Access Journalism vs Accountability Journalism

I write this in a Seattle coffee bar—my flight home to New York has been canceled due to a snowstorm. As I try to put down these thoughts, I'm listening to the high-resolution masters of the April issue's "Recording of the Month," Sasha Matson's jazz opera Cooperstown, on my Pono player using Ultimate Ears UE18 in-ear monitors. I was in Seattle for Music Matters 10, held by retailer Definitive Audio, and this was my first road trip with the Pono since I reviewed it for the April issue. (Bruce Botnick and Charles Hansen comment on that review elsewhere in this issue.)

I realize now that, in my review, I did not say enough about the compelling nature of music played through the Pono. During the long flight out to the Northwest, and now as I write these words, my attention keeps being drawn to the music in a way that rarely happens with my iPod Classic. This happens not only with hi-rez PCM files (and DSD files, which, with the release of firmware v.1.0.5, the Pono can now play), but with CD rips and even MP3s. Perhaps the best way to characterize the Pono player is to say that for $399, you get a D/A processor almost as good as Ayre Acoustics' QB-9 ($3250), with a 128GB hi-rez media player thrown in for free.

So it was with not a little astonishment that, while writing about the Pono, I read negative reviews of this little gem in the mainstream press. David Pogue, late of the New York Times, wrote for Yahoo.com's Tech pages: "The Emperor Has No Clothes . . . Neil Young and the believers in high-res audio aren't fools, and their hearts are in the right place. But Pono's statement that 'Everyone who's ever heard PonoMusic will tell you that the difference is surprising and dramatic' is baloney" (footnote 1). "Neil Young's PonoPlayer sounds no better than an iPhone—no matter what the audiophiles say," wrote Seth Stevenson for Slate.

Do these writers really not grasp what Pono is about? And do they really hear no improvement in sound quality—not just with the Pono player in particular, but with high-resolution audio files in general?

As I read the reviews, I was struck by just how inadequate they were. I have been involved in audio for all of my 45-year working life—as a professional musician, a recording engineer, a record producer, a magazine editor, and a reviewer—yet I am well aware of how much I still have to learn. I don't understand how the mainstream media will use experts on sports to write about sports, experts on the visual arts to write about painting, experts on music to review concerts, etc.—but when it comes to audio, they commission articles from generalist technical writers.

Their listening tests were, in my opinion, incompetently designed, using naïve listeners, and the results didn't support the conclusions drawn. For example, some of the mainstream reviewers compared the Pono player with smartphones. However, the reviewers were confusing a test for preference, which is what they had performed, with a test for difference (footnote 2). As a result and not surprisingly, the listeners tended to prefer the sound with which they were most familiar; something I explored in my 2011 Richard C. Heyser Memorial Lecture to the Audio Engineering Society. And as Michael Lavorgna wrote, "people who aren't all that interested in the sound quality of the music they listen to are not all that interested in the sound quality of the music they listen to."

So what happened? Neil Young must bear part of the blame. As an outspoken critic of CD-quality sound and of MP3, Young was sticking a "kick me" sign on his back for these writers, none of whom had been bothered by the poor quality of these lower-resolution formats.

But also to be taken into account is the herd mentality of the typical mainstream writer. Fred Kaplan (footnote 3) wrote me that such writers always make fun of expensive hi-fi gear, while accepting as normal expensive cars, wines, auction prices for paintings, etc. Such writers don't question the market for $4000 place settings, $40,000 wristwatches, $400,000 cars, or $4 million houses, because such extravagance is supported by the advertising that appears in their publications. No, there is not a direct connection between ad revenue and what writers write, but the advertising for luxury goods other than audio confers on high prices a societal legitimacy—and no such legitimacy has been conferred on audio. Even with a $400 audio product—$400!—a mainstream commentator would be going into unexplored territory if he or she wrote positively about it, no matter how high the actual sound quality (footnote 4).

But I think the issue goes deeper than this. Mainstream technical writers tend to practice access journalism; in short, they describe what people say or do: Apple releases a new iPhone, Sony releases a 4k TV, Linksys releases a new router. By contrast, in accountability journalism, the writer judges what has been said or done. Audio magazines practice both kinds of journalism; show reports, for example, are access journalism, while reviews are accountability journalism. The first is straightforward; the second is not.

Much of what passes for accountability journalism on the Web is actually access journalism: a product is described and its functionality discussed, but it is neither judged nor put in its market context. The mainstream press's coverage of Pono is an example of access journalists venturing into accountability journalism without being equipped with the necessary tools (footnote 4). The sad reality is that, in my opinion, such writers just don't know enough to know how little they know about audio, or how much more they need to know in order to be able to write a responsible review of a genuinely superb audio product—such as the Pono Player.—John Atkinson



Footnote 1: Links to some of these reviews can be found in Michael Lavorgna's excellent essay on AudioStream.

Footnote 2: The writers seemed unaware that there is an entire scientific discipline devoted to designing blind tests that actually produce meaningful results, that such blind tests are complicated and time-consuming when the differences are small but nonetheless important. They seem to believe that merely the fact that a test is blind confers legitimacy on the results, which is just plain incorrect.

Footnote 3: Fred wrote an excellent defense of audiophiles and high-end audio for Slate.com.

Footnote 4: Jason Stoddard of Schiit Audio wrote an excellent essay on the mainstream's rejection of Pono.

COMMENTS
iosiP's picture

Never heard the Pono: it's flawed as a portable device (poor form) and sub-par as a standalone DAC.
So what are we talking about? The hi-res downloads? Well, if I can listen to my 2,000+ CD collection on my home rig and I can transfer it as WAV on my iPod Classic, why pay the money?

jumpupcalypso's picture

iosiP - you've never heard it, but it is flawed and substandard. You, my friend, are EXACTLY the problem.

iosiP's picture

The form factor is not what suits best in a pocket (ditto for "flawed") and even if I did not hear it I doubt it's better than my MSB The Analog DAC (ditto for "substandard"). So it gets a minus for portability and cannot compete with the best in standalone (non-portable) use. Anything else to prove?

jumpupcalypso's picture

The subject of the article is people in the press commenting on and judging the pono player using poorly designed tests. That is a problem. You posted that while you have never heard the pono player it is flawed and substandard. You exhibit the same behavior as the "journalists" that are the subject of the article. Therefore, you are EXACTLY the problem.
Your opinion is based on nothing but perception, no facts, no hands-on experience, yet you pronounce it flawed and substandard. You completely missed my original point. I'm not commenting on whether or not your assessment of the pono player is correct or not - I have never heard it and am not defending it. My point is that you have no basis to have a valid opinion since you have never heard it. In the same vein, some reviewers opinions, based on flawed, bad tests, are flawed and bad opinions. Everyone is allowed an opinion - the ones based in fact and hands-on experience are generally valid, and ones based on nothing more than perception (like yours), are worthless. Sorry to be so blunt. This is what our world is now - everyone expresses opinion based on nothing, no experience, no hands on knowledge, and act as if their opinion is fact.

iosiP's picture

I do not need to eat the whole egg to find out it's rotten!
You saw pictures of the Pono, do you really believe it's the best form factor for your shirt (or suit) pocket? You know what's inside, do you really believe it's a match for a standalone DAC?
Now please don't get me wrong: I would probably buy a Pono if it had another form factor, i.e. one that makes a portable device... well, portable, but given the current design I see little use for such a device: portable it is not and as a standalone DAC I doubt it can compete with the current SOTA.

Ktracho's picture

I am told Pono cannot function as a standalone DAC. It can only play songs that have been downloaded to it. I hope their next iteration will add this functionality, but for my needs, I cannot justify purchasing a player that cannot play music streaming from my computer.

Glotz's picture

Pure snobbery and jaded prejudice.

SnowmaNick's picture

Mr. Atkinson,

You raise some interesting questions, but I think you may be missing the points of some of the criticisms leveled at the Pono and high-end audio in general. For many people, the music matters more than a devices sound quality, if they even find time to listen. You are also potentially conflating high cost items with investments. And finally, the industries in question (both mass market and high-end audio as well as the record industry) seem to be following a path to their own destruction. Sales are down, and people are looking at devices and sources that are less expensive, require less commitment (technology's relentless march forward has increased the perception of obsolescence and the costs of committing to a format) so the industry has courted a smaller and smaller market with higher and higher priced goods. Trading market share and adoption for profit margins at the periphery of the market.

I agree that in general many people don't seem to be too bothered by the quality of their listening devices, even when the differences are apparent to them. I know many people who like music yet the only audio devices they own are: their car's OEM stereo, their phone, their computer/laptop/tablet, and/or TV. I have had many friends come over and be impressed by the audio quality at my home yet not feel compelled to do anything about theirs, irrespective of their income level.

That said, I think you may be missing as least some of the differences between high priced goods outside of audio and hi-fi gear. For example, while several of the items you mentioned serve a simple basic function (you live in a home, drive a car, drink wine) many of the extremely high priced goods are more investments than consumable goods. For example, look at the recent devaluation of the Russian Ruble and their high inflation rates and the increased purchasing of fine art and jewelry. These purchases are in many cases hedges against inflation and further devaluing of savings. The same can be said of people who invest in and store rare high dollar wines, real estate, and collectible cars. I have been around hi-fi audio for 25 years and am hard pressed to think of an audio product/brand that has appreciated the same way a Monet or classic Ferrari have. Can you? This could be why some of the "mainstream press" to use your words (which feel like a certain news channels proverbial strawman argument) don't write as often about high-priced items being worth it or not. Although a fair amount of ink has been used to cover the stratospheric prices of luxury goods, homes (such as the many new luxury apartment towers in your home city of NY), cars, lifestyles, and inequality in general.

