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As Pono gears up for the launch of its HD music store, check out its (unreleased) desktop app

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Neil Young’s music startup Pono is getting closer towards launching a full HD music store on the web as well as within a dedicated app for Windows and OS X that will synchronize music with the company’s music player. Pono launched a demo version of the store on its website earlier this week, and with a little effort, I was able to take a look at the Pono desktop app as well.

Pono's new website with a preview of its download store.
Pono’s new website with a preview of its download store.

[company]Pono[/company] had originally said that its music store would launch in October, but the storefront unveiled on its website this week is really just a preview. Users can browse albums and listen to excerpts of songs on the site, but they can’t actually buy anything, and none of the albums listed include any pricing information. On a separate news site, Pono announced that it will have music from all three major labels, and that its total catalog will exceed two million tracks.

Music downloads aren't enabled on Pono's site yet.
Music downloads aren’t enabled on Pono’s site yet.

Pono’s music downloads are powered by Omnifone, which also powers Sony’s Music Unlimited service and Rara.com, among others. However, little has been known about Pono’s desktop app, which the company needs to transfer music because Pono’s player doesn’t come with any wireless connectivity. There was a minor announcement in the past that Pono was working with JRiver on the app, and with a bit of searching around, I found out that Pono is simply using JRiver’s Media Center software, which is available for OS X and Windows. The app includes an integrated web browser, and in the version I saw, it simply accessed the Pono Music Store for music purchases.

pono app 1

The JRiver Media Center, which has been rebranded as the PonoMusic Hub, also supports playback from media within your home network as well as CD ripping and burning, and was even able to control my Sonos system. There are no indicators for music pricing in the app either, and all of the help and support entries simply link back to the JRiver website.

pono app 2

JRiver’s software has its fans, which tend to prefer the software over more mainstream media players like iTunes because it does offer them a lot more functionality. However, I have to say that Pono may have some work to do to make the app look a little more modern.

Pono’s key sales point is obviously its HD music, but from a technical perspective, the company’s hardware is already looking a little dated, given that it doesn’t offer any kind of wireless connectivity. Pairing this with an app that looks like it hasn’t changed much since 2001 doesn’t exactly help to make Pono look like something built to be sold in 2015.

6 Responses to “As Pono gears up for the launch of its HD music store, check out its (unreleased) desktop app”

  1. Mentioning wireless transfer and highres music in the same article is a bit like admitting that you don’t know what you’re talking about. Two different things. One song in 24/192 can be 0.5Gb in size. Good luck with streaming. Even transferring to the Pono player over USB2 requires a bit of patiance. But it’s worth it, if you value audio quality.

    I was a bit intimidated by the software when I first started to use it, but once you get to know it, it’s actually really good. And as somebody already mentioned, it’s a really good sounding software. Major step up from Windows Media Player on PC at least without any hardware changes. Impressive.

  2. JRiver is consistently rated and recommended as the top music server software for PC’s and with good reason. If “looks” is more important than functionality then I’m sure you love Beats. That said, iTunes hasn’t really changed its overall look over the years and compared to JRiver it is a looser in aesthetics and functionality.

    The only technology that matters here is audio quality in a portable player. Why no mention of the features that are in this device at this price point? They are impressive.

  3. I have the App. It’s a quantum leap in sound quality above iTunes (especially if you check “Play files from Memory instead of Hard Disk” and switch “Clip protection” to “Flat Line Overflows” in DSP Studio. It’s the best sound I’ve ever heard from my Mac on everything!