Neil Young Angered By 'Sound Of Music Today'

There is something missing in the digital translation of tunes - at least there is according to legendary folk rocker Neil Young.

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It's hard to argue about the digital age of music in terms of efficiency and portability. When it comes down to cycling through shelves upon shelves of old CDs versus taking one's entire library of music on the go in a single handheld device, the choice seems rather clear.

But convenience aside, there is something missing in the digital translation of tunes at least there is according to legendary folk rocker Neil Young, who spoke with MTV News in Park City (where he's promoting the Slamdance release of his new Jonathan Demme-helmed documentary "Neil Young Journeys") and expressed his concerns over the current state of "the sound of music".

"I'm finding that I have a little bit of trouble with the quality of the sound of music today," Young said. "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. It's worse than a 78 [rpm record]. Where are our geniuses? What happened?" Young argued that MP3s feature only 5 percent of the data from an original master file, which he sees as a major problem.

"If you're an artist and you created something and you knew the master was 100 percent great, but the consumer got 5 percent, would you be feeling good?" he asked. "I like to point that out to artists. That's why people listen to music differently today. It's all about the bottom and the beat driving everything, and that's because in the resolution of the music, there's nothing else you can really hear. The warmth and the depth at the high end is gone."

The singer-songwriter likened the current state of music to an equally present political movement: "It's like Occupy Music - the 5 percent, that's who we are now. We used to be the hundred percent!" Young isn't unilaterally dissatisfied with the modern era of music, however. He said he's pleased by the returning popularity of the folk genre, for instance, particularly in the hands of capable musicians like Mumford And Sons and My Morning Jacket.

"Mumford And Sons and My Morning Jacket are great bands," Young said. "I love them both and I know them well. I feel good about saying that."

Get More: Music News

Thanks for the report to MTV.com.