Perhaps some of the general distaste you are picking up on in the "mainstream press" is less about if a difference exists but rather is it A) worth the additional $400 over a persons existing phone, and/or B) Why do we need to pony up $400 for a Pono when the technology inside it costs $50 for the manufacturer, and is bound to be replaced in 12-18 months(many cell phones are subsidized by the carrier with a plan or broken up into interest free monthly installment plans), and/or C)The high costs of downloads of Hi-Res music, in an industry struggling to sell music at any bit-rate/quality level. Shouldn't the industry be courting more of the market, not just increasing the prices to the few who still consume audio?

Sorry for the long post. I hope you had a pleasant flight home.

Nick Thompson
Denver, CO

Archimago's picture

Perhaps the most well thought out discussion incorporating the complexity of this topic.

Thank you for sharing!

Glotz's picture

Your claims seem needlessly pedantic and flawed as well. Consumers spend their expendable income on thousands of different things. If one values a great lawnmower or over a simple one, it has value. If a person values music more (and spends more time with it) than the average consumer, why wouldn't they see this as an investment to something that gives greater musical returns to them every day for many years? (And for an single brand that appreciates over time? Audio Research.)

It is lunacy to compare other goods to audio gear, whether wine, autos, whatever. It's all inflated bullshit based on rarity and desirability, rather than the time it takes to construct it. A piece of art cannot be compared to anything functional. It is comparable to a recorded piece of music and nothing else.

No one is forcing people to buy hi rez audio. Remind yourself that the reason your friends don't care about your audio system is because they don't care about music like you do. They don't see a value even if they are amazed. I have shown countless friends my system, and most are amazed, but not compelled to make it hobby, let alone purchase even slightly better gear than they already have. The only reason my friend boasts about the Burmeister audio system in his $120000 Mercedes is because it is expensive and he was told is was great. He has no interest in its musicality whatsoever.

Pono is an option for those that want to spend money on it that appreciate better sound versus their phones. Those that don't are not being forced to buy it. Strangely, most have rabid 'opinions' about Pono, and have no desire for better music. Most people that hate Pono, hate Neil Young and nothing else.

SnowmaNick's picture

You are making the same points I am.

In regards to "It is lunacy to compare other goods to audio gear, whether wine, autos, whatever."

My pointing out the cost/value of other items was strictly due to JA's comments that "Fred Kaplan (footnote 3) wrote me that such writers always make fun of expensive hi-fi gear, while accepting as normal expensive cars, wines, auction prices for paintings, etc." I was replying that many of those same items have a financial investment aspect (which is the part that can be compared) that audio simply does not have. A classic Ferrari can appreciate, the same with rare wine, art, etc. By and large, audio doesn't. If you actually read what I was saying, I mentioned these were flawed comparisons to high end audio. In fact that was in the title of my post.

As to the people I know that don't invest in higher quality audio gear, you seem to be saying the same things I am...? Even when/if they are impressed, it is not enough to motivate them to buy better gear. I do not see why I need to "remind myself" of this when I was the one pointing it out?

Glotz's picture

The article was focused on why music listeners don't see value in getting closer to music, not its financial return on investment over time. You focused on investment aspect, giving examples of the ruble, which comes off as reaching in my opinion. Most consumers of fine art, autos and audio love those things and want to embrace their possessions on a regular basis, whether it's a house, a car, or an audio system.

Do visitors to your home audio system focus on its financial appreciation versus its musical enjoyment? I can only see them saying 'Cool- I don't care about music', not 'well, how does it value over time?'.

We both know there is huge value in investing in audio components with their typically long lifespan, and massive return on daily enjoyment. 99% of audiophiles know their systems will last 10 or more years, which is really great value compared to the crap sold at typical retailers. Any casual music listener would be well served by an entry level system over the junk they currently own, as it would last longer and provide greater connection to music. Most consumers have already 'invested' in an HD television for similar reasons visually.

I was not implying you hated Neil Young, but many others that post here.

SnowmaNick's picture

You are cherry picking items and distorting what I said, and I am assuming it's intentional. JA pointed out that some high priced items do not get the same disdain as high priced audio. I replied to him, pointing out that some high priced items are investments for their purchasers, which made it a poor item to compare audio to. The Russian currency devaluation was an illustration of my point that not all people buying high priced items are buying for aesthetic or personal enjoyment. You then came along and claimed that I was comparing these items to high end audio and that they were a poor comparison. You ignored JA's comment, the title of my post, and what I actually said. Impressive.

Next you said that not all people put the same value on high quality audio reproduction, which is what I said as well. Now you are spinning your wheels on some other tangent of something I did not say nor imply. Why? Maybe you just enjoy being a contrarian, who knows and who cares?

As for the value of (non-financial) investing, it is up to the individual to determine if the pleasure they receive from a better audio system is up to them. In the case of Pono, it doesn't appear that many of the general public are finding sufficient value in any potential differences or improvements over their existing equipment to part with their hard earned cash. That they would need to keep investing even more money for the outrageous costs of hi res downloads may be another factor working against NY/Pono.

Glotz's picture

I never spin my wheels and I keep to the subject at hand. Discussing valuation and appreciation of financial investment without regards to audio (which is the nature of the magazine and the article), is spinning one's wheels. It may not be off-topic, but I do not agree with your insights, as an audio investment is a very different realm of investment than those you spoke of. People use the product daily, and with wear and tear, age and breakdown of the internal parts all push the world of audio into its own realm, not one of pure financial investment, such as piece of art or real estate where inflated valuation is a result of demand and market fluctuation. There is nothing contrarian in denying your statements here whatsoever. They have little basis in audio, yet you ask readers to name an audio product that appreciates over time. Clearly you are looking for a basis to justify your claims to the investment world.

The Pono Player is a far greater investment return than the AK100 from Astell & Kern, and the review supports its value. If you or others don't want to attain better sound while traveling or in the office, that's up to you. There are millions of products well-off consumers spend their expendable income on with little usage outside of a once-a-year scenario, where return on investment is never realized. In the world of audio, there is no quantifiable value to be place on musical enjoyment, whereas in spending for investment can be quantified.

Because most average consumers believe the tripe on the internet as gospel, they disbelieve that there is any value in spending a slightly larger sum for a better mobile audio playback unit. For the cost of a few dozen recordings, or the cost of 2 months of internet & cable service, one can own technology from Ayre and have media streaming capabilities, both in their home and while traveling.

dalethorn's picture

I know something about audio, but I don't pretend to be an expert - certainly not a professional. However as I read more about the Pono from music lovers who use it, I get a sense of the "magic" they're experiencing by reading between the lines. I've had some of those moments, and the difference can be as minimal as a better copy of one music track out of 10, or a DAC that has less of the un-musical distortions, even if it has more of the musically-passable distortions. One analogy that comes to mind is in photography - I have a new 12 mp Panasonic camera that replaces last year's 18 mp model, and though they are essentially identical the 12 mp model makes obviously better images. It's not the pixel count in that case, it's the pixel quality, and there is nothing intuitive about it to most people. But back to music players - dedicated music players on average are better than iPhones, for the simple reason that it's their raison d'etre - the phone is a phone and its music player, while very good for what it is, is a lesser matter in the overall scheme. Knowing that dedicated music players are better on average, what makes me think that the Pono is better - sight unseen and unheard? Because it's Pono's reason-to-be, and unless Neil Young is just scamming or playing a joke on people (very unlikely), I give him a thumb's up and may even order one for myself.

jimtavegia's picture

If sound quality doesn't matter to you, then please don't take your bias and write about it. What is the point? And, if sound quality doesn't matter you have probably not bought some decent earbuds to go with your "musical phone" in order to hear more. I can tell you that I have really enjoyed my AKG 701 headphones, but for all of $99 my new Shure SE-215s are great and they are not even close to the best ones they offer, but at least I'm giving my portable devices a chance to improve my enjoyment. If music is just background, I guess it doesn't matter, but don't write about a high resolution player and complain that it is the same as your phone using bad earbuds. Most people who care know better and can see through a misstatement.

I will never own any of the gear that JA reviews, but for me to say that it sounds no better than the gear in MY home, only exposes me for a lack of understanding and discernment. That makes me the problem, not the other way around, and I have no business trying to influence others. It would certainly make me NO expert.

Glotz's picture

Your statement about discernment is key! How can anyone value one thing over another without choices to compare honestly? Every time we lie to ourselves about the truth, we cheat ourselves from future improvement and greatness.

Another person I am grateful for on this and Michael's site.

beeface's picture

This is a considered, well thought out piece, JA. Which raises another point: it's time to put Fremer on a leash, for the sake of Stereophile's dignity.

Michael Fremer's picture

ARF ARF

tonykaz's picture

You must be a pure Analytical type not to understand what's going on with Pono.
Maybe you're pal Jonathan Scull can explain it to you.
Or, maybe, ponder how the Pono would be received if Qunicy Jones were the Poster Child instead of N.Y. who looks like a Cab driver when he shows up.
People talk of CSN not CSNY, ever wonder why that is?

Good luck with your snow,

Its round 60F here in the Frozen North, (oxymorons are lovely)

Tony in Michigan

Osgood Crinkly III's picture

One can't evaluate the sound of anything on a plane. There's too much noise.

