“I’m finding that I have a little bit of trouble with the quality of the sound of music today,” Neil Young told MTV in January. “I don’t like it. It just makes me angry. Not the quality of the music, but we’re in the 21st century and we have the worst sound that we’ve ever had.”
While Young’s frustration with digitally compressed audio formats is nothing new (his own archival box set series boasts 24-bit /192 kHz stereo sound in its Blu-ray format), the death of Steve jobs this year marks a continuation of his effort to bring a dream he shared with the late Apple CEO/co-founder to fruition: a device that downloads and plays music at its highest possible resolution — one which finds time to download massive files “while you’re sleeping.”
Now initial steps toward launching Young and Co.’s project have been revealed, as Rolling Stone reports that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office received applications last summer from the legendary rocker’s record label for the following trademarks: “21st Century Record Player,” “Earth Storage,” “SQS ( Studio Quality Sound),” and “Thanks for Listening.” If the extensive approval process works out in his favor, these terms will ostensibly be used for Young’s high-res audio revolution. What’s more, a press release from the publisher of Young’s forthcoming memoir, Waging Heavy Peace, unveiled news last fall that he’s working on the aforementioned audio system and cloud-based library with the aim of sharing “the studio quality sound that artists and producers heard when they created their original recordings” under the name Pono.
Notably, producer T Bone Burnett has been spearheading a similar pursuit of his own, dubbed CODE, since 2008. Who knows, perhaps Bob Dylan (another outspoken critic of modern sound quality), T Bone, and the Godfather of Grunge can join forces here. I, for one, would love to wake up to the studio sounds of my dreams each morning.