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Author Topic: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter  (Read 12211 times)

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Offline bobstammers

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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2014, 05:11:13 PM »
I might have grabbed one for $200. $300 is borderline since I haven't heard any first hand reports on how it sounds. $400 is just too much for something I won't use that often. Most of my headphone listening is done at home in front of my computer or at the office. For $200 I'd consider one for plane trips, on the bus, etc. For $400, I'll live with my phone.

The fact that it plays FLAC is HUGE. I have a ton of stuff from HDtracks. If I had to re-buy everything I wouldn't even consider it.

Hopefully the price goes back down after a little while.
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Offline Colin Liston

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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2014, 05:32:17 PM »
I think I would get this instead.  Can use dual 128 gig cards, and will eventually be ale to use dual 512 gig cards.


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Offline dhora

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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2014, 06:48:23 PM »
I think the most interesting part of this is to see if this makes more people use flac.

From the kickstarter FAQ:
Is PonoMusic a new audio format? What about PonoMusic quality?

No. We want to be very clear that PonoMusic is not a new audio file format or standard. It is an end-to-end ecosystem for music lovers to get access to and enjoy their favorite music in the highest resolution possible for that song or album. The music in the PonoMusic.com Store is sold and downloaded in industry standard audio file formats.

The PonoMusic.com Store uses FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) audio format as its standard, for compatibility, although the PonoPlayer can play most popular high-resolution music formats from other sources. PonoMusic has a quality spectrum, ranging from really good to really great, depending on the quality of the available master recordings:

• CD lossless quality recordings: 1411 kbps (44.1 kHz/16 bit) FLAC files
• High-resolution recordings: 2304 kbps (48 kHz/24 bit) FLAC files
• Higher-resolution recordings: 4608 kbps (96 kHz/24 bit) FLAC files
• Ultra-high resolution recordings: 9216 kbps (192 kHz/24 bit) FLAC files
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Offline dyneq

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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2014, 07:00:58 PM »
I'm a big fan of Neil's music, but IMO this is a misguided project funded by the labels so they can re-sell old releases in an unnecessary format. I know that Neil feels in his heart that it's the right thing to do, but I'd like to see if he could ABX these files from the 44.1/16 files. I have done ABX testing and cannot tell the difference.

Here is an old article, but still relevant to the subject. It has links to a few papers where double-blind testing showed that listeners could not perceive any difference between higher resolution files and 44.1/16.

http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2014, 08:07:51 PM »
This is a big fail so far, if the name wasn't bad enough it's too expensive and too ugly!  What were they thinking when they came up with the shape and colors of the thing, had to have been designed by committee   :facepalm:

Looks like 'ole' Neil is gonna let us down on this unless the name and form factor changes along with a price drop before it's actually released.
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Offline H₂O

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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2014, 08:42:45 PM »
I am glad it's flac based but there are to many other alternatives on the market in the same price range - I don't see this going anywhere other than offering another hires PCM Webstore (maybe some new catalogs will be avail in hires PCM - such as Neil's) - the player is vaporware imo.

You can get apps (such as the Onkyo Player) that play back hires FLAC and even DSD files back on an iphone or andriod phone - and even interface them with a portable Headphone amp such as the sony PHA2 ($550) and get full quality of the DSD or hires PCM.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2014, 08:44:50 PM by H₂O »
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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2014, 09:08:32 PM »
The shape of the player is ridiculous . Who wants a triangular player to fit in your pocket?
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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2014, 08:49:19 AM »
I have the Fiio X3...it's been a very underwhelming experience sadly.  Based on multiple reviews, I hoped that it would blow the Rio Karma out of the water.  Nope.  Not even close.  It's simply lackluster.  Far too sterile for my tastes. Ironically, in reviews people describe the sound signature as warm and then I saw the frequency response...it's pretty flat.  Plus, the controls are awful.  I really wish the Rio Karma chipset was re-used in a high end player.  That sucker sounded incredible.

Oh, the X3 is being returned today.  Guess I'll just settle for a iPod classic  :-\
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Offline Jamos

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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2014, 02:02:46 AM »
Here's a recording of Neil at SXSW explaining his background and philosophy for developing Pono:
http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=289435279&m=289465657

Honestly, if this gets the common person to understand 24/192 and the difference between it and a 256k mp3, it will be worth it.  If it makes artists be sure to record masters at 24/192 instead of 24/48, it will be worth it. 
To be successful, I'm sure they'll need to evolve the product and the specs, but if they offer a webstore competing with itunes or amazon where I can download an album at 24/192, I'll use it.  For sure.
Not sure that I'll buy a Pono player though.

