My wife's been complaining about this for years, and I'm thinking of building a custom device using some kind of dev system running embedded Linux.
(Score: 0, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @03:37PM
So your wife doesn't have a "smart"phone ?
(Score: 3, Informative) by Kilo110 on Thursday March 13 2014, @03:48PM
I'm not sure if you're serious or not. But every smartphone has some type of internet radio app, either loaded stock or in an app market.
(Score: 1) by Grishnakh on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:43PM
Can I just give them a URL and have them start playing a stream from that?
And how do I hear it through decent speakers? How do I connect it to my stereo? How do I do that without having a bunch of ugly cables and a phone just lying on a table with multiple cables (headphone, power) hanging out? This sounds like a totally ghetto solution.
(Score: 5, Informative) by xorsyst on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:54PM
Get a bluetooth adapter for your stereo (or replace with a bluetooth speaker). Now your phone can output to your stereo without any wires.
Then get an internet radio app on your phone (eg, Jamendo). Bob's your uncle.
(Score: 3, Interesting) by evilviper on Thursday March 13 2014, @06:35PM
My preference would be a couple right-angle cables / adapters, so you'll only see a tiny lump and the cable can be easily hidden.
Or you can go the bluetooth way, and take away one of those two cables.
Or you can buy an iPhone "dock" that hides those connectors in a "base station" which also keeps your phone upright. OR you could cut out a case that'll fit your phone, yourself, for cheap, and use that to hide the cables, keep the phone standing, and perhaps mount it to a wall, or similar.
Or you could buy a decent mini shelf system, which already includes a built-in iPhone docking bay, like most do these days.
Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
(Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Friday March 14 2014, @03:16PM
I don't have an iPhone or any other Apple crap. I want a solution that looks nice and doesn't involve a bunch of stupid cables. I never had to have this back in the "old days" when component stereos ruled; everything sat on a shelf and looked nice together, was easy to operate, and didn't have a bunch of cables lying all around. I guess that's just not cool enough these days.
(Score: 2) by evilviper on Friday March 14 2014, @08:40PM
Component stereos had TONS of cables... A real mess of spaghetti.
You've failed to name ANYTHING you dislike about ANY of the solutions I've listed.
Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
(Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Sunday March 16 2014, @06:39PM
Are you really that dense? The cables were all behind the stereo, and you didn't have to plug them in every time you turned on the stereo. Once everything was set up, you just pressed the power button and it would play music. With a phone, you have to mess around with a bunch of cables every fucking time you want to play something. What kind of shitty solution is that? It's ghetto.
(Score: 2) by VLM on Sunday March 16 2014, @08:43PM
I have two old smartphones, might be crude but perfectly capable of running TuneInRadioPro app or whatever its called. I do basically what he describes using one of the older phones as a mini-tablet. I have no reason to ever remove the cabling or touch the cabling. From memory the battery only lasts 30 minutes anyway.
There are probably people currently using their first and only smart phone as a phone, but there's enough people with old phones laying around that its no issue to "perma-wire" one into place.
(Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Monday March 17 2014, @03:47PM
It still looks ghetto. The whole point of old-style stereo systems was that they looked attractive when installed in a proper cabinet; all the cables were hidden, the components were all the same width (and generally you bought them from the same mfgr so they matched cosmetically too), and they all had nice front-panel controls. You didn't have to pick anything up or fiddle with anything; it was like rack-mount equipment but without the rack. Having cables lying around (as opposed to hidden in the back) totally goes against the point. What you're describing is a solution for people who don't give a shit about appearance at all, and don't mind having a totally messy-looking house with crap lying around, piled on the floor, etc. I guess young people these days like things like that, but in the old days people liked things in their home to look orderly.
(Score: 2) by VLM on Monday March 17 2014, @04:06PM
"young people these days"
LOL that made my day
Aside from that, your description sounds very much like a Roku plugged into the TV (or a small monitor?) perhaps with a decent pair of speakers.
(Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Monday March 17 2014, @05:41PM
Yeah, that's what someone else said here earlier, so I'm going to look into that. They recommended the now-discontinued "SoundBridge" (available on Ebay of course), which sounds like what I'm after: something you stick on your stereo, plug into its Aux inputs with RCA cables, and it just sits there. It's not quite as conformist as regular rectangular stereo components (I think the outputs come out one side for some odd reason), but it has a VFD like regular stereo components and is meant to be stationary.
(Score: 2) by evilviper on Tuesday March 18 2014, @05:48AM
It looks "ghetto" if you make it look "ghetto". If you mount the phone properly, it looks like the control panel on the Enterprise. And as components get smaller and smaller, they can be entirely hidden.
Longing for the days of the huge, clunky POS component systems is like saying you prefer the looks of a giant wooden console TV to a flat-screen, or a Model-T over Mustang... Sure, it's more "orderly"... Uhh, riiight.
Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
(Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Tuesday March 18 2014, @05:47PM
A modern Mustang (or any new car) generally has everything extremely well-integrated, and there's no extra cables hanging around. Your phone solution has cables hanging around unless you design and build a custom phone mount it seems. I've never seen any such mounts on the market for Android phones, only iPhones, so you're talking about building something entirely custom.
(Score: 2) by evilviper on Tuesday March 18 2014, @10:56PM
FAR less than ANY flat-screen TV (may only need ONE for power), and FAR easier to hide than a flat-screen TV.
Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
(Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Wednesday March 19 2014, @03:56PM
Huh? I don't know about your TV, but my flat-screen TV is sitting on a low cabinet (the kind designed for modern flat-screen TVs), with a Blu-Ray player on one of the shelves of the cabinet, and no cables are visible anywhere because they're all hidden behind the components.
I suppose if you attached your TV to a wall this could be an issue, but not everyone does that. If you're going to go to the trouble of bolting your TV to a wall with a special wall-mount, you might as well drill holes in the wall and route the cables inside the wall too, since at that point you're building a home theater. For those of us who go the more pedestrian route, we just buy a TV, buy a stand/cabinet for it, and stick the TV on the stand. As long as it's not one of those dumb all-glass cabinets, you won't see any cables.
(Score: 4, Informative) by lx on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:01PM
There are some consumer devices that tune in internet radio stations, but they all seem to be horribly hobbled by being limited to only being able to tune in certain stations that the device manufacturer wants you to be able to access
Get an IP radio that uses the Reciva [reciva.com] service. I can get everything from Soma FM to local stations on mine. Never had to pay for any of them.
(Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:45PM
So I'm limited to stations this "Reciva" service approves of? What happens when Reciva goes out of business? How does the radio work after that? How much does Reciva cost? I don't want to pay anything. It doesn't cost me anything to point my Amarok player to a streaming URL, I just want a nice-looking standalone box to do the same thing.
(Score: 4, Funny) by lx on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:56PM
Well if you're going full Stallman about something as throwaway as radio then I doubt anyone can please you.
(Score: 4, Interesting) by hatta on Thursday March 13 2014, @07:42PM
I go full Stallman with my music, and I'm perfectly pleased. Got a cheap Sansa, put Rockbox on it. Listen to live music from archive.org freemusicarchive.org, magnatune.com, Jamendo, etc.
(Score: 3, Funny) by SleazyRidr on Thursday March 13 2014, @08:05PM
What about when they all go out of business, what then?
(Score: 3, Interesting) by Grishnakh on Friday March 14 2014, @03:23PM
I'm not going "full Stallman", I want something that's simple to use and doesn't cost any money (besides the initial purchase price of course). Back in the old days, when you bought a component stereo, you set it up, and you were done: you could tune into any FM radio station you wanted for free, as long as your antenna could pick it up. You didn't have to worry that the radio maker wouldn't let you listen to a certain station because the station hadn't paid them off. And you didn't have to worry about having an ugly, messy-looking pile of electronics linked together by a bunch of cables (the cables were all hidden behind the devices, and you left them plugged in, rather than messing with them every time you wanted to play some music), or having to use a different device (that you might want to use for other things besides playing music) and then having to plug that into some stupid "dock".
It seems like there should be a market for a device that plugs into your stereo amplifier and lets you tune into any internet radio station you want, which fits in with your stereo, is easy to use, and isn't a device of some other kind that's been repurposed and needs to be "docked" (and then undocked when you want to use it for something else, like a simple phone call) (don't forget, Android devices can't be docked; I've never seen docks for any Android phones). Instead, the only things I've seen are either 1) discontinued (namely the Roku SoundBridge someone else mentioned) or 2) only let you listen to stations the radio maker wants you to listen to, which is bullshit.
(Score: 4, Informative) by snick on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:20PM
Roku ($50) + Tunin app (free)
The only limitation seems to be that it can only tune in stations that are offered as a stream. It can't tune in stations that insist on launching their own player. I don't think any generic player is going to be able to get around that.
(Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:53PM
I'll check that out, thanks. That sounds like exactly what I'm looking for. I don't care about shitty stations that insist on launching their own player, I just want to be able to tune into streams.
(Score: 2, Informative) by strength_of_10_men on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:25PM
(Score: 2, Funny) by Ethanol-fueled on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:40PM
I have an even better idea - why not also put in mp3 and mp4 decoders? Oh, and a camera and with it a one-touch picture-sender with hooks into the Facebook and Twitter APIs, so my friends can watch me be about to listen to music.
Oh, and it should also be in a ruggedized and hermetically-sealed enclosure so I can listen poolside or out in the desert. And it should have wireless and X11 protocol transmission, so I can listen to my music through all the AC wall outlets in my house. And one of the points on its enclosure should be a bottle-opener, another a toothpick, another a Philips screwdriver, and one of the faces on the enclosure should be triple-reinforced so I can use the device as a chisel. And they should be magnetic so I can stick them to metal things where convenient. And it should have a light, for night-playin'. And it should also be loaded with high-explosive and a detonator switch(located on the opposite side as the power switch, heh) so I can use it as a landmine in case the RIAA declares it illegal and their goons try to take it away. And it should shine with a twinkle, generating it's own "bling" sound, because that's what sharp pointy shiny things do in Anime flicks. And it should have a tape dispenser, because those are handy. And it should be biodegradable and arrive wrapped in 100% post-consumer recycled cardboard colored with environmentally-friendly food-based inks.
