Excellent talk from Neil Young at South By Southwest about his new product – the Pono Music Player. He breaks it all down in simple terms, better than any amount of text I can type:
I just bought one over at kickstarter. I have been waiting for “iPod II – Pro” for 10 years now. This thing is going to sound amazing. High-end audio in your bag, on your desk, wherever. They are busting out their kickstarter goal!
“Rescuing an art form is not something of interest to many in the investment community.” – Neil Young, on Pono’s early funding
It will play your current mp3’s and most other formats much nicer than your phone, but it will also play the high rez files all the way up (most iDevices top out at 24/48, androids less than that) as high as you want to purchase through their HD store, or through existing stores like HDtracks.com, or your own files ripped that high.
More importantly than all of that, it is attempting to restore some sanity to the digital audio world. Audio, and audio alone, has been going down in resolution for the last few decades. Every other digital media tech we have – cameras, video, television, film, displays – has increased resolution every decade or so. But audio has been dropped, disrespected, misunderstood, confusing familiarity with quality.
“There was really something wrong. What it was was – we were selling shit. People were still buying it because they liked music, but they were buying wallpaper, background sounds, xerox’ of the Mona Lisa. They were buying musical history, supposedly preserved for everyone to hear, now preserved as a tiny little piece of crap with less than 5% of the data of the highest resolution in digital recording today” – Neil Young, on the recent music industry woes
BTW — Ignore the people online spouting ‘science’ about how no one can hear beyond 16/44. Every music producer and most musicians I know can hear a difference (even old ones ;-)). Audiophiles can hear a difference. Classical and jazz heads can hear it easily. Anyone who listens to any music created before 1988 would hear a difference. Beyond the usual internet ignoramuses, some have dead ears and/or business interests in the “good enough” digital music world. There’s some real science behind these lossy formats but it’s all kinds of flawed. Thankfully facts are catching up.
“5% became the standard of the world” – Neil Young, on the mp3 generation
Listen to the experts – the people who make, mix, and remix legendary music. Every one of them works at higher than 16/44 these days, and they can all hear why. It’s obvious.
“MP3’s are very convenient. So what we decided to do was to come out with a new system that was not a format, had no rules, respected the art, respected what the artist was trying to do, and did everything that it could to give you what the artist gave, so that you get to feel not just what the artist intended you to feel, but what the artist did. And that is what Pono is. Pono plays back whatever the artist wants you to hear. The artist makes the decision.” – Neil Young