Austin, Texas — This week's South By Southwest Festival will be the setting for the launch of the high-resolution PonoMusic digital audio service and digital audio player from musician Neil Young and Ayre Acoustics.
Conceived by Young to combat the popular compression formats of digital audio files, which he feels downgrades the quality, the PonoPlayer plays back uncompressed 24/192 PCM audio available from PomoMusic.com.
"It's about the music, real music. We want to move digital music into the 21st century and PonoMusic does that. We couldn't be more excited about bringing PonoMusic to the market," said Young, founder and chairman of PonoMusic.
The triangular PonoPlayer, engineered by Ayre Acoustics in Boulder, Colo., has 128GB of memory and can store from 100 to 500 high-resolution digital-music albums in internal memory. It also plays back audio from external memory cards, the company said. It has an LCD touchscreen interface and physical control buttons.
The PonoPlayer will be sold at PonoMusic.com for $399 and will be available for pre-order at a discount on Kickstarter.com starting March 15. PonoMusic-recommended ear bud and headphone products will also be available for purchase on PonoMusic.com.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be a part of this project. We will always be grateful to Neil Young for changing the landscape of recorded music," said Charlie Hansen, CEO of Ayre Acoustics.
The company said PonoMusic.com will offer "the finest quality, highest-resolution digital music from both major labels and prominent independent labels, curated and archived for discriminating PonoMusic customers."
"Our goal was to offer the highest quality digital music available from all the major labels with the world’s greatest sounding, user-friendly portable music player. We’ve achieved our goal and we are excited to launch our Kickstarter campaign next week to invite music lovers everywhere to join the PonoMusic community and reserve a PonoPlayer for their own enjoyment," said John Hamm, CEO of PonoMusic.
Pono's desktop media-management application allows customers to download, manage and sync music to their PonoPlayer and other high- resolution digital music devices. The PonoPlayer can also play back 24/176 and 24/96 audio files.
Components of the PonoPlayer include: a custom-designed and implemented minimum phase digital filter from Ayre; proprietary "zero-feedback" ultra linear circuitry with wide bandwidth and low output impedance; an ESS ES9018 DAC chip; and a fully discrete output buffer for headphones that "will deliver perfectly flat frequency response to any headphone made," according to Ayre.