Neil Young's Pono Music Kickstarter Crosses $1 Million Mark in 24 Hours

Neil Young's Pono Music Kickstarter Crosses $1 Million Mark in 24 Hours

Pono Player Ponomusic 310x

$800,000 goal reached in under a day, and there's still 34 days left to go.

Remember the Neil Young-helmed Pono Music player and service we posted about earlier this week? It's Kickstarter campaign is live, and the funding figures are staggering, to say the least.

In under 24 hours, Pono Music has managed to raise $1 million dollars from over 3,100 backers. With 34 days left in the campaign, the PonoPlayer has already exceeded its $800,000 funding goal, and then some.

The PonoPlayer will have a retail price of $399 when it launches in October, but the Kickstarter campaign is offering the player for $300. There was a 100 backer-large $200 Early Bird tier, but it sold out rather quickly.

$300 nets you a black or yellow PonoPlayer, along with a mention in the website's Thank You section. If you want to pitch in $400, you can choose from one of 14 Artist Signature Series models. The signature model lineup, which features artists like the Foo Fighters, Arcade Fire, and Tom Petty, have the artist's name(s) laser-etched into the PonoPlayer, and they come pre-loaded with two albums of your choice. The tier is rounded out with a handmade leather case.

For the one percenters out there, $5,000 gets you an invitation to a "VIP Dinner and Listening Party," with Neil Young himself. You foot the bill for airfare, but the hotel stay is covered (and it comes with a Signature Series model of your choice).

Fancy gimmicks aside, the $300 tier is a 25 percent savings over the retail price -- not a bad deal, if you're willing to spend that kind of cash on a music player. If FLAC audio files (which Pono says will be its standard moving forward) is all you want entering your ears, the Pono might be worth a listen.

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Totaly missread the title... and became very confused.

I still don't see the real advantage over my mobil phone, but the i'm not a music-aficionado.

Is it me, or does that thing look totally unergonomic? I mean, a triangle in your pocket does not seem very comfortable to me.

baarserik:
Is it me, or does that thing look totally unergonomic? I mean, a triangle in your pocket does not seem very comfortable to me.

From what I read at the kickstarter, it's a no musical quality compromise player. In other words that's the only thing they didn't compromise on. The shape is so they can use extremely high quality components that just wouldn't fit in a flatter shape. Personally I think I've finally found a replacement for my Cowon S9. It even has the mcroSD slot the S9 lacks.

They should have called it the Toblerone player.

Yes, I just made the most obvious comparison. Come on, there's even a yellow version!

This is an elitist device. The majority of people don't need uncompressed audio for a portable device. It doesn't make a difference at all. Because in order to get the best sound quality you'd need high quality headphones, and they tend to be expensive.

Adam Jensen:
They should have called it the Toblerone player.

Yes, I just made the most obvious comparison. Come on, there's even a yellow version!

This is an elitist device. The majority of people don't need uncompressed audio for a portable device. It doesn't make a difference at all. Because in order to get the best sound quality you'd need high quality headphones, and they tend to be expensive.

True i cannot notice any difference between 128 kb/s MP3 and CD version of my songs, although my Creative Zen MP3 player will die eventually and it would be nice to have an option to buy something else than iPod for my dedicated music device. Currently the smartphones completely took over the portable music market and you have extremely limited options if you want to have 32GB device that can fit all your songs with room to spare.
Also the triangular shape reminds me of my first MP3 player i bought way in 2005 although the shape in this case was dictated by the fact that it was powered by AA battery.
image

Heathcliff84:
Totaly missread the title... and became very confused.

I still don't see the real advantage over my mobil phone, but the i'm not a music-aficionado.

It is supposed to use a different audio file format which is far better than MP3 or MP4 like your phone and iPods and the like use. As I understand it it is supposed to be closer to the quality of an old vinyl record.

Undomesticated Equine:

Adam Jensen:
They should have called it the Toblerone player.

Yes, I just made the most obvious comparison. Come on, there's even a yellow version!

