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Was Steve Jobs Working On A Master-Quality iPod With Neil Young??

| Filed under: Music MinuteTech Talk

Neil Young iPod

According to Neil Young, he and Steve Jobs were working on a iPod that would handle master-quality audio files!

Young has always been the first to argue that MP3s suck — and that they only offer about 5% the fidelity of vinyl and other ways to playback.

He's a huge proponent of lossless filetypes, saying:

“If you take a 2192 file – the highest res recorded music today – and you compare that to a vinyl record or analogue tape master, they’re both pretty similar [in sound quality]. The copy is very good. If that’s 100%, now we have 5% with mp3… The problem is that there’s no alternative living in that space. You can’t associate poor quality with convenience.”

He also talked about how with technology today, he thinks we should be able to have a "modern-day iPod" that can handle lossless — which would mean that "full lossless audio files would take 30 minutes per album to download onto a device – and that he believed a portable device that carried 30 albums was possible."

So why doesn't he just make one already?

Turns out, he'd been in the thick of doing just that — with Steve Jobs!

“I talked to Steve about it. We were working on it.”

Sadly, not much has happened with it since Steve Jobs' death.

So cool, though… would you want to pay for something expensive that only plays 30 albums? Have we gotten to the point now that we have more storage for hundreds of albums than we'd ever need so there's no looking back to something so small? Especially for just audio quality?

Because let's be honest here — who is so unhappy with the quality of the average iTunes download that they'd need this at this point? Is there even a big enough market past audiophiles?

It's hard to tell, let us know how U'd feel about something like this in the comments!

[Image via WENN.]

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7 comments to “Was Steve Jobs Working On A Master-Quality iPod With Neil Young??”

  1. 1

    Pretty cool. Neil is one of the few artists that actually cares about the quality that music fans get.

  2. 2

    [Part 1] This post has me pretty intrigued. I'm guessing Neil is talking about essentially converting the audio quality from vinyl records and "analog tape originals" into lossless audio files, which might be a lot larger than your average Apple Lossless version of an album copied off of a CD. Personally, I only buy CD's (unless a song/EP/album is only available from a digital store), and I then copy them into my iTunes library using the Apple Lossless encoder. I also store my iTunes library on an external hard drive, since the file sizes are so large that I wouldn't have room for my library on my laptop hard drive. These file sizes are apparently much smaller than the "master versions" of audio files, as it takes about 30 seconds for a typical Apple Lossless album from a CD source to be transferred from my external HD to my iPod. I use a 120 GB iPod Classic (which is almost full) so that I can fit my entire library onto an iPod (since lossless files are much larger than most digital music store downloads).

  3. 3

    [Part 3] However, if you primarily listen to your music off of stock speakers (especially laptop speakers) or stock head-/earphones, you won't notice the difference as much. Most people don't know how to listen to the different "layers" of a song/composition, so they won't really notice if they can't make out a bass line or the percussion parts very easily. If you are someone who is substantially musically educated or has learned how to pick apart your music, though, it can really bug you when you listen to the "homogenized" digital downloads of songs from iTunes, Amazon mp3, etc. The convenience of digital downloads is quite appealing, but the trade-off is a listening experience that is watered-down. If we let the lossless format die, we simultaneously reduce the market for high-end sound systems. It looks like bad news from both an artistic and economic perspective. It might be a bit much to try to put out a portable audio device that holds roughly 30 albums at "master tapes quality," but I think we need to at least work to preserve CD-quality audio files.

  4. 4

    What a blowhard! Yeah, he and Steve were working on it… sheesh! Steve did some of the work, but most of the coding and industrial design were done by Neil… you know what he says, rust never sleeps…

    iPods can play lossless files already. He's talking about higher than CD quality, and Apple Lossless already supports this (up to 32-bit, 6-channel, 300kHz files are supported, FAR higher than what he's talking about).

    Of course, now that Steve's dead, Neil will be completing the project alone. Still, it should be ready soon and pretty cool.

  5. 5

    Rock on Neil.

  6. 6

    i would love something that played flac or higher quality than an mp3

  7. 7

    LOVE u Neil!!