I guess I thought it was a new format or standard before listening to his explanation.  And kind of funny that tapers were at the forefront of this stuff years before this gets released to the masses.

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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2014, 09:18:52 AM »
One of the main problems with commercial music nowadays is the way it's mastered, not the way it's listened to.  I can't remember the last time I ripped a commercial music file into my DAW and it wasn't fairly close to being a solid block.  So what if I listen to a POS master file at 24/192!  It's one of the many reasons I prefer listening to live stuff we record over the commerical shit the 'pros' put out.

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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2014, 11:53:21 AM »
I'm a big fan of Neil's music, but IMO this is a misguided project funded by the labels so they can re-sell old releases in an unnecessary format. I know that Neil feels in his heart that it's the right thing to do, but I'd like to see if he could ABX these files from the 44.1/16 files. I have done ABX testing and cannot tell the difference.

Here is an old article, but still relevant to the subject. It has links to a few papers where double-blind testing showed that listeners could not perceive any difference between higher resolution files and 44.1/16.

http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

+1 all around.

This is DOA in my book.
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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2014, 12:20:43 PM »
Apparently the triangular shape was to enable use of large output capacitors, at least from the picture on the Kickstarter. 

It could be using Prism light beam dispersion to deliver the full spectrum of sound.

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Offline capnhook

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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2014, 05:02:54 PM »
Apparently the triangular shape was to enable use of large output capacitors, at least from the picture on the Kickstarter. 

It could be using Prism light beam dispersion to deliver the full spectrum of sound.

That wuz my first thought, too...... :P :yack: :spin:
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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2014, 05:37:52 PM »
Endorsed by Jack White in the Kickstarter video.  Considering his Intense Volume War approach to producing records they could have left out his celebrity endorsement.

A peek inside...
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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #15 on: March 13, 2014, 06:21:34 PM »
Apple is doomed  :'(

$400 could have grabbed a limited edition Chrome Neil Young signature model with hand crafted leather case and pre-loaded with his two favorite albums.  That actually was a missed opportunity because those are the only ones that will be worth anything long term since he's behind this device.  The best investment bet now is to wait for the artist signature RED "Bono-Pono" to be announced, this name alone is priceless.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2014, 06:26:05 PM by DigiGal »
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Offline Jamos

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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #16 on: March 13, 2014, 07:01:47 PM »
I look forward to the Bono Pono
 :P

I think the fact that his kickstarter goal reached 200% within one day was why this was getting all it's press right now.

Do we think this could at least inspire people to strive for better quality, or get the conversation rolling?  Maybe it will get other folks to come up with something that is more well-conceived?
Without someone like him bringing it up, it just never even gets on the radar of the masses.

Offline capnhook

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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #17 on: March 13, 2014, 07:45:43 PM »
Will Neil have to give the "pro-Bono Pono" model away for free?
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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #18 on: March 13, 2014, 08:16:29 PM »
Will Neil have to give the "pro-Bono Pono" model away for free?

Unfortunately, that model requires the purchase of a country in Africa.

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Offline db

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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #19 on: March 13, 2014, 08:50:38 PM »
i do like the shitstorm that's erupted online about 24 bit audio.

http://xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

then these guys: http://vimeo.com/88705147  who keep calling it "pono" as if it's something more than a hi-res flac player.

i am a 24 bit adherent based on my own anecdotal experience... but i'm probably/could be wrong. we hear what we want to hear...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYTlN6wjcvQ



« Last Edit: March 13, 2014, 08:58:30 PM by db »
db

Offline ScoobieKW

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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #20 on: March 13, 2014, 09:26:00 PM »
OK, my two cents.
It's a portable player.
It plays WAV, Apple Lossless and FLAC
It takes external media
It uses high quality components
Ergonomics lost to audio engineering decisions
Digital out would be nice in version 2.0

Not sure it's a $400 device, but I'd like to try one.
Since Apple seems have left the pure player space, there's hopefully room for a new unit.
Will hype allow it to sell better than engineering specs? time will tell.
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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #21 on: March 13, 2014, 11:12:09 PM »
i do like the shitstorm that's erupted online about 24 bit audio.

http://xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html


+T db  excellent, primary source of info on this subject

Re-learned what I was taught......turns out to be true that 16bit is optimal.......tape in 24/44 or 24/48, mix 32bit float, finalize 16/44 or 16/48.........  QED

niiiiiiiiice

 :thinking:


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edit - add quote

« Last Edit: March 13, 2014, 11:24:36 PM by capnhook »
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Offline vwmule

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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #22 on: March 14, 2014, 12:15:34 AM »
> http://xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

A long, delicious take down, even as I think Blu-ray and higher-resolution audio is great and does sound better to me.

