More Details of Neil Young’s PonoMusic Revealed; Audiophiles Are Skeptical

A press release announcing details of Neil Young’s audiophile quality PonoMusic system dated March 10, 2014 was posted yesterday at the Computer Audio website. Young plans a major announcement at SXSW this week, where he will be interviewed Tuesday, March 11, at the Austin Convention Center at 5 p.m. local time.

From the press release:

The PonoPlayer has 128GB of memory and can store 1000 to 2000 high-resolution digital-music albums. Memory cards can be used to store and play different playlists and additional collections of music. The PonoPlayer will be sold at PonoMusic.com for $399 MSRP and is available for pre-order at a discount on Kickstarter.com as of March 15th.

And:

“Our goal was to offer the highest quality digital music available from all the major labels with the world’s greatest sounding, user-friendly portable music player. We’ve achieved our goal and we are excited to launch our Kickstarter campaign next week to invite music lovers everywhere to join the PonoMusic community and reserve a PonoPlayer for their own enjoyment,” said John Hamm, CEO of PonoMusic.

Audiophiles who frequent the Computer Audio site were not thrilled.

Superdad posted:

Kickstarter?! Really, after all this wait–and the supposed amount of money and development behind this–they are going with a Kickstarter campaign to gauge interest and fund the project?

Goldsdad:

That’s quite an achievement since 128 GB typically stores fewer than 500 albums in 16/44.1 FLAC. What’s the Pono definition of “high-resolution”?

Vandyman:

The iPod Classic is 160 GB for $249 and it fits in your pocket ’cause it is flat, not angled. Of course, it only does 16/44.1. If you want HD, there are quite a few nice portables now that do it…

Teresa:

Neil Young has been saying that PONO will be 24 bit 192kHz PCM. If that is the case a 30 minute 24/192 FLAC music album is over 1 GB, a 1 hour 24/192 FLAC music album is over 2 GB. So that would be 60 to 120 albums depending on length. If it really holds 1,000 to 2.000 high resolution music albums that is some major compression going on.

More from Superdad:

So little official information has ever been released about Pono. Chris, can you cite anything official about where/when DRM was part of the plan and now where they say that there will not be any DRM. Except for the snippet about allowing syncing to “other high- resolution digital music devices,” I see nothing in the press release you posted that would confirm a DRM-free ecosystem. And if, as Teresa claims, Neil Young has begun saying the format will be 24/192, then there is the issue of compression (to meet the device capacity and realistic download goals), which would perhaps imply a new compression format/container needing support by s/w and h/w.

I am not negative of pessimistic about Pono, and I agree that mainstream exposure (to hi-res formats) will help everyone. Heck, it might even inspire/goad Apple into catching up a bit with higher quality iTunes offerings.

I am just bemused that they are going the crowd funding route with a KS campaign. I assume that it is the Pono player they will be trying to fund. Can’t really crowd fund an entire company/technology initiative, though who knows.

It is also odd that they put out a press release while the Pono Music – high-quality music initiative from Neil Young site is still basically blank. I signed up on it with my e-mail address months ago and have never received a single e-mail. Not even today’s press release.

If us cognoscenti are still confused and in the dark, then I think Mr. Young needs to hire a better publicist. All those appearances on TV talk shows holding up a PON prototype. What a waste of publicity! I can think of a dozen was such huge exposure could have been used to wake the world up to quality sound…

And so on.

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –

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