Pono Player Shows You What Music Is Supposed to Sound like, Wants to Put iPods out of Commission

Kickstarter campaign nabs all the funds it needs in less than 24 hours

By on March 12th, 2014 13:50 GMT

Canadian singer-songwriter and musician Neil Young has kickstarted the Pono Music player project – which has already garnered $1,300,000 (€937,000) in funding – to offer you “the texture and the emotion of the music the artist worked so hard to create.”

The Kickstarter project became an instant hit after Young published a video showing some of the biggest names in the music industry talking about the Pono experience.

Basic plot is that Pono wants to make us forget about MP3s, which lose a lot of the original sound quality through compression (for the sake of your device’s precious flash memory).

Instead, PonoMusic proposes to use “a quality spectrum, ranging from really good to really great, depending on the quality of the available master recordings.” Files played by Pono have about 6 times more musical information than a typical mp3, according to the Kickstarter promo:

CD lossless quality recordings: 1411 kbps (44.1 kHz/16 bit) FLAC files
High-resolution recordings: 2304 kbps (48 kHz/24 bit) FLAC files
Higher-resolution recordings: 4608 kbps (96 kHz/24 bit) FLAC files
Ultra-high resolution recordings: 9216 kbps (192 kHz/24 bit) FLAC files    

Young and his peers say, “We are pursuing this vision by building a system for the entire music listening experience – from the original master recordings to the PonoMusic.com Store to the portable PonoPlayer. So now you’ll hear the nuances, the soft touches, and the ends on the echo – the texture and the emotion of the music the artist worked so hard to create.”

If you’re wondering why the thing is shaped like a Toblerone bar, there’s a good reason for that. You see, some of the components required to output the flawless sound are pretty big. Well, not too big, but certainly big enough not to fit in an iPod nano form factor.

“This led us to design the accessory in the shape of a triangular ‘Toblerone’ shaped chocolate bar.  It allowed us to use larger audio components and to separate them far enough apart to prevent electrical interference between the various subsystems. It also allowed us to use a large cylindrical battery that’s much more efficient than a flat battery,” the creators explain.

Users will have the PonoMusic app (Mac and Windows versions) to access the PonoMusic.com Store and “browse, search, purchase and download high-resolution music to your computer.”

The device comes with a touchscreen LCD that allows for easy “swipe” navigation between menus, songs, albums, and playlists, and it sports two output jacks, one for normal headphone listening, the other (a stereo mini-plug analog output) designed for listening to home audio systems, in the car, or with Sonos Connect.

The PonoPlayer will be built by PCH International at its production facilities in Shenzhen, China, and will sell for $399 / €287 when it launches in October.
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