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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

TODAY: PONO Launch @ SXSW by Neil Young

Neil Young @ SXSW

An impressive promo video for Neil Young's PONO on KickStarter campaign page.

Neil Young will launch the PONO audio system today at the SXSW Conference in Austin, TX.

Webcast details are at Neil Young is listed to be speaking on Tuesday 5:00 PM CST. Please post a comment below with link if you have details.

Limited Edition Artist PonoPlayer in Chrome. Laser engraved with artist's signature. Comes pre-loaded with artist's top two favorite albums. Handmade leather case with presentation box

More info, see Neil Young News: PRESS RELEASE: PONO Launch @ SXSW by Neil Young.

Also, see Neil Young’s High-Fidelity Pono Music Player Is Still Coming, and It’ll Cost $399 |

Neil Young and “David Letterman” Show - 9/27/12
(Click photo to enlarge)

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At 3/11/2014 10:59:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Morning! We have big news coming your way very soon. Stay tuned...

At 3/11/2014 11:26:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe Faceless and Anonymous has a name!
that WOULD be big news.

At 3/11/2014 12:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't find any webcast or livestream but I think the Pono interview will be here pretty soon:

At 3/11/2014 02:08:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hopefully somebody will ask why scientific tests consistently reveal that audiophiles and audio professionals can't hear any difference at all between CD quality and 24/192. I think it is an important question to ask.

The Flying Scotsman.

At 3/11/2014 02:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks like it will be streamed here:

He is listed to be speaking on Wednesday 7:00 CST.

At 3/11/2014 02:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Flying Scotsman, I just read the Time article that Thrashers mentions above. Great article. Thanks for posting. The argument about the fact that audiophiles can't hear the difference is mentioned there too. But hey, let me put this straight, I am listening to Neil Young vinyl a lot and I can really, really, really hear the difference between the sound from the vinyl compared to that from the CD or the Mp3 or whatever. So this whole story about "not hearing the difference" is completely bullshit. If Neil hears the difference and he thinks that it's important to hear hear all the nuances in his music than that is simply a fact. Because he has proven with his recent vinyl releases that sound really matters. BSM

At 3/11/2014 02:29:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SXSW Interview: Neil Young

At 3/11/2014 02:35:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From FB:

We want our dedicated fans to know first...



At 3/11/2014 02:48:00 PM, Blogger Shamrock said...

Promo video!

Check out

At 3/11/2014 02:48:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 3/11/2014 02:52:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pledge $400 or more
ARTIST SIGNATURE SERIES: NEIL YOUNG – Limited Edition Artist PonoPlayer in Chrome. Laser engraved with artist's signature. Comes pre-loaded with artist's top two favorite albums. Handmade leather case with presentation box. Plus: Website Thanks
Estimated delivery: Oct 2014

At 3/11/2014 03:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the kickstarter page:

At 3/11/2014 03:12:00 PM, Anonymous Alfonz said...

Why would anyone get the CSN version, when you can add the Y signature for the same price?

Anyway ... some people have stated 7pm CDT times. I'm looking on the website and it seems pretty clear that it is 5pm CDT. Maybe the webcast will be delayed? But I would at least check in at 5pm if you want to be sure of catching it.

I'll be out at the Heartbreaker Banquet (on Willie's ranch) on Thursday ... I'm hoping for a surprise appearance from somebody.

At 3/11/2014 03:13:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hell yes!!!!! Now I know why I need an electric car!
To go for a ride with a Pono!

At 3/11/2014 03:16:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Just pledged $400 for the Chrome version. Looks great to me. I hope it sounds as great as all the musicians claim in the vid.

At 3/11/2014 03:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everybody thinks they can hear a difference at first. That's normal. If you tell people they are listening to state-of-the-art audio (even if it's only CD quality), of course they are bound to think it sound better. In the same way that an expensive wine almost always tastes better, even if it's exactly the same stuff in a cheaper bottle.

That's why scientific tests are used to measure what people can really hear. It eliminates bias.

