With more and more consumers turning away from the likes of the iPod, and using smartphones to listen to music on the move instead, now may seem like an odd time to introduce a dedicated portable music player. But that’s what musician Neil Young is doing. March the 12th will see his PonoPlayer – a device offering “studio master-quality digital music” – launch on Kickstarter.
First shown off as a prototype back in 2012, the PonoPlayer is a triangular shaped music player with an LCD touchscreen, three physical buttons, and 128GB of storage – that’s enough to hold around 100 – 500 high-resolution digital-music albums depending on quality and length. In addition, the storage can be expanded by adding a memory card.
It will work in conjunction with PonoMusic.com – an online digital music service that promises music from both major record labels and prominent independent labels. Details of which labels these include, have not been released.
When the PonoPlayer goes on sale, it will retail for $399 – that’s the same price as Apple’s top-of-the-line 64GB iPod touch, though early adopters will be able to reserve one for a discount via the Kickstarter campaign.
While I’m sure it will appeal to some audiophiles, what remains to be seen is whether or not there will be significant demand – even if it does offer much better audio than existing portable music players and smartphones.
What do you think of the PonoPlayer – does the idea of it have you rockin’ in the free world? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below, via your preferred social network, or on our new Geek Beat Forums.
UPDATE: The PonoPlayer has now launched on Kickstarter with significant discounts available on the $399 retail price, and the campaign has already received $380,000 in pledges towards a funding goal of $800,000.
March 10, 2014 – (Santa Monica, CA.) – PonoMusic is a revolutionary movement conceived and founded by Neil Young with a mission to restore the soul of music – bringing the highest-quality digital music to discerning, passionate consumers, who hunger to hear music the way its creators intended, with the emotion, detail, and power intact. “It’s about the music, real music. We want to move digital music into the 21st century and PonoMusic does that. We couldn’t be more excited – not for ourselves, but for those that are moved by what music means in their lives,” said Neil Young, founder and chairman of PonoMusic.
PonoMusic is a full system that includes both an online music store (PonoMusic.com) and a playback device (The PonoPlayer). The PonoPlayer offers a digital-music listening experience that transcends the limitations of a multi-function smart phone. The PonoPlayer will bring this experience to you in your home, car, or through your headphones. PonoMusic.com will offer the finest quality, highest-resolution digital music from both major labels and prominent independent labels, curated and archived for discriminating PonoMusic customers. The Pono desktop media management application allows customers to download, manage and sync their music to theirPonoPlayer and other high-resolution digital music devices.
“Our goal was to offer the highest quality digital music available from all the major labels and build the world’s best sounding, easy-to-use portable music player. We’ve achieved our goal and we are excited to launch our Kickstarter campaign this week to invite music lovers everywhere to join the PonoMusic community and reserve a PonoPlayer for their own enjoyment,” said John Hamm, CEO of PonoMusic.
The PonoPlayer is a purpose-built, portable, high-resolution digital-music player designed and engineered in a “no-compromise” fashion to allow consumers to experience studio master-quality digital music at the highest audio fidelity possible, bringing to life the true emotion and detail of the music, the way the artist recorded it. It also features a convenient and simple LCD touch screen interface that is totally intuitive. The audio technology in the PonoPlayer was developed in conjunction with the engineering team at Ayre, in Boulder Colorado, a leader in digital audio technology.
PonoMusic and Ayre have collaborated to achieve a lofty goal — to make the power and majesty of music available to everybody. “We are absolutely thrilled to be a part of this project. We will always be grateful to Neil Young for changing the landscape of recorded music,” said Charlie Hansen, CEO of Ayre Acoustics. (www.ayre.com)
The PonoPlayer has 128GB of memory and can store from about 100 to 500 high-resolution digital-music albums, depending on the resolution and length of the original recording. Memory cards can be used to store and play different playlists and additional collections of music. The PonoPlayer will be sold atPonoMusic.com for $399 MSRP and is available for pre-order at a discount on Kickstarter.com as of March 12th.