Audiophiles' Thinking and Neil Young's PONO
PONO ARTIST SIGNATURE SERIES: NEIL YOUNG
After years of detractors sniping and scoffing, Neil Young successfully launched PONO at the SXSW Conference earlier this week. Again, congratulations to the PONO Team and their Kickstarter Campaign which exceeded their goal in less than a day. (And "fuck the doubters".)
Could PONO be a trick of disaster?
Even industry veterans like long time supporter Bob Lefsetz are suprisingly negative about PONO's prospects. And one of the primary sources of doubters of PONO's vision -- it would seem -- is none other than high end audio aficionados themselves, or "Audiophiles" as they often refer to themselves.
Just scroll thru the comments over on Computer Audiophile Forum or Steve Hoffman Music Forums. The sheer number and intensity of "Audiophiles" seeing failure and nearly wishing disaster is both disheartening and telling.
Once again, a small group of elites think they know what's best for the masses. Again, with the usual dismal results. Although, it is still premature to assess PONO's success given that the actual product and launch are months away, the certainty with which some speak is troubling. As Neil Young said himself, the goal isn't to create a new standard or even to make a huge profit. The only goal is to raise the sound quality of music.
Who can argue with that?
But here's a comment that aligns with our thinking on Computer Audiophile Forum | Neil young announces the launch of ponomusic - Page 14 by InfernoSTi:
Wow, it's clear folks are really getting worked up over nothing.Well, what John said.
For me, the big complaints were that it looks too much like Neil Young (yellow model). That and my favorite band didn't sponsor one of the $400 limited editions...
The bottom line is this product is trying to fill a niche that isn't currently being filled. It isn't going to be "as something" as other products that fill a different niche. It won't make phone calls or play apps like my iPhone. It isn't small like my iPod/Sony Product/etc. It isn't really super expensive like my A/K. It won't play DSD like my dongle DAC.
But guys, it looks like it is going to be the best option for a hi res iTunes store that is still compatible with HDTracks and Acoustic Sounds, and all the other hi res storefronts. It only costs $300 early/$400 going forward. This is all a good thing. The issues about features that seem to make sense such as a 128GB card are likely to come out on the next model they release. Look at the iPhone's first model and look at it now. Look at the A/K's first model and look at it now.
These product evolve. I know folks know this but why pretend it isn't so? The whole "what will the twenty somethings think" thing doesn't worry me too much. They love vinyl for all the reasons the experts say they will hate Pono.
I believe there is a movement against convenience over quality and I see this as part of that universal movement that is open to all ages, all genders, and (I hope) all levels of income. Slow food, not fast food. Conversation, not shouting. Full audio, not lossy audio. This is part of something that says, "I want more than my fits in my pocket MP3 player while I text fight with strangers over a Big Mac for dinner." This says, "I want real music while I exchange ideas with my friends over a home cooked, health dinner."
The funny thing is that there is something that caught my attention and that thing was Neil Young back in May 2011 saying that 2012 was the year that the music industry would put the soul back in digital music. I posted that odd announcement on one of my audio forums back in 2011 asking if anyone knew what this was all about. It turns out that following Neil's vision progressed in 2012 and 2013 to the point where I was thinking about "what is Pono?" but knew that if Neil was pushing it, it had to do with putting the music back into digital audio. Now I see this is far more open and accessible to many than I thought it would be (no special format, no DRM…heck, they use an open source format for crying out loud).
This is a good thing if you love music…
Here's a replay of Neil Young's launch talk at SXSW on NPR.
And here's a rant about rants about PONO - Where The Vulture Glides Descending: Missing The Point About Pono. Thanks PunkDavid!