John Atkinson's picture
The pilot turned off the engines in the quiet passages :-)

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

jimtavegia's picture

The audiophile's dream. lol

bernardperu's picture

As far as the pono goes, neil young is a bullshi##er and charlie hansen is awesome.

Pono is on the mainstream media because of neil young. If he had used hansen's pono discourse, then, the media may have respected the pono. Unfortunately, the mainstream media cannot disconnect the pono from young.

I own the pono. It is an awesome device. But i am an audiophile who prefers the pono in balanced mode. Thank you hansen for the pono and your honesty. And thank you young for the your great music that far surpasses your very poor business ethics which tested the pono on a moving vehicle and never addressed the actual quality of the recording.

spacehound's picture

We are 'philes' or we wouldn't be here.

The Pono, the iPhone, etc. are about as relevant to us as a lawnmower, whether we have heard them or not.

We are also not usually teenagers. We don't walk about with phones stuck in our ears, making us look stupid and/or getting ourselves squashed by a truck.

So they are irrelevant on that score too.

And a car/plane environment is too noisy, has too many irritating minor distractions like 'safety', cattle food, etc, for us to notice any difference.

dalethorn's picture

'Philes? One of my first headphones was a Stax, followed by numerous speakers listed by Stereophile, followed by numerous headphones listed by Stereophile. That's who we are, us 'philes.

spacehound's picture

Not a 'real' word I suppose, but as an 'Audiophile' is someone who is interested in the finer points of audio or a 'Francophile' is someone who likes France. It's the opposite of 'phobe'

Nothing to do with headphones as such. Many people buy good ones to replace what usually comes with iPods and the like. Or they may prefer headphones to speakers.

But it has nothing to do with 'source to ear' quality overall, just improves the last section, as a 24/192 file will improve the first (so many say).

But these Ponos and stuff are just 'cheap' audio. Not 'bad' but not up to our usual home installation so not usually our concern. And often used in non-ideal situations so a difference is less noticeable than in the expensive stuff which we use at home. And if you can't hear the difference between that and a Pono you are wasting your money on both. You certainly won't notice the difference between a 16/44 file and a 24/192 file if you can't already do that.

dalethorn's picture

So given the downturn in stores and the surge in shows, what do you think about the future, especially for portable players? I'm thinking about the next generations of young people, and particularly those who use Pono's and the like as the core of their (possibly) audiophile systems. I watched (and participated) as big desktop computers turned to luggables, then heavy laptops, light laptops, tablets, etc. Any reason the audiophile market won't proceed the same way, and maintain audiophile sound quality at least at a reasonable level?

John Atkinson's picture
spacehound wrote:
We are 'philes' or we wouldn't be here.

The Pono, the iPhone, etc. are about as relevant to us as a lawnmower, whether we have heard them or not.

Did you not read my review. Hooked up to a pair of Audioengine powered speakers, the PonoPlayer is the least-expensive means of assembling a true high-end, high-resolution audio system I have encountered. And if you haven't heard the PonoPlayer, why would you believe your opinion has any relevance to others?

spacehound wrote:
a car/plane environment is too noisy, has too many irritating minor distractions like 'safety', cattle food, etc, for us to notice any difference.

I was reporting my experience, and yes, I was surprised that I found that experience as compelling I did under those circumstances compared with my iPod.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

spacehound's picture

WHERE did I say the Pono wasn't any good or wasn't 'HiFi'? So your "Why would you believe your opinion has any relevance to others?" is invalid. I haven't GOT an opinion about the Pono sound quality.

My point, which I have been careful to stick to, is that it has failed in the marketplace, of which we 'HiFi enthusiasts' are a tiny, vanishingly small, part and most of us won't buy it either, little battery powered portable boxes are not usually our 'thing' and anyone who says they are are deluding themselves.

Vehicles? A poor environment for good sound quality. So small, too noisy. This applies to both aircraft large and small, and cars.

pango's picture

Why should anyone trust an Audiophiles "word" that HD Audio sounds obviously better? "Deeper soundstage, blacker blacks, each instrument in clearly defined space" etc. I have spent 20+ year in computer graphics marketing and something as obvious (to us who make GPUs) as the need for 32-bit rendering over 16-bit rendering took years and tons of side by side images. An example of the difference in rendering 16 vs 32 bit is http://nullcandy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/ColourComparison1.png - look for the banding folks. Indisputable difference. OK that's a graphics example so how are the audiophile experts making it that easy for consumers? Articles and opinions? Just listen to the HD version? Consumers want and require side:side proof not opinions

Point me to a single article where a consumer is told to download 4 different songs with 3 files to download from iTunes "MP3", a lossless CD RIP and HDtracks 24/96 of the exact same song and tell people exactly (2:11) where they should listen and what they should be listening for between the 3 versions. Since the HDtracks version comes in as a $$ buy that difference should be obvious to any open minded consumer, right? I'm not the only buyer of HDtracks content that feels I've been ripped off when listening to my CD version and then the $$ HDtracks download. By the way if your response is the consumer needs to spend another $5,000 on equipment or $500 headphones to hear that difference - you've lost.

Before someone complains that I don't count as a consumer - they are right. I'm 50. My system is not "consumer" but fairly decent: Digital: Apple Macbook > Audirvana Plus > Benchmark DAC2 HGC > ML No. 383 > Revel Studio 2's. All balanced interconnects. Analog: VPI Scout TT with Sumiko Blackbird > PS Audio GCPH > ML

Show me

dalethorn's picture

I agree on CD versus HDTracks, at least for some albums like the latest release of "Layla" they're charging several times the price of the CD for. I don't think it's any different. But iTunes 256 kbps? Yikes! Besides the compression artifacts, they have occasional noises that aren't even in the masters. There are things iTunes does right BTW - 90 second samples is extremely helpful, and offering samples of each copy of a song from the different albums is even moreso, given the sometimes huge difference in quality between those samples.

spacehound's picture

All this 'blacker blacks, deep soundstage', whatever, is all 'wine taster' crap anyway.

You can prove it. We alter things or buy specific dacs etc. to get the sound we 'like'. Nothing to do with 'HiFi' at all.

If they had a clue the $200,000 Naim Statement and the $200,000 Kondo Ongaku would sound identical.

RBrooks's picture

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

Four tracks available for free download - WAV files
All offered in 16/44.1, 24/96,and 24/192

www.channelclassics.com

Free download available in 44.1,96,192 kHz and DSD
This download is a FLAC file

pango's picture

Good start - (found the multiple file link) : http://www.soundkeeperrecordings.com/format.htm

Ok 3 file formats I can buy. CD, 24/96 and 24/192 (no Apple iTunes though, or is there?) - but which track, at what time stamp and what am I going to hear ?

not consumer friendly to drop $15 CD + $35 24/96 + $45 24/192 = $95 + S&H to listen.

So what www site has written this up with listening notes? Are you listening Stereophile? This is consumer marketing 101 - Pono failed at this horribly.

pango's picture

How do you prove it with wine?

you pour 3 glasses, wait and taste.

I'm asking for 3 files and tasting notes. I hope $200,000 systems are not a requirement :-)

At what price point should a consumer hear the difference in this test?

$500, $5,000, $50,000, $500,000

(Hint consumers don't buy many $50,000+ systems :-)

spacehound's picture

The more money you spend the closer systems should sound to each other. All of the others would be wrong otherwise. (The 'best' one may be wrong too of course.)

SnowmaNick's picture

Some very interesting, and relevant, research done on wine by Stanford's Baba Shiv using an fMRI. It's easy to find if you Google his name and wine.

spacehound's picture

Who cares? I'm older than that and 'young' is a period everyone goes though. Like tadpoles.

The 'young' is a 'modern weirdness' that's all. They didn't exist as a separate distinct group when I was one of them.

dalethorn's picture

I wasn't thinking about what the standard is going to be in student dorms in the year 2030 (coming sooner than you think), I was asking about how the portable electronics revolution is going to change what's available to you in the future, and what prices are going to be like on desktop audiophile gear, if any still exists then.

spacehound's picture

Neither me or you have a clue.

Just look at the 1950s 'spaceships of the future' stuff. or a fifteen year old hifi magazines.

Clarke and Kubrick didn't even anticipate the mobile phone in '2001'. The guy had to us a kiosk!

dalethorn's picture

Oh, I don't think so at all. Once, at a summer camp for kids in 1961, I laid out my future in detail for some of the other kids and my counselor - I expected that someday I would be able to select the music I wanted to listen to by merely speaking the name of the song and artist, or even describe what I wanted to hear without having to name it, and so on. There are additional things on the way that pros have had for a long time (improvised) that consumers haven't had, but we will have in the near future. I bought my first computer in early 1975 - a pocket computer which cost $800 then, or about $4000 in 2015 dollars. I've had well over a hundred portable computers in those 40 years, and just as many stereo devices. My first digital player was the Diamond Rio in 1998, and I dedicated a lot of time to ripping CDs for it. It had removable media, so in a sense it had unlimited memory. There is so much more to this that people can't imagine, for example that Amazon and other box pushers will eventually lose most of their current business because we will 3D-print most stuff at home. But back to audio - I'm happy to see Pono et al taking a sidestep for quality at an affordable price - at the very least putting people's attention on it.

f3rdgill's picture

Look, if you can hear a difference using a Pono, then it is possibly the cheapest way to have portable sound that meets your needs. Of you can't then it is a waste of money. This applies go most things in life. So if you hear no difference then stick with your smart phone, but do not have a go at those of us who want something different. I think that a large part of the problem is insecurity, if I cannot appreciate this then it must be a con. Just accept that different folks lime different strokes.

mink70's picture

I've been an audiophile for almost thirty years and also happen to work as a sommelier. Both wine and perfectionist audio tend to invite ridicule from people who don't care about them, yet somehow feel the need to announce their opinions in public. They tend to criticize both wine and audio for being snobbish, overpriced, and most of all, dishonest—marketed to deluded fanatics who can't actually taste, or hear, what they claim. Likewise, mainstream journalists love to trumpet in print about blind tastings and blind listening tests that prove that the so-called experts are full of it, and that there's no difference in quality between, say, an $8 Malbec from Chile and a $1800 bottle of Richebourg. And you know what—a person who doesn't care about wine will usually prefer the darker, stronger-flavored, more alcoholic Malbec. The haunting, delicate aromas and complex flavors of the Richebourg will probably come across as muted and tart in comparison. Unless, of course, you care deeply about wine.

