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PONO to be released


Neil Young to launch music player at SXSW

January 23, 2014, Yahoo.

Neil Young will launch his new music player PONO at the South by Southwest (SXSW) music conference in Austin, Texas in March. Young was awarded the President’s Merit Award from the Producers and Engineers arm of the Recording Academy and said Pono would be launched at SXSW.

Pono is a high quality digital music player that will play the sound as it was recorded in the studio. It will become the hi-tech alternative to low quality MP3 players such as the iPod.

In his speech for the Academy, Young said: “Being impressed by something, and how cool it is, and how sharp it is, and how snappy it is, is one thing, and that translates into almost any media. But when you’re singing something very soulful from your heart, and the echo is perfect and everything’s great and you’re using maybe an acoustic chamber and everything sounds great. And then you listen to it and you love it, but you hear it somewhere else and it’s gone – that’s terrible.

“We don’t like that. Not many of us like that, we’re not happy about it. So we’re trying to change that, and we’re trying to make it better. We’re trying to make music sound technically better, and that’s what I want to do. So we have a player that plays whatever the musicians’ made digitally, and that’s going to come out.

“We’re announcing that at SXSW, we’re introducing it, it’s called Pono, and that’s my commercial, thank you very much.”

:: PONO website

:: PONO technicals:

:: Nyquist sampling theorem: Wikipedia |

New album: “A Letter Home”

booth thirdman phone

Third Man Records phone booth

Young also set the record straight about rumours of a Jack White duets album. Young states: “False Rumours: Neil Young and Jack White are not doing a record of duets as has been erroneously posted on various outlets. We are certain those rumours have no basis in truth.”

In March, Young will release a new album, A Letter Home, which he describes as “one of the lowest-tech experiences I’ve ever had.” Apparently this is supposed to appear on Jack White’s THIRD MAN record label.

see BNB article:

Update (2): New Album: “A Letter Home” slated for March release


More Pono: critique, wondering

tech_neil_young_pono_2Pono, Neil Young’s brainchild for sound, is starting to sound like a broken record…

Pono, Pono, Pono……. the music player of the future.

Here is another critique of the invention and the idea by audiophile Steve Guttenberg at C/Net.

Guttenberg is wondering what’s up with the release of Pono, now pushed to 2014.

He writes:

“Like everybody else I’m still unsure about how the Pono music service will work. Will we have to buy a Pono music player to fully enjoy the glories of Pono files? In other words, is Pono a closed system? Or can you play Pono high-resolution Master Files on your computer at home or on an iPhone or Android phone? I can’t see how that would be possible in the near term, and I don’t consider phones’ digital converters and built-in amplifiers audiophile-grade devices. Playing a file is one thing; hearing better sound from it is something else.

“The biggest stumbling block for Pono is the scarcity of high-resolution music being recorded today. According to a friend who worked at one of NYC’s biggest mastering studios, only 10 or 15 percent of clients ever bother with true high-resolution masters. Most are no better than 48kHz/24-bit, very few are bona-fide high-resolution 96kHz or 192kHz masters. But even if Young can rack up enough high-resolution music albums, how Pono Master Files will differ from the high-resolution WAV, FLAC, or ALAC files that are already available from other high-resolution download sources, he isn’t saying. How will the Pono player be any different than the Astell & Kern, FiiO, or Hifiman high-resolution players already on the market?”

“Pono,” by the way, it the Hawaiian word for “righteous.”

Read the entire opinion piece at:

/ Why Pono is questionable and doesn’t make sense for the end-terminal, i.e. the ear:

Please discuss this.

PONO to Launch Early 2014


finally there is a fickle date for the PONO release.  It is still subject to reality. And also what one understands what PONO would really give to the ears for, e.g. the “girls with the white earphones.”

Technical discussion here on BNB:

No one still answers the question why these high sampling rates, that the end-user cannot hear, is good for the end-user. For mastering ok.  For the girls and boys in white earphones it is still difficult why they should change their habit for songs which take 6 more times to download and to store and have no other quality than they have been remastered. Which is independent of the end sampling rate.

Why isn’t it explained to people that Neil Young is beyond physical limits when it goes about marketing, although he should know better as a musician.