This is an elitist device. The majority of people don't need uncompressed audio for a portable device. It doesn't make a difference at all. Because in order to get the best sound quality you'd need high quality headphones, and they tend to be expensive.

True i cannot notice any difference between 128 kb/s MP3 and CD version of my songs, although my Creative Zen MP3 player will die eventually and it would be nice to have an option to buy something else than iPod for my dedicated music device. Currently the smartphones completely took over the portable music market and you have extremely limited options if you want to have 32GB device that can fit all your songs with room to spare.
Also the triangular shape reminds me of my first MP3 player i bought way in 2005 although the shape in this case was dictated by the fact that it was powered by AA battery.
image

]
image
Ha thought i was the only one still rocking a Creative Zen, scratched up to fuck, but it survived the washing machine and still works, ive not even had to use the sd card slot in all the years ive had it. While i like the phone having photos and music my galaxy s2 does the job, but i find i keep using my Zen for music. Effort having to get my big phone out unlock it dick around with a touch screen. call me lowtech but im happy with my zen and before that i was happy with my mini disc player.

It does sound impressive all the guys including ppl like Foo Fighters raving about it etc. It my be interesting coz many people might not know music does not sound as good as it should.

Adam Jensen:
This is an elitist device. The majority of people don't need uncompressed audio for a portable device. It doesn't make a difference at all. Because in order to get the best sound quality you'd need high quality headphones, and they tend to be expensive.

It's a hobbyist device. Yes, the kind of people who buy expensive music players from Kickstarter are largely the same niche market who have expensive headphones.

What's so "elitist" about that?

Quick correction, the Toblerone (it's hurting my hands lol) is suppposed to use a format that's better than flac. Higher bit rate and bit depth yadayada. To be honest, this whole thing reeks of snake oil to me.
First of all, past 20k you're not going to hear much of a difference, even on fairly expensive sound systems. Bit depth I understand, that does make a difference but .flac can do 24-bit as well so that's no good.
Second, why do we need that many artists telling us how good it is before we're even explained what the bloody thing is?
And thirdly, the Pono service is supposed to bring with it a higher royalty rate in comparison to iTunes. No wonder they're all impressed.

Cynicism aside, competition is always a nice thing. After all, the free market will fix it.

so is flac a really special audio file or something? I still use my trusty old zune myself but something that isnt defunct might be nice(though the hipster cred I gain with this thing is sweet):p

also what stands out about this mp3 player it looks kind of shitty to me.

furai47:
Quick correction, the Toblerone (it's hurting my hands lol) is suppposed to use a format that's better than flac. Higher bit rate and bit depth yadayada.

Not sure where you get that. According to the Kickstarter the default format for the Pono is ultra high bitrate FLAC (24 bit/192kHz), but it will play any FLAC as well as ALAC (Apple Lossless), MP3, WAV, AIFF & AAC (without DRM) https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1003614822/ponomusic-where-your-soul-rediscovers-music

Still strictly for the audiophile market though. And people who buy Monster Cable.

rbstewart7263:
so is flac a really special audio file or something? I still use my trusty old zune myself but something that isnt defunct might be nice(though the hipster cred I gain with this thing is sweet):p

also what stands out about this mp3 player it looks kind of shitty to me.

FLAC is a lossless format like ALAC (Apple Lossless) If you have higher end equipment you will notice the difference between them and MP3's, but not on your average equipment, and they take up a ton of space, even though they are compressed. For example a 4 minute FLAC file will take up 22 to 25 Mb while a 4 minute 128 to 152 kb/s MP3 about 3.5 to 4 Mb

Glad I'm not the only one that initially read "Neil Young's Porno Music" and went o.O

Yeah, no. I think I'll stick to my iRiver and my Creative mp3 players, they do me juuuust fine. I honestly doubt that there would be any difference to the average listener, the design also seems a little too unconfortable to me, I mean granted, it's meant to have higher quality components and all that, but wouldn't that also make the player a bit more fragile? Especially with that triangular design, it just doesn't seem like it'd be as durable.

