While the name Neil Young might not be instantly recognisable to some of our younger readers, his latest venture in the music world is bringing him back into the spotlight. It’s called PonoMusic and, like the iPod, it hopes that it can change the way that you listen to music forever by bringing back the “soul of music” that has been lost by the compression used in the popular MP3 format.
PonoMusic launched its Kickstarter campaign last night and has blasted past its initial $800 000 (R8.7 million) goal within the first day and is already past the $1 million mark at the time of writing. Backers can choose from simple donations like $5 for a thank you message or $100 for a signed Neil Young poster, but the really interesting rewards start at $300 (approximately R3 250) where backers will be in line to receive a PonoPlayer. The PonoPlayer is a portable digital music player similar to an iPod with 128GB of on board flash storage that can be expanded by up to 64GB with hot-swappable microSD cards. While the PonoPlayer can play all of the most common music files, including MP3 and AAC, the real draw for audiophiles is that it can also play the lossless FLAC and ALAC files as well.
The term lossless means that a file can be compressed to save on storage space but returns back to its exact original form when it’s decompressed. MP3 files are lossy as opposed to lossless, which means that a lot of the original data is lost in translation and PonoMusic seems to have won its gamble that there are enough serious music fans out there who want to listen to their music in the purest possible format.
Pono says that it already has the support of all of the major music labels for its upcoming PonoMusic online store, which will offer the lossless audio files in much the same way that iTunes offers AAC files. While the prices for a single album on the store haven’t been set, the expected cost is around $14.99 -$24.99 (R160 -R270) for each album but it all depends on whether the record labels are willing to play nice.
Pono’s Kickstarter page has a video that evangelises their technology through the mouths of some of the most famous recording artists and if you’re keen on jumping into the PonoMusic life before anyone else then you still have 34 days to grab one through Kickstarter.