To paraphrase Michael Lavorgna, if you don't care about these things, well, you don't care about them. But if that's you, then, with respect, please realize that your opinions about them are neither informed nor deserving of being aired in public.

For what it's worth, I own the Pono Player and have found it to be great sounding and ridiculously great at making listening fun and emotionally engaging. Bravo Charlie Hansen!

chrisheinonen's picture

It seems that almost all of these pieces now have a similarity to them. The mainstream press writes something about Pono, and then the audiophile press writes something about how whatever the mainstream press said was wrong, or how their test was structured incorrectly, or something similar. And in the end it always tries to push the problem onto the people that were listening to Pono, instead of placing lots of the blame on Pono itself.

Saying that people need to be trained how to listen to hear the differences in HiRes music don't help with mainstream adoption. No one told people they needed to learn to look at HDTV differently, they just saw a difference. Or to the earlier commenter that upgraded their camera to one with fewer megapixels, but a larger sensor that produces better image quality: Did you have to learn to see the difference? Or did you look at a picture on screen or a print and see it? Telling people that they need to relearn how to listen doesn't exactly invite people into this realm, it pushes them away.

The comparisons to other luxury goods don't help either. If you show me a $400,000 car and a $25,000 car, I know the difference without having to relearn how to drive. If you show me a $4,000,000 home and a $400,000 home I'm also going to see the difference without needing to relearn something. Even if Pono is only $400, you're asking people to buy something, a digital music player, that they already have in their pocket. Then they're listening, not hearing a difference, and we're judging them for not wanting to spend an extra $400 on something they don't think is any better than what they own.

Comments about kids walking everywhere with their earbuds in and looking stupid don't help either. That's what I did when I had to commute to work for a decade because I love listening to music. It didn't matter if it was an mp3 or a lossless rip, I just love music. You have a whole generation of people listening to music all the time, more than we ever did growing up, and now we're calling them names and mocking them because of it?

If Pono fails, it's because Pono isn't offering people a reason to spend $400 more for something they already have. Not because people can't listen correctly. Beats have shown that people will pay hundreds of dollars for a piece of HiFi gear, even if it's not what we would buy. But Beats managed to make a case in that they sound better than the earbuds you got for free, and they were stylish. Pono hasn't been able to show the general public (who is reading these pieces, not audiophiles) that there is a reason to spend an extra $400 for it. It certainly isn't a style statement either. Perhaps HiRes will take off one day, though I don't know that it ever will, but we need to stop telling the general consumer they're wrong because they don't love it because they aren't.

SnowmaNick's picture

Excellent post.

spacehound's picture

Except for "(various things)....don't help either"

Since when were you or me (or JA) paid to help Pono?

chrisheinonen's picture

I'm sure it's not JA's job either. My job, as someone that reviews AV equipment for a living, is to help people get more enjoyment from their music. For most of the people I write for, that means that the Pono isn't for them. They don't have a large collection of HiRes audio, they probably aren't going to start getting one, and spending $400 on Pono doesn't make much sense.

For audiophiles who want a really nice DAC and a way to take some music with them it can work well. But Pono is clearly aiming towards a general consumer market as well. They ran a Kickstarter, appeared on Letterman promoting it, and ran videos with all sorts of musicians raving about it. Then it comes out, the general public can't hear a difference, much less one they want to spend $400 on, and the audiophile press tries to shift the blame from Pono to the new consumer that they were targeting.

I'm really unconcerned with Pono succeeding or failing as I'm not emotionally or financially invested in them. I am concerned with things that push people away from finding equipment that help them enjoy their music. If the reason that they don't hear a difference with Pono is their fault and they don't feel welcome, it doesn't bode well for anyone going forward. So instead of blaming the mainstream press and mainstream listeners for not seeing $400 of value in Pono, figure out what went wrong to not create that value. Asking people to pay $400 for something they really already have in their pocket is a hard sell.

If Pono hadn't tried to go after the general consumer market, they probably would never have picked it up, reviewed it, and written about it. But they did, they didn't hear anything they'd pay $400 for, and then everyone tried to tell them they were wrong.

Archimago's picture

"Saying that people need to be trained how to listen to hear the differences in HiRes music don't help with mainstream adoption. No one told people they needed to learn to look at HDTV differently, they just saw a difference. Or to the earlier commenter that upgraded their camera to one with fewer megapixels, but a larger sensor that produces better image quality: Did you have to learn to see the difference? Or did you look at a picture on screen or a print and see it? Telling people that they need to relearn how to listen doesn't exactly invite people into this realm, it pushes them away."

Exactly!

I have no problem with the PONO Player. Not my cup of tea but I'm happy for anyone who finds it a good unit. Sure, the DAC, analogue output, and headphone amp could sound better than an iPod with good headphones.

The issue IMO is about "high-resolution" music. That is the real problem for the PONO ecosystem because that was their thrust. They are asking people to pay for downloads which are in essence *subtle* at best compared to the same mastering downsampled to CD resolution especially in the context of mobile audio. To make matters worse, Neil Young through his promotional appearances and ads with celebrities make it out to sound *much* more than it really is (subtle at best with good quality gear).

Failure of hype which obviously rings false to everyone who has ever listened to DVD-A or downloaded from HDTracks and compared to a 16/44 downsample in the last decade. To make matters worse, we now see that the majority of PONO music store is CD-quality anyway (again, not a surprise).

How I wish NY had the foresight to focus on production and mastering quality rather than spout his numbers game. As if 24/192 was ever the panacea for bad sounding recordings. He could have at least used his star-power to promote an improvement in sound quality that way. I find it disappointing that Stereophile et al. doesn't spend more time discussing this basic deficit and critically discuss this. Is it any surprise then that readers become disappointed and cynical?

John Atkinson's picture
Archimago wrote:
How I wish NY had the foresight to focus on production and mastering quality...I find it disappointing that Stereophile et al. doesn't spend more time discussing this basic deficit and critically discuss this.

We have written extensively in Stereophile for more than 10 years on the Loudness Wars and I have given seminars and demonstrations of the problem at audio shows, dealer events, and AES conventions. Most recently I mentioned it in my review of the PonoPlayer. So while I agree that a poor recording sampled at up to 192kHz remains a poor recording, I think it you're incorrect to accuse Stereophile of not writing enough about this matter.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

kursten's picture

The world is full of idiots who are eager to defecate on things they don't even begin to understand. The uninformed feel better when they criticize what they don't understand as it's more comfortable than acknowledging that they actually don't understand a subject. Nobody admits to ignorance anymore, no matter what the topic. It's as though they're expected to understand everything on the internet, since (nearly) all information is instantly accessible. So, now we have uninformed 'experts' everywhere, like Mario Aguilar at Gizmodo, spewing their aggressive stupidity all over the internet. In the past, they've said the same thing about high-end cables and I'm sure they were saying the same thing about hi-fi speakers before that. These are the same dullards who said 4K was useless because you can't tell the difference between it and 1080p. Never mind that humans actually see the world in roughly 32k per eye.

As I see it, there have always been idiots, they're just more visible now thanks to social media and the proliferation of online media. The volume of their voices or the reach of their audience says nothing about the validity of their claims. Just look at the anti-vaccine crowd. They're just as vehemently opposed to vaccines as Mr. Aguilar is to hi-res audio and for similar reasons. One over-publicized study that has been roundly rejected by the experts in that field, yet is heralded as the gospel by the dolts who refuse to look any further.

Archimago's picture

There are about 6-7 million cones in the retina. That's TOTAL; with a certain percentage dedicated to R, G, and B.

4K is about 8 million pixels; each of which can show the 3 primary colors.

What do you mean the eye sees 32K? Source?

monetschemist's picture

Wow, here is a personal audio player that costs $400 and that gets very positive reviews from experienced and well-known reviewers like John Atkinson, Michael Lavorgna, Tyll Herstens...

And it generates nasty comments from people who think spending $500+ on a phone is a wise thing to do. Or upgrading their $500+ phone every time their favourite manufacturer comes out with a new model. And we are bothered by such comments, made by such deep thinkers? Really?

Really?

Mr. Atkinson, perhaps next April 1 you could publish a review of the iPhone 7 (or whatever it is going to be next year) in Stereophile complaining that only an idiot would buy a computer with a 5" screen and no keyboard and only 32Gb of storage for $500 when a person can get a decent laptop from Dell, including webcam and Skype, for the same price.

About as useful and informative as the Pono articles in Gizmodo et al.

Kind of makes me want to buy a Pono just to spite Gizmodo.

moviebluedog's picture

I really enjoyed John's article because it hit home with me. I really dislike "critics" who bash something like the Pono without any understanding what it is trying to achieve. I have not heard the Pono yet, but I have heard other Ayre products and they are stunning. Charles Hanson is brilliant and I admire Neil Young for trying to bring high quality music to the masses.

