Pono – for the righteous audiophile?

Featured, Industry News — By on October 25, 2012 09:43

Oh how times have changed. I remember growing up with the cassette tape as the medium of choice for any discerning music lover. I had my Superwoofer tape deck with four speakers along the front and I used to generously share my collection of heavy metal with my parents and neighbours.

In my early teens, my friends and I used to share our music with each other and we used to “tape” each others’ albums. After a 2nd or 3rd generation copy gets copied onto your 3 year old cassette you can just about hear the music above the hiss. Then of course you had the added joy of the tape stretching or getting chewed up and having to use a biro to wind it carefully back onto the spool.

These days poor sound quality is due to digital compression of MP3s. Many artists are being vocal about the level of clarity listeners are accepting, especially after the amount of effort put in to sculpting their aural masterpiece in the studio.

One such artist is Neil Young who recently appeared on Letterman with a prototype of the latest portable music device the Pono (Hawaiian for Righteous apparently). Young claims that it can produce “the best sound anyone can get” and converts digital files to anologue sounding recordings.

Pono uses its own file format which can be downloaded as per other music download sites. Warner, Sony, and Universal are reportedly all on board, and while you’ll have to re-buy songs if you want to hear them in their high-definition glory, the Pono devices will also play back tracks bought from other digital stores.

The Guardian believe that this is just musicians being elitist and this will only appeal to high-end audio enthusiasts, citing Super Audio CD and DVD Audio as previous attempts to improve audio quality that never really caught on. The Pono however has the convenience of an MP3  player so it may be more successful. I think the defining factor will be the price of the player and the price of the tunes. It is playing at 24bit after all!

So let us know your thoughts on the Pono. Will it catch on and have mass appeal or is it just one for the enthusiasts?

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  1. James says:

    I’m all for high definition audio formats and players, but do we really need another HD audio format? FLAC and ALAC seem to be perfectly suitable lossless formats.

    The real issue is convincing people to buy into and listen to HD audio. So I give Pono and Neil Young credit for trying to produce a sexy new music player that promotes Quality Audio, but I don’t see the point in inventing a new file format.

  2. raphael says:

    Like the commenter above me said: flac, alac, ape are allready here and good. Nobody will repurchase their songs in a format that ties them to a specific player.

    The dvd-a and sacd failed because record labels did nit support them.

    I would love to see flac as the download standard, but industry seems to be more on aac/mp3 train. Higher res in recent years though.

  3. Glenn Willems says:

    The device’s name does not begin with “i” so the hipness factor is just about zero I’m afraid… That being said, it’s about time someone stood up to try and stop/counter those terrible lossy compression schemes. Thanks to MP3 most people these days wouldn’t recognise good quality audio if it bit them up the proverbial rear end. Just my 2 cents, to be taken for what they’re worth :-)

  4. Tim Goodyer says:

    Taking a slightly philosophical look at the impact of MP3/mobile music deliver, I came up with this…


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