Neil Young and the Sound of Music

Neil Young

Neil Young has long fulminated against the sound of digital music…

You know what the biggest problem with music today is? Sound quality. That’s Neil Young’s take on the issue, anyway.

For years, the musician has been obsessed with improving the way modern music sounds, sonically speaking. In an interview with Walt Mossberg and Peter Kafka at our D: Dive Into Media conference, Young, the perennial music purist, said that while modern music formats like MP3 are convenient, they sound lousy.

“My goal is to try and rescue the art form that I’ve been practicing for the past 50 years,” Young said. “We live in the digital age and, unfortunately, it’s degrading our music, not improving it.” While modern digital encoding schemes might sound clear on our iPods and smartphones, they only feature a small percentage of the musical data present in a master recording, and Young is on a crusade to correct that.

“It’s not that digital is bad or inferior, it’s that the way it’s being used isn’t doing justice to the art,” Young said. “The MP3 only has 5 percent of the data present in the original recording. … The convenience of the digital age has forced people to choose between quality and convenience, but they shouldn’t have to make that choice.”

So what’s the solution? New hardware capable of playing audio files that preserve more of the data present in original recordings, said Young. Ah. But who’s going to produce that?

Said Young, “Some rich guy.” And evidently some rich guy was working on such a device. The late Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “Steve Jobs as a pioneer of digital music, and his legacy is tremendous,” Young said. “But when he went home, he listened to vinyl. And you’ve got to believe that if he’d lived long enough, he would have done what I’m trying to do.”

(click here to continue reading Neil Young and the Sound of Music (Dive into Media) – John Paczkowski – Dive Into Media – AllThingsD.)

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