Wait, what do you mean it's ten years late and fifteen-million dollars over-budget?! Fuck!
Oh well, I have plenty of time to wait. And in the meantime I have some suggestions for the administrators of Soylent news: First I want...
(Score: 3, Interesting) by TheGratefulNet on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:52PM
'internet radio' is about as bad as it can be, audio wise. high compression (in the source audio plus post-compression even though this is NOT FM RADIO and does not NEED any more compression!) really kills internet audio.
there is a semi-common problem in modern cheap 'dollar dacs' called gibbs, where the audio will clip if the sustained volume is too close to 0db. there is not enough math precision and errors compound so that the wave can do bad things after clipping, sometimes even inverting 180 degrees! I've seen this on a few dac chips I've tested (considered using in my builds but abandoned after I saw this issue).
the only way to get those chips to work well is to digitally attenuate to, say, -2 or -3db and then send that signal to the dac chip. better chips do not have this problem but most 'single chip solutions' are of this poor design style.
its strange that 'internet radio' puts more burden on the dac chips than regular cd audio would, but its true. if you do hear clipping or strange artifacts and you have the ability to attenuate digitally (before the dac chip) give it a try and it may fix your problem.
that said, its hard to justify a bitrate higher than 88 or 96 for portable music use! home audio deserves 88/96k but portable audio? that's a pretty strange use-case. when portable, you want to have more music on your device, not less; and taking up more bit-space is working against you.
finally, my old android phone can play bit-perfect flacs just fine and I can store music on removable sd cards. some phones can use OTG usb adapters to expand storage even more. the line-out of typical phones really sucks badly, but again, some android phones can be modded (at the kernel level) to support usb audio and once you send audio thru usb, you can pick a LOT of very clean outboard dac solutions (even spdif solutions) that will blow away any onboard low-end dac chip design.
"It is now safe to switch off your computer."
(Score: 2, Interesting) by kbahey on Thursday March 13 2014, @05:14PM
Assuming you are on Android
I used TuneIn for a while, but then they started changing the app too much and it became annoying (can't remember the details now, but perhaps it was ads?).
So, I moved to rad.io [google.com], which pretty much has the same line up of stations, which you can browse [www.rad.io] on their site.
There is also vTuner [vtuner.com] which has an impressive channel lineup, but does not have an app by itself.
It is however, embedded in many devices today, ranging from portables to full blown network receivers and home theaters. I found their app included in my flat screen LG TV, and also in Sony's network receiver.
Here are some devices and manufacturers with vTuner support [vtuner.com].
Both services allow you to listen on a regular desktop PC as well, though not from your app like Amarok or Clementine, rather, their web based flash widget.
All of the above (rad.io, and vTuner) is free, with no subscription or fees. You just pay for the internet connection.
2bits.com, Inc: Drupal, WordPress, and LAMP performance tuning [2bits.com].
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 24 2014, @04:33AM
hDUnII rcgdmfzxjjnx [rcgdmfzxjjnx.com], [url=http://xcrjjyzsipvs.com/]xcrjjyzsipvs[/url], [link=http://ttbmdhupsnnh.com/]ttbmdhupsnnh[/link
] , http://fhnbrsisfghm.com/ [fhnbrsisfghm.com]
(Score: 3, Funny) by skullz on Thursday March 13 2014, @03:39PM
Oh cool, now I can be an audio snob and plug my $5 buds into this and 'gasiam about the "pure sound".
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:31PM
Beats by Dre
(Score: 1) by Fnord666 on Thursday March 13 2014, @11:29PM
So don't buy it. This isn't the ACA; no one is forcing you to purchase anything.
(Score: 4, Interesting) by quitte on Thursday March 13 2014, @03:49PM
So they picked that toblerone shape to add "large audio components"? All I see is 4 elkos that might qualify. So what do they do? My guess is that it looks similar to the frequency splitters known from big speakers and thus being "high fidelity stuffs".
Voltage drop of lithium polymer batteries should be easy to counteract with way smaller caps. after all their maximum current draw is insane. And since there is a battery available AC-DC filtering is not a huge consideration, either.
The shape makes it horrible to carry around in your pocket - however it's nice to put it on a shelf. Too bad that the output is on the side so it won't exactly look good being on a shelf and used at the same time.
Suggestion to the digital audio player folks: add support for external DACs - like for example bluetooth... oh wait.
Okay so what the high-end audio folks need is a very good bluetooth DAC to add to their stereo equipment. Should someone step up and kickstart that - make sure that it behaves well with multiple bluetooth devices attaching to it. Throw in some tubes for their linearity and warmth of sound or something and you should have quite the kickstartable thingie.