They are at 1.5 million already! And all the $5,000 dollar dinner pledges are gone!
Goodness. There must be a ton of people out there that like HiDef music and hate iPod.

I think I'll pitch in some too.

Andrew_C:
Not sure where you get that. According to the Kickstarter the default format for the Pono is ultra high bitrate FLAC (24 bit/192kHz), but it will play any FLAC as well as ALAC (Apple Lossless), MP3, WAV, AIFF & AAC (without DRM)

Huh, well I'll be damned. So, the thing is practically useless then. Thanks.

furai47:

Andrew_C:
Not sure where you get that. According to the Kickstarter the default format for the Pono is ultra high bitrate FLAC (24 bit/192kHz), but it will play any FLAC as well as ALAC (Apple Lossless), MP3, WAV, AIFF & AAC (without DRM)

Huh, well I'll be damned. So, the thing is practically useless then. Thanks.

Why do you say that, if you don't mind me asking? I know there isn't a lot of stuff that plays FLAC out there, but it seems a decent format to me and it plays ALAC and that's unDRM'ed.

The subject of Pono is looking more and more like a room filled with artists masturbating themselves over sound quality, and for those that aren't artists, people with >$120,000/year incomes who can afford STAX SR-009's like they're nothing, and for those that don't fall into the former two, are people who like to pretend they can "feel the warmth" of the glorious Pono when really they don't know what the fuck they're talking about.

Uh... shut up and take my money?

Mosstromo:
They are at 1.5 million already! And all the $5,000 dollar dinner pledges are gone!
Goodness. There must be a ton of people out there that like HiDef music and hate iPod.

What, like all the millionaire artists in the opening video to which $5000 is fucking pocket change?

I bet half of the people who buy it end up listening their music with earbuds anyway. And just load it with MP3s to boot, super high quality be damned. I mean who will want to carry around the high quality headphones required to appreciate that lossless recordings. I have PortaPro and even though they are small and can be folded they still take a lot of space and are kind of unwieldy.
Recently i bought a 55€ stereo speakers for my computer and they blow the PortaPro headphones out of the water. They sound way richer than any headphones i have ever used and i think that anybody who knows quality music will prefer listening it on some hi tech audio system not on a headphones of any price.

If I want to listen to high quality music, it's not when I'm walking about. Pass from me

Andrew_C:
Why do you say that, if you don't mind me asking? I know there isn't a lot of stuff that plays FLAC out there, but it seems a decent format to me and it plays ALAC and that's unDRM'ed.

Because there are cheaper alternatives that play .flac exactly like this does without making suspicious bulges in your pockets. So far, I don't think this device brings anything to the table that would make it worth 400$. Think Beats by Dr. Dre but as a music player and you'll get why I'm not impressed.

Wow.

...that was the most pretentious KS campaign description I've ever read. For all the talk about the "soul of the music", the "connection between the artists and their fans", and analogies to photographs, you have to dig down in the FAQ to find some decent technical info, and if it's all Greek to someone, I'd wager that they probably aren't the kind of audiophile who can hear the difference between FLAC (which isn't a new format, just a niche one) and MP3. The design seems problematic, as well: the extra space may allow for quality components, but just imagine walking around with one of those wedges in your pants pocket. But hey, if you want to pay $300-400 for an awkward device & $18 per album for audio differences you may not hear, go right ahead.

laserwulf:
Wow.

...that was the most pretentious KS campaign description I've ever read. For all the talk about the "soul of the music", the "connection between the artists and their fans", and analogies to photographs, you have to dig down in the FAQ to find some decent technical info, and if it's all Greek to someone, I'd wager that they probably aren't the kind of audiophile who can hear the difference between FLAC (which isn't a new format, just a niche one) and MP3.

Honestly. A person who backs this watches all these "professionals" put .mp3 and CD in the same ballpark of quality and thinks "man, Pono is really onto something," where I think "They think .mp3 and CD are comparable levels of quality... are they fucking high, subtarded, or both?"

