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The Pono Kickstarter Campaign Is Open


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What is PonoMusic?

 

"Pono" is Hawaiian for righteous. What righteous means to our founder Neil Young is honoring the artist’s intention, and the soul of music. That’s why he’s been on a quest, for a few years now, to revive the magic that has been squeezed out of digital music. In the process of making music more convenient – easier to download, and more portable – we have sacrificed the emotional impact that only higher quality music can deliver. However, the world has changed in the last 10 years – technology has solved some of the underlying problems that forced that tradeoff. You no longer have to choose between quality and convenience when listening to music – you can have both. This is the fundamental idea behind PonoMusic.

 

Pono's mission is to provide the best possible listening experience of your favorite music. We want to be very clear that PonoMusic is not a new audio file format or standard. PonoMusic is an end-to-end ecosystem for music lovers to get access to and enjoy their favorite music exactly as the artist created it, at the recording resolution they chose in the studio. We offer PonoMusic customers the highest resolution digital music available. PonoMusic is more than just a high-resolution music store and player; it is a grassroots movement to keep the heart of music beating. PonoMusic aims to preserve the feeling, spirit, and emotion that the artists put in their original studio recordings.

We are pursuing this vision by building a system for the entire music listening experience – from the original master recordings to the PonoMusic.com Store to the portable PonoPlayer. So now you’ll hear the nuances, the soft touches, and the ends on the echo – the texture and the emotion of the music the artist worked so hard to create.

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[h=1]Why should you support our Kickstarter? [/h]PonoMusic is about a lot of things, but first and foremost it’s about the connection between the artists and their fans – the music, and the people who can’t live without it. We see Kickstarter as a way to strengthen those bonds by letting musicians and music fans get behind the thing that matters most to all of us – the music itself.

Our Kickstarter is about bringing creators and consumers together. It is about the formation of a community that values the experience of listening to music the way the artists made it, at the highest quality they can obtain.

[h=1]More about the PonoPlayer... [/h]The PonoPlayer is a purpose-built device, designed by world-renowned audio engineers, to do one thing and one thing exceedingly well - let you hear high quality PonoMusic as close to its original recorded resolution as possible, and therefore, the original musical experience.

Your PonoPlayer works in much the same way as most other portable music devices. The PonoMusic App (for Mac or Windows PC) provides you access to the PonoMusic.com Store, where you can browse, search, purchase and download high-resolution music to your computer. You then simply connect your PonoPlayer mini-USB cable to your computer's USB port in order to sync your favorite music and playlists. Then you can enjoy your music on your PonoPlayer at the same quality level as the original recording. The touchscreen LCD allows for easy “swipe” navigation between songs, albums, artists, genres, and playlists. It also allows you to change the settings in the player to suit your personal taste.

The PonoPlayer has two output jacks. The first is a normal mini-stereo output specially designed for headphones and is meant for personal listening. The second is a stereo mini-plug analog output specifically designed for listening on your home audio system, in your car, or with your Sonos Connect – so you can share the PonoMusic experience with your friends and family.

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First Edition Yellow PonoPlayer

 

[h=1]What do we consider to be high quality digital music?[/h]

    Generally speaking, mp3 files have a bit rate of 192kbps or 256kbps. These are highly compressed files and are much smaller in size than higher resolution music files. The good news is that you can keep a lot of mp3 files in a small amount of storage on a portable player or mobile device. The bad news is that they’ve lost a lot of the musical information that often reveals the most pleasant and satisfying aspects of the music. It is mostly that sense of realism, dynamic range, and detail that higher resolution recordings typically capture in a way that restores the emotion in the song.