Make a cheap one with multiple BT inputs for me,too.
(Score: 1) by quitte on Thursday March 13 2014, @03:57PM
Maybe someone that can do something about it is reading this: Put the connectors on the other side! Then you can plug it into a basestation with the cables disappearing. Then at least it doesn't look shitty on your stereo rack.
(Score: 2, Interesting) by TheGratefulNet on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:56PM
BT has a standard called apt-X and it does an ok job but its still pretty far from a wired hifi connection. I tried liking my apt-x transmitter/receiver pair but it was not very good. the signal was not very strong, it would lose connections all the time and there is still compression that you can hear.
its much better than the standard BT audio, but has a long way to go before it is up to wired audio quality.
"It is now safe to switch off your computer."
(Score: 1) by ToBe on Thursday March 13 2014, @06:21PM
If this product is intended for the "high fidelity" crowd, why not give a cable digital output (toslink or coax) as well? They probably has a DAC already.
"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." Douglas Adams
(Score: 1) by quitte on Thursday March 13 2014, @06:40PM
A digital input would probably make more sense for the tube crowd. The one person I know that I'd consider audiophile is pretty much who I'm thinking of here. A "this millenium input" is what's missing to his setup.
(Score: 3, Interesting) by cockroach on Thursday March 13 2014, @03:50PM
When I read "their own [..] syncing application" I can't help but wonder whether this is going to be some kind of proprietary, DRMish monstrosity or if it's going to be possible to access it as a mass storage device. Does anyone know more about this?
(Score: 3, Informative) by Marneus68 on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:02PM
From the kickstarter page
I was very suspicious about that too.
(Score: 2, Interesting) by cockroach on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:39PM
While this is interesting, it still doesn't seem to answer the question of whether a proprietary application will be required to put files on the player.
Also pff, saying "all your digital music" and not mentioning Ogg Vorbis.
(Score: 2) by stderr on Thursday March 13 2014, @05:30PM
And what about all my 8SVX and MOD files?!
alias sudo="echo make it yourself #" #
(Score: 4, Informative) by Nerdfest on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:03PM
I was wondering the same thing
... are they going to pull a Sony. My guess is not. As long as you can manually load it with FLAC files, it's good, and it gives people not interested in ripping or loading a simple music store where they can legally buy good quality tunes. I think the price is a bit steep and the design is a bit lacking, but the idea is good. Of course, are effectively 128 GB units so maybe the price isn't completely ridiculous.
It's interesting to see the what artists have have sold out of their allocation of 'signature series' units. Those laser etched units are nice looking too.
Overall, I'm hoping someone does this for half the price. I think there are already some FLAC capable players that have a 'pretty good' quality and it wouldn't take that much more to push them up to 'great'. Perhaps if this becomes popular enough we'll get some Android phone available specializing in audiophile quality sound.
(Score: 1) by skullz on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:06PM
I don't think the RIAA is going to let most music onto something like this without DRM in one form or another. So you will be left with a few quacks (Neil who?) and indie artists. Or they will slap excessive DRM on it, throttle the quality, and make you pay through the nose for a triangular iPod.
(Score: 2, Informative) by TheGratefulNet on Thursday March 13 2014, @05:05PM
you need to be more informed. there are quite a few download-only stores that sell DRM FREE flac files that are 88k, 96k, 176k and 192k. some stores are a bit dodgy in the lineage of their 'master tape copies', but not all are dodgy and some are honest about where they got their source from.
I have not seen a single high res audio download include DRM. you are free to buy these and copy them all you want.
hdtracks is one that comes to mind. I'd have to do a search to find the others, but they are out there and not hard to find.
most sources are not done well enough to JUSTIFY this, though. even classical stuff has a high noise floor and when I tried the hd audio stuff on my own (fairly decent self-built system) I didn't hear any magic. but then again, I was listening to 20 yr old music (or older) who was not really well recorded in the first place.
"It is now safe to switch off your computer."
(Score: 2) by skullz on Thursday March 13 2014, @06:13PM
Thats a neat site but I'm still only seeing outliers and some indie stuff. Not much from the last 10 years. As you said, most sources are not really worth the "hd audio" label.
(Score: 2) by hatta on Thursday March 13 2014, @07:44PM
You mean, you're seeing music from people who have had to survive on talent instead of million dollar marketing budgets? That's a bonus.
(Score: 1) by TheGratefulNet on Friday March 14 2014, @04:36AM
here's a good starter list:
ob disc: I know the auraliti guys and have no problem recommending their gear. its linux based, headless and uses the MPD system. there are some tweaks they did to both hardware and software, but its still mostly a linux system.
"It is now safe to switch off your computer."
(Score: 2) by Blackmoore on Thursday March 13 2014, @09:35PM
Nah - they won't really need to - afterall you'll have to repurchase your entire music library to get the full value of the device. sure you can play your mp3 or flac files, but you cant upgrade the quality from mp3 to flac.
