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Neil Young has said he will remove his tracks from streaming services, blaming "the worst [sound] quality in the history of broadcasting".

In a post on his Facebook page, Young said: "Streaming has ended for me... It's about sound quality. I don't need my music to be devalued by the worst quality in the history of broadcasting or any other form of distribution." 

The artist has long waged war on compressed music, though it seems the launch of CD-quality, lossless streaming services such as Tidal and Qobuz may have passed him by. 

At the start of the year Young suggested MP3 was from a bygone era: "MP3 is doing OK considering it was designed for dial-up modems but we just couldn’t stay there," he said. 

"When people ask me ‘do we need high-res music?’ I really don’t know. I can’t tell you but I know for me - I can listen to music again. I didn’t listen to music for the last fifteen years because I hated the way it sounded and it made me pissed off that I could not enjoy it anymore."

Young has famously developed his own hi-res music player, the PonoPlayer, and a Pono ecosystem offering hi-res downloads and a deskop music player - though neither are officially on sale in the UK. Pono also recently launched a tool to let PonoPlayer owners compare the difference between formats.

More after the break

Now it seems Young has had enough, and looks set to withdraw his music from streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify, though it is still available on both services at the time of writing. It remains to be seen whether CD-quality streaming services will escape his ire.

MORE: Hi-res audio - everything you need to know

The news was announced on his Facebook page and greeted by, at best, a mixed response, as the comment above, which was the most liked comment on the status, neatly illustrates.

Young says it isn't about the money rather the sound quality, which would suggest he would be happy with lossless services. We shall see.

"It's not because of the money, although my share (like all the other artists) was dramatically reduced by bad deals made without my consent. For me, It's about making and distributing music people can really hear and feel. I stand for that. When the quality is back, I'll give it another look. Never say never.

MORE: PonoPlayer hands-on review

MORE: Best music streaming services 2015


Simon Clayton's picture

Grumpy old man says...

Now please buy my entire back catalogue in pointless high-res to play on my expensive and pointless high-res audio player.

Graham Luke's picture


I think Young blew his credibility with the contradictory guff he spouted on the release of his Pongo Player. 

Never mind the Pongo execs who couldn't tell the difference between CD quality and the so-called hi-res fluff on the Pongo...

Geddy76's picture

Going a bit far

I know it's his opinion, but to say it's the worst in history is a bit much, especially considering the wax cylinder sounded pretty dreadful (and rightfully so).  Most people who listen to music through high street branded equipment wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a CD and an mp3, so it can't be that bad.  I think he's just getting grumpy, in his old age.

harrygoodwood's picture

cd is compressed too...

Unfortunately, the 16 bit cd format is the compressed version of 18 bit format (or more) studio recordings. So does Young reject the cd format as well? I don't think so. The only real high res format is the 24 bit SACD format, with a frequency response reaching a low 2 Hz... Maybe Young should listen to Mike Oldfields Tubular Bells on SACD: being such a puritan, he would then certainly reject the cd format as well, which doesn't go below 20Hz, simply cutting off the low end of many brilliant compositions. I guess however, that Young, being that consequent, wouldn't sell much music anymore....  So indeed: pffffff


jimbo20004000's picture

CD is not compressed!

I used to work in studios. 16 bits at 44.1 covers the full frequency and dynamic range which a human ear can hear. A church organ can reach down to around 16hz. Low end consumer speakers cannot handle the full dynamics, so we have to limit them slightly otherwise it would damage most consumer quality speakers when played loud. Research suggests you can feel, not hear, the frequencies outside of that range but the harmonics of those are included in the recording. Timing is also critical. It is the quality of the recording and how it is processed and edited in the studio which dictates the sound quality. The reason we record and mix at higher resolution is so it does not affect the critical 16 bit/44.1 range. 24 bit SACD sounds great on high quality reproduction equipment because it follows a very good recording process. But you can capture the same sound quality onto a CD with more effort. Above about 20 bit resolution is lost in noise anyway. 

Graham Luke's picture

It's extraordinary how often

It's extraordinary how often this has to be said.

Well done, jimbo.

You won't hear it, however, from the shills selling or advertising the 'hi-res' fluff...

'24 - 192 Music Downloads are Very Silly Indeed' covers the subject thoroughly and irrefutably.


olc's picture

He's missed the point

of most streaming. You don't need hi-res for your gym workout or driving to work. Better sound quallity is always better, by definition, IF you can hear it. Most people can't tell CD form 24/196 on Pono. Most people can't tell CD from MP3 on their non-audiophile audio systems, much less their ear buds. But screw them, elitist Neil Young says. I'm not going to let them enjoy my music for the musical content if I don't approve of their gear.

DCC's picture

Good for him!

I'm with Neil...good PR for his brand, or not. I too stopped listening to any MP3 device as doing so made me hate music. Thankfully storing & playing CD quality and better digital files became a practical reality. I wouldn't listen to Neil Young in the gym anyhoo.

Fred Scuttle's picture

Nobody can really hear the

Nobody can really hear the difference between high bitrate streaming and CD. They only imagine they can.

Audio_ELF's picture

It's not about sound quality...

Sorry Neil but if it was really about sound quality, why are you still selling music on iTunes and Amazon MP3 download?

As for worst sound quality in history ... Are you serious!