Jul 25, 2008, 07:28AM

Don't Blame The iPod

Neil Young recently went on a rant about how the iPod is destroying the sound quality of recorded music. He says that music has become "wallpaper," background ornamentation instead of something that's deeply appreciated. But instead of the technology he really should blame the record companies, who are holding back the release of their music on higher quality digital files.

Fortune is running an article featuring comments from rock star cum activist Neil Young in which he lambasts Apple and the iPod, saying that music sound quality has been dumbed down to “Fisher-Price toy” levels.

“Apple has taken a detour down the convenience highway,” said Young. “Quality has taken a complete backseat—if it even gets in the car at all.

“We have beautiful computers now but high-resolution music is one of the missing elements,” he said. “The ears are the windows to the soul,” adding that music has become "like wallpaper"—more muzak than music.

Apparently, Neil is unaware of the fact that users can choose to encode music at whatever bit-rate they want, including Apple lossless. Further, the shuffle aside, iPods really don't present capacity constraints for users and today's hard drives are similarly liberating. The conclusion herein is that users are getting exactly what they want—lots of low-quality junk.

And, he obviously doesn't know that Apple would sell (relatively) "high-quality" 256-bit mp3s if the labels would let them.


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