(Score: 1) by Fnord666 on Thursday March 13 2014, @11:32PM
I'm wondering if it has to do with keeping crappy sounding low bandwidth MP3s off of it so that they don't have to field complaints when it doesn't magically make them sound amazing.
(Score: 4, Insightful) by MrGuy on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:13PM
There exist FLAC player apps for iOS and Android devices - the ones in your pocket already. What's the rationale for expensive additional hardware over and above something most of us already have in our pockets?
(Score: 3, Informative) by BananaPhone on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:30PM
Heck even BB10 devices play all those formats out of the box.
(Score: 4, Insightful) by Marneus68 on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:33PM
- Battery life
- Proper amplification
- Expandable storage
Here are at least 3 reasons to buy a dedicated device for all your music needs (I'm not saying you need a $300 device for that tho, the Sansa Clip is enough). Of course that only concern you if you like music enough for that.
(Score: 3, Insightful) by Marneus68 on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:37PM
Also add "proper decoding (usually allowing gapless playback)" to that list.
(Score: 2) by MrGuy on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:43PM
I think battery life and expandable storage are questionable advantages. Many andrioid phones let you swap out ever-bigger SD cards, and the battery life on most mobiles isn't awful these days. And if you're worried about battery life, an external USB battery that could power your phone for many times the length of the internal battery are both smaller and cheaper than a dedicated FLAC player with its own battery.
Amplification is the interesting one for me. If you want to drive real speakers, you're presumably going to use an external amp, so I'm assuming you're talking about how the signal is amplified internal to the device (presumably post-DAC) before sending to the jack?
(Score: 2, Informative) by J.J. Dane on Thursday March 13 2014, @06:23PM
Currently listening to FLAC files on my old 160Gb ipod classic with Rockbox firmware through a decent set of Sennheiser ear phones....
This sounds a lot like a solution in search of a problem.
(Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @09:09PM
The fool and his money are soon partying.
(Score: 3, Informative) by NigelO on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:15PM
I'm using a Sansa Clip+, which supports FLAC out of the box, 32GB microSD, great audio, low price, etc.
It's also tiny, portable, and has a microphone and FM radio built in, with lots of add-on apps with the Rockbox firmware.
(Score: 1) by MikeRo on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:24PM
Exactly. The Clip has been around for years. And for far cheaper than this new hipster item.
(Score: 3, Informative) by Nerdfest on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:37PM
I have a couple of Sansa Clip+'s, but their sound quality isn't even quite as good as some of their older models. I have an older E260 that sounds better. I think the goal of better sound quality is worth it, but we should be able to do it cheaper.
(Score: 2, Informative) by sharky on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:43PM
I think the point is that their "store" will sell audio with quality up to (From the site):
"Ultra-high resolution recordings: 9216 kbps (192 kHz/24 bit) FLAC files"
...and they are saying their player has a good enough DAC (which maybe the Sansa does not?) to play 192 kHz/24 bit audio. That's pretty insane IMHO (in a good way). I'm the type that thinks 44.1 kHz/16 bit is "great". ... I keep wondering how many full length albums 64/128GB etc would really hold at 192 kHz/24 bit.... probably not an impressive number (but certainly "useful").
(Score: 3, Informative) by sharky on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:48PM
(Score: 1) by NigelO on Thursday March 13 2014, @05:41PM
Thanks for all the follow-up notes and research - I stand corrected, yet still flac-entertained, albeit at a lower quality than the future holds
(Score: 1) by MrNemesis on Friday March 14 2014, @12:37PM
Forgoing modding you up to reply and add a "me, too!" I guess...! In a portable sense, I've been using the Sansa Clip/Zip loaded up with rockbox and a 64GB microSD card; it's a highly capable player on its own but with rockbox installed it's even betterer (especially in regard to battery life). Even my ancient Nokia can play FLAC if you install a (free) decoder, but the UIs for mobile phone music players always seem to suck donkey balls so I stick with the Sansa units.
I also don't really see the purpose of the device - doesn't the world and dog support FLAC now? My TV can decode FLAC, my AV receiver can decode FLAC, all the computers that are ever attached to them can decode FLAC... as well as a hojillion other audio formats, even the stupid "I really can hear a difference between 48kHz and 96kHz, I swear!" ones.
To my jaded and cynical self, this seems like blatant catering to the audiophile crowd with little-to-no technical nouse to make it worthy of an SN post.
"To paraphrase Nietzsche, I have looked into the abyss and been sick in it."
(Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:17PM
Why is it that all I can picture when they say toblerone style device is the pyramid tablet [zdnet.com] from The Office?
(Score: 4, Informative) by dublet on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:31PM
h tml [xiph.org]
Definitely check out the article above if you want to know exactly why the Pono project is a big waste of time if you're actually into audio.
"If anyone needs me, I'm in the angry dome. [dublet.org]"
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:52PM
A wonderful smackdown, even if I only understand perhaps half of it.
2 million bucks for a waste of time for people who think buying vinyl records is smart. Sigh. I thought Neil Young was a better person than this.
