Neil Young’s high-quality music player, the Pono, is finally on sale. After wrapping up a successful Kickstarter campaign last year, the Pono is heading to retail stores on Monday. It’s a niche product, so it won’t be everywhere – only 80 locations – but you can find it in a number of Fry’s stores across the United States. It will sell for $399.
“What other music players are there?” I think we have a chance. »
The retail launch announcement comes after the Pono Music Store launched this morning, where you can buy high-quality audio files to listen to. Unfortunately, these files will cost you a bit more than what you’re probably used to paying for music. Pono is also starting to work with audio company Harman to bring its technology into the vehicles Harman is installed in, so you can listen to those files in a few more places down the road.
While it’s hard to strike Young’s interest in letting people listen to music that sounds better than what you can get in an MP3, the idea of an expensive music player and music files expensive in 2015 is a tough sell. The thing is, Young gives the impression that he really doesn’t care. “I haven’t listened to music in the last 15 years because I hated the way it sounded and it pissed me off and I couldn’t enjoy it anymore,” he said on stage at CES this after. -midday. “I could only hear what was missing.”
Young says Pono is here largely because he wanted to, and it turns out a lot of other music lovers showed up on Kickstarter. “I’m a musician. I want people to hear my art. A lot of people feel the same way,” Young said. “In my mind, it’s already a success because it lives.”
The era of the MP3 player may be over, but the companies that still make music players seem to recognize it. Like Sony with its high-end $1,119.99 walkman, Pono sees its specialty as giving it a chance in the market against the shift to smartphones and streaming services. “People will have their phones anyway,” Young said. “A music player? What other music players are there? I think we have a chance.
Pono’s hope is that a few audiophiles will pick up the player, show it to their friends, and maybe win over other fans. So while Young is proselytizing for lossless music, he’s not necessarily looking for a revolution. Even if Young timidly plays on Pono’s interest in succeeding (there is is the money in there, after all), it really sounds like he wants something good to listen to.
Young thinks the average listener will be able to tell the difference between lossless audio and an MP3 once they hear it. “If you use Spotify, you can recognize the song immediately,” he said. “But can your soul recognize it? That’s what I’m talking about. Do you feel that, or is it just wallpaper?
“It’s been 15 or 20 years since anyone heard something like this in a new product,” he said. “We just want to play music.”