Thursday, March 13, 2014

Neil Young has started a Kickstarter campaign to bring the authentic music listening experience to music fans

On Tuesday, March 11th, the Canadian singer-songwriter and musician Neil Young has started a Kickstarter Campagin to raise $800,000 for his PonoMusic project. Within the first 24 hours his project raised over $1,000,000, and within the first 48 hours it raised over $2,000,000. The success of the campaign, and even more the product inspired me to write about it in my blog post.

What is this product and why is this Kickstarter campaign so successful? The PonoMusic project is about technology, which helps to bring original music sound from the studio to music listeners via PonoPlayer at the highest digital resolution. According to the project Kickstarter campaign page, “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.“ The high-resolution music will be available for purchase on the PonoMusic online store. The store will use the FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) audio format as its standard, but the player will be able to play other most popular high-res music formats from other sources.

The difference between the low-res format such as mp3 and FLAC format is that in order to support a small file size, the mp3 compresses the original music file so much that it loses a lot of the original musical information affecting the final sound of the record, whereas the FLAC format has a very high resolution, which allows all details of a song to stay maximally close to the original resolution of the record. Mp3 format has a bit rate of 192kbps or 256kbps, while the ultra high resolution FLAC format utilized for PonoMusic has a bit rate of 9216 kbps, which is “about 30 times more data from which your player reconstructs the “song”, according to PonoMusic.

The PonoPlayer has an unusual triangular design, bringing memories of the “Toblerone” chocolate bar. The reason why the player was designed that way is because in order to support the desired functionality its creators needed to use larger audio and battery components. The triangular shape was able to accommodate all these components in the best way.

The device has a touchscreen with “swipe” navigation, which allows users to easily manage their music and the settings of the player. The player can be held upright or horizontally, the display automatically rotates depending on the orientation of the device.

50 PonoPlayers were produced for testing to date. Artists such as Pearl Jam, Tom Petty, Foo Fighters, Dave Mathews Band, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sting, Beck, Norah Jones, Jack White, James Taylor and many others were able to test the product, and all of them were impressed by the music sound quality according to the promotional video created for the campaign.

The PonoPlayer can be pre-ordered by participating in the Kickstarter campaign or on The PonoMusic creators plan to deliver the first PonoPlayers to the Kickstarter campaign supporters in October 2014. It will have a 1-year warranty and will retail for $399 at the PonoMusic website.