Pono: Neil Young's $399 HiFi iPod Coming to Kickstarter This Week

Pono: Neil Young's $399 HiFi iPod Coming to Kickstarter This Week

Pono Player Ponomusic 310x

Ponomusic will offer music at a higher quality than your average smartphone or PMP.

After nearly 18 months of build-up, Neil Young's Pono music player is finally going to be available for purchase.

Originally revealed in September 2012, the Pono and its accompanying Ponomusic service have seen delays, but the device will be available for pre-order on Kickstarter later this week. The Pono will sell for $399 (although a discount is expected during the Kickstarter campaign), and it's targeting audiophiles who want music quality of the highest order.

With 128 GB of storage included (expandable via memory card), the Pono will be able to store between 100 and 500 such HiFi albums, with the music being available for download through the Ponomusic desktop app and website. Along with being higher quality than your average MP3 or FLAC file, Pono music will be completely DRM-free. Controls will be handled by three physical buttons, as well as a touchscreen LCD display.

Computer Audiophile, which scooped the press release early, also revealed the tech inside the Pono. The ESS ES9018 "digital to analog converter chip" will be responsible for filling your ears with the sweetest of notes, assuming the Pono lives up to the hype.

We'll update this post when the Kickstarter goes live, which should be on March 12th.

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Hands up right now if you read the name as "Porno" like me. Don't be shy and don't lie.

unstabLized:
Hands up right now if you read the name as "Porno" like me. Don't be shy and don't lie.

My brain registered Bono.

Then I thought great, a high and mighty condescending MP3 player, I wonder if the menu's got an accent.

Time for me to leave the computer alone...

$400 for a portable music player that's tied to a proprietary format and can only be truly enjoyed with $400 headphones that require a preamp, thus defeating the purpose of the device being portable to begin with?

Sign me up!

As somebody noted in the Facebook comments, FLAC is lossless to begin with. You can't do better than FLAC, short of a format that has a higher bitrate and sample rate. And I think FLAC goes clear up to 24 bit/92 Khz, which is as high as any consumer level format. Even in the recording studio, the only thing that's arguably better than that bit and sample rate is good old 2" reel to reel tape -- high quality analog, in other words. And even that's arguable. With media that hi-fi, the mastering is the most likely bottle neck, followed by the playback equipment. I'm guessing the actual cause of the quality difference, if it actually exists, is better sound quality regardless of the file type of the source due to a better DAC, and possibly a better built in headphone amp.

It's also categorically /not/ an iPod, unless Apple is making the danged thing. It's like calling an Xbox a "Nintendo," or calling cartridges "tapes."

unstabLized:
Hands up right now if you read the name as "Porno" like me. Don't be shy and don't lie.

I didn't, but my first thought was "Why the hell would you make a service with a name so similar to 'porno,' so I really wasn't that far off.

fix-the-spade:
My brain registered Bono.

Then I thought great, a high and mighty condescending MP3 player, I wonder if the menu's got an accent.

Time for me to leave the computer alone...

And it stops every few minutes to preach to you about some cause or another.

Scrythe:
$400 for a portable music player that's tied to a proprietary format and can only be truly enjoyed with $400 headphones that require a preamp, thus defeating the purpose of the device being portable to begin with?

Sign me up!

In fairness, you can get some pretty portable headphone amps. Not that that vindicates the rest of the problems here. Additionally, I don't bother with super high quality files because most of the places I listen to music are noisy enough I won't be hearing the difference without making myself deaf.

More disappointing, when I heard "HiFi" I thought it might have higher capacity. I've been waiting for a truly high capacity player since my Archos became a paperweight.

I love Neil Young for his music, but I wouldn't buy an mp3 player made by him. I read in an interview that he mixes music at his Californian ranch by turning up all the left channel speakers in his house to max, and doing the same with the right channel speakers in his barn; then going out on his pond in a rowboat and shouting "More barn!" or "More house!" until he reaches the desired mix.

Not exactly my idea of a fine-tuned approach to music quality.

I... yeah, this isn't an Ipod, it would basically be a music/audio player with a screen. I get people calling a device MP4/MP3 since those are usually what you play on those devices, but IPod? no.

Also... $399 AND buying songs again?... No thanks. Although saying "Look at my Pono" does sound quite amusing.

