Neil Young reveals ‘Pono’ music player, music download store; promises ‘the best sound anyone can get’

“Neil Young has appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman to promote Pono, a high-quality digital music service that will launch next year,” Sam Byford reports for The Verge.

Rolling Stone reports that Pono will be comprised of a music downloads store, a tool that converts digital audio files into analog-sounding recordings, and a series of audio players,” Byford reports. “Young showed off a prototype Pono player to Letterman, and the design is nothing if not unique — it’s a bright yellow triangular prism with a small screen and simple controls.”

Byford reports, “The player will, according to Young, play back Pono master files with ‘the best sound anyone can get.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: SACD redux.


  1. I want an OLED screen, the size of my 8×10 wall at 3000 dpi….. Just to be as close to analog as you can get.

    Crap, you can’t even tell. That’s why they went only so far with CD audio, 16bit 41Khz Stereo, is about as close as your ear can discern from Analog. After that, it’s all it the mind of the beholder. Placebo… A waste of bits, energy and processing.

  2. In an earlier interview, I believe Neil said that Steve Jobs listened to vinyl at home, and that the two of them had many discussions about improving the quality of digital music. In fact, he’d hoped to collaborate on this with Steve.

  3. CDs don’t really sound that great and Neil proved that to many of us with his release of Prairie Wind which included an additional 24bit recording of the album on DVD. Maybe it’s not obvious at first, but listen to just that for a couple days, then go back to the CD version. “Dude, this sounds like $%!#!

    1. I’ve been digging around the net for specs on this ‘new audio format’. It’s being called “Studio Quality Sound (SQS)”. But there are no specs being published at this time.

      What’s ridiculous here is that there is NO NEED for any new audio format. AIFF covers the highest of available samples per second recording. You can compress any of those sample rates into the FLAC format as well. Also, we know that most digital studio recordings these days are at 96,000 samples per second. Analog to digital recordings, from tape to bits, is the same.

      Streaming lossless compression audio would be nice, but the bandwidth will be ENORMOUS compared to what we enjoy now via lossy compression like MP3, even at its highest bitrate. I can only expect lossy compression gets throw into the equation somewhere between the server and the ear.

      And let’s be clear about where digital audio is damaged in the transition from analog: In the high end frequencies. Middle and low frequency audio has lovely reproduction (as long as some dickhead RIAA execuTards don’t mandate EQing the music to all to hell). We’re talking about the audio range that Neal Young probably can’t even hear any more!

      More information please!

  4. Oh dear, oh dear. Out of all the subspecies of Homo nerdensis, the audiophile strain is the second-best at discerning minuscule details completely imperceptible to normal human beings. If it’s any consolation, the typeface geeks are the worst of all. But are there enough of them to sustain an actual market? I guess we will find out.

  5. You. Kids don’t remember the good old days of “hi fi” zero one hundred turntables to keep your elliptical diamond stolid from shaving the grooves in the middle of your record the joys of record induced wow from warpage pop and hiss . . .hell you even think auto tune sounds like singing if Neil could get rid of that nightmare software I might buy a few tracks from him ( as long as there not off his last album)

  6. If you attend a live concert in a decent venue look at all the equipment around you in terms of cost, watts whatever… No format is gonna replicate live sets…

    Additionally, its the same as 1080p vs. 1080i… as others have said, your senses cannot discern between anyways… You can get equipment to both play at a higher fidelity and determine the difference but everything has to be decent from
    your source through speakers… Portable device wise… Try on some high end headphones like Shures (which are a few hundred $ a piece) and you’ll hear a difference only up to a certain point though… You can’t mount high fidelity speakers to your shoulders though… Anyways… Neil thinks someone will buy the format – lets see…

  7. It’s hard for many to understand what Neil Young is talking about. We have been listening to digital dreck for a long time. Those of us who grew up with analog (lps and cassettes) should understand this. I remember the impact of listening to records and tapes and enjoyed listening and buying music to a much larger degree. I cannot listen to mp3’s. A lot of people do, but they have not idea what they are missing.

    What it really amounts to is density of musical information. It translates to the whole listening experience. It’s not really about doing an AB comparison. The more information and complexity in the sound, the more you neurons have to enjoy. It’s really quite simple.

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