Neil Young to Debut 'PonoPlayer' High-Definition iPod Competitor This Week

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Mar 10, 2014.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Musician and songwriter Neil Young, who also has experience directing, has been working on a competitor to Apple's iPod for several years now, which is now close to seeing a release date.

    The PonoPlayer is a $399 digital music player that is designed to offer high quality sound, beating out Apple's iPod. The sound is described as "master-quality digital music at the highest audio fidelity possible," which allows listeners to feel the true emotion and detail of the music, "the way the artist recorded it."

    Young initially unveiled plans for the higher-quality digital music in 2012, after he revealed in an interview with AllThingsD that he had discussed high definition music formats with former Apple CEO Steve Jobs ahead of his death. Young has been in favor of higher definition music formats for several years, but such formats require larger files, which may have held Apple back from jumping on board.
    Apple offers iTunes music in an AAC format at a quality of 256 kbps and while the company does support a lossless audio format, the files take up more space than AAC files and are not sold on the iTunes Store.

    Young's PonoPlayer works in conjunction with the yet-to-be-released PonoMusic service, which pledges to "significantly improve the way you get to hear and feel your favorite music." The PonoPlayer itself will ship with 128GB of memory, storing from 100 to 500 high resolution albums.

    As for Apple's line of iPods, several of the devices, including the nano, the shuffle, and the classic, have gone more than three years without an update. Apple did introduce a minor color change for some of the devices, but it appears the company may be planning to phase out several models. The exception may be the iPod Touch, which was updated with a new design in 2012.

    During a recent conference call, Tim Cook called the iPod a declining category for the company, which has been overtaken by more popular offerings such as the iPhone and the iPad. "All of us have known for some time that the iPod is a declining business," he said.

    The $399 PonoPlayer will be introduced to the public via a Kickstarter project that is set to go live later this week.

    Article Link: Neil Young to Debut 'PonoPlayer' High-Definition iPod Competitor This Week
  2. macrumors 603


    Oct 13, 2008
    Everywhere And Nowhere
  3. Guest

    Sky Blue

    Jan 8, 2005
  4. jonblatho, Mar 10, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2014

    macrumors 6502

    Jan 20, 2014
    Is that a Pono in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

    In all seriousness…whoever advised this business decision deserves a pink slip. Far, far, far too late to make a splash.
  5. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 7, 2011
    MP3 Players are dying... Even Apple says so... Epic. Fail.
  6. macrumors 68040


    Nov 2, 2007
    Los Angeles
    How much can even the greatest amp on earth help a lossy compression format sound better? This thing looks terrible in all aspects.
  7. jsw
    Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    To me, the viability of this comes down to the DAC and whether or not it can drive higher-end headphones. If it cannot, this is an epic fail, not unlike being able to store 4K videos and then showing them on a 320x240 screen. If it can, though... I want one. Well, probably. The capacity is quite good, and if the DAC (and battery life) are adequate, this would enable audiophile music while out - in a simpler way than the current hodgepodge of equipment you need to carry. A balanced output would be great, but... this could still be worthwhile.

    Edited to add: yes, the file formats matter, but it's also true that the digital-to-audio converters and amps in smartphones are getting better but are still somewhat lacking, so if this does in fact provide a much better DAC and amp, then it will absolutely be worth $400 to people who want the highest possible quality while out... although likely few others would notice or care about anything beyond the high price and odd shape.
  8. macrumors 601

    Jul 11, 2008
    Someone tell Neil that these devices aren't in anymore. It's about streaming music these days. What? I'm suppose to carry an iPhone (an object already built into my lifestyle) and this? And for $400? :rolleyes:
  9. macrumors 68020


    Sep 25, 2012
    Not really interested investing myself in yet another music ecosystem. But I welcome this news for only one thing: it might just give Apple a kick in the pants to start upping its game for iPod/iTunes (instead of resting on its laurels).
  10. macrumors member


    Mar 2, 2007
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Are you sure this news story didn't get lost in a queue from 8 years ago and then accidentally get posted to the site today?
  11. macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2006
    I wonder if they plan on including high quality earphones with their high quality music player? I guess most people would use their own, but packing in cheap ones sends the wrong impression.
  12. macrumors 68020


    Oct 21, 2013
    great now too bad i have this thing called an iPhone and doesn't look like a toblerone bar
  13. macrumors regular

    Aug 2, 2005

    Too expensive, too big, too late.

    Oh...and kids today don't care that much about quality. They're happy watching a crappy video with crappy sound quality on YouTube. And they're happy with using the cheap earbuds that come with whatever device they buy.

    And I'll be the first to ask...Does it come in Zune brown?
  14. macrumors regular

    Apr 4, 2012
    The casing, design, and overall presentation does not scream "high quality". Maybe in the same way those crappy Cowon players did....uhg, I still regret that Cowon D2 I purchased based on "audiophile" recommendations. What a steaming pile of crap that thing was.

    Learned my lesson. I'm obviously not an audiophile or care to spend my hard earned cash on this overpriced crap.
  15. Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I only have one question - Why??
    I think he's like 10 years too late
  16. macrumors 6502a

    Nov 20, 2012
    I hope Apple sees this and considers making an iPod Classic Pro with better sound chip. Also: lossless music on the iTunes Store.
  17. macrumors 6502

    Mar 30, 2012
    Admittedly it will probably have better sound than the iPod as Apple has never been the choice for audiophiles, but that case design and assumed worse interface and crazy price = no way.
  18. macrumors G4

    Chupa Chupa

    Jul 16, 2002
    No use for the player but I welcome a digital music service that sells decent bit rate lossless albums; essentially CDs w/o the CD.
  19. macrumors member

    Dec 22, 2007
  20. macrumors newbie

    Jan 13, 2014
  21. n-evo, Mar 10, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2014

    macrumors 6502a


    Aug 9, 2013
    $400 for an iPod classic-like player. Year 2004 is that you?
  22. macrumors 6502

    Apr 6, 2012
    I think this guy turned the clock too far back yesterday.
  23. macrumors member


    Jan 21, 2014
    I absolutely agree. A triangular media player doesn't fit in anyone's pocket (and what's up with tha apparent lack of balanced output?), but I would love a store that sells high bit- and sample rate FLACs or other file formats. HDTracks is good but the selection is limited...think of what they could do if they had all the major labels allowing HQ rips of EVERYTHING.

    Which, admittedly, may be a pipe dream.
  24. MacVista, Mar 10, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2014

    macrumors 6502

    Jun 18, 2007
    He could have pitched it to iTunes for it to offer a high-resolution premium version of music downloads and champion an update to the iPod Classic.
    Otherwise, I don't think there is a market for a 'portable' audiophile product. :confused:
  25. macrumors 65816

    Jan 9, 2007
    Um... yeah, that shape will make it easy to carry in a pocket... not.

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