As someone who bashed the shit out of this when I posted on it originally, I was very sceptical of this.

Unsurprisingly, it was a very pretentious description/video. Lots of flowery language and embellishing.

All of that said, now that I have the details this is exactly what I've been looking for for years. A dedicated PMP, with a good amount of internal storage, a MicroSD slot, and high quality components. Yeah it looks weird, and a good amount of the people selling it are pretty stuck up, but it fits what I want too well to pass up.

I'm that guy who spends $500 on his headphones, prefers FLAC over any other format, and collects vinyl. Call me an elitist if you want, but really I just like music.

So I decided to throw some money at it, and get the Signature Foo Fighters edition.

furai47:

Andrew_C:
Why do you say that, if you don't mind me asking? I know there isn't a lot of stuff that plays FLAC out there, but it seems a decent format to me and it plays ALAC and that's unDRM'ed.

Because there are cheaper alternatives that play .flac exactly like this does without making suspicious bulges in your pockets. So far, I don't think this device brings anything to the table that would make it worth 400$. Think Beats by Dr. Dre but as a music player and you'll get why I'm not impressed.

OK, I thought it was the use of FLAC that put you off. I do agree it's largely for that odd intersection of buyers of Monster Cable and Beats headphones, though. But if I had 300 to spare I might think about getting it. But only after seeing what Cowon and iRiver have in the high end.

This is a fucking waste of resources and people's money.

There's a very real situation of diminishing returns past uncompressed CD quality 44.1khz 16bit PCM (pulse code modulation) wave files, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyquist_theorem. The takeaway from the article is that due to digital functions of mathematical absolutes, you require more sampled steps of amplitude to represent higher frequencies. Specifically, half of the sampling rate (your khz value in uncompressed audio) are the highest pitch frequencies it can represent. 44.1 was chosen for CD's during their conception since the 99% of humans not suffering hearing have can interpret pitch as audible sound up to about 22,000hz (Half of 44.1khz).

I won't deny there is more data and technical accuracy in higher read / write values, but as has been found in double blind studies, most people, including music aficionados can't hear the difference, or mistake their ability to discern the difference. This includes the sample and bit depth selection supported in this product.

Thing is, you trying to listen to music made for dogs and dolphins? The higher accuracy of 48khz, 96khz, 192khz over 16bit 24bit and (at best and not offered, 32 bit float) are principally of use to people interested in scientifically accurate field recordings and ultra high res time and pitch post editing. The FLAC codec does a good job of of reducing the file size on these beast formats, but adds further layers of complication and cross-compatibility issues on top of the ability dither well during sample rate conversion (look up dithering if you want to know what i'm on about).

It's worth noting that the representation of these high resolution recording / playback formats is bottle-necked by the capacity of the soundcard, buffer, AD/DACs and finally the speaker or headhphone system they are being heard on.

Funny thing is that people who want to work and listen to material accurately at these rates already do so with audio interfaces and professional studio monitors, capable of actually producing the added range.

So if the pro audio types already have this shit covered, who do they plan on being their market? It seems a hard fucking sell to pitch an oddly ergonomically shaped external, portable, music player (in itself, a buy in for a proprietry storefront) for a price that could get you a videogame console, or a ton of good enough mp3 music for the smartphone you already own. It's fighting an entrenched mp3 market on multi-function devices on one side, pro audio geeks equipped with better kit on the other and seems to hope to target some hypothetical audiophile middleground who exist in constant need of high quality portable music listening (since 96khz makes a huge difference on a noisy bus) by way of a toblerone shaped exclusive hardware peripheral with a high price point.