(Score: 1) by dwmoody on Thursday March 13 2014, @05:17PM
I agree, that's an excellent article.
I also enjoyed this one: http://www.dansdata.com/gz143.htm [dansdata.com]
(Score: 1) by krishnoid on Thursday March 13 2014, @06:54PM
From that article:
Part of the Pono idea is that content for the system will need to be carefully transferred from high-fidelity studio masters. That actually may make some of the music sound better; popular music mastering has been a casualty of the "loudness war" for some time now. But better-mastered music will sound better on cassette than badly-mastered music would at a zillion bits per second.
Requoting from my post from another technology blog [slashdot.org] -- if Neil Young is really concerned about the music experience, why not:
That seems like it would be more 'about the music' than a new player with dubious advantages that plays existing formats.
(Score: 2, Informative) by sigterm on Friday March 14 2014, @12:50AM
I read that article back in 2012. It certainly makes some very good points, but skips over a few facts, such as:
1. Yes, a sampling rate of 192 kHz is way higher than what's necessary. No, it's not pointless in itself, particularly for devices capable of recording (from an analog source).
Should an analog signal source contain components (or noise or whatever) in the ultrasonic range, a low sampling rate will actually push that noise down into the audible range (yes, really; think about it). The solution is to record at a much higher sample rate, remove the ultrasonic components with a (steep) digital filter, and then downsample because... why? To save space?
2. Yes, a CD/DVD player playing back a high-frequency sine wave recorded using a sampling frequency of 44.1 kHz will produce something that looks remarkably like a sine wave. No, that doesn't mean the Nyquist theorem has anything to do with sound quality, or that 44.1 kHz is good enough for high-quality sound reproduction.
A 44.1 kHz sampling frequency will result in roughly 6 samples per cycle for an 8 kHz sine wave signal. That's not a lot, and as the article says, some people visualize a staircase effect and expect to hear distortion. Yet the output from a CD player will indeed look (and sound) pretty smooth.
Well, guess what, a sampled 8 kHz triangle wave will look like a smooth sine wave too. Try it with an oscilloscope and see, or just listen to what's coming from the CD player and tell me it sounds anything like the analog source.
This should come as no surprise to anyone. The actual shape of the waveform doesn't get magically embedded in the samples; the player just creates a (possibly quite inaccurate) approximation using aggressive oversampling. This works reasonably well, great even, for lower frequencies. For frequencies above 6-8 kHz, not so much. Beyond 12 kHz it's just terrible, but fortunately most music is mostly sine waves at those frequencies anyway, and our ears are rather forgiving at such high frequencies. (My 'scope has problems locking on to a reproduced 18-20 kHz signal, though, as there's massive phase distortion. Not sure how our ears could possibly ignore that.)
3. Yes, a dynamic range of 16 bit does provide (barely) enough headroom to cover everything from silence to the pain threshold of the human ear. No, it's not really good enough, and again, it doesn't work at all for recording from an analog source.
To avoid clipping when recording, you have to turn down input sensitivity to a point where you can be reasonably cartain anything you record will be well below the 0db point. This usually means sacrificing a lot of headroom. With a 16 bit dynamic range there's not really a lot to sacrifice without affecting sound quality.
So we can either record and mix in 24 bit and downmix to 16 bit for the final master, or we could just, you know, use 24 bit all the way since storage space really isn't an issue anymore.
As for 16 bits being "enough", that's only true if you overlook an obvious characteristic of the human ear: Its sensitivity is not linear, while the samples are. This could be a problem if the source material contains both very loud and very quiet (and noise-free) segments. In very quiet segments of some classical pieces, the quantization noise can be quite noticeable. It's not a huge problem by any means, but one that can be easily eliminated.
This is where the article gets a bit silly, as Monty proceeds to create a wav file containing a 1 kHz sine wave at -105 db, and then uses a spectral analyzer to "prove" that the signal is there. Well, a quick look at the diagram shows considerable distortion in the 500 Hz - 2 kHz range, and a massive noise component appearing out of nowhere at around 6-8 kHz. Yes, something is certainly there, including stuff that shouldn't be there at all.
Fortunately, he provides the source file for download. Load the
.wav file into Audacity and amplify the signal and you'll see why the analysis looks weird: The signal looks [i]nothing[/i] like a 1 Khz sine wave, or any wave at all for that matter. The quantization noise is just massive. The amplified signal sounds like a 1 kHz tone being played over a poor cell phone connection, complete with artificial background noise.
So yes, 16 bit at 44.1 kHz isn't horrible by any means, but there's plenty of room for improvement. 24 bit/96 kHz would be great, and would probably push both sampling inaccuracies and quantization noise well out of the audible range, but if the master recording will be using 192 kHz to handle ultrasonic noise, why bother with downsampling?
But otherwise I certainly do agree with Monty: Before you start worrying about sample sizes and frequencies, buy better headphones and speakers, and replace those MP3s with lossless files.