23 comments sorted by best / new / date

    HarvesterofPain
    Pagan_Poetry wrote: As usual, Neil Young knows what he is talking about. So, so true. Buying albums on disc alone sounds so much better, never mind how great music sounds on vinyl. Bjork's Biophilia album sounded okay as mp3s, but when I bought it, it was like a whole new experience I've never had before. I just didn't know you could experiment with such deep and high layering in such a way. Sadly, mp3s are apparently the way of the future. =/
    110% agreed. I remember the first time I listened to "Appetite for Destruction" on vinyl after years of hearing it on mp3... I'm not exaggerating when I say it was life-changing. I admit, I came here thinking I'd see an article about Neil Young bashing modern artists, not sound quality. You got me, UG! *ohyou.jpg*
    Pagan_Poetry
    As usual, Neil Young knows what he is talking about. So, so true. Buying albums on disc alone sounds so much better, never mind how great music sounds on vinyl. Bjork's Biophilia album sounded okay as mp3s, but when I bought it, it was like a whole new experience I've never had before. I just didn't know you could experiment with such deep and high layering in such a way. Sadly, mp3s are apparently the way of the future. =/
    Pagan_Poetry
    BigMikeBDD wrote: Pagan_Poetry wrote: As usual, Neil Young knows what he is talking about. So, so true. Buying albums on disc alone sounds so much better, never mind how great music sounds on vinyl. Bjork's Biophilia album sounded okay as mp3s, but when I bought it, it was like a whole new experience I've never had before. I just didn't know you could experiment with such deep and high layering in such a way. Sadly, mp3s are apparently the way of the future. =/ Wait....you bought a Bjork album????? *shutter*
    I've bought many. I'd rather be known as a Bjork fan than a guy who cares about what others listen to.
    USCENDONE BENE
    I remember trying to get into the band Free for a while. I listened to some mp3s of their album 'Fire and Water' and while i liked some of the songs i wasn't overly taken with it. Then i found my dad's vinyl of the album and i played it through some large speakers. Wow. There was the sound that floored me. The mp3 version literally sucked the life out of the music. Same goes for the Neil Young vinyls i listened to. Neil is right here. I'm a uni student and pretty much live off mp3s now, but i know I'm not getting the full experience from them.
    buchla200
    People listen to music on crap earphones, or on computer speakers and have no concept of decent sound anymore.. Try and buy a decent hi fi system new. Not easy. A shame. People are getting used to crap sound. Mastering is just there to make it loud and audible on systems with no real low end (and if there is a low end, it is totally overhyped) and some harsh high end. A generation of tinnitus sufferers is being created. Vinyl or a carefully remastered CD can be a great experience. An MP3 is ok for listening on the go. That's it.
    wazzup22
    meringo wrote: I love Neil Young, but come on... at least hint that you understand there are various levels of MP3 quality. 56Kbps (what Uncle Neil is probably referring to) 192kbps (near CD quality) 320Kbps (What Uncle Neil doesn't know about) Ignorance is bliss.
    You sire, are an idiot. CD quality is about 1411kbps Also, because of the extreme advancements in technology and internet speeds etc. mp3s will hopefully become obsolete soon, soon a majority of people will be able to easily and quickly access FLAC albums, as 300mb is becoming quite a small number in today's society.
    dial-a-death
    Ah, the benefits of having a friend who's an audiophile. Cranking up Supertramp's Crime Of The Century or Dire Straits' Love Over Gold on vinyl on surround sound, with a few beers, a pack of cards, and some light banter... Some of the highlights of my uni life, I could almot believe I was in the 80s if it wasn't for the computers in the room.
    chickenfoot
    Neil is a legend. And he's right! I used to download, but since I buy my music on CD I enjoy it so much more! And I love to buy CDs and go through the shelves to try and find something good.
    Eirien
    CommanderMeaty wrote: digital do less pollution than cd's + itunes files aren't mp3
    Fascinating... who mentioned iTunes?
    Eirien
    HarvesterofPain wrote: I admit, I came here thinking I'd see an article about Neil Young bashing modern artists, not sound quality. You got me, UG! *ohyou.jpg*
    Same. From the headline I thought he would be jumping on the 'rock is dead' bandwagon but I'm not at all surprised to see Neil speaking the absolute truth.
    Pagan_Poetry wrote: Sadly, mp3s are apparently the way of the future. =/
    Hopefully not, someone will come up with a better way of compressing music and with a bit of luck that will become the new standard and the mp3 format will die out. FLAC and WAV files are great but probably won't take over from mp3 because they're so big and people would rather have quantity over quality.
    ...we're in the 21st century and we have the worst sound that we've ever had. It's worse than a 78 [rpm record].
    I might be being thick here, but doesn't a higher rpm mean better quality? More revolutions = better resolution?
    Eifler121
    I'm somehow not surprised that Neil Young likes MMJ. Both of them kind of suck at singing sometimes, but always go for it, always do something more or less interesting, and every now and then have one of those songs that almost everyone can appreciate.
    Rattlehead2
    UG wrote: When it comes down to cycling through shelves upon shelves of old CDs versus taking one's entire library of music on the go in a single handheld device, the choice seems rather clear.
    It does. I cycle through shelves.
    meringo
    I love Neil Young, but come on... at least hint that you understand there are various levels of MP3 quality. 56Kbps (what Uncle Neil is probably referring to) 192kbps (near CD quality) 320Kbps (What Uncle Neil doesn't know about) Ignorance is bliss.
    BigMikeBDD
    Pagan_Poetry wrote: As usual, Neil Young knows what he is talking about. So, so true. Buying albums on disc alone sounds so much better, never mind how great music sounds on vinyl. Bjork's Biophilia album sounded okay as mp3s, but when I bought it, it was like a whole new experience I've never had before. I just didn't know you could experiment with such deep and high layering in such a way. Sadly, mp3s are apparently the way of the future. =/
    Wait....you bought a Bjork album????? *shutter*
    BradTheBluefish
    Just remember the lyrics to Sweet Home Alabama people: "Well, I heard Mr. Young take about her Well, I heard ol' Neil put her down Well, I hope Neil Young will remember The music biz don't need him around anyhow"
    streetballdude
    BigMikeBDD wrote: Pagan_Poetry wrote: As usual, Neil Young knows what he is talking about. So, so true. Buying albums on disc alone sounds so much better, never mind how great music sounds on vinyl. Bjork's Biophilia album sounded okay as mp3s, but when I bought it, it was like a whole new experience I've never had before. I just didn't know you could experiment with such deep and high layering in such a way. Sadly, mp3s are apparently the way of the future. =/ Wait....you bought a Bjork album????? *shutter*
    Uhh... Bjork is awesome?