Was Steve Jobs an Audiophile?

Well, well, well.

Audiophile news has all of the sudden risen on the charts of the blog-o-sphere. To what do we owe this honor?

Chalk most of it up to the timeless “Old Man” – Neil Young.

At a recent News Corp media conference, Young described in some detail about his recent dealings with Apple to bring high(er)-resolution offerings to iTunes. He added that Steve Jobs was taking a personal interest in the project.

Young also approached Bill Ford, asserting that MP3′s sound bad, and suggesting hi-rez alternatives for the car. Ford baulked.

So what’s the ideal hi-rez format? Young claimed that he and Jobs agreed on this one: the LP! He went on to say that Jobs, master of the iPod and $1 compressed download, typically listened to vinyl at home.

Thus, audiophile issues have risen, if for a moment, to the popular consciousness – USA Today, Rolling Stone, HuffPo, Washington Post, PCmag. Like most internet news, the half-life of this issue will likely be measured in hours. But perhaps an impression will be made, boomers remembering just how good that record console sounded and kids wondering whether there’s something to this “quality reproduction” thing. Jobs, having immense street cred across cultures and ages, is probably the ideal messiah for such word.

As an aside, I wrote to Mr Jobs about two years ago, suggesting some audio-friendly tweaks to OSX’s Core Audio package. Alas, my note went unanswered. But I’m no Neil Young.


PS  I can hear PeterT and the legions of BAAS vinylphiles now: We told you so! lol


Friday, February 3rd, 2012 Audiophile, Bob, General, News

2 Comments to Was Steve Jobs an Audiophile?

  1. Bob, Thanks for the intriguing post.

    I heard years ago that Neil Young, when asked for his opinion of the then new format of Digital music, said (I’m paraphrasing) “it’s like being showered with ice crystals.” He was right, the early days of digital were just awful, especially with the “Perfect Music forever!” hype.

    As an early adopter, in 1982, I ran out and bought the best CD player available and about 20 Telarc “Audiophile” CDs of my favorite classical recordings. For a week, ice blew out of my speakers until I couldn’t take it anymore and returned everything I bought. I’ve been spinning vinyl since 1972 and never stopped (that’s as far as I go in the “Told You So!” department). I couldn’t sleep last night, so I spent a few hours tweaking my Townshend Rock 7 turntable and listening to Diana Krall’s Live in Paris 45RPM ORG release, as well as other amazing performances with well-executed recordings. I tell you this for a reason.

    I heard also that Young was asked the same question again recently and he quipped, “the ice particles have gotten a lot smaller…” He’s right again. I had the privilege of attending the BAAS event showcasing the DaVinci DAC and I have to admit the high res (upwards of 350khz) uncompressed files played on the well-selected and ever evolving hardware at “The Casa” was ear-opening experience! Was it as emotionally involving as my analogue system is to me, no… but it sure sounded more like real music than ever before.

    Actually, I remember only one other instance when I was floored by music played through a digital front end: Steve Hoffman at Audio High, playing uncompressed files (transferred directly to CDs from the original master tapes) of the Beatles, Cannonball, Peggy Lee, etc., on superb SS equipment (mostly Chord if I recall the set-up). When John Lennon walked into the room, I almost cried.

    That in itself proves to me that, although the hairs on my vinylphile arms are standing up in horror, digital’s potential is bright (no pun intended).

    Back to Diana Krall live in Paris LP… I do hear a noticeable digital glare in the upper midrange/low treble, which I attribute to most modern digital recordings (which I believe this is, since if it was an AAA offering, the analogue junkies would blog it to no end). In these days of Analogue’s renaissance, record companies seem reluctant to openly state that their recording format is digital and use deliberate, confusing language on their LP covers to encourage the assumption that it is true old-school analogue. I know it’s business, and possibly temporary, but it really annoys me. Most of the remastered vinyl reissues that I’ve spent far too much time and money on, are absolute crap when compared to any old original and technologically simple recordings from the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s– Sonny Rollins Way Out West, Muddy Waters Folk Singer, and Sonny Stitt’s Party Time come to mind as good examples of breathtakingly clear, realistic and emotionally involving reproductions. How could anyone listen to albums such as these and think they need remastering to sell well in the marketplace?

    Eventually, if not already, analogue’s rebirth in the marketplace will serve to force digital to new heights, which sounds like a win-win for everyone.

    As for Steve Jobs, I’m not surprised. There are more closet vinyl junkies out there than we can imagine. And we’re quiet because we’re often tired of having to defend analogue’s beauty to our well-meaning friends and children of friends who forgot or never knew what music really sounds like.

    Thanks for doing what you do, Bob and Jason. I believe I can speak for all BASS members in saying we really appreciate you.

  2. Alonski on February 3rd, 2012
  3. Thanks…this content is better than my original post!


  4. Bob on February 3rd, 2012