This week saw the launch of the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for pono: Neil Young’s long-awaited digital music player. The project has evolved into a high quality audio ecosystem boasting ultra-high resolution recordings: 9216 kbps (192 kHz/24 bit) FLAC files.


Neil’s ‘mission’ is to bring quality audio recordings to a generation without vinyl. Although I don’t want to deride all the mp3’s benefits (immediacy/wide reach/file size/ease of use), the compression they employ does detract from a quality recording. In comparison, the pono system boasts around 30x more data than your regular mp3.

The player houses a DAC (Digital-to-Analogue Converter) chip that is touted as being the best one available to date, and boasts minimum phase – all of which look set to revolutionise our listening experience.

Obviously all this audio goodness means whopping file sizes – and a dedicated online store from which you can buy albums ‘as the artist intended you to hear them’. Pono will face challenges – cheap and quick (iTunes/mp3’s) versus more expensive and slower. In my opinion, music lovers of a certain age will lap this up, but only time will tell if it catches on with a new generation…