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Neil Young's Pono hi-fi music player smashes Kickstarter goal

by Mark Tyson on 13 March 2014, 15:45

Tags: Kickstarter, PC

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Neil Young's PonoPlayer high fidelity music player Kickstarter project has smashed through its backing goals within hours of its launch. At the time of writing the PonoPlayer device has received pledges of $2.4m – three times the goal of $800,000 when the project was launched on Tuesday.

The prism shaped player is designed to play PonoMusic which was set up to distribute music recordings in the FLAC format which mean users "no longer have to choose between quality and convenience when listening to music – you can have both". PonoMusic isn't just CDs made into FLAC files though, its recordings are said to offer listeners "music exactly as the artist created it, at the recording resolution they chose in the studio". So these recordings are from the original masters and you will hear "the nuances, the soft touches, and the ends on the echo – the texture and the emotion of the music the artist worked so hard to create," promise the Pono people. PonoMusic has a quality rating "ranging from really good to really great," depending on the quality of the available master recordings.

To bring this music to portable players Pono started the PonoPlayer Kickstarter project. After thinking a while about different players and perhaps making a device to pair to your smartphone "we realized that music this good deserved a truly purpose built, dedicated device to enjoy it," say the player designers. Now it has refined its design for the standalone PonoPlayer, using "the best sounding audio components with absolutely no compromises," Pono believes that this is the world's best sounding portable digital music player.

The project certainly has taken off. How much of that is down to the great publicity of all the iconic music making celebs who praise PonoMusic to the roof? Buyers will also be able to buy PonoPlayers in limited edition signature series including the following enthusiastic supporters of this music format; Pearl Jam, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Foo Fighters, Willie Nelson, Patti Smith, Arcade Fire, Beck, Dave Mathews Band, Herbie Hancock, Norah Jones, Lenny Kravitz, Pearl Jam, My Morning Jacket, and James Taylor and more.

"This gives it to you as good as you can get it" – summed up famous rocker Tom Petty.
Making comparisons Elvis Costello likened the MP3 file format to a "Xerox of the Mona Lisa".
In another pop-star testimonial, "It blew me away, it was like being in a recording studio," said Elton John.

If you are interested in backing the project you are already too late for the $200 pledge to secure a black PonoPlayer. Now you will have to stump up $300 for the same but with a choice of black or yellow. Signature series players for various artists are available in limited quantities of 500 and these are $400 – however all the Pearl Jam, Crosby Stills, Nash & Young, and Neil Young ones are sold out. These signature series also contain the artists' choice of their two favourite albums. The other sell out has been the 30 tickets to a dinner and listening party with Neil Young – which cost $5000 each.

HEXUS Forums :: 26 Comments

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12 minutes of pure testimonials? Overkill.

But yes, colour me intrigued…
my phone can play flac.

need to reword that. it DOES play flac.
From what I've seen of this it's just a flac player with a flac store, I'm not sure what the innovation is?
The pono store aims to provide studio quality music up to 9216 kbps (192 kHz/24 bit) FLAC files (where available). Which is a lot higher quality than most current formats.
CD quality is 1411 kbps (44.1 kHz/16 bit).

The flac player features high quality audio components and from the kickstarter page will retail around $300 - $400.
Well, i can't go against Neil Young! It looks pretty funky aswell.