 

    On the “low end” of higher resolution music (CD lossless, 44.1kHz/16 bit), PonoMusic files have about 6 times more musical information than a typical mp3. With ultra-high resolution recordings (192kHz/24 bit), the difference between a PonoMusic digital file and an mp3 is about 30 times more data from which your player reconstructs the “song”.
    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-res 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 48 recordings: 2304 kbps (48 kHz/24 bit) FLAC files
  • High-resolution 96 recordings: 4608 kbps (96 kHz/24 bit) FLAC files
  • Ultra-high resolution recordings: 9216 kbps (192 kHz/24 bit) FLAC files

 





        [h=1]The Evolution of the PonoPlayer Design... [/h]

       

        Over the three years of PonoPlayer development, we considered many different designs and concepts. One of the early ideas was to make an accessory for a smartphone that contained storage for the music tracks along with advanced audio electronics. The phone’s display would be used to navigate and play the songs, but with the songs would be stored in the accessory’s memory. A Bluetooth connection would communicate between the phone and the accessory to select and play the desired song. This design was dismissed, for now, because it was very complicated to use and required two devices to play music.

      We talked a lot about making the player thin, to snap onto the back of a phone so it could be carried as one unit. But that meant you’d need a different player design for each phone model, and we found that it was not possible to put some of the large audio components – required for the best performance – into a thin package. This led us to design the accessory in the shape of a triangular “Toblerone” shaped chocolate bar. It allowed us to use larger audio components and to separate them far enough apart to prevent electrical interference between the various subsystems. It also allowed us to use a large cylindrical battery that’s much more efficient than a flat battery.

 

 

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Early PonoPlayer Prototypes

 



        It then became obvious that if we added a touch display, we could make the player completely self-contained. It wouldn’t need to be tied to your phone and there would be no interruptions from an incoming call while you were enjoying your music. It would be the best playback device ever for listening to high quality digital music. We realized that music this good deserved a truly purpose built, dedicated device to enjoy it. There was no “Swiss Army knife” good enough for the music we wanted you to hear.

       

        This triangular shape also has additional benefits: it can be held upright for one-hand operation or it can sit flat on your desktop or home stereo system. The display automatically rotates depending on the orientation of the device. But the best thing about this shape is that we were able to include the best sounding audio components with absolutely no compromises. The PonoPlayer will certainly be recognizable on your desk as the unique product it is – the world’s best sounding portable digital music player.

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Chris, have you pledged the $400 for the Pearl Jam signed version?:)

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Hello Chris,

 

Thank you for the information.

 

Decided I want one, so I just signed up at Kickstarter.

 

My commitment is as follows:

 

Pledge $400 or more

ARTIST SIGNATURE SERIES: NEIL YOUNG – Limited Edition Artist PonoPlayer in Chrome. Laser engraved with artist's signature. Comes pre-loaded with artist's top two favorite albums. Handmade leather case with presentation box. Plus: Website Thanks

Estimated delivery: Oct 2014

 

After registering at Kickstarter and making my selection and pledge, I was referred to Amazon.com's website where I confirmed my commitment. Charges are applied on April 15, 2014.

 

I did not even think twice about the decision. Just followed my own intuition.

 

Enjoy the music,

Richard

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I'm pretty tempted by this just for the fun of it, but essentially it sounds like they are offering a very good portable player that will play the same Redbook and hi-res files that are already on offer from the labels.

 

Doesn't sound like there will be anything special about the SQ of the music files that will any different from the other hi-res download sites - whatever master of Redbook quality or above that exists will be what they offer.

 

I'm not trying to be negative, did I misunderstand something in the Kickstarter description and FAQ?

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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They've made 100 available to early backers at a discount. I can imagine the furious typing of journalists trying to get in and beat other journalists who also received the release notice ahead of the public.

 

Sorry Chris, not fast enough

Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not." — Nelson Pass

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Here's the part I was looking for:

 

"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 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 "

 

What's not to like?

Roon ROCK (Roon 1.7; NUC7i3) > Ayre QB-9 Twenty > Ayre AX-5 Twenty > Thiel CS2.4SE (crossovers rebuilt with Clarity CSA and Multicap RTX caps, Mills MRA-12 resistors; ERSE and Jantzen coils; Cardas binding posts and hookup wire); Cardas and OEM power cables, interconnects, and speaker cables

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They've made 100 available to early backers at a discount. I can imagine the furious typing of journalists trying to get in and beat other journalists who also received the release notice ahead of the public.

