Not hear to talk lollipop about what it is or isn't..
Done enough of that! It's not an HD and it's not a DT, big whoop.
The conversation I am interested in, is the future of audio sound quality in general, and the place and role companies like Line6 and Apple will have in that future. Now, we all know that .MP3's are the bedrock of the iTunes business model. What is the top resolution on any given professionally mastered .MP3? 320kbps or something?
Now, take a sideways gander at Neil Young, and his idea - which seems to be going forward, but not very quickly. Among his various projects, including the LincVolt, is his music player idea. I am not sure what the current name is, I think it's "PONO".
To summarize, Neil Young wants to make iPod sized devices that will use music files rendered in Studio Master quality, iE, 24bit /192k. Here are a couple of links discussing this project:
Ok. So, the future is BRIGHT for music! But the "powers which be" are going to need to change and adapt to stay current. I for one, have a huge library of music in MP3 format, and I rarely if ever listen to any of it. It's convenient, it's easy, it's portable - it's just not satisfying. That there is truly something lacking in music dumbed down to MP3 is fact, evident, and real. It's not just a small percentage of the population with advanced ears who can tell the different between a 24bit .WAV file, and a 320kbps MP3.
That being said, Line6 is already on their way to higher definition, higher resolution audio. The HD series amp modelling is their first serious foray into that market. The Amplifi, for all it's next gen conceptualization, is not. Because it is built on the premise that MP3 is acceptable. Now, you don't HAVE to use MP3's, I would imagine if you put a .wav file on your iPad, and stream it Bluetooth, it should still all work, and if the metadata can be saved with the .wav file, then tone matching should work.
But what about a 24 bit / 192k .wav file? Because that is what PONO is trying to do. According to the Rolling Stone article, major studios are already on board with this concept, and have already begun the process to render their catalogs in the higher definition audio.
To quote Neil:
"The simplest way to describe what we've accomplished is that we've liberated the music of the artist from the digital file and restored it to its original artistic quality – as it was in the studio," wrote Young. "So it has primal power."
"PONO starts at the source: artist-approved studio masters we've been given special access to," Young continued. "Then we work with our brilliant partners at Meridian to unlock the richness of the artist's music to you. There is nothing like hearing this music - and we are working hard to make that experience available to all music lovers, soon."
From my perspective, the Amplifi will quickly find itself at a cross roads if something like this gains traction, and for my $$s, I am 100% onboard. MP3's are horrible, for quality listening. They are the fast food of the music industry. MP3's take everything special about music and distill it to a bland, low quality snapshot, lacking in the true essence of why music moves us all, and motivates us to spend so much time and money on gear to MAKE music.
Sooner, rather than later, companies like Line6 and Apple are going to need to quickly change their tune, and gear like the Amplifi will be caught in that cross current. I think the idea of Amplifi is great. I find the execution lacking, but that doesn't really matter. It's how Line6 responds to what is coming, and still yet to be that will define them going forward.