(Score: 4, Interesting) by gishzida on Thursday March 13 2014, @05:09PM
In some ways the promotion of this player sounds like the "Hype" of the speaker cables sold as Monster Cables [wikipedia.org] which claimed that they were better because they were bigger and used a "special wire alloy". As far as I could tell there was no difference.
Some facts: It is true that the more you compress an MP3 or AAC the worse they sound. It is also true that MP3 and AAC are "non-free" file formats.
One might ask is there a real advantage to FLAC? FLAC is the "lossless" sibling of OGG and is released under an open source license [xiph.org].
So what is the real advantage to FLAC other than it is open source? Yes lossless file comprression. think of it as "gz" compression for audio.
As an example:
The desktop audio application I use to "master / edit" my recordings [Sony Sound Forge 10] has FLAC as one of the options for file open/save. I usually use MS WAV files to save the master files. WAV is something like the MS BMP format. [Using Wav is simply laziness on my part more than anything else and does not signify anything]. The Wav format saves everything "as is" with zero compression. The last track I released on my audio blog recently has a WAV master that is 106.7 Mb in size. When saved in FLAC format it takes only 35.8 Mb. So you get about 67% size compression with zero loss. Impressive but....
In the days of limited resources a file compression ratio like that was a good thing but in reading the hype I can't see a clear reason to purchase one of these. If it was a field recorder [i.e. if could be used for lossless stereo recording] I might have bought one but it is not a recorder. Apparently this is just a "snob" factor device which is most of Apple's marketplace appeal.
So should you buy one? It depends on your answers to some of these questions: Do you still have good ears? How much is media pricing? Is it a walled garden they are building? Do they have an app that will convert you existing CD collection [all of those your files in MP3
/AAC are "worthless" -- To get lossless sound you have to convert it from a lossless source such as a CD]?
If you do buy a Pono well good for you. I'll be happy to sell you copies of my recordings for [clickity-clickity-clickity] a really $pecial $oylent price...
(Score: 1) by The Grim Reefer on Thursday March 13 2014, @06:42PM
I think that is the point. This is a portable device. The resources are limited, to 128 GB I believe. I can't speak for others, but I have much more music than that. Particularly if I save it in
.wav format. If I can get three times more music on a portable player, with no loss in quality, then it would be pretty damn stupid not to.
Do you never leave your home? Or are you carrying a music server with a UPS when you go anywhere?
(Score: 4, Insightful) by evilviper on Thursday March 13 2014, @07:13PM
Well, it's a combination of a couple real issues, combined with misunderstanding of technology, combined with people that buy all the "monster cable" marketing BS.
Actually, there is a REAL problem with the popular lossy audio codecs... No matter how high you crank the bit-rate, they still won't provide audio that is indistinguishable from the original, in side-by-side tests by experts with good equipment.
MP3 and AAC are frequency-domain audio codecs. In short, that means they're good at representing (long) tones, and terrible at representing sudden and varying non-tonal changes. Most often that means percussion, applause, and similar.
The earlier and simpler audio codecs actually did better. MPEG-1 Layer II is a temporal-domain codec, as are Musepack, DTS, and a few other fringe ones. These codecs (at bit rates of around 160kbps and up) are able to reproduce CD quality audio in a way that is utterly indistinguishable from the ~1.5mbps original.
MP3 caught on in the early days, when people were using bit-rates of 96 or 128k to save bandwidth, where something like Layer-II didn't provide good results. So MP3 got popular. Then as bandwidth got cheaper, and music stores appeared, they started provided MP3s (or AAC) at bit-rates of 192 and 256kbps... Bit-rates so high that MP3 or AAC no longer gets any benefit out of it, and where other codecs like Layer-II or Musepack would provide PERFECT sound quality. Also, Musepack is free format, reportedly free of patents, and any patents on layer-II have long since expired.
And any new audio codecs developed are invariable frequency-domain based, because just there's (even theoretically, per JD Johnston's "Perceptual Entropy") just no room to improve at all on the high-end over a good temporal-domain codec like Musepack. So new codecs always target producing non-annoying sound at ever-lower bit-rates (eg. around 32kbps). People buy the hype for the new codecs, and assume they'll sound better than older codecs at 256kbps, when they actually sound worse... For an example, read up on HE-AAC. They tell you which bit-rates SBR (spectral-band replication) and PS (parametric stereo) provide no benefits over the old, low-complexity AAC by itself, and you can prove this to yourself with some listening tests easily enough.
FLAC didn't have anything to do with Xiph, Vorbis, or Ogg for most of it's life. The two groups simply decided to join forces at some point.
I can't see ANY reason to buy one. The majority of adults in the western world keep a smart phone with them at all times... Those smart phones have ample storage, and there are plenty of apps out there that will play FLAC. I've never heard any complaints about the sound quality of the amplification circuits in smart phones, since they've got big budgets to work with, and playing music is one of their key features... And anyone who doesn't have a smart phone, can find slightly older models available dirt-cheap with only cosmetic blemishes and slightly reduced battery life.