Don't underestimate the placebo effect. It really works (and that's not necessarily a bad thing).

At 3/11/2014 03:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 3/11/2014 03:48:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me just say that if you use standard low quality headphones with the Pono Music Player, your not going to hear the difference. You'll need headphones that are $200 and up, I highly recommend the Audio Technica ATH-M50x Professional Headphones, the best in their class, read the reviews:

At 3/11/2014 04:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No no. Let me ask you. Can you tell the difference between a good wine vs a cheap wine? You can! Its not just placebo.

Can you tell the difference between low quality headphones vs high quality headphones, you definitely can, theres no placebo effect. There's more detail, it's more real, its palpable, it's like somebody turn on the lights.

Can u tell the difference between AM radio vs an LP? You can! There are grades/levels of sound quality.

At 3/11/2014 04:14:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But what happens if the wines are identical? The expensive one still tastes better!

But I agree about headphones and AM radio.

At 3/11/2014 04:21:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...consumers typically suffer from a version of the placebo effect. Since we expect cheaper goods to be less effective, they generally are less effective, even if they are identical to more expensive products. This is why brand-name aspirin works better than generic aspirin, or why Coke tastes better than cheaper colas, even if most consumers can’t tell the difference in blind taste tests".

At 3/11/2014 04:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

but they aren't the same product in this case, so...

At 3/11/2014 04:37:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Extremely critical comment on Pono by music industry analyst Bob Lefsetz (he usually goes easy on Neil).

At 3/11/2014 06:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil Young is live now...

At 3/11/2014 07:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil came across well, as always.

Interesting that the John Tyson of Tyson Foods is helping to finance it. I'm glad Neil has generous friends, I just wish they weren't factory farmers with a varied history of bribery (as well as polluting the environment). For example:

"Tyson Foods admitted to lavishing gifts on agricultural secretary Mike Espy -- including football tickets, airline trips, meals and scholarship money for his girlfriend -- at a time when his department was considering action on several matters affecting the company's business, including safe handling instructions on poultry packaging".

The Flying Scotsman.

At 3/11/2014 07:41:00 PM, Blogger Eric Higgins said...

Sure wish I had $400 laying around needing to be spent on something besides food, shelter and clothing. Plus another few hundred dollars for them fancy headphones.

And it would also be pretty cool for Thrasher to respond to my "friend request" on facebook that has been out there dangling since last year... I mean shit, I did donate what measly $ I could afford, and all of my NY fb friends are already fb friends with Thrasher...

What did Rolling Stones once sing? "You can't always get what you want"... Hell I am just happy that my food stamps got renewed today (NO JOKE)

-- Eric in sunny FLA

At 3/11/2014 07:59:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil mentioned that a very rich fella that he has known for many many years was a deep pocket source of funding. given the names of artists that he dropped who were also linked to this person, is he talking about David Geffen?????

At 3/11/2014 08:13:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon - he mentioned Johnny who runs a chicken business. It's obviously John Tyson of Tyson Foods, as mentioned in Neil's book.

Don and John Tyson pleased guilty to giving illegal gifts to Agri secretary Mike Epsy back in the nineties. There have been other instances before and since. So they are not as charitable as they might first appear.

I've always been uneasy about Neil's friendship with them for this reason.

Neil has a real innocent, good natured character...which makes him easy prey for those with less pure intentions. They didn't support Farm Aid, for instance, because they wanted to stop factory farming.

The Flying Scotsman.

At 3/11/2014 09:08:00 PM, Anonymous Tony said...

Well, the NY $400 pledge is "All Gone"
(Plenty of the "other" Artists are available)
If you really, really want the NY Pono, the $5,000

..Also, looks like the $800,000 goal will be met tonight.

At 3/11/2014 09:20:00 PM, Anonymous Johan said...

