Singer tells technology conference he and the late Apple boss planned audiophile successor to iPod with high-resolution audio.
Neil Young has claimed he was working with the late Apple boss Steve Jobs on a follow-up to the iPod. Young said he and Jobs were developing a new device for listening to "high-resolution audio", which would download content "while you're sleeping".
"Steve Jobs was a pioneer of digital music, but when he went home he listened to vinyl," Young said during an interview at the D: Dive Into Media technology conference. He and Jobs were apparently both concerned with the dearth of high-quality listening formats for audiophiles, and the two men met to work on new hardware that could store the large music files Young prefers. Since Jobs's death in October, Young complained, there is "not much going on".
Young is a notorious opponent of MP3s and other compressed music formats. He even criticises CDs, which he claims offer only 15% of the audio information contained on master recordings. "What everybody gets [on an MP3] is 5% of what we originally make in the studio," he said. "We live in the digital age, and unfortunately it's degrading our music, not improving."
The 66-year-old singer called on his audience to improve standards for high-fidelity audio and new consumer-friendly playback devices. The main obstacle to better quality recordings is file size: audiophile-quality songs can take as long as 30 minutes to download, Young said, and current players can store no more than about 30 albums. "I have to believe if [Jobs] lived long enough he would have tried to do what I'm trying to do."
While Young attacked the internet's effect on audio standards, he acknowledged its utility as a promotional tool. "I look at [the] internet as the new radio," he explained. "Radio [is] gone. Piracy is the new radio; it's how music gets around."
Young is currently working on two new albums with his long-time on-off backing band Crazy Horse. He recently updated his website with an epic, 37-minute jam, thought to be taken from these sessions.