High-Res Audio: How Neil Young’s New PonoPlayer Works

BreakingModern — Musician Neil Young has officially announced his $399 PonoPlayer. The device, shaped like a Toblerone chocolate bar, will play back high-res audio files at or far better than CD quality, reps say.

It does sound amazing. To find out more, check out the video our David McCabe shot with Pono’s Phil Baker. Or scroll below the fold to find out more about how the PonoPlayer works.

Video: David McCabe/Justin Webb for BreakingModern

The main thing to understand about the PonoPlayer is that it’s capable of playing seriously high-res audio files — that means music files recorded at up to 24bit/192kHz. And it’ll do it far cheaper than the other few high-res audio players available on the market right now.

For instance, the Astell & Kern AK240 will play seriously high-res audio files, but it lists at $2,500, several times more than the $399 pricetag the PonoPlayer carries.

For that $399 cost, the PonoPlayer comes with a 64GB microSD card and will work with cards up to 128GB in size.

The PonoPlayer will of course play FLAC, ALAC, WAV, MP3, AIFF, and AAC files, as well as your meager old MP3s, which sound better on the device thanks to its souped-up audio circuitry.

The cost of high-res audio is high, though. You download songs from the Pono music library, similar to how you download MP3 files from iTunes and other services, but instead of a dollar or two per song, get ready to pay upwards of $15. High-def music libraries typically charge $18 or more for popular songs.

For audiophiles who want real sound — sound that’s as good or better than CD-quality — the PonoPlayer and its associated PonoMusic Store are seriously desirable.

Will you be lining up for this one? I’m dying to know if you think Pono is as “righteous” and “pure” as its name implies. That’s basically what the word “pono” means in Hawaiian, as Neil Young has said in multiple interviews about the system.

We’ll be reviewing the PonoPlayer here in the virtual pages of BMod soon … stay tuned.

For BMod, I’m Gina Smith.

Gina Smith

Author: Gina Smith

Based everywhere, Gina Smith is the founding EIC of BreakingModern and the New York Times bestselling author of Apple founder Steve Wozniak's biography, iWoz: How I Invented the Personal Computer and Had Fun Doing It.

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