March 10, 2014 Last Updated 7:28 am

PonoMusic to reportedly will kick off Kickstarter campaign at SXSW keynote

The big tech shows and other events are becoming less and less relevant as companies choose their own time and place to unveil its newest products. For a few years now Apple has gone its own way, separating itself first from MacWorld, then everything else, as well.

PonoMusic-scren-lgThat is why some people are a bit excited with the news that Neil Young and the folks behind PonoMusic will be using South By Southwest (SXSW) to begin their Kickstarter campaign to fund a new music store and music device. The goal of the new device is to replace the MP3 (and Apple’s own file formats) as the default way music is sold to the public – dumbed down, missing much of the details of the original music recording.

Neil Young has been talking about his movement to improve audio fidelity for a while now, but the reality of the music business is that the digital stores now dominate music sales, releasing low fidelity versions of the recordings, some times, as in the case of Amazon, along side CD versions that are themselves not as good as what is actually recorded in the studio.

The DVD-Audio format, which is superior to the CD, and most especially the MP3, never caught on as a commercially via format. I have a handful of DVD-Audio disks myself, and can certainly hear the difference. But retailers like Best Buy, which once supported the format by giving it shelf space, pulled back when sales proved disappointing. PonoMusic is reported to use the same specs – 192kHz/24-bit sound – as the DVD-Audio.

One currently available alternative is HD Tracks, a service that sells music digitally, but offers higher fidelity versions of the music, though at a higher price point.

PonoMusic will be trying to fund the manufacturing of a new music device, the PonoPlayer, which can play the new music format. I’m optimistic that, with Neil Young as front man, that they will fund their project.

But I’m less optimistic about whether a large segment of the music loving community will want to buy the device. The movement has been away from dedicated devices, even Apple is selling less and less iPods. Our phones are our mobile music devices now. We may need better quality audio – well, some of us think we do, and certainly musicians believe this – but do we need yet another device?

Consider me a skeptic when it comes to the new device’s chances at success, but an enthusiastic supporter of the idea of improved recordings. But if they can get a little traction they could force Apple and Amazon to improve both their file format offerings, but also what their devices can reproduce, as well.


Here is the press release that is planned for release:

Burbank, CA – March 10, 2014 –– PonoMusic is a revolutionary movement conceived and founded by Neil Young. Our mission is to bring the highest-quality digital music to discerning, passionate consumers, who wish to experience music the way the artists intended, with the emotion, detail, and power intact. “It’s about the music, real music. We want to move digital music into the 21st century and PonoMusic does that. We couldn’t be more excited about bringing PonoMusic to the market,” said Neil Young, founder and chairman of PonoMusic.

PonoMusic encompasses both an online music store (PonoMusic.com) and a playback device (The PonoPlayer). The PonoPlayer is a digital-music experience unlike any other, offering the finest quality, highest-resolution digital music from both major labels and prominent independent labels, curated and archived for discriminating PonoMusic customers. The Pono desktop media management application allows customers to download, manage and sync their music to their PonoPlayer and other high- resolution digital music devices.

“Our goal was to offer the highest quality digital music available from all the major labels with the world’s greatest sounding, user-friendly portable music player. We’ve achieved our goal and we are excited to launch our Kickstarter campaign next week to invite music lovers everywhere to join the PonoMusic community and reserve a PonoPlayer for their own enjoyment,” said John Hamm, CEO of PonoMusic.

The PonoPlayer is a purpose-built, portable, high-resolution digital-music player designed and engineered in a “no-compromise” fashion to allow consumers to experience studio master-quality digital music at the highest audio fidelity possible, bringing the true emotion and detail of the music, the way the artist recorded it, to life. It also features a convenient, easy-to-use LCD touch screen interface that is totally intuitive. The audio technology in the PonoPlayer was developed in conjunction with the engineering team at Ayre, in Boulder Colorado, a leader in world class audio technology.

PonoMusic and Ayre have collaborated their ideas to achieve their goal — to make the power and majesty of music available to everybody. “We are absolutely thrilled to be a part of this project. We will always be grateful to Neil Young for changing the landscape of recorded music,” said Charlie Hansen, CEO of Ayre Acoustics. (Ayre Acoustics)

The PonoPlayer has 128GB of memory and can store 1000 to 2000 high-resolution digital-music albums. Memory cards can be used to store and play different playlists and additional collections of music. The PonoPlayer will be sold at PonoMusic.com for $399 MSRP and is available for pre-order at a discount on Kickstarter.com as of March 15th. PonoMusic recommended earbud and headphone products will also be available for purchase on PonoMusic.com.

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