Neil Young to fix iTunes' sucky audio quality once and for all"Putting on a headphone and listening to an MP3 is like hell," 62-year-old rock eccentric Neil Young has said, while praising the sonic qualities of old vinyl records. Now, taking a clue from the fix-it-yourself Web 2.0 kids, Young told the Financial Times that he's working on an alternative digital distribution platform that won't drive his ears nuts:

It has every media component you could want, and they're all married together in a platform. That means other artists could use it, other record companies could use it and gain the knowledge of our 15-year development curve.

If you doubt the man's seriousness about screwing around with technology, check out this live 1982 performance of the vocoder-driven "Sample and Hold." See? Those old analog vocoders beat the pants off T-Pain's digital auto-tuner. At the JavaOne conference, Young eagerly extolled the virtues of the entertainment industry's production standard of 96kHz, 24-bit digital audio.

Why do golden-ear types like Young hate MP3s? The format results in lower dynamic range, lossy compression artifacts and is thin in the upper frequencies. Digital audio also produces harsh even-order harmonics and not the odd-order harmonics which add textural timbre to chords, and integrated circuit amplifiers have a high noise floor because of radio-frequency interference. Even young consumers prefer the sound of analog hi-fi systems like Jackson Pollock's. (Photo by Andrea Barsanti)