It’s about mastering, not just high sampling rates. Yep, you get the studio sound, the re-mastered one. And that is new. And good. No need for Pono-stuff, though  🙂



Published: 2013/09/05

Neil Young’s PONO Digital Music Service to Launch Early Next Year

Neil Young’s highly anticipated digital music service PONO will finally be available in early 2014. According to Young, PONO will improve the quality and compression of MP3s. The legendary singer-songwriter posted a statement on the service’s Facebook page on Tuesday that reads:

To everyone who loves music

I’m very happy to bring you some good news. All of us at Team PONO have been focused on getting everything right for our early 2014 launch of Pono.

The simplest way to describe what we’ve accomplished is that we’ve liberated the music of the artist from the digital file and restored it to its original artistic quality – as it was in the studio. So it has
primal power.

Hearing PONO for the first time is like that first blast of daylight when you leave a movie theater on a sun-filled day. It takes you a second to adjust. Then you enter a bright reality, of wonderfully
rendered detail.

This music moves you. So you can feel. That’s why so many musicians are behind PonoMusic – this is important work that honors their art. This is the way they wanted you to hear their music.

PONO starts at the source: artist-approved studio masters we’ve been given special access to. Then we work with our brilliant partners at Meridian to unlock the richness of the artist’s music to you. There is nothing like hearing this music – and we are working hard to make that experience available to all music lovers, soon.

Our mission is also to make PONO just as accessible as any music you buy and listen to today. So we’ll be launching both the PONO portable player – an updated version of the one I showed on David Letterman’s program – and an online library, with all your favorite music available in PonoMusic quality. Everything you need to feel music anew.

Stay tuned for more updates. And be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitterand NSA for the latest information. We hope you’ll try PONO when it comes your way, and that it brings you the soul of music.

Yours, for PonoMusic
Neil Young

Thanks to Randy G. and BNB team and

more on PONO: technical dissection


for the audiophiles, Xiph.Org writes about the flaws of PONO:

“24/192 Music Downloads …and why they make no sense


Articles last month [i.e. March 2012] revealed that musician Neil Young and Apple’s Steve Jobs discussed offering digital music downloads of ‘uncompromised studio quality’. Much of the press and user commentary was particularly enthusiastic about the prospect of uncompressed 24 bit 192kHz downloads. 24/192 featured prominently in my own conversations with Mr. Young’s group several months ago.

Unfortunately, there is no point to distributing music in 24-bit/192kHz format. Its playback fidelity is slightly inferior to 16/44.1 or 16/48, and it takes up 6 times the space.

There are a few real problems with the audio quality and ‘experience’ of digitally distributed music today. 24/192 solves none of them. While everyone fixates on 24/192 as a magic bullet, we’re not going to see any actual improvement.

First, the bad news… “

>>> read the whole article::

(—Monty ( March 1, 2012; last revised March 25, 2012 to add improvements suggested by readers.)

see also: Nyquist-Shannon sampling theorem (on Wikipedia)

What it actually says it that the human ear can’t hear frequencies up to the maximum frequency that PONO allows, i.e. 96 kHz, with a sampling frequency of 192 kHz (double the f_max_audible), but the higher frequencies might get transformed down in the audible range by non-linear effects, giving rise to deteriorating audio sound experience (or maybe another audio experience like the warm non-linear sound of tube amplifiers versus the metallic treble-loaded sound of transistor amps) . It can’t physically do any good to augment audio experience, but we suspect it might have psycho-acoustic effects.

And, the dynamic range of 24-bit of sampling also is not audible compared to a classic 16-bit dynamic sampling range. Here we have the problem of changing audio experience with the “loudness war” due to excessive dynamic compression in nowadays audio carriers, be it CD or Vinyl, like in audio ads on radio or TV who blare so loud.

In essence there must be more mystery about why Neil Young can hear it but not yet anyone else.


PONO Illustrates Hi-Def Audio’s Problems


A Forbes Article:

Media & Entertainment  8/26/2013 @ 8:00AM

Neil Young’s Pono Music Service Illustrates Hi-Def Audio’s Problems

There’s widespread industry speculation that Neil Young’s dream of a higher quality consumer music service is slowly getting closer, although a launch date is still nowhere in sight. Pono, in which Young is heavily invested, is a high-resolution audio ecosystem consisting of a download service supplying digital audio files transferred from the original audio masters at 192kHz/24 bit, and a dedicated player with the ability to play back those files at that resolution. Along with Apple’s best kept secret in their Mastered for iTunes program, Pono is an attempt to raise the bar in audio quality, a bar that has been continually lowered since just before the turn of the century thanks to the public’s acceptance of the quality impaired MP3 format.

Read more at:

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