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Vinyl is still best! Even Steve Jobs preferred it, says rocker Neil Young


By Noel Young, Correspondent

January 31, 2012 | 3 min read

Legendary rocker Neil Young hit out yesterday at the poor quality of music audio. You got better listening in 1978 than you do today, he said.

Neil Young: Vinyl is still best

The sound quality of today’s digital music files was so low that it undermined the artistic intent of musicians like himself, he declared.

Young was giving an onstage interview at The Wall Street Journal’s D: Dive Into Media conference in California. And he said even Apple's Steve Jobs was on his side.

Jobs was such a music fan that he didn't use his iPod and its digitally compressed files at home, said Young. Instead he listened to vinyl albums.

Even today vinyl records offered the richest playback experience, said Young. “This is the 21st century,” he said. “We have five percent of what we had in 1978.”

Young told the conference that discussed with Jobs the possibility of creating a format with 20 times the fidelity of most current digital formats, including MP3. If Jobs had lived longer, he might have tried to create a system that used this higher-quality format. But since his death last year, “not much” had happened with the talks.

Mr. Young said what was wanted was a high-resolution audio format, needing 30 minutes per song to download. Players built around his proposed format would be able to store about 30 albums’ worth of music.

He said fans should stage a grassroots movement to demand such a high-quality audio format. “Occupy audio!” he declared.


What Young liked about them was that "they nurture an artist,” he said.

What he didn't like was the companies’ response to the digital age. Young said: “They have made some unbelievably bad business choices, that’s because they’re music people, they’re record people. They’re living in another world from Silicon Valley. Come on!”

Unpaid digital downloads were now the most effective tool for promoting music. “Piracy is the new radio,” he said. “That’s how music gets around. That’s the real world for kids.”

He suggested consumers use piracy or free services like Spotify to sample music, then buy high-quality files of music they value.


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