Digital Music

Neil Young’s PonoPlayer: “The Emperor Has No Clothes,” says Top Tech Reviewer David Pogue


"The argument for the Pono Player sure is appealing – that we don’t know what we’ve been missing in our music," wrote David Pogue for Yahoo! Tech about Neil Young's $400 hi-def music player and $25 album downloads. "Unfortunately, it isn’t true."

"I’m 51 and a former professional musician," he continues. "I know how to listen. But when I bought Pono’s expensive remastered songs and compared them with the identical songs on my phone, I couldn’t hear any difference whatsoever."

Pogue's then blind tested 15 people of varying ages. On average, participants preferred their iPod and said that when they heard any difference, it was only about 10%.  Here is the test:



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  1. Interesting.
    However, why is there no consistency regarding the headphones used in the test video?
    Some are wearing Sony 7506s, which are fairly accurate, but hardly high-end headphones. Others are listening on Apple earbuds, which are definitely lo-fi, so would not present a fair comparison.
    The sound can only be as good as the weakest link.The test should be done again on at least a moderately hi-fidelity system.

  2. While David Pogue may not be famous for his music like Neil Young, I now from personal experience that he is a very fine musician. So I would not discount his thoughts on this subject.

  3. Monty debunked the whole idea when it was still just getting started: Dolphins might be able to hear the difference, but not humans. In about 150 years of testing, no human has been found able to hear that frequency range (see
    Will Neil Young do a blind listening test to prove he can hear the difference?
    (And yes, Sasha is right that the only difference in the test should be the Pono or 44.1kHz source.)

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