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New Portable Music Player to Produce Pure Articulate Sound
Legendary singer-songwriter, Neil Young, recently launched one of the most successful Kickstarter projects to date; the PonoPlayer. According to the online community where his appeal began, its “mission is to provide the best possible listening experience of your favourite digital music.” Over $6.2 million was raised from supporters of the project which in turn has granted the go-ahead for the development of Young’s idea.

The ‘no compromises’ concept by Pono is to manufacture a music player which transfers the original production-level sound of a song to a digital format without losing quality - not like the standard digitally-compressed, low-quality arrangement we get through mp3s. In a video on the Kickstarter site, Neil Young compares the sound of mp3 to being lost 1000-feet down in the depths of the sea. Further up at 200-feet was where the CD would be placed. A step even further up, close to the surface – with almost the same sound quality as the original studio masters – would come the PonoPlayer.

CDs contain much better quality audio than mp3 files, but the PonoPlayer will be able to play files that contain six times more audio information than those found on CDs. The digital format of media files allows straight-forward access to almost any music by keeping it compact but as we all know, this vastly constricts the experience for the listener. However, in comparison to an mp3, the PonoPlayer will be capable of playing music files with over thirty times more data; bringing users the crème-de-la-crème of digital sound.

The new player will use FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) as its standard audio file format. It will also enable compatibility with most high-resolution music from other sources and in different formats. The quality of music played back by the PonoPlayer will range from great to excellent, depending on the quality of the available master recording.

It is clear why Neil Young, as a professional singer-songwriter, is so determined to succeed in his mission to deliver Pono. It also comes as no surprise that a large number of other music fans invested in this venture. Young said it is an “artist-driven movement to take it [music] back [to where it began in its original and purest form]”. Singer-songwriter, James Taylor, described how “CD and mp3 quality, above all – or under all – simply doesn’t give back what we put down.” Many musicians are frustrated by the fact that when the in-studio performance of an artist is captured and produced, the product delivered to their fan-base afterwards is a poor substitute of the recorded original. Foo Fighters frontman, Dave Grohl, validated this, commenting on how the standard music of today has “lost that original intention”.

In accordance with the purpose of Pono, the name itself translates to ‘righteous’ – an apt word for a device of its kind. In the video on Kickstarter, endless zeal radiates from everyone who has experienced the device. Chris Robinson from The Black Crows remarks that “it sounds like an amazing, warm, dynamic analogue recording” and Mumford and Sons band member, Ben Lovett, says “I just sat in the future for two minutes – it was pretty wild! It’s a vehicle to the future. Any music specialist would be able to notice the difference in quality of sound.”

According to the PonoMusic website, all major record labels are growing their catalogues of high quality digital music and supporting the PonoPlayer. The people at Pono are also cooperating with smaller independent labels to bring an eclectic choice of music – across diverse genres - to the forthcoming online PonoMusic store.

The PonoPlayer is due for release in October at an RRP of £399.

Published: 29 April 2014


£5.00 (INC P&P)