Neil Young has a bit of history when it comes to ‘hi-res’ audio - his now-discontinued Pono audio player was a labour of love for him - and now he’s had some rather critical things to say about the audio quality of Apple’s MacBook Pro.
Speaking to The Verge, he said that the MacBook Pro - a favourite among professional producers and widely regarded as one of the best music-making laptops in the world - is “a piece of crap,” calling it “Fisher-Price” quality.
“You can’t get anything out of [the MacBook Pro],” he argues. “The only way you can get it out is if you put it in. And if you put it in, you can’t get it out because the DAC is no good in the MacBook Pro. So you have to use an external DAC and do a bunch of stuff to make up for the problems that the MacBook Pro has because they’re not aimed at quality. They’re aimed at consumerism.”
Of course, most musicians who make music on a MacBook Pro will, as Young suggests, be using an external audio interface as well, so focusing on the quality of its built-in audio system seems a little pointless.
Young’s bigger problem, of course, is with the whole concept of compressed audio - in fact, he’s currently promoting his new book, To Feel the Music: A Songwriter's Mission to Save High-Quality Audio (co-written with Phil Baker), which deals with that very subject, and his mission to provide an alternative.
“The older technology used to give you a reflection of it so that you could still feel it,” he says. “Today, it’s reconstituted. It’s poorly sampled. It’s garbage that has less bits to save people memory, which is not even relevant anymore. We have so much memory we’ve got it coming out of our ears. Yet we’re still saving memory, saving quality, so we can store more crap. It’s just we’ve gone down this bad street, and we’re way down.”
You can hear the full interview at The Verge.