Pono: Neil Young's high-end music player launches

After the Walkman, the Pono is the second expensive, audiophile-focused music player launched this week

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 07 January 2015 10:41
Pono positions itself as a higher quality alternative to the iPod
Pono positions itself as a higher quality alternative to the iPod

Neil Young’s high-end Pono music player has launched, with initial reviews suggesting it lives up to its hype.

The music player was funded on Kickstarter and hopes to seize on demand for high-quality music. It plays special versions of music that are uncompressed and claim to be many times better than most other music stores.

It costs $399 (£260) and can be ordered now for delivery in February. Those that supported the device on Kickstarter have already received their special edition models.

It’s the second expensive but audiophile-focused personal music device to launch at the Consumer Electronics Show, which runs in Las Vegas until Friday. Sony yesterday announced that it would sell a new version of the Walkman for £949 — though initial tests seemed to indicate that its “Hi-Res Audio” might not win many people round.

Rocker Neil Young raised half a million dollars to popularize Pono, his high-fidelity format for downloading music, in a challenge to MP3s.

The Pono shop also launched yesterday, with the uncompressed albums a little more expensive than bought through other online music shops. Neil Young’s After The Gold Rush — which is at the full 192kHz and 24 bit resolution — costs $21.79 (£14.40) through the store.

Neil Young is the top-selling artist on the store so far — and all but three of the top 10 albums feature him — followed by other mostly 60s and 70s acts such as Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin.

Initial reviews suggest that the Pono largely lives up to the Hype.

Engadget wrote that “the difference is quite dramatic”. Slash Gear suggested that it was “all that it’s cut out to be” — even despite listening in the busy and loud convention hall at CES.

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