 

Sorry Chris, not fast enough

 

 

The $200 pre-order units are already sold out. I wonder if the $300 pre-orders are also capped?

Roon ROCK (Roon 1.7; NUC7i3) > Ayre QB-9 Twenty > Ayre AX-5 Twenty > Thiel CS2.4SE (crossovers rebuilt with Clarity CSA and Multicap RTX caps, Mills MRA-12 resistors; ERSE and Jantzen coils; Cardas binding posts and hookup wire); Cardas and OEM power cables, interconnects, and speaker cables

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Here's the part I was looking for:

 

What's not to like?

 

Not really a negative, but the music is going to be the same hi-res masters as at HDT and Qobuz, or the same ones as on your CD. So the same problems of SQ that we have with the presently available hi-res downloads.

 

Yes, I do agree that if it makes hi-res more commercially viable and widespread, we will all benefit from more and better releases in the future.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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The $200 pre-order units are already sold out. I wonder if the $300 pre-orders are also capped?

 

The remaining base models (signature series & signed poster aside) are unlimited rewards and shouldn't expire through the end of the campaign.

Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not." — Nelson Pass

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All this Neil Young talk got me going. Listening to "Zuma" as I write. Now I would really like a well done hi-res remaster of that, Mr. Pono.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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All this Neil Young talk got me going. Listening to "Zuma" as I write. Now I would really like a well done hi-res remaster of that, Mr. Pono.

 

Ah yeah, Zuma would be great. I signed up for the Neil Young signed version, partly just to see which two albums he is going to choose. No way to lose, so far as I can see. Am now listening to Live Rust. :-)

2013 MacBook Pro Retina -> {Pure Music | Audirvana} -> {Dragonfly Red v.1} -> AKG K-702 or Sennheiser HD650 headphones.

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Not really a negative, but the music is going to be the same hi-res masters as at HDT and Qobuz, or the same ones as on your CD. So the same problems of SQ that we have with the presently available hi-res downloads.

 

Yes, I do agree that if it makes hi-res more commercially viable and widespread, we will all benefit from more and better releases in the future.

 

So, the worse case scenario is HDTracks but with a much broader selection. That's clearly a good thing (especially if Pono does a better job of policing faux-res titles) and should lead to more competitive pricing. It seems to me that Pono is the path to being able to buy most any new release in 24-bit. That is sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!

Roon ROCK (Roon 1.7; NUC7i3) > Ayre QB-9 Twenty > Ayre AX-5 Twenty > Thiel CS2.4SE (crossovers rebuilt with Clarity CSA and Multicap RTX caps, Mills MRA-12 resistors; ERSE and Jantzen coils; Cardas binding posts and hookup wire); Cardas and OEM power cables, interconnects, and speaker cables

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i've also signed up at kickstarter and put the order in for the NY limited edition. Feeding my Senns it should sound super duper... The convenience of being able to order/download CD quality lossless files/++ over the Internet and feed my Pono player and my various other streaming systems will be great. Though TBH, HDtracks has been selling 24bit flac files for a while now... :-)

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Not the only remaining question is if Pono are looking beyond USA...

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Not the only remaining question is if Pono are looking beyond USA...

 

Well, the Kickstarter page does refer to extra shipping charges for backers outside of the US....:)

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

Link to comment
Well, the Kickstarter page does refer to extra shipping charges for backers outside of the US....:)

I was meaning the music store... I have no interest in the player.

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

Link to comment
I was meaning the music store... I have no interest in the player.

 

What if we put a Meridian sticker on yours?

Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not." — Nelson Pass

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No offense Eloise but this is the comment of the year so far :~)

None taken... But I still wouldn't buy it!

 

Still looks like the ugly offspring if a meeting between a (new) Dalek and a Toblerone and neither colour will match my shoes either.

 

Eloise

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

Link to comment
None taken... But I still wouldn't buy it!

 

Still looks like the ugly offspring if a meeting between a (new) Dalek and a Toblerone and neither colour will match my shoes either.

 

Eloise

 

Pono Limited Edition in Chrome.jpg

 

In the words of Joe Cocker...

Enjoy the music,

Richard

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