I was interested, until I noticed that you have to use their software to put music on it. Not being able to just throw my FLACs on it without using a some stupid software front end just kills it for me. I don't need another iTunes. I don't need yet another music distribution service. Not when I already have over 13 000 songs.

Owyn_Merrilin:
As somebody noted in the Facebook comments, FLAC is lossless to begin with. You can't do better than FLAC, short of a format that has a higher bitrate and sample rate. And I think FLAC goes clear up to 24 bit/92 Khz, which is as high as any consumer level format. Even in the recording studio, the only thing that's arguably better than that bit and sample rate is good old 2" reel to reel tape -- high quality analog, in other words. And even that's arguable. With media that hi-fi, the mastering is the most likely bottle neck, followed by the playback equipment. I'm guessing the actual cause of the quality difference, if it actually exists, is better sound quality regardless of the file type of the source due to a better DAC, and possibly a better built in headphone amp.

It's also categorically /not/ an iPod, unless Apple is making the danged thing. It's like calling an Xbox a "Nintendo," or calling cartridges "tapes."

1) FLAC can store up to 24bit depth audio, and it is lossless (bits per second doesn't matter). Most music providers are still using 16bit. It is actually the anime industry that is taking the first step into 24bit audio files with their soundtracks. There is no need for a format that can support a higher bit depth since the "current-next gen" of music isn't even at 24bit yet.

2) FLAC can go up to 655,350Hz because there are 20 bits available for it. The highest, and most ludicrous, value out there is currently 192,000Hz.

3) Most importantly, more bits does not mean better sound. Anything above 320kbps is simply there for preservation.

Real audiophiles love FLAC because it helps preserve recordings in their original state, even after multiple rips, digital copying, etc. And because it does so in a comparatively space-efficient format.

This is why MP3′s are bad for archiving. MP3′s have something of a poor generational half-life. You start with an MP3 rip of a CD - even at 256Kbps, you've already lost audio information. That MP3 then gets sent to a friend of yours, who burns it on a CD. More data lost (probably a fair bit, too). Your friend loses the digital original, and re-rips the MP3 from the CD to give it to a friend - by now, there is a very noticeable loss in audio quality in the file. Errors and irregularities have started popping up, and in the strictly archival sense, the song is now basically worthless as a record of the original.

As others have mentioned, hardware is what is important. Flac is absolutely worthless if you don't have the proper hardware to play them back. The device itself is no better than an iPod unless it has better built-in speakers. The only redeeming factor this product has is the large hard drive, but it is also much more expensive than an iPod. Even though iTunes doesn't support FLAC, Apple Lossless is almost as good and I can guarantee that you don't have the hardware to notice the difference between the two anyway.

Ultimately either this article or this product is false advertisement.

EndlessSporadic:

Owyn_Merrilin:
As somebody noted in the Facebook comments, FLAC is lossless to begin with. You can't do better than FLAC, short of a format that has a higher bitrate and sample rate. And I think FLAC goes clear up to 24 bit/92 Khz, which is as high as any consumer level format. Even in the recording studio, the only thing that's arguably better than that bit and sample rate is good old 2" reel to reel tape -- high quality analog, in other words. And even that's arguable. With media that hi-fi, the mastering is the most likely bottle neck, followed by the playback equipment. I'm guessing the actual cause of the quality difference, if it actually exists, is better sound quality regardless of the file type of the source due to a better DAC, and possibly a better built in headphone amp.

It's also categorically /not/ an iPod, unless Apple is making the danged thing. It's like calling an Xbox a "Nintendo," or calling cartridges "tapes."

1) FLAC can store up to 24bit depth audio, and it is lossless (bits per second doesn't matter). Most music providers are still using 16bit. It is actually the anime industry that is taking the first step into 24bit audio files with their soundtracks. There is no need for a format that can support a higher bit depth since the "current-next gen" of music isn't even at 24bit yet.

2) FLAC can go up to 655,350Hz because there are 20 bits available for it. The highest, and most ludicrous, value out there is currently 192,000Hz.

3) Most importantly, more bits does not mean better sound. Anything above 320kbps is simply there for preservation.

Real audiophiles love FLAC because it helps preserve recordings in their original state, even after multiple rips, digital copying, etc. And because it does so in a comparatively space-efficient format.