If I sound a bit pissed, it's because, yes, I am. Not because some people with an incomplete understanding will buy for convenience of access, but rather the squandered potential do do something more genuinely interesting with the investment captital - IE, why bother with high sample rate PCM -> FLAC files at all, when you could make a genuinely different system that uses the popularity of Neil Young's name to sell Pulse DENSITY Modulation or SIGMA DELTA Modulation superfidelity formats that use 1 bit write resolutions, but end up with upwards of 2.9 GIGAhz/second. THAT would be something that actually came from the dreamworld hype for this would indicate people want.

----

Course maybe this is all just me being grumpy and not seeing the 'genius' of it all. I'm willing to eat crow if it explodes in popularity, but beyond the technical complaints, I keep coming back to 'who is this made for?' if the people into HD-scientific quality audio already got their asses covered and the bulk of the population who don't want to abandon their mp3 library have their asses covered with their smartphones and etc... Where is the market for a triangular, dedicated piece of portable music listening hardware with a high pay gate entry before you even access their storefront of limited selections, in 2014 and beyond?

/rant

Andrew_C:

furai47:

Andrew_C:
Not sure where you get that. According to the Kickstarter the default format for the Pono is ultra high bitrate FLAC (24 bit/192kHz), but it will play any FLAC as well as ALAC (Apple Lossless), MP3, WAV, AIFF & AAC (without DRM)

Huh, well I'll be damned. So, the thing is practically useless then. Thanks.

Why do you say that, if you don't mind me asking? I know there isn't a lot of stuff that plays FLAC out there, but it seems a decent format to me and it plays ALAC and that's unDRM'ed.

You know what else plays uncompressed audio? Every iPod, iPad and iPhone from the original iPod with scroll wheel (AIFF and WAV support from day 1) to the iPhone 5S! Using bluetooth/AirPlay on supported devices you can bypass the built in digital to analogue converter (Which actually does a fairly decent job of it anyway!) and send the digital signal straight to a high quality digital to analogue converter or you can simply plug the device into a dock which does the same thing but with a plug rather than through bluetooth.

Quite frankly the people that backed this kickstarter (Especially the higher teirs) would be better off buying an iPod Touch and a bluetooth valve amplifier for at home and a set of monitor headphones for on the go. Then just get some ALAC files from BandCamp or official concert "Bootlegs" available online (Bruce Springsteen does them!) and enjoy the experience of listening to lossless audio the "right" way today!

Sounds fancy but I don't understand why I'd buy this over an iPod. I'm sure getting the highest quality audio file is important to some people, but I don't see myself buying something like this over a multi-function device like a phone or iPod (or iPhone or that matter).

*reads title*

The hell is a Ponoplayer?

*reads article*

So... it's a iPod that isn't actually a iPod? Why would you buy this.

*reads it further*

OH, it plays FLAC audio files. Now it makes sense. Mention FLAC audio files to audiophiles and you'll send them convulsing with joy-induced seizures. Not really my cup of tea, since the fidelity is too fine for me to make out the difference (like video game graphics nowadays), but I know a lot of people that would kill a man for this.

truckspond:

Andrew_C:

Why do you say that, if you don't mind me asking? I know there isn't a lot of stuff that plays FLAC out there, but it seems a decent format to me and it plays ALAC and that's unDRM'ed.

You know what else plays uncompressed audio? Every iPod, iPad and iPhone from the original iPod with scroll wheel (AIFF and WAV support from day 1) to the iPhone 5S! Using bluetooth/AirPlay on supported devices you can bypass the built in digital to analogue converter (Which actually does a fairly decent job of it anyway!) and send the digital signal straight to a high quality digital to analogue converter or you can simply plug the device into a dock which does the same thing but with a plug rather than through bluetooth.

Quite frankly the people that backed this kickstarter (Especially the higher teirs) would be better off buying an iPod Touch and a bluetooth valve amplifier for at home and a set of monitor headphones for on the go. Then just get some ALAC files from BandCamp or official concert "Bootlegs" available online (Bruce Springsteen does them!) and enjoy the experience of listening to lossless audio the "right" way today!

iPods and other iThingies are overpriced, tied to that abomination called iTunes. I'd rather have something from Cowon or iRiver. Even my Sandisk Sansa is better than an iPod, mainly because it's not tied to iTunes and I can also install Rockbox if I wanted (yeah I know it runs on a lot of iPods).

