So music players just got really interesting within the last twenty four hours.

Let’s start with the basics. Mp3’s sound like crap.

And before you start telling me they don’t, I’m sorry, you’re wrong. Your average mp3 is okay but it’s compressed, smushed and missing a lot of range.

The trade off? You can fit a HUGE amount of songs on your average mp3 player if you rip or download songs at a higher bit rate.

I’m a big music fan and I love good quality sound. I grew up with a family that had a decent stereo system made of components that would play records and later CDs.  If all you’ve ever heard music through is ear buds or computer speakers, you’re missing out.

Neil Young also shares this sentiment and for nearly a decade, he and a team have developed a new music player and music system to try and bring good sound back to us. It’s called Pono and the Kickstarter campaign started yesterday.


Pono means “righteous” in Hawaiian and the idea is that their files will be at 192kHz / 24 bit FLAC files (for comparison, lossless cd files are at around 44.1kHz / 16 bit). According to Pono, it’s music will be warmer, richer and more engaging. Currently the players are going to be around $399 and are a portable model that has both headphone jacks and a jack to hook it up to your home stereo system.

Honestly, I’ve been tracking this project for a couple of years now and I’m excited by a great compromise of having connivence with good sound.

However, this isn’t the end all be all solution and I’m going to sit back and wait a little while before purchasing.

I’m positive that the Pono player has better sound then my ipod, almost certain of it, BUT that’s only if you have something good to plug it into. The player can be putting out the greatest sounding digital files on Earth but if you’re playing them through a tin can, the music is still going to sound like it came out of a tin can. Same goes with headphones. I’m lucky, I have a great set of ear buds that are a little higher end but a majority of the public uses the same ear buds they got with their ipod… or worse yet, a set of Beats. People are going to have to invest in more than just the Pono player to make it worth it. Not that that’s a bad thing. It’s just something people would have to get used to again. Ipods and downloading made music portable and whether you like illegal downloading or not, cheaper. We’d have to get use to buying equipment again to play music with.

I’m also leery of the fact that no actual artists or record labels are listed as part of the project. Pono will only be as good as the variety of music available for it. Don’t get me wrong, I imagine that these are lined up (what record company wouldn’t want another revenue stream?) but why not announce it? How limited is the song selection going to be when Pono launches? For the $399 price point I’d want a good a good selection of artists right off the bat. I want The Band’s Music From Big Pink ready to go or David Bowie’s Heroes, not just a small selection of songs. And what are songs and albums going to be priced at? The FAQ says between $14.99 and $24.99 (a little higher then itunes but that might come down) for most albums but nothing is currently listed for specific songs.

That being said, I hope Neil Young is right and this ushers in a new age of great sound. And there seem to be more people who are more enthusiastic then me. Pono’s kickstarter goal was $800 000 within 34 days. Currently it sits at over 2 MILLION! Maybe this will be the new ipod.

Take a look and tell me what you think?

Because if you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!

Neil Young believes in Pono so much he signed his name to it with this signature series perk.

Neil Young believes in Pono so much he signed his name to it with this signature series perk.