audiophile

PONO No Go?

In September 2012 Neil Young had introduced a prototype of his new PONO audio player during an interview on Late Night With David Letterman. And as an audiophile I have been awaiting updates on this new technology since.

This higher resolution audio technology promises to bring 24 bit or 32 bit recordings to consumers when most have only been exposed to the 16 bit recordings of CD or lower when it comes to mp3s. But some question whether it will sell because of the lack of sales in SACD and DVD Audio titles.

Personally I would love to have the depth of vinyl on a digital format. But even I would probably buy only a select amount of albums in this new format so I don’t know if it would get beyond niche market status. And though the PONO is portable I would probably only use it at home with higher end, noise cancelling headphones because I can’t stand headphones than sound like tin cans and strip the bass out of music or ear buds that don’t stay in and allow so much noise in that you need to raise the volume.

An interesting article on the possible pros and cons of this technology can be found at Evolver.Fm. But the article also concedes that little is known about the specific selling points of PONO other than it promises to bring high resolution recordings to consumers. The technology is still being worked on according to mypono.com and though most of the major labels have shown interest in PONO nobody knows if it will rely on a cloud service or not.

If this technology is deemed viable it will probably take some time to get it up and working so all we can do is speculate.

A Vinyl Comeback ?

It appears that more and more consumers are choosing vinyl over compact disc when if comes to purchasing physical copies of their music.

According to Soundscan, Americans had purchased just over 330 million vinyl albums last year and over 76 thousand new record albums were released in the United States that year.

Apparently many audiophiles are purchasing mp3s for their portable players and purchasing vinyl for their home stereos instead of compact discs because they believe vinyl has a richer sound. And although many bloggers have claimed that this opinion was subjective, the sales of vinyl records continue to rise.

Regardless of the technological debate, consumers have not dropped vinyl as a physical format like the magnetic tape formats (8 track/cassette tape). And compact disc sales are dropping so dramatically in the United States that many major retailers have either reduced or eliminated the retail space they had dedicated to the format.

On the other hand, many online retailers have created vinyl stores to fulfill the demand, including Amazon.ca & chapters.indigo.ca in Canada, and Amazon.com, Barnes & Nobleicon, CD Universeicon, DeepDiscounts.com & JR.comicon in the United States.

Yes, compact disc sales were still substantial at $225.5 Million dollars in the United States in 2011. But sales have slipped by 5.7% from 2010 whilst sales of LPs, digital singles and digital albums have grown.

LPs will not likely not surpass compact discs in sales anytime soon. But it obviously remains a niche product that is fashionable in certain circles, who also prefer the artwork found on LPs and 45s.

Compact disc inserts may be adequate to some but I personally prefer framing a LP for display if I am unable to find a poster of an album cover’s artwork. And I doubt that I am alone in finding the LP album cover more aesthetically appealing.

Many home audio systems and compact stereo units still include turntables but record players are available as separate components in Canada from Amazon.ca, Sears.ca, and Sony.ca.