Neil Young to tech industry: You can do better

Singer-songwriter says the technology industry can do better than suffice with current MP3 quality.

HALF MOON BAY, Calif.--"Hey hey, my my, the state of PC music quality makes me wanna die."

So said singer-songwriter, Neil Young--though not in those exact words--to wrap up the Fortune Brainstorm conference today. Young's earnest entreaty to the technology execs gathered here didn't mince words as he pushed for more sophisticated digital-to-analog converters in PCs that deliver better sound quality.

Neil Young: Can you PLEASE fix the sound? Steve Jurvetson
"I don't know. We've been here three days and we've never heard the quality of music mentioned...which is what made music great," he said during a one-on-one interview conducted by Time exec John Huey.

Young said he was distressed at the short shrift the tech business has devoted to making music more "high res," his shorthand for richer and higher quality.

"The thing with music is you can't view it," lamenting how society has become accustomed to what he called "low-res music."

"People's understanding has been skewed by MP3s and convenience. It's important to get music out there...but not at the expense of quality," he said.

Young acknowledged having held a discussion with Michael Dell about what PC makers might be able to do. He said Dell was "checking with some folks that could give him an understanding of what their capabilities are."

At another point, he noted that "all my life, I heard the best sound possible." Then he added what comes out of most computers was a "dumbed down" sound he likened to toy quality.

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About the author

Charles Cooper was an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet.

 

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