Oh no..Pono? What's the deal

PONO Music has gotten over $4,000,000 in pledges for their Music player on Kickstarter.com in a week(their goal was $800,000 and they have 25 days to go). While the fact that Neil Young has been the force behind it and the lead spokesperson for Pono, it is really encouraging. While the player looks cool, it is in many ways secondary. The main thing will be if Neil and Pono can get the Music Industry to get behind the idea of 192khz/24bit files for audio and the widespread marketing of audio in FLAC format.

While there have been attempts in the past(SACD,DVD-Audio,Blu-Ray), the combination of hardware price/availability and catalog availability have prevented them from doing well. By creating an inexpensive player that will work portable users(where most music is heard these days, an internet sales model, desktop management software and leveraging an existing format(FLAC has been in use since 2001), many of the problems of predecessors have been bypassed.

Piracy is and will still be an issue(FLAC has NO copy protection), but this offers the Music industry a chance they missed(the CD format was selected on the basis of marketing concerns rather than quality and ignored Nyquist Samling theorems to offer the owest common denominator)- selling their customers high-quality recordings in a convenient format that is relatively immune to obsolescence(FLAC supports up to 32 bit/655,350khz sampling) and offers them a good marketing hook - The music sounds good.

Strangely I haven't seen much about this on social networks, but to me it is a big deal. I've been recording 24 bit 96khz for a while( my setup makes 192khz impractical) and always feel bad about downsampling to get it to the public. This could change that equation.

Does it sound better? Well, I did a test using a song I had recorded at 24bit/96khz. Yes, even on headphones and a set of iMac built in speakers I can hear the difference between the 24/96 FLAC and a CD quality .WAV file and big difference from even a high quality MP3. FLAC encodings of a 24/96 AIFF file and a 16 bit /44khz WAV are identical to their sources while taking up around half the space.

Want to hear for yourself? Below are links to the files I used :


You can probably listen to everything EXCEPT the FLACs on your computer if you have iTunes and/or Quicktime Player. AIFF and WAVs sound identical to FLACs so, you non't NEED to download a FLAC player , unless you don't trust me. Go for it, there are free players for Windows and Mac.. Will Pono save the Music biz or is it just the latest flavor of the minute?

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