Maybe there's some tiny market... People who are going to be far away from a power outlet for weeks at a time, can't carry a solar panel, and for some reason aren't happy with the numerous other digital audio players that already support FLAC (or other lossless formats). I'd expect that to be an extremely tiny market, though.
(Score: 1) by f2 on Friday March 14 2014, @07:14AM
You've clearly never had to use a Lumia phone. Especially the 800 series has/had a headphone amp that's pretty much useless for music (it cuts the low end completely).
But I do agree with your point that there are plenty of inexpensive portable players out there. I use a Sansa Clip myself.
(Score: 1) by muthauzem on Thursday March 13 2014, @05:47PM
I don't really thing you need audiophile quality in a portable device.
How I see it, you use a portable device in places where listening to music is not your first priority. You won't be able to really appreciate the audio quality difference when riding a bus/train, driving/walking, waiting for a service, working out on a gym, etc... MP3 in a small device is perfectly fine for this kind of situation (which are implied by the "portable").
Then you get back to the comfort and calm of your home, fire up your audiophile setup, load up your FLACs and appreciate your music.
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @07:52PM
> I don't really thing you need audiophile quality in a portable device.
I don't really think you need "audiophile quality" in any device. For most casual listening today, the moderately priced gear is fine and sounds better than the high-end gear of 30 years ago.
You know what the definition of "audiophile" is? Someone who uses music to listen to his stereo equipment!
(Score: 2) by mth on Thursday March 13 2014, @06:24PM
This might increase the market for well-mastered FLAC downloads, which would be a good thing. As Monty writes, some SACD albums do sound better than their respective CD versions, because of better mastering, not because there is more data.
(Score: 2, Interesting) by krishnoid on Thursday March 13 2014, @06:32PM
The device itself features 2 audio outputs, one 'specially designed for headphones' and the other 'specifically designed for listening on your home audio system'.
I read a long time ago that the one place you want to spend your money in an audio system is in the speakers. Once the whole production chain for music became cheaper, I wondered why a track wasn't released in multiple 'mixes'/'masters' (not sure the term) for different personal audio listening environments and speaker types:
With the option to buy a mix for the platform where you listen to music the most, or all the mixes for the songs you really like for maybe twice the price.
We have the option to buy letterbox and widescreen versions of movies, and I would think it takes much more work to produce those than to augment music production like this. What am I missing here?
(Score: 4, Insightful) by hatta on Thursday March 13 2014, @07:11PM
This is pretty ridiculous. Nobody needs 24/96 playback. Nobody. 16/44.1 is entirely transparent [hydrogenaudio.org] to human ears.
(Score: 2) by lx on Thursday March 13 2014, @08:09PM
"Nobody needs 24/96 playback. Nobody."
These guys just might need 24/96. [dogtv.com] Their target audience would love it.
(Score: 2, Informative) by Fnord666 on Thursday March 13 2014, @11:27PM
Gotta love the misleading summary. This isn't a kickstarter for another portable music player. This is about what PonoMusic describes as "an end-to-end ecosystem for music lovers to get access to and enjoy their favorite music exactly as the artist created it, at the recording resolution they chose in the studio." Yes, they are building a portable music player with the help of high end audio engineers that they feel fits into this ecosystem, but that is just a part of it. Much bigger than that is the idea of a music store where you can buy digital audio at much higher resolution than iTunes, Amazon or even WAV files directly from a CD. "We are pursuing this vision by building a system for the entire music listening experience â€“ from the original master recordings to the PonoMusic.com Store to the portable PonoPlayer". Given that the campaign started two days ago and is already at 300% of their funding goal, it seems to me that they might just be on to something.
(Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 14 2014, @12:44AM
And he couldn't just put a couple million into his 'great idea'? Has to go begging on kickstarter like the average nobody?
What the fuck... It's crap like this that is totally ruining kickstarter. Those with means using it as just another marketing venue.
(Score: 1) by wcvanhorne on Friday March 14 2014, @01:59AM
This has basically been done long ago. Slimdevices with the Squeezeboxes and Slimserver started around 14 years ago. Inspite of the founder cashing out and Logitech running it into the ground the server part still works great as does existing hardware. There are also several Android apps to let devices function as remotes and/or players. BTW it streams native flac to most devices and this is how I run my music server/system.
m usic_player) [wikipedia.org]
(Score: 1) by wcvanhorne on Friday March 14 2014, @02:05AM
I think these xiph links have already been posted but they should be highlighted. Also the latter on A/D/A is newer with a great video that nicely shows things for those who are Nyquist Phobes.
h tml [xiph.org]
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 14 2014, @05:42PM
What I find hilarious is that the same audiophiles who used to complain about digital because it "loses information," it's "an approximation of the music," it's "not as warm as vinyl," etc. etc. are now saying "we just need more resolution!"
Funny how SACD and HD-audio flopped in the marketplace if it solved all these "problems" CDs supposedly have. Meanwhile the masses keep on buying over-audio-compressed and over-data-compressed tracks online.
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 14 2014, @03:05AM