And what sort of idiot who buys a Bluetooth Valve amplifier? That's just retarded. What a massive waste of good valves! Mind you, thousands of people seem to have bought this Porno thing, just because Neil Young, so I shouldn't be surprised that such idiotic things exist.

EDIT: Huh, what do you know. They finally let VLC on the App Store. I guess the Ascension of St Steve of Cupertino (blessed be) really changed things.

Andrew_C:

truckspond:

Andrew_C:

Why do you say that, if you don't mind me asking? I know there isn't a lot of stuff that plays FLAC out there, but it seems a decent format to me and it plays ALAC and that's unDRM'ed.

You know what else plays uncompressed audio? Every iPod, iPad and iPhone from the original iPod with scroll wheel (AIFF and WAV support from day 1) to the iPhone 5S! Using bluetooth/AirPlay on supported devices you can bypass the built in digital to analogue converter (Which actually does a fairly decent job of it anyway!) and send the digital signal straight to a high quality digital to analogue converter or you can simply plug the device into a dock which does the same thing but with a plug rather than through bluetooth.

Quite frankly the people that backed this kickstarter (Especially the higher teirs) would be better off buying an iPod Touch and a bluetooth valve amplifier for at home and a set of monitor headphones for on the go. Then just get some ALAC files from BandCamp or official concert "Bootlegs" available online (Bruce Springsteen does them!) and enjoy the experience of listening to lossless audio the "right" way today!

...I'd rather have something from Cowon or iRiver. Even my Sandisk Sansa is better than an iPod, mainly because it's not tied to iTunes and I can also install Rockbox if I wanted (yeah I know it runs on a lot of iPods)...

Well as long as it has bluetooth audio output support and can handle uncompressed audio then it should be fine.

And yes, Bluetooth valve amplifiers ARE a real thing! http://www.samsung.com/uk/consumer/tv-audio-video/wireless-audio/dock/DA-E750/XU-features , http://www.bluetubeaudio.com/

truckspond:

Andrew_C:

truckspond:

You know what else plays uncompressed audio? Every iPod, iPad and iPhone from the original iPod with scroll wheel (AIFF and WAV support from day 1) to the iPhone 5S! Using bluetooth/AirPlay on supported devices you can bypass the built in digital to analogue converter (Which actually does a fairly decent job of it anyway!) and send the digital signal straight to a high quality digital to analogue converter or you can simply plug the device into a dock which does the same thing but with a plug rather than through bluetooth.

Quite frankly the people that backed this kickstarter (Especially the higher teirs) would be better off buying an iPod Touch and a bluetooth valve amplifier for at home and a set of monitor headphones for on the go. Then just get some ALAC files from BandCamp or official concert "Bootlegs" available online (Bruce Springsteen does them!) and enjoy the experience of listening to lossless audio the "right" way today!

...I'd rather have something from Cowon or iRiver. Even my Sandisk Sansa is better than an iPod, mainly because it's not tied to iTunes and I can also install Rockbox if I wanted (yeah I know it runs on a lot of iPods)...

Well as long as it has bluetooth audio output support and can handle uncompressed audio then it should be fine.

And yes, Bluetooth valve amplifiers ARE a real thing! http://www.samsung.com/uk/consumer/tv-audio-video/wireless-audio/dock/DA-E750/XU-features , http://www.bluetubeaudio.com/

How can you complain about the Ponoplayer being a pointless waste of money, yet seriously recommend bluetooth valve amplifiers? That's Monster Cable levels of snake oil. Valves don't just magically make everything sound better, you need a good quality source and good quality signal path, (and decent valves) none of which are guaranteed in consumer level hardware, even if you slap a valve on it.

Actually I think we've found the target market for the Ponoplayer. It's for people who buy Bluetooth valve amplifiers.

 

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