These "critics" settle for mediocre sound quality. That's okay. If a person enjoys watching big screen movies on an iPhone, or enjoys listening to music on tiny speakers, that's fine. But as a critic or writer, don't speak from your lack of audio experience. Don't trash a product of which you know little about. Don't trash audiophiles for their love of fine sound.

John's point about critics and expensive place settings and watches was spot on. I have been amazed with people who criticize the expense of high-end audio. They will drive a $90,000 Porsche, but will own an expensive Bose speaker soundbar and think they're listening to high-end sound.

If anything, those uneducated critics share something with a lot people; their perception of high-end audio. They say, to some degree, that our passion for fine audio and music is too expensive. Again, they're misinformed, but they do have a minor point. The audio industry, in general, has created this monster of "you can only get great sound from very expensive components." Totally not true! A person can build a nice sounding audio system for under $1500.00 these days. But does the regular buyer out there know that?

Higher end audio is finally coming back to the masses at very reasonable prices. I think Pono is an excellent idea.

(But I do want Pono Music to offer only real high definition downloads for sale, not 16-bit recordings in some cases).

Osgood Crinkly III's picture

Love that picture.

spacehound's picture

It's not the wine, it's the pretentious crap that is talked about it. Just what IS the taste of

"Fresh rain on stones" anyway?

Such things almost DEMAND ridicule. And, with respect, so does 'Sommelier' It's just a place you EAT and maybe drink. Not rocket science.

All out of fermented grapes which is all the stuff is. Red or white is all that's required though they of course vary a little. ODD HOW THE 'BEST' ONES ARE ALWAYS THE MOST EXPENSIVE.

And audio is the same. Written by guys paid to fill magazines, online or paper, merely so we can see the advertisements, which is the REAL reason why such magazines exist.

The Pono? A marketing and sales disaster whether YOU like it or not. Call it the audio DeLorean.

Just buy whatever you like if you can afford it, and tell us about it. That's the interesting part. And try and avoid nonsense like 'image height'. That's just the room. 'Arguing' about whether a box is any good or not or what it 'means' is totally futile.

What do I buy? Whatever I fancy or like the label. Wine, cars, and audio. Don't care about the price. Currently Walmart, Naim, and Mercedes, all their 'mid range'.

But I agree with Moviebluedog. Going to an 'interested' dealer who has a clue will get you much better sound for your money, regardless of how much money you have to spend.

John Atkinson's picture
spacehound wrote:
All out of fermented grapes which is all the stuff is. Red or white is all that's required though they of course vary a little. ODD HOW THE 'BEST' ONES ARE ALWAYS THE MOST EXPENSIVE.

Actually, that's not true about wine. And in the case of the Pono, it is not expensive at all, as I wrote in this essay and reiterated in another posting to this thread this morning.

spacehound wrote:
And audio is the same. Written by guys paid to fill magazines, online or paper, merely so we can see the advertisements, which is the REAL reason why such magazines exist.

Cynical much? But if that's what you believe, why do you read Stereophile, let alone subscribe to it?

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

spacehound's picture

But they both vanished into space apparently.

Read Stereophile? Because HiFi News has almost vanished from the British High Street.

John Atkinson's picture
spacehound wrote:
I have tried to reply. Twice. But they both vanished into space apparently.

As administrator I checked the comments log and there is no trace of you having posted any comments today other than this one and the one you posted about people not being paid to promote Pono.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

mink70's picture

Hey, spacehog, you obviously don't care or know much about wine, so why come here and air your opinions about it? For one, as JA pointed out, these opinions contain no facts—the best wines (whatever that means) are not always the most expensive, not by a long shot. And pretentious tasting notes are not something most wine lovers read or care about. No one is forcing you to spend money on expensive wine, but obviously it rubs you the wrong way you that other people might choose to.

Doesn't it irk your basic humility to opine on something you have no knowledge or curiosity about? The most mendacious tendency among the public these days is the failure to acknowledge that an objective authority might exist outside their own opinions, opinions that people can now express online without end. So, because of people who do what you do, we have fake news that take nations to war, fake science that denies global warming, fake political initiatives that impoverish the very people who vote for them, and fake expertise about just about everything else.

spacehound's picture

Lots of it, at home and in restaurants, some expensive.

We don't care how much or little it costs and we have never seen a 'sommelier' who is "A court official charged with the transportation of supplies", not that I'm getting at him, it's the whole wine thing. Maybe less pretentious in the USA than here, though I doubt it.

The 'experts' in France are the worlds wine people. I suspect they don't drink water at all

They don't make a fuss about it , they just pour it down their necks, as do we.

Who cares? I admit I made the comparison as wine writers nonsense words are very similar to some hifi reviewers nonsense words, (and for no other reason, I merely drink the stuff) but it's all off topic.

spacehound's picture

Twice. Honest.

And I'm been doing computers for nigh on 50 years.

But I'm not a conspiracy theorist so you can relax :)

Briefly

It isn't aimed at us.
Most of us aren't going to buy it.
It has failed in the market it was aimed at.

Realism not cynicism.

CJW's picture

I do not have problem with the Pono player and its price but what I do have a problem with is the price of hi-resolution files. Why do hi-res files cost more than a standard 256kb mp3’s or even a CD? I can only assume a hi-res file cost no more to produce that a 256kb mp3 since the original audio is recorded some sort of hi-res format and than compressed into the fomat that become available to the consumer. With the advent of streaming music, asking people to pay a significant amount more for a hi-res album puts products such as the Pono player at a disadvantage, esspeically when trying to widen the consumer base.
One can make the argument that HD movie files cost more than non HD movie files but the price ratio is often less than mp3’s to hi-res audio. The quality difference between HD and non-HD is also more easily apparent than a high quality mp3 to hi-res.
$400 is not a terrable amount of money for a high qaulity audio player. But the audio ecosytem it promotes is prohibitively expensive when compared to other service offerings, esspecially when trying to attact new generations of music listeners.
HD movie files cost more than non HD movie files but the price difference is often less than mp3’s to hi-res audio. The quality difference between HD and non-HD is also more easily apparent than a high quality mp3 to hi-res.

iosiP's picture

As I wrote before:
- the Pono is not the best choice for portable use (lousy form factor);
- the Pono is not the best choice for stationary use (limited connectivity etc.)
Now think that Chord issued their (portable) Hugo and then a special version with better connectivity and larger footprint for use in home systems... because they know these are different markets. Well, the manufacturers of the Pono don't!

corrective_unconscious's picture

I think part of the controversy over the Pono arises from its trying to appeal to a general market, like iPod users, and an audiophile/hi rez market. In light of this it will be interesting to see how the similar, moderately priced, but hi rez capable, Sony devices do, after allowing for Sony's far greater marketing budget and saturation. Will they pull people away from just using their smartphones for portable music in numbers? I sort of doubt it.

David Pogue is not just a mass market reviewer of tech stuff. He started as a Broadway composer, I believe, although of how much note I don't know, and he is certainly familiar with midi and production issues from way back. I think he would be an excellent person for Sphile to interview for the print edition, maybe touching on his more extended thoughts about Pono (or pricey A&K devices) and about his attitudes towards high end and hi rez audio and about his music background. I don't think he's a totally unqualified fool like you might find at, say, slate, or even at one of the online only audiophile review sites....

I suspect Pogue just isn't crazy about the cost to benefit of hi rez files for portable use, period, and I bet like a lot of musicians he doesn't even care that much about hi rez or particularly audiophile reproduction in his home.

jimtavegia's picture

Audiophiles just need enough to keep the pipe-line of media and gear coming for us to enjoy. Ask any Preachers how tough it is to gain the masses attention. Brick and mortar stores could not get enough people to show up as they would rather spend $600 on a phone or a new Apple watch. The sales of this watch will prove interesting. Is it more bling or something that really has use? Most audiophiles expect more when they look to improve their audio experience and often the improvement of high definition media is more apparent than a a model up gear purchase. My 2496, 24/192, and SACDs has allowed me to hear more and make my gear sound better, or I should say made the experience better. Even middle of the road gear can make obvious the sonic improvements of a native 2496 file, or better, or the lastest 180 gram pressing. You just have to care about such things and 95% of people do not. That does not bother me, but when those same people who don't get it or don't even try hard enough to get it, give their "expert opinion", that does bother me. It is a problem the media has had for the last 20 years and it seems to get worse. So when a pub like Stereophile comes along that seems truthful to me, I have to cherish it as it fulfills a need for my hobby. Eveyone should be glad that a portable player like Pono is LESS that most phones today. I know, people tell me they got a "free phone", but we all know that "free" cost some money every month.

dalethorn's picture

I find the Pono player reasonably priced, given what it is and that a better outer case (say, Chinese-made stainless steel) isn't being promoted for say, $1500. Oops, did I say $1500 for a Pono with a stainless steel case? Ridiculous, isn't it? But not with the Apple watch. First, all versions of the Apple watch are identical under the skin. The basic aluminum case and plastic-band model is $350, and to get a stainless steel case and band will cost you between $650 and $750 *extra* - i.e. $1000 to $1100.

So for me, I like Pono better already, as they haven't insulted my intelligence, despite the design for "super high resolution", or whatever buzzword offends the audiophile masses.

Glotz's picture

Every day people spend premiums on Apple gear and pretend it is of the highest quality. It is largely inflated Chinese crap. Most consumers are blind to anything they don't want to see... or hear.

