Neil Young Trademarks Names for Next-Gen Audio

Posted by at 10:59 am on April 4, 2012

Neil Young’s plans to work on an improved digital audio format may not be waiting for Apple cooperation. Six USPTO trademarks were made public in the past few days for names implying a new audio format or a matching service, such as 21st Century Record Player, Earth Storage, Storage Shed, Studio Quality Sound (SQS), and Storage Shed. The timeframe for the full comment and approval system would clear the trademarks no earlier than the end of this year despite the trademarks having first been submitted last June.

A quiet mention buried in a press release for Neil Young’s memoir from September has suggested that the actual method may be called Pono. The development would provide the “highest digital resolution possible” and match studio-level audio, it said. Whether or not the name holds isn’t certain, as it would predate any actual implementation by more than a year.

Young hasn’t made any official announcements. However, he had famously described talking to the late Steve Jobs about working on hardware or software that could hold 30 reference-level albums. The Harvest composer is well known for pursuing audio quality he feels has been lost, even with ‘lossless’ audio formats, and went so far as to publish music on Blu-ray years before adoption truly reached the mainstream.

Any format and service might have to wait for widespread use, even if it received official Apple cooperation. Existing codecs such as Apple Lossless and FLAC themselves cut the maximum capacity of even a 64GB player from tens of thousands of songs to a few thousand, assuming no other content. A larger format would reduce that range further still and would reduce the number of people who could consider using the technology.

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