I appreciate Neil Young's dedication to craft and sound. His music is sensitive or angry, complex and inspiring. But it was jarring to see a decidedly un-hi-fi video promo featuring suck-up musicians whose ears are likely not that great promoting a product that promises nirvana. Marketing dud. From a fucking car? Bottom line: Invest in a high-end stereo. If you are running 16/44, the sound will be just fine. But you'll probably feel better -- if not hear better -- at a higher resolution.

The mind plays wonderful tricks.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2014, 12:18:46 AM by vwmule »

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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #23 on: March 14, 2014, 12:54:06 AM »
The mind plays wonderful tricks.

qft

I've always made it a point to never forget this.
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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #24 on: March 14, 2014, 01:03:25 AM »
If not Pono what?

Don't care about bit rate/sample rate but would like

High capacity, solid state storage
Apple Lossless, FLAC and WAV
Good UI
Product Support
Portable

Haven't heard good reviews of the FiiO, Apple doesn't do FLAC and aren't building dedicated players.
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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #25 on: March 14, 2014, 02:23:38 AM »
see if you can open this: http://www.aes.org/tmpFiles/JAES/20140313/JAES_V55_9_PG775hirez.pdf

i can because of my aes membership. if not, pm me and i'll email the pdf.
db

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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #26 on: March 14, 2014, 09:35:48 AM »
Good read. 

The second to last paragraph is the point I was making earlier.  It says 'High resolution audio discs don't have the overwhelming majority of program material crammed into the top 20 (of even 10) db of available dynamic range, as so many CDs today do.'

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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #27 on: March 14, 2014, 02:16:44 PM »
Don't nearly all portable recorders function as playback devices?  There is your Pono, and you already own it!

They do, and I use my M10 for this purpose but it fails on a couple of things.

1. Only WAV and MP3 playback. No FLAC or ALAC support
2. UI, I can organize by folder, display does not handle long file names well and it orders file by creation date. Not dealbreakers for me, but it keeps my wife tied to her iPod Classic.
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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #28 on: March 14, 2014, 03:58:58 PM »
Don't nearly all portable recorders function as playback devices?  There is your Pono, and you already own it!

half the point of the Pono is the ESS Sabre DAC and analog stage designed by Ayre

Offline db

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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #29 on: March 14, 2014, 04:35:56 PM »
Don't nearly all portable recorders function as playback devices?  There is your Pono, and you already own it!

half the point of the Pono is the ESS Sabre DAC and analog stage designed by Ayre

that's a selling point for sure... also the simple fact that it plays flacs. but they don't really highlight the hq innards as much as they do the hi-res audio format argument. 

db

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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #30 on: March 14, 2014, 08:24:29 PM »
There are so many DAC/Headphone amp DAC combo's out there with ESS Sabre DAC's (or similar Burr Brown chips) in them - I don't see how the Pono stands out.

Here is a Fostex unit for the same price that connects to a computer and supports upto DSD128 playback via USB.

http://www.moon-audio.com/fostex-hp-a4.html?___store=default&gclid=COz17cuik70CFeMSOgodzU0AGQ




 
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Offline ScoobieKW

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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #31 on: March 14, 2014, 09:26:23 PM »
There are so many DAC/Headphone amp DAC combo's out there with ESS Sabre DAC's (or similar Burr Brown chips) in them - I don't see how the Pono stands out.

Here is a Fostex unit for the same price that connects to a computer and supports upto DSD128 playback via USB.

http://www.moon-audio.com/fostex-hp-a4.html?___store=default&gclid=COz17cuik70CFeMSOgodzU0AGQ

All in one, battery device. Portable player.
Market segment that other companies are leaving.