C59's picture

I appreciate the various posts that contribute to healthy discussions and sharing of information. I agree that everyone is entitled to opinions; the better ones are those that come from individuals knowledgeable with the material / topic being discussed. And therein lies a challenge: what constitutes being knowledgeable? And does is require a certain level of open-mindedness when reading through opinion pieces?

Audio, obviously, has a special place amongst various individuals, be it those that have a technical understanding of equipment (audio and electrical pulses, spectrum, etc.) or appreciation for the technical aspects of music (musical notes, keys, chords, scales, etc.). Formal training and education in the aforementioned certainly constitutes a strong level of understanding and categorization of being "knowledgeable"; however, there are also those that develop and hold a strong understanding of both without formal training. While both are knowledgeable of the subject, a greater trust is placed in those that have the formal training (right or wrong).

All that said, it's hard to not take reviewer's opinions with a grain or even a chunk of salt if they are not clear in what exactly they are rating and why. Form is one thing; technical performance is another. I'm not sure how many "experts" have formal training in science or music, but it becomes clearer as one reads through a review. Or was that an opinion piece?!

DeeCee3's picture

In this age of convenience, I think the general or average consumer puts to much stock in multi tasking their portable electronics. I know from experience by the time I put the music I want onto my 32gb iPhone 5 (not even hi Rez) then the multitude of photos, emails etc etc I then get asked to update to iOS 999.99 and viola, time to start deleting to make room. Maybe the the I camera, I phone, I pod device does all these things to an acceptable level, but not a great one.
And let's not talk about battery life...... Or the fact that I do like the option of hi Rez on a portable player easily...
Maybe the pono 2.0 won't be shaped like a toblerone bar and all will be well in the world

spacehound's picture

Nor does what JA or the other guy think

The Pono is NOT aimed at us.

MOST OF US WON'T BUY ONE.

We buy big fancy turntables, speakers, amps, dacs, streamers etc. Not little boxes we carry around with us.

It has failed in the marketplace it IS aimed at.
As most of us would not buy it why should we care?

What do I think of it? It's fine, I'm sure. So are radio controlled model cars and expresso coffee machines. So what?

Glotz's picture

Wouldn't you like great $2000 performance in a portable for $400? One that sounds as good as they A&K for hundreds less?!?!

Just because Neil envisioned the masses could use it, he was near-sighted in his understanding that they care, or WILL care. They will not, and only those that truly love music will demand it.

Why would you or I care what marketing ploy is being foisted upon us when we see the value inherent in the product?

For instance, I don't care what anyone says about vinyl's resurgence- We have a ton of great reissues both aimed at the mass public and audiophiles. If crap were king as it is to the mass public, vinyl's comeback would have sucked. We have options!

Re-purpose the dream and make it work!

spacehound's picture

Us usually middle-aged or old 'HiFi' enthusiasts don't normally walk around with a music box attached to ourselves. We may have a phone that can play music as a 'subsidiary function'.

At home we've usually got something as good or better already so we don't need a Pono.

Simples.

Have YOU bought one?

Glotz's picture

The Pono Player is a portable unit for those that travel and want better sound that their phone. It wasn't made for the home in the first place (but it has been stated it could be used for just that, and provides performance upwards of $2000). That should be simply obvious.

The review in Stereophile says it all. It equal to or better performing than the twice-as-expensive AK100 from A&K.

If you're satisfied with using your phone for high fidelity playback, that's your business. Don't pretend that others don't have higher aspirations for playback on the road or in the air. If that was the case, A&K would have never released their devices for purchase.

spacehound's picture

Have YOU bought one? Or is it just talk?

Jay Connor's picture

That Pogue Yahoo Tech review test is idiotic.

Mr Pogue: How many hundreds of hours before the test did you use the Pono for? (I know you don't believe in burn it but it does exist. And there is science too back it up.)

And then what's with using cheap ear buds and a Radio Shack A/B switch in the testing?

Do you take your readers for idiots, Mr Pogue?

Use good head phones say retailing in the $400 range (ones that have hundreds of hours of play time from a variety of sources) and skip Radio Shack electronics entirely.

No one buying the Pono is primarily going to use basic iPod earbuds, and don't insult your readers by imply he/she will.

Famously when Pogue was working for the New York Times he posted out of focus photo examples from a Fuji X100 camera he was testing; it was something like 8 of 11 samples out of focus, and one of the 3 remaining was in focus but shot with manual focus, so doesn't count from in the total.

And no Mr Pogue, you can't claim to be former pro musician, or recording engineer. You made some income after college bouncing around New York, doing some music and teaching people how to use their new Macs in the 1980s.

corrective_unconscious's picture

Pogue wasn't just "teaching people" to use their Macs, he was the most popular, if in possession of too broad a sense of humor for my taste, guest speaker at NYMUG (you don't know who the other invitees over the years included,) he was one of the leading Mac consultants in the city, which meant a far cry from "making some money," and he was teaching on spec at the most prestigious private schools. That latter bit is how The NYT got wind of him, I believe. He was one of the earliest and best resources regarding Midi, specifically. NYC at the time was by far the largest installed base of Macs anywhere. It wasn't a burg.

He is the author of the "Missing Manual" series, so we know he's not exactly hurting. While I don't know about the quality of his theater composing and orchestrating, I do know he was a summa cum laude grad of Yale, with a distinction in music. (Is that a Minor?)

He targets general audiences in all his reporting and reviewing work. Whether he is or is not fully aware of audiophile concerns in depth, his targeting a general audience does not mean he is a dolt.

John Atkinson's picture
corrective_unco... wrote:
Pogue...was one of the leading Mac consultants in the city...He is the author of the "Missing Manual" series...he was a summa cum laude grad of Yale, with a distinction in music.

But nothing specific about audio in his resume. It doesn't matter how knowledgeable and experienced in other fields someone may be, that does not qualify someone to write authoritatively about audio.

corrective_unco... wrote:
Whether [Pogue] is or is not fully aware of audiophile concerns in depth, his targeting a general audience does not mean he is a dolt.

I didn't say Pogue was a dolt. What I said was that the writers he exemplifies don't know enough about audio to be aware of how much more they need to know.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

corrective_unconscious's picture

So midi is a video production interface? The Yale music department has to do with anthropology? Obviously he has composed, orchestrated, mixed and recorded music, on Macs and off them, whether his end product was of any consequence or not. That's nothing specific about audio in his resume?

Now, whether he is up to speed on all things audiophile or not, he has chosen to write for a mass, non audiophile readership. That is different from not knowing anything about audio, my point. (Incidentally I hate writers who dumb down too much even given their chosen mass audiences.)

And if you're saying he doesn't know enough while reviewing the Pono to know, say, what hi rez is, or whatever, then you (but mostly the other posters) sort of are saying he is a dolt.

John Atkinson's picture
corrective_unco... wrote:
So midi is a video production interface? The Yale music department has to do with anthropology? Obviously he has composed, orchestrated, mixed and recorded music, on Macs and off them, whether his end product was of any consequence or not. That's nothing specific about audio in his resume?

That's correct. There is nothing specifically related to audio engineering in his resume. None of the qualifications you list are relevant in themselves to audio reproduction.

corrective_unco... wrote:
Now, whether he is up to speed on all things audiophile or not, he has chosen to write for a mass, non audiophile readership. That is different from not knowing anything about audio, my point.

You are making the common assumption that in order to write about a subject for beginners, you don't need to be any more knowledgeable than your audience. This assumption is incorrect. In my experience as an editor and an employer of writers for getting on for 40 years, the best articles aimed at beginners are produced by the most knowledgeable writers, like the late Peter W, Mitchell and by Stereophile's founder J. Gordon Holt himself.

corrective_unco... wrote:
And if you're saying he doesn't know enough while reviewing the Pono to know, say, what hi rez is, or whatever, then you (but mostly the other posters) sort of are saying he is a dolt.

Please don't put words in my mouth. Obviously Pogue is not a dolt. But in my opinion he doesn't know enough about audio to write as authoritatively about it as you seem to believe. And he is not nearly the worst example of the mainstream Pono reviewers I referenced in my essay.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

corrective_unconscious's picture

You're not saying Pogue's a dolt - the other fellow is saying that - you're saying Pogue's not qualified...just to be clear. Close enough to your words this time ("authoritatively.")

If recording, composing, orchestrating music at some professional level, mostly Mac based for decades, is not "audio engineering" for resume purposes, then which recent reviewers at "Stereophile," besides yourself, has more audio engineering experience on their resume than that? All of them? Were all your recent equipment reviewers music majors in college? Were they all engineers at audio companies?

Since you have discounted professional composing or recording as being "audio engineering," don't list any of that stuff your recent reviewers may have done. That apparently does not count for audio engineering resume purposes.

Pogue is _obviously_ more knowledgeable regarding these audio engineering, or whatever phrase, matters than his mass NYT or yahoo audiences, contrary to your assertion. He may not be more knowledgeable about the peculiarities of high end audio than many high end audio consumers - that I do not know - but that's not his audience in those venues. If it was an unsophisticate's review then that's because he wrote for his audience, imo.

Jay Connor's picture

I didn’t say Pogue is a “dolt”, I said he posted an idiotic review.

He’s allowed to review Pono, but he’s not allowed to be lazy and uninquisitive.

Also it is decades since Pogue has been a “pro” musician.

You keep making things up, that just aren’t true.

corrective_unconscious's picture

Okay, you were saying Pogue is a virtual genius who wrote an "idiotic" review, rather than saying he is a dolt. (You were saying he's a dolt.)

