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In an online article titled Don't buy what Neil Young is selling, author Mario Aguilar warns an unsuspecting public of the foolishness of high resolution audio. His arguments are based in science that proves we cannot hear what we hear. I have referred to the followers of this science as members of the Flat Earth Society. The science Mr. Aguilar is referring to is from a couple of charter members to our honorary society, Brad Meyer and David Moran of AES.
"In a 2007paper published in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, Brad Meyer and David Moran outline the results of a study in which they presented a large sample of 'serious' listeners with a double blind test comparing 44.1 kHz audio from "the best high resolution discs we could find." The goal was not to show which was better, but simply to find out if people could even tell the difference.

"None of these variables have shown any correlation with the results, or any difference between the answers and coin-flip results," they write in their conclusion. Later they note, "Further claims that careful 16/44.1 encoding audibly degrades high-resolution signals must be supported by properly controlled double-blind tests."

This is how you do science. It's incredible to me the lengths that educated and intelligent people will go to say that they're somehow endowed with impossible hearing powers that necessitate a level of audio encoding that's demonstrably unnecessary.

I do think perhaps there's hope for Mr. Aguilar who does go on to say:

"I'm actually sensitive to claims that the Pono Player's circuitry is superior to the circuitry of your average music player, which in the case of most people is our smartphones. In audio the quality of the gear you use does often improve the sound. That's why people pay big bucks to record in fancy recording studios that have completely analog circuits. From the Pono's product description:

This portable audio player uses circuitry taken straight from Ayre's own top-of-the-line products, costing tens of thousands of dollars, for unparalleled sound quality and unrivaled listening pleasure.

The question then becomes if the better circuitry on these players is really worth $400, or the inconvenience of carrying around an entire device dedicated only to music playback."

The idea that we cannot hear differences between 192/24 and 44/16 is, of course, absurd. I would welcome Mr. Aguilar, Meyer or Moran to take a moment and do a blind AB in Music Room One at their convenience. I would wager a fine dinner anywhere in Boulder these gentlemen would be able to tell the difference consistently, time and again. Lastly, my friend John Darko showed me the Pono player at CES. While I still detest the shape, I will report to you his comment that it is one of the best sounding players he's yet heard. And John's a man I trust.
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Paul McGowan

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