I don't think Pono is the answer, but they are asking some of the right questions.
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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #32 on: March 14, 2014, 09:42:46 PM »
I think this thing is doomed based on a few reasons
First, most people can't tell the difference nor do they care
Second, I don't know anyone who even knows what flac is except live music tapers/traders. Normal people have no clue what it is
Third, cost. Getting someone to try a $400 portable player that is an "extra" vs what they have for free, ie build into their phone and isn't a thing extra to carry isn't going to be easy. Let alone the extra cost of the files in which most will not notice a difference in sound quality.
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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #33 on: March 14, 2014, 10:42:17 PM »
There are so many DAC/Headphone amp DAC combo's out there with ESS Sabre DAC's (or similar Burr Brown chips) in them - I don't see how the Pono stands out.

Here is a Fostex unit for the same price that connects to a computer and supports upto DSD128 playback via USB.

http://www.moon-audio.com/fostex-hp-a4.html?___store=default&gclid=COz17cuik70CFeMSOgodzU0AGQ

All in one, battery device. Portable player.
Market segment that other companies are leaving.

I don't think Pono is the answer, but they are asking some of the right questions.
I understand the fact that it is a player, portable, blah blah - but in the portable realm where the environment is more then likely completely uncontrolled, all the back ground "noise" is going to trump high quality.

And when I am at home wanting to enjoy some music I don't want to listen to my ipod I want to listen to my playback system - when I am on the go I listen to my iphone it is good enough

It's like sipping a fine scotch at home versus drinking a beer at a bar with a group of friends
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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #34 on: March 15, 2014, 08:36:24 PM »
Not much love here for yer product Neil...sorry man.
Nice autogragh.
The better part of humanity (these days) use a phone or tablet and is on the go, so 16-bit will do I think. Plenty of apps for FLAC out there already.

I like sipping scotch chez-moi listening to the HD thru decent playback too, much easier to hear than on the subway.

BTW, do we really need  to remaster the classic albums again?





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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #35 on: March 15, 2014, 09:40:46 PM »
The more I listen to this free trial of Sirius radio, the more I realize almost no one must care about quality audio.  The sound is so bad that I imagine all of their subscribers are because of Howard Stern or sports networks.


I have had two free subscriptions and the playback quality is pretty bad - also the fact (just like many of the online radio services like Pandora) they have a very limited library and repeat content and shows way to frequently

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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #36 on: March 16, 2014, 09:33:37 AM »
i actually share a sirius subscription with the family and I find it useful in one very specific instance; office work. I can't use headphones, I can't turn up anything above about half the volume of dept store muzak and I don't have good enough cell reception to stream stuff (and I can't use the office network for streaming). So it's sirius or 3 albums a day on repeat. My spouse uses it at home to hear her Patriots play each fall. I can't remember why my parents use theirs, but my grandmother loves it (but she's hard of hearing anyway so it doesn't bother her).

As long as I keep the volume turned down on the cheapo speakers, it sounds fine. Once I turn it up I notice that it sounds bad.
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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #37 on: March 16, 2014, 02:45:02 PM »
Sirius sound quality is poor, some channels are worse than others, it appears they do assign bandwidth priorities for channels.  I also have Sirius streaming as part of my subscription and the steaming quality is vastly improved over the dockable radio at least using a nice DAC and monitor speakers. The Sirius radio I have is one of their docking models and it is plugged into the aux input on my car system. This docking radio was free as part of a special offer and I thought it could be handy to pop it out if the car dock and move it inside. Like I mentioned though the streaming service is better quality than this radio so that is how I listen and only use the radio on the road. I really have to wonder if I had gone with my auto manufacturers OEM Sirius package if that would deliver better sound quality on the road.  I do love the variety in the channels that are a constant companion while traveling, translating to no station drift your favorite channels are always there. Best of all is NO COMMERCIALS at least with the stations I listen too.
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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #38 on: March 16, 2014, 07:35:55 PM »
Thanks Jon good to know that OEM radios are afflicted too. The compression is annoying though it does appear they set aside more bandwidth for some of the music channels than others and surely the voice channels are limited.
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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #39 on: March 17, 2014, 08:02:05 AM »
Some Android smartphones are already including 24/192 playback.  It's just a matter of time before all of them have that feature.  Pono is just a waste of time.  And it's ugly.  No one is going to buy that thing.  Peer pressure ftw.
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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #40 on: March 17, 2014, 09:34:36 AM »
This is a big fail so far, if the name wasn't bad enough it's too expensive and too ugly!  What were they thinking when they came up with the shape and colors of the thing, had to have been designed by committee   :facepalm:

Looks like 'ole' Neil is gonna let us down on this unless the name and form factor changes along with a price drop before it's actually released.