Here is the distortion:

"And no Mr Pogue, you can't claim to be former pro musician, or recording engineer. You made some income after college bouncing around New York, doing some music and teaching people how to use their new Macs in the 1980s."

Deeply false.

Jay Connor's picture

No in the 1980s he wasn't some leading NYC Mac guy, and it's unlikely he was a leading audio consultant, whatever that means, in his mid 20s.

He was hustling around NYC getting some music work, but likely getting more teaching wealthy people how to use their new computers--some Mac some not.

You confused the 1990s with the 1980s.

And I didn't comment on Pogue's income in the 1990s or now.

This Pogue review was really sloppy. And so is the follow up. The fact that he didn't bother to compare the Pono to other players is a joke.

Even Consumer Reports did not in depth testing of the Pono, the new Walkman and and a third one I can't recall. And plenty of people at CR could hear a significant difference between those players and an iPod.

This is a doltish review. I don't think Pogue a dolt. But this is not a good example of tech talk. And detracts from higher quality audio reproduction. (There's a Mac laptop joke here.)

iPod earbuds for this review, what an earth was he thinkiing? No mention of burn in time allowed? What?

Summa cum laude from Yale means little, many graduate suma cum laud from very good colleges. Yale undergrad is not a famous music school.

I have no idea if Pogue is some brilliant composer, but I more than suspect if he'd been discovered he'd have regular composing work from Hollywood. (Hollywood pays.)

corrective_unconscious's picture

In the 80s which leading Mac consultants were in their 30s or older? Not many of them, but surely you can name some now.... You don't know what decade he started consulting in, what private schools he lectured at, who his clients were, what his hourly rate was (I would know this fairly accurately,) what NYMUG is or what he did at their meetings, or when.

I did manage to enjoy your idea that Yale with a "Distinction" in music doesn't mean anything about a person's knowledge of music, however, because Yale is not famous for music. For starters, why don't you research the Curtis School of Music grads who head on over to Yale for their advanced studies, troll? Get back to me on that.

Jay Connor's picture

In the year 2015, Pogue is 51. Pogue was in his 20s for much of the 1980s.

Macs released about the year Pogue graduated from Yale. It is unlikely he was a Mac expert overnight.

You again appear to have confused the 1990s with the 1980s.

Yale grad school, in whatever field, is very different than undergrad. Drama is the obvious example. Yale does not have a well respected undergrad music program, nor even drama, Curtis is a music school.

And I never claimed Pogue knows nothing about music composition. I claimed with good reason and examples that Pogue posted an idiotic review at Yahoo and a dumb follow up.

corrective_unconscious's picture

FYI, after 1985 there are still four or five years to go in the 80s, depending how you handle the calendar. Pogue did not have to become an expert in one year, and it didn't take all that much to be an expert relative to others (in NYC) in those days. Pogue was one.

You don't realize that Curtis is a very prestigious undergraduate conservatory. Yet students still go from there to continue their studies at Yale (and other places.) This illustrates my point that Yale is an estimable institution for music. You have no idea of the relative quality of the undergrad versus grad music program at Yale, but in any event the matter under discussion is whether Pogue has any knowledge of music or of audio. His education and early midi expertise alone says he does in both areas.

The review you describe as idiotic may reflect a strategy of writing for his audience - a general, mass audience. Writers sometimes do write for their audience. That was my point. Recall that I am arguing Pogue is not a dolt. You are saying he is, apparently, while confusing all the relevant facts and making others up. Hope that helps clarify things.

Jay Connor's picture

You’ve totally missed the point: David Pogue neither went to Curtis or the Yale grad program in music. I gave you plenty of opportunity to clarify your misunderstanding of the difference between undergrad and grad. And you didn’t.

Many places, including Oberlin, in Ohio, where Pogue is from, have a much more respected undgrad music program than Yale. No one goes to Harvard for serious undergrad study of music either.

General audiences, for camera or car reviews, expect mention of equivalent gear, Pogue mentions nothing, though such gear most certainly exists, the FiIOX5 for example. Consumer Reports didn’t make this big mistake.

Pogue also failed to mention the fact that higher resolution digital music is available from sources other than the Pono online store.

Pogue’s formal education says nothing about his audio gear experience, but yes, the Midi stuff does–to a point. But Midi is deeply tied up in compression–irony. And still he used crappy headphones to review decent audio gear, this was idiotic.

His later follow up was sloppy, he simply should have redone the review, and reviewed other very similar gear. Instead he got defensive and used better headphones.

In closing: I’d avoid the forced attachment to Yale undergrad and the “extra specialness” of NYC private schools, it makes you out as lost in name a name dropping world.

Kambiz Motamed's picture

Hi John,

I just read your article “Access Journalism vs. Accountability Journalism.” I also read Seth Stevenson’s “Out of the Blue and Into the Wack.” I don’t think anybody disputes your knowledge of music reproduction, but it’s at least a little disingenuous to portray one reviewer’s subjective, uncorroborated opinion the height of “accountability” while dismissing the collective opinion of several “naïve” test subjects. Stevenson’s test subjects were hardly naïve (“a couple of them write about music professionally and one is a video producer”).

Slate and Stereophile are not intended for the same audience. The former is intended for a much more general audience than the latter (to which I’ve been subscribing for a quarter-century). Audiophiles are predisposed to hearing a better sound from exotic, much more expensive equipment. And, lo and behold, they do.

Perhaps you should give some thought to persuasion journalism vs. alienation journalism. Most audiophile opinions tend to alienate the reader through their arrogance and hubris. The objectivity of the Slate piece, on the other hand, was persuasive. So much so that I may consider buying my music in the AAC format, and save space and money.

But I agree with the assertion that listening for differences is not the same as listening for enjoyment. So, I will make my own decision as to whether the convenience and cost savings of AAC justify the loss (if any) in listening enjoyment.

Thanks, and take care.

John Atkinson's picture
Kambiz Motamed wrote:
Slate and Stereophile are not intended for the same audience. The former is intended for a much more general audience than the latter (to which I’ve been subscribing for a quarter-century).

First, thanks for reading Stereophile for such a long time.

Second, I understand your distinction between the different audiences but it doesn't affect my opinion. A responsible test by someone like David Pogue would have echoed what mass media journalists do when reviewing expensive cars. Had his listening tests been performed with more rigor, he would have concluded that yes, both the Pono Player and hi-rez audio can offer improved sound quality compared with iDevices and lossy or lossless CD-sourced music, but he doesn't feel that improvement worth the cost for people who are not primarily concerned with sound quality.

Kambiz Motamed wrote:
The objectivity of the Slate piece, on the other hand, was persuasive. So much so that I may consider buying my music in the AAC format, and save space and money.

I am sorry to hear that. No-one claims that lossy compressed audio is transparent to all listeners on all kinds of music all the time, not even the developers of the codecs with whom I have discussed the matter. AAC, MP3, etc are intended to sound good enough for most listeners most of the time. But once you have learned the sonic deficiencies, you will hear them all the time. :-(

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Kambiz Motamed's picture

John, I think the problem in this “debate” (and others like it) is that the concern for sound quality is not an all-or-nothing proposition. As an audiophile publication, Stereophile has to cater to the highest level of this quest for better sound. But, even among Stereophile readers, there are those (like me) who cannot afford to ignore practical considerations: they want to save time and money for other pursuits. So, even if I can detect a small improvement in a hi-rez file over the 16/44.1 version, I would probably prefer to spend the cost difference to acquire more music.

The problem with comparing hi-rez to CD is that, more often than not, the hi-rez version has benefited from a higher mastering quality. So, is the improvement the result of the remastering, or the higher sampling rate and bit depth?

I wish there was a segment of the audiophile industry, including a publication, that catered to those who care about sound quality not obsessively but with an eye to practical considerations. But I guess that’s just too small a market and not a very lucrative one, which makes me so grateful for Stereophile’s Class C and Class D recommended components.

Thanks again for a great magazine; Robert Levine and Thomas Conrad are my heroes.

spacehound's picture

About the vanishing small number of people like us who fill our houses with expensive audio boxes anyway.

We are thought even weirder than radio-controlled model plane enthusiasts. (I'm one of those too :))

And we are so small in numbers that we simply don't matter in the 'real world'.

jumpupcalypso's picture

I have a reasonably good audio system at home. I'm looking for a portable player that I can use in my car plugged in by usb, and plugged into powered speakers when I live away from home (what my wife calls alt.life - we live in another city for 1-2 months a year and explore other parts of the country). I can not/will not drag a 2 channel audio system around with me. A portable player that plays hi-res files (which I am converting my music to anyway) and can be used in my car as well as plugged in to powered speakers is a perfect solution. I have no illusions that it will sound as good as my stereo. It will allow me to take my music with me. Also usable on airplanes, etc.
I find audio equipment and music technology "reviews" on Slate et al about as useful to me as a boat owner would find my review of a 100K boat, of which I know nothing about.
I'm also curious - on what basis are people commenting here saying that the Pono has failed? Can you share sales figures with us?

spacehound's picture

Not a clue, I haven't heard one. Neither do I want to. Little plastic battery powered portable music boxes that you can carry about your person aren't my 'thing'.

NOR, I expect, are they the 'thing' of most HiFi enthusiasts, who are a vanishingly small part of the market anyway.

And it has CERTAINLY failed in the overall portable marketplace, which consists mainly of young people. They want to make phone calls, send texts, play games etc. It's not all about music. The falling sales of the iPod demonstrates that.

Is it any good? Probably it is. Who cares? Only its promoters.

