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Summary:

Pono is a no-show at CES: Neil Young’s high-definition music service and device won’t be launching in Vegas next month.

pono player

Pono, the digital music company founded by music legend Neil Young, is delaying its launch: A Facebook post penned by Neil Young himself that had promised an “early 2014 launch” has been taken down, and the company is now saying that it won’t be at CES in Las Vegas next month.

Pono is Neil Young’s attempt to bring some of the qualities of original sound recordings back to the digital age. Young’s company will manufacture a personal audio player and also distribute high-definition music downloads.

The company is still keeping mum on some key details of its service, but Young said in the now-removed post that it works with “artist-approved studio masters” to restore music “to its original artistic quality.” Pono has also said that it is working with Meridian, a company that produces high-end audio and AV systems.

However, Pono isn’t the only company trying to woo consumers with better-sounding digital music. Next month’s CES will feature a dedicated “Hi Res Audio Experience” area, and companies like Sony will also feature high-resolution audio equipment at their booths. Pono’s promise has been that it will differentiate itself from these competitors by delivering more than just higher bitrates, but at least at CES, consumers won’t be able to hear the difference.

  1. I love Neil Young’s music but he should really give up on this entrepreneur thing. His earlier company LincVolt was based on the awful idea of converting gigantic classic cars to EV. Anybody who knows anything about battery powered vehicles will tell you that weight and aerodynamics are paramount to a successful electric vehicle. Gigantic 1960’s Lincolns fail miserably on both counts.

    And then you have the Pono. An awkward triangular device that could never fit in a pocket that uses a proprietary lossless audio codec even though there are already well regarded lossless codecs available. He’ll also have to come up with an entirely new music store and negotiate all the deals with all the labels/artists. And all of this is based on the idea that the .mp3 codec isn’t adequate. Well, that might be true for 1% of 1% of the population (if even that). But by far the average listener can’t discern the benefits of less lossy codecs. Bottom line, this product was doomed from the start.

    Neil, please just stick with your music!

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    1. I have to disagree with “And all of this is based on the idea that the .mp3 codec isn’t adequate. Well, that might be true for 1% of 1% of the population (if even that). But by far the average listener can’t discern the benefits of less lossy codecs” mp3 are very bad, and loss less isn’t even close to true cd, and I only have some cheap 901VI from bose. Am I going to die before I get to hear good sound again?

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  2. Pono is a dumb idea. Labels love the concept because they think they’ll be able to sell a new copy of old music to everybody if it flies. But pigs don’t have wings, and few will buy.

    No one can hear the difference between a Master recording and a CD. And both take way too much bandwidth to succeed in streaming today to a mainstream audience.

    For music aficionados, our competitor WIMP (basically a Norwegian Spotify) already offers unlimited FLAC (loss-less, which IS full CD quality) streaming for a modest premium subscription price.

    Neil Young was a great musician, but he should leave tech to experts. Pono offers too little too late…

    From the Hot-Seat…
    Thomas McAlevey, CEO, Radical.FM

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  3. Really? Neil was a great musician? Does he no longer qualify as an “is” simply because of a delay in reaching the marketplace.? Some great contempory musicians and others who have actually HEARD Pono have testified that it’s sound is astounding, a quantum level above the digital mud and easily discernable with any normal hearing individual. Music is one of the great gifts in being human. It iis of both heart and heart. Common to all civilizations through the ages. Mr. Young gets that. It’s his passion. He has made a connittment to use his personal resources to make it possible for others to experience it’s essential nature. Why be so contemptuous of his efforts? At least wait until you actually hear it before passing such fatalistic judgment.

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  4. I find the compressed sound of MP3s highly irritating and welcome Neil Young’s efforts. In the meantime I will stick to Qobuz for lossless streaming. The quality is far superior to other streaming services.

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  5. He named it “Pono” ??? Really ??!?!?

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  6. Anybody who feels qualified to judge winners and losers before the market does ought to risk some venture capital instead of an opinion in a comment box. Actual experience can be pretty humbling. I’m all in favour of Neil Young having a go with Pono. Track record means little. Most successful innovators have a string if failures behind them. A successful entrepreneur is one who started again more times than he/she failed.

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