This is why MP3′s are bad for archiving. MP3′s have something of a poor generational half-life. You start with an MP3 rip of a CD - even at 256Kbps, you've already lost audio information. That MP3 then gets sent to a friend of yours, who burns it on a CD. More data lost (probably a fair bit, too). Your friend loses the digital original, and re-rips the MP3 from the CD to give it to a friend - by now, there is a very noticeable loss in audio quality in the file. Errors and irregularities have started popping up, and in the strictly archival sense, the song is now basically worthless as a record of the original.

As others have mentioned, hardware is what is important. Flac is absolutely worthless if you don't have the proper hardware to play them back. The device itself is no better than an iPod unless it has better built-in speakers. The only redeeming factor this product has is the large hard drive, but it is also much more expensive than an iPod. Even though iTunes doesn't support FLAC, Apple Lossless is almost as good and I can guarantee that you don't have the hardware to notice the difference between the two anyway.

Ultimately either this article or this product is false advertisement.

I'm aware[1], the point was FLAC already meets or exceeds the bit depth and sampling rate of any other format out there, at least for two channel formats (does FLAC have a multichannel mode like DSD or MLP, or even uncompressed multichannel PCM?). I've heard that higher bitrates and sample rates even have the possibility of introducing artifacts that you wouldn't get at good old 16 bit 41.1 khz, while not having any real benefits because the super high sample rates just add frequencies that humans can't even hear, at least not for humans much past the age of 20.

Although you're getting the number of bits per second confused with the number of bits per sample. More bits in the sense that I was using actually means more dynamic range. Even then, though, 16 bits is already enough that nothing uses the full dynamic range. We're talking about the gap between a whisper and a jet engine, except that whisper might already be pretty loud thanks to amplification on the user's end, and I think you can see where I'm going here.

Also yeah, it's a combination of hardware and the recording engineer actually doing his job right. It doesn't matter how good your equipment is if the actual song is muddy, poorly mastered pile of crap.

[1] Mostly, I had no idea there was a format with sample rates that went all the way up to 192 Khz. That means it can reliably carry frequencies up to 96 khz. At that point it's less the range of human hearing, more me wondering how much data you can cram into the full bandwidth of those frequencies, like a dial up phone line on stereoids. Is it possible to wind up storing more data in a linear, modulated form inside of one of those files than they actually take up on your hard drive? And if not there, is there a point where it becomes possible?

o.0

Niel Young? like 'Southern Man', 'Mining for a Heart of Gold', Niel Young? They let him make an MP3 player?

*reads the story*

If its anything like his music it'll be over rated and/or pretentious.

No thanks. I'll just stick to my 160 gig iPod Classic.

Lunar Templar:
o.0

Niel Young? like 'Southern Man', 'Mining for a Heart of Gold', Niel Young? They let him make an MP3 player?

*reads the story*

If its anything like his music it'll be over rated and/or pretentious.

As a fan of Neil Young I resent your statement...
but will defend to the death your right to have it!

OT: Pass, too rich for my blood and I don't want to re-buy my entire music collection!

Devin Connors:
Along with being higher quality than your average MP3 or FLAC file

What kind of bullshit is this? Higher quality than average FLAC songs while also being able to store 500 albums on 128GB?
There is no fucking way this is physically possible. FLAC already has a great filesize for lossless audio and it's huge. Any other format will most likely be even bigger, at best, as big as FLAC.

And that completely ignores the fact that you can't get better quality because FLAC already supports better quality than the source files are. The music industry doesn't release music that FLAC can't play. Basically, you can't get better because the music industry isn't better. You would have to force them to release better source files in order to get better quality.

This is literally a scam meant to take advantage of people who have no fucking clue but want to be "hardcore" audiophiles. Most of the people who supported this most likely don't even have speaker or headphones that can take advantage of 320bit MP3, while FLAC is completely out of their reach.

HOLD ON! No offense to author but isn't that a MP3/music player. iPod is registered trademark and product line of Apple.

Since when did iPod become commonly used word for portable music player?

Because I was confused when I jumped on to the article and thought that Apple has gone full insane and get crowdfunding for their products now...

Also... High quality FLAC files are insanely big. 5-10 times bigger at best. (Depending on compression methods parameters)

Devin Connors:
Along with being higher quality than your average MP3 or FLAC file

Joining the chorus of WTF on this. Even ignoring the fact that many audiophiles are full of it and can't actually detect the difference between lossless and really high quality compression, you still physically cannot do better than FLAC.

...which my low-tier tablet AND phone can both play.

So yeah... no thank you very much.

 

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