HiFi audio journalists and 'reviewers'? Their source of income is to keep our tiny pot boiling. THUS articles like this one on Pogue - it's always a good idea to make your readers feel superior, ask any 'quality' Sunday newspaper editor. Some of them (not JA) even pretend to think some of the crazy ideas promoted on places like 'Computer Audiophile' make sense.

Come on, how many of us care whether a little portable battery music box costs 200 dollars or 2000? We likely won't buy either and have 10 to 100 thousand dollar audio stuff at home.

doak's picture

Needed to be said AND you made the statement quite eloquently.

Appreciated.

John Atkinson's picture
doak wrote:
Needed to be said AND you made the statement quite eloquently.

Thank you.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

llminsk's picture

1 Cars were invented for transportation. You could (theoretically :-) get one for $5.000 or for $500.000 Does anybody really think that the second choice is in functional meaning better for TRANSPORTATION purposes?

2 Watches were invented for time measurement. You could get one for $5 or $50.000 Does anybody really think that the second choice is in functional meaning better for TIME MEASUREMENTS?

3 Alcohol was invented to get people happy (at least temporarily). You could get enough alcohol to get happy for $5 or $5.000 Does anybody really think that the second choice is in functional meaning better TO GET HAPPY?

NOW

Audio equipment was invented to reproduce sound. You could get decent system (field to discussion here) from $1.000 to $100.000 Does anybody really think that the second choice is in functional meaning better to SOUND REPRODUCTION?

Music is not just sound? Well, trip could also has different meanings. But it's not about transportation any more in that case. In spite of investing recognizable budget into chasing the perfect sound I still could not reproduce the emotion of hearing Penny Lane for the first time from an open window of the neighbor's house. Probably window-based loudspeaker guaranteed complete time smearing suppression back then. Who knows. And endless reissues of Beatles material does not help either.

enjoy the music!

Jay Connor's picture

Yale grad school is very different than undergrad. Drama is the obvious example.

Pogue was in his 20s for much of the 1980s.

MashaT22's picture

I created a Stereophile account just to thank John Atkinson for his well-said words on this subject. I backed Pono on Kickstarter, and I've found myself saying these same exact points ever since. It's a shame that legit audio companies get dogged on just because of poor reviews that are written by reviewers who are not knowledgeable on the subject of conducting research, on audio theories and components, etc. I believe in Free Press . . . but it's too bad that companies like Pono end up losing out just because some reviewers clearly don't have a clue. I will be sharing this article (and the original review) many times over -- thank you John!!

corrective_unconscious's picture

Who clearly understand how to produce good recordings, yet are often constrained from doing so by their commercial overseers due to audience demands (compresion.) "Stereophile" has itself given voice to some of these complaints, I believe.

Some mass market reviewers may actually be less than qualified; others may be targeting their reviews to the needs or expectations of their general readership. I think Pogue would fall into this group. He assessed the Pono as one of his typical readers might, not as a hi rez gung ho audiophile would, imo.

Jay Connor's picture

You’ve totally missed the point: David Pogue neither went to Curtis or the Yale grad program in music. I gave you plenty of opportunity to clarify your misunderstanding of the difference between undgrad and grad. And you didn’t.

Many places, including Oberlin, in Ohio, where Pogue is from, have a much more respected undgrad music program than Yale. No one goes to Harvard for serious undergrad study of music either.

General audiences, for camera or car reviews, expect mention of equivalent gear, Pogue mentions nothing, though such gear most certainly exists, the FiIOX5 for example. Consumer Reports didn’t make this big mistake.

Pogue also failed to mention the fact that higher resolution digital music is available from sources other than the Pono online store.

Pogue’s formal education says nothing about his audio gear experience, but yes, the Midi stuff does–to a point. But Midi is deeply tied up in compression–irony. And still he used crappy headphones to review decent audio gear, this was idiotic.

His later follow up was sloppy, he simply should have redone the review, and reviewed other very similar gear. Instead he got defensive and used better headphones.

In closing: I’d avoid the forced attachment to Yale undergrad and the “extra specialness” of NYC private schools, it makes you out as lost in name a name dropping world.

corrective_unconscious's picture

The separation between undergrad and grad music departments is not so great as you confabulate. The point was that even undergrads from the superior Curtis go to Yale to continue their studies, and that indicates something about the music department(s) at Yale.

But even if he went to a lesser undergraduate institution to study and graduated summa cum laude from there that alone would make him more qualified than most audio reviewers. This is obvious. Same for being any sort of professional recording engineer or composer or orchestrator. He is well ahead of the curve.

You grossly understate his technical abilities in the Mac world. ("He made some money" tooling around after school.... He has a computer/gadget book series that alone would be the envy of most tech writers.) You must have some ax to grind.

He did write a review for a general audience, though, not audiophiles who wanted him to burn the Pono in for 100 days.

Jay Connor's picture

I already pointed out there's a significant separation between Yale Drama grad and the undergrad Drama program in the liberal arts college.

One is world famous the other is not. Pogue did NOT go to Yale music school.

Yale grad school, in music is no where near as big a deal as Yale Drama, or Fine Art, or Medical School.
I'd be surprised if the best Curtis students go to Yale for grad school, but this is certainly possible and has nothing do with Pogue.

I'm sure Yale's undergrad music is fine, just like that at many colleges.

Again you've confused the 1980s with the 1990s. It's the 1990s when Pogue started to publish significantly on Macs.

With highest honors from Oberlin undergrad in Music would be a much bigger deal than Yale undergrad in music.

The fact remains that Pogue wrote a lazy and sloppy review for Yahoo. Which if he'd thought about for more than 20 minutes he'd not have published.

Jay Connor's picture

Pogue published the Mac books in the 1990s. And more later. Not in the 1980s.

I don't expect Pogue to have burnt in the Pono for 100 days, you've again misrepresented something I wrote. 100 hours would have been just fine.

Pogue may know something about electronic digital music from the 1980s, and that's when digital was terrible, except at a really high end. Perhaps this insistence that he knows, by Pogue, is related to not really making it as a musician, composer, conductor.

Yale still doesn't have a remarkable undergrad music program. I'm just not clear why you insist otherwise.

Yes, Pogue is smart enough to have written a much better review, that included comparable gear. But he was lazy. And lazy in the follow up.

This has nothing to do with a "general audience", Pogue has reviewed serious "prosumer" cameras at Yahoo and the NYTimes.

Of course I remind you that the New York Times Fuji X100 review had more than a few out of focus images posted as samples.

corrective_unconscious's picture

Do you think you could reply to the comment you are replying to?

In mentioning Pogue's very successful series of technical books I was refuting your dismissive claim that he, "Made some income after college bouncing around New York, doing some music and teaching people how to use their new Macs in the 1980s." Your blanket belittling of Pogue's Mac experience and knowledge is risible. He has far more expertise over many decades than you allow, and as far as that point goes it does not matter what decade he wrote his best selling Mac (and other tech) books in. He still was doing more than you allow he was doing prior to the 90s, as I explained.

You don't know what's going on at Yale, and we're not talking about the Drama program there. How many high end audio or even music reviewers are music majors from any institution? We are discussing that he is more qualified on multiple fronts than you and JA are allowing.

Cameras are mass market devices, and this would inform Pogue's or any reviewer's approach. High end DACS and hi rez audio are not mass market, and this would inform Pogue's or any reviewer's approach when writing for a mainstream media outlet. You have made an invalid comparison on that score, a habit of yours.

Jay Connor's picture

No, $3000 DSLRs and good lenses are NOT mass market.

I know that Yale doesn't have a reputation for some amazing undergrad music program. I'm sure it's fine.

I know that Pogue didn't start publishing Mac instruction books until the 1990s.

Pogue was lazy and sloppy and actually should have known better if he cares about decent audio reproduction.

corrective_unconscious's picture

Hilarious in light of the hugely selling "Missing Manual" series. Oh, and prosumer cameras/lenses are mass market; hi rez is not. You don't have the slightest idea about Yale - you can't even tell drama from music - but the point remains being an actual music major from a lowly community college would put you well ahead of most high end audio reviewers. However, Pogue also has all that professional experience arranging and conducting and to some extent composing. He's not unqualified, per se, he's not a dolt, he just reviewed a product in a mass market publication for a mass market audience.

Jay Connor's picture

see next.

Jay Connor's picture

What is this insistence on being wrong and misleading.

Pogue made some money teaching Mac and doing some music in New York after college in the 1980s.

Later, in the 1990s, well after college, he started publishing books, I imagine then he made much more money. But by then he was basically not doing music.

He did a tiny bit of professional theater conducting of some sort, I'm not commenting on his capacity as a conductor, composer, or Mac teacher, but he stayed with the last, not the first two. And that means for whatever reason music wasn't likely paying. Happens to plenty of talented music types--that music doesn't really pay. Not news.

Sadly, no Pogue, and this is another point you keep missing, is NOT unqualified to review the Pono, He was lazy, sloppy and not interested in the item he was reviewing. That is a huge weakness. (The Stereophile essayist thinks Pogue unqualified, that's not my position. Don't be further sloppy and confuse the two.)

As for dismissals of this Pono not being mass market, Pogue has reviewed several non-mass market cameras for the NY Times and and Yahoo, the latest would be the Sony RX100III.

You have to get over your Pogue worship. He failed badly here, and in really obvious ways. And given a chance to fix it, he didn't.

As for your inserted opinions about where the music player market is going, they are immaterial to the question of whether the Pono sounds better than a current iPod/iPhone.