Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Neil Young Invents New iPod; Raises Nearly Two Million Bucks on Kickstarter in One Day

Posted by on Wed, Mar 12, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Because not enough rich and well-connected people have taken advantage of Kickstarter's risk-free crowd-funding platform, Neil Young has raised nearly two million bucks IN ONE DAY to launch his new high-definition music player and music service, PonoMusic.

The PonoMusic player (pono is Hawaiian for "righteous," if you're wondering) looks like a children's model of the iPod (or, maybe the bigger buttons are for the aging eyes of older Neil Young fans? I kid, I kid!) and it will work a lot like every other portable music device, except it's a TRIANGLE, so it won't fit in your pocket, and it's high-definition, so the quality will be a lot better. Via the Kickstarter page:

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.

A GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT TO KEEP THE HEART OF MUSIC BEATING, YOU GUYS. And if you pledge $5,000 to the grassroots movement, you get to have dinner with Neil Young! Oh, wait, you can't because 30 people already have.

The PonoMusic player will be sold for $399. My prediction is that this heart of music will flatline by the end of the year.


Comments (20) RSS

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Gordon Werner 1
Want better sounding music? Encode using Apple's Lossless encoder.

This thing though, touts benefits/capabilities that lie outside the human range of hearing
Posted by Gordon Werner on March 12, 2014 at 1:34 PM · Report this
I am generally pretty cynical, but this post seems overly cynical.
Posted by Jude Fawley on March 12, 2014 at 1:49 PM · Report this
jnmend 3

It's a super cute idea, but 90% of the population can't tell the difference between a midrange AAC file and a high-end AAC file anyway, much less the difference between high-end and lossless. Throwing even more quality on top of is SERIOUS overkill.

Plus, $400 for something that I can't use as a phone? HILARIOUS. If you want the heart back in music, stop having your drummers use metronomes.
Posted by jnmend on March 12, 2014 at 2:06 PM · Report this
rob! 4
Whether they are correct or not, millions of people believe that mp3's have robbed them of the musical enjoyment they pay GOOD MONEY FOR!!

I'm reminded of Prof. Atmos P.H. Ear in Robert McCloskey's Centerburg Tales, who breezes into town selling shakers containing a lifetime supply of Ever-So-Much-More-So, "an odorless, colorless, tasteless chemical... that when sprinkled on things, supposedly enhances everything; a soft bed would become softer, a fast car becomes faster, and so on."
Posted by rob! on March 12, 2014 at 2:09 PM · Report this
fletc3her 5
This is pretty dumb.
Posted by fletc3her on March 12, 2014 at 2:12 PM · Report this
Fnarf 6
The iPod can hold music in whatever bitrate you want. The limiting factor here is the headphones you're listening through.

Me, I like to emulate the sound of the stock radio in a 1974 Mercury Capri, so quality isn't really top of my list.
Posted by Fnarf on March 12, 2014 at 2:14 PM · Report this
delirian 7
@1: Hey, don't you know that Monster HDMI cables give you the best audio experience? They're gold plated and everything!
Posted by delirian on March 12, 2014 at 2:16 PM · Report this
rob! 8
@7, a fat pipe will cure all ills.
Posted by rob! on March 12, 2014 at 2:19 PM · Report this
Nieuw Hollander 9
Audiophilia is as full of pseudoscience and flimflammery as the supplements aisle at Whole Foods, but that said...

There are indeed higher-definition digital audio formats than Apple Lossless. Likewise, cell phones and portable music players generally have terrible analog stages (that is, the circuitry the sounds pass through after they've been decoded to analog electrical signals from their digital format.)

As it happens, the latter actually matters quite a bit.

You know what was actually an exceptionally low-noise music player? The original iPod Shuffle, the one that was a USB stick. With a well-encoded 256kbps+ MP3 or AAC file it sounded great, even in a quiet room with great headphones. It never supported lossless formats, but that never mattered beyond a certain point.

Making a portable digital music player that is genuinely better sounding than anything else on the market? Something that sounds as good as an old iPod Shuffle but has the storage space to support lossless playback, and has a screen for navigation? That's worth a modest premium in a niche market if it's usable with, say, FLAC and Apple Lossless codecs.

I agree that this will not go far, however. And the whole "ecosystem" stuff is nonsense.
Posted by Nieuw Hollander on March 12, 2014 at 2:23 PM · Report this
SchmuckyTheCat 10
I'd pay a lot for a portable music player with a massive amount of storage that didn't do anything else (batteries!). But it wouldn't be $400. I don't need high end lossless, but I do want to hold tens of thousands of songs, non-streaming, at once.
Posted by SchmuckyTheCat on March 12, 2014 at 3:13 PM · Report this
Sir Vic 11
@6 I had you pegged as a Kraco man. Learn something new everyday....
Posted by Sir Vic on March 12, 2014 at 3:33 PM · Report this
Porcupine 12
@6. Actually the iPod as well as most encoders are limited to 320kbps. Not that there's much sense to go over that with the MP3 codec.

It would be nice to be able to buy lossless music from Amazon or iTunes. Not so much because the quality is noticeably better than a high rate MP3 but because you will be able to convert it to any format you may want in the future.
Posted by Porcupine on March 12, 2014 at 3:36 PM · Report this
The Beady Eyes of Mayor Ed Murray 13
The world doesn't need extra shrill Harvest Moon piped into your ears from a toddler's building block.

Some enterprising snakes have taken advantage of Mr. Young's declining faculties, it would appear.
Posted by The Beady Eyes of Mayor Ed Murray on March 12, 2014 at 3:38 PM · Report this
@6: Not true, as @12 points out.

This is aimed at a niche market. If you're like @10 and just want to carry around tens of thousands of songs in a crappy compressed format this isn't for you.
Posted by bigyaz on March 12, 2014 at 4:13 PM · Report this
Doctor Memory 15
Sigh. I love Neil Young, but he's so far off in the weeds on this that it isn't even funny, and I have a serious suspicion that his "business partners" in this little venture are quietly pocketing 80% of the money. Their BOM for that thing can't possibly be more than $40 inclusive of labor, and I would not be at all surprised to find that the internals were remaindered mainboards from some other player.

If you believe that it is possible to substantially improve on 44khz/16bit sampling, you are wrong in basically every way it is possible to be wrong about audio processing and storage. True fact.
Posted by Doctor Memory on March 12, 2014 at 5:56 PM · Report this
Doctor Memory 16
Argh, wrong link in my last comment. True Fact.
Posted by Doctor Memory on March 12, 2014 at 5:59 PM · Report this
RIP Rio Karma

I drove Neil and his son Ben around Seattle for a day, doing some sight-seeing, then met Amber Jean in Ballard where she was shopping for a new tattoo. Nice people.
Posted by Henry on March 12, 2014 at 8:27 PM · Report this
@12 / @14, MP3 files are limited to 320kbps, but the iPod will happily play Apple Lossless files.

Having a nice DAC and headphone amplifier matters sooner than that anyway.
Posted by saccade on March 13, 2014 at 2:02 AM · Report this
His last memoir - Waging Heavy Peace - hit on this topic over and over, almost an infomercial. The book read as if he actually wrote it - all over the place. Tough slogging, but good tidbits. Anyway - this is his passion project.
Posted by DawginExile on March 13, 2014 at 9:11 AM · Report this
Eastpike 20
It's not a triangle. It's a polyhedron called a triangular prism.
Posted by Eastpike on March 13, 2014 at 10:59 AM · Report this

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