Agree. Form factor is garbage. Not doing anything that wasn't already available to be done.

Realistically the only way to create any widespread adoption of high-res files is for storage to take another quantum leap such that those files can be ported to existing platforms like phones.

Also, as I've thought  from the beginning, I have to doubt that a man who has been standing in front of searingly loud guitar amps and drums on rock n' roll concert stages for forty years can hear much of anything, let alone the difference in a CD and a 24/192 FLAC file.
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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #41 on: March 18, 2014, 03:55:25 PM »
Thanks Jon good to know that OEM radios are afflicted too. The compression is annoying though it does appear they set aside more bandwidth for some of the music channels than others and surely the voice channels are limited.

Not to stray too far away from Pono discussion -- but we have Sirius on our OEM VW (2010) head unit, and the quality is very poor, just as you guys describe.  My older car (2006) w/OEM head unit sounds much better for some reason.
I called Sirius to complain/talk to them about it - and they said if more people told them it was a problem, they would change it. 
Not enough people care I guess.
So now I always encourage people to call or email and tell Sirius you want better quality.

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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #42 on: March 18, 2014, 06:08:26 PM »
I really can't see this taking off outside of a sect of hardcore audiophile Neil Young fans (they exist, check out the Steve Hoffman forums for evidence). I have no doubt that the player itself will sound spectacular. Ayre is no joke and I am positive that they will produce an A+ piece of hardware. My complaints are primarily with 1.) the bogus form factor and 2.) the lack of functionality of the device to do anything other than play music. I have a good set of headphones and love music as much (or possibly even more) than the next person, but there is nothing that I like better on a trip than listening to an album while reading the New York Times on my iPhone. Or taking a call on my iPhone without having to switch devices. Or writing an e-mail while listening to music. It's just too convenient and I am more than willing to sacrifice some sound quality for the privilege of not having to interrupt my listening enjoyment while doing other tasks.

Also, the elephant in the room is the absolute shit sound quality of the vast majority of new releases and the terrible remastering jobs of catalog albums. The 16/44.1 CD has more than enough resolution to handle anything that you can throw at it, but its capacity is wasted because of the need of seemingly every producer in the world to compress the living hell out of the music presented. It's absolutely terrible and is enough to drive me away from some great albums. The new Beck album, "Morning Phase," is case in point. Fantastic record, but really painful to listen to because of the high levels of compression applied even to acoustic guitar, voice, and orchestra; in other words, the three exact things that SHOULD NOT be compressed all to hell. I purchased the 24/96 HD Tracks version and it was money thrown down the drain. I should have saved a few dollars and downloaded the mp3 from iTunes; I am positive that it would have the exact same sound quality for a lower price.

Unless the Powers that Be are ready to confront the issue of shit mastering and take steps to inform the listener of the lineage of the albums that they sell, they will even lose the audiophile audience. Pono has no chance outside of this niche market, and there are several competing units even among this demographic at this point. Then again, if Dr. Dre and company can sell the public $300 headphones that sound like ass, anything can happen, I suppose. Which incidentally, is another reason why Pono can fail. People plugging their godawful Beats headphones into the high-quality Pono device will assume that Pono sounds like crap when it is really their listening device doing the damage.
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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #43 on: March 19, 2014, 01:16:25 AM »
Beats headphones

Why Pono has the potential to win, despite itself...  See also "iPod"... 

People are dumb and want convenience...  They also want to look cool while being stupid...  See also "hipster"...

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Re: Neil Young's Pono music player hits kickstarter
« Reply #44 on: March 19, 2014, 08:11:58 AM »
The new Beck album, "Morning Phase," is case in point. Fantastic record, but really painful to listen to because of the high levels of compression applied even to acoustic guitar, voice, and orchestra; in other words, the three exact things that SHOULD NOT be compressed all to hell. I purchased the 24/96 HD Tracks version and it was money thrown down the drain. I should have saved a few dollars and downloaded the mp3 from iTunes; I am positive that it would have the exact same sound quality for a lower price.

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