He keeps comparing it to mp3 and to CD and how much better it is but that's exactly what he says about vinyl. So is Pono as good as vinyl for capturing the sound and mood and space and feeling of the analogue original tapes. Or is it better? I think he should answer that question because if I want great sound I have all his records on vinyl and can just listen to them. And to be honest I can't even tell the difference between them and mp3 most of the time and I have a pretty darn nice turntable and stereo and speakers and really good ears.

At 3/11/2014 09:38:00 PM, Anonymous J Criswell said...

Vinyl that has been recorded/mixed/mastered in analog is better than Pono!

However, most people feel that 192khz 24 bit digital song files sound just like the analog master tape (if recorded in analog) if mastered correctly.

Vinyl is still the best for analog recordings but 192khz digital .wav or .flac files are a close second if mastered correctly.

At 3/11/2014 09:55:00 PM, Anonymous J Criswell said...

The #1 reason for Pono is to inform the masses that they really don't need to accept mp3's, they now have a device/online store that makes listening to high resolution music the way the artist originally intended convenient. Yes, there is, which I have used myself but it is not common or convenient to the regular music fan.

Will the Pono player sound good?

Will the player be as popular as a Apple device?
Probably not, only time will tell.

Will Pono create a buzz for high resolution music as convenient as Itunes?

To get the full effect of the player do you need quality headphones?
Yes, but you can find great cans by Sony (MDR7506) and Sennheiser HD 280 for $100

Will Pono gives us more NY high res material?

Music fans can choose to purchase the high resolution material (192 kz 24 bit) from Pono or now on for the best Pono player experience or they can use their existing CD 44.1khz 16 bit music files which will sound better on the Pono player, or anything in between the choice is in the music fan's hands now!

At 3/11/2014 10:04:00 PM, Anonymous J Criswell said...

In the SXSW conference boy did Neil hit the nail on the head with the failure of DVD Audio with the male creators wanting 5.1 mixes of high res audio but apparently never asking their wives for input since their wives would have never approved 6 big speakers in their true living room! I know it rang true in my house.

At 3/11/2014 11:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Music won today and only Neil could have pulled off sending such a strong message with nothing but a prototype. Why no demo? But regardless, Neil delivered big time and the kickstarter goal was reached in one day! Glad I kicked in some pre-goal money. Maybe since I'm a financial backer now, Neil will let me sit in the bus and demo it when he comes to Dallas! Don't forget presale is in the morning!

Pono is dead unless they can get the price down. Either that or chicken man keeps them afloat the first year or two. Even so, Neil really got everyone jonesing for some high fidelity so mission accomplished. He planted a seed. Think I'll bust out some albums.

Old Neg

At 3/12/2014 05:47:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Old Neg- demos are scheduled for today.
Yesterday was a Keynote address.

At 3/12/2014 06:32:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like Lefsetz alludes to above, most people under the age of 65 have moved onto streaming audio now, so why not just stream at a higher quality? I'm sure Pono will do well at first. I'm equally sure that it is going the way of DVD-Audio, Blu-ray audio, et al.

The main problem I see is that the audiophile movement has already largely moved on from hi-res. It's only us Neil Young fans who still think it's cutting edge. Almost everybody else either a) doesn't care or b) does care but has moved on. 24/192 is too much to be beneficial, the science is correct.

The basis premise of needing a new player is also fundamentally flawed, so I'm afraid it is destined to become a paperweight once the initial excitement wears off. It will keep a few people happy for a year or two I suppose.

At 3/12/2014 08:00:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:32:00 AM-

currently in the USA streaming hi rez audio doesn't work for the majority of listeners. Speed and bandwidth do not support this.

The reason that video (such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO etc) has become able to stream and look so good is that there is a look ahead buffer that sees the user's internet speed and adjusts picture quality to suit.

some of you may have noticed this while watching streaming video…at times the pictures quality may suffer for a while and then settle down…then is might change again at some point while watching.

the audio for streaming videos is at a very low quality and therefore doesn't run into the same issues as holds true for picture.

A number of companies and services has attempted to stream high resolution audio, but none have succeeded.
I say this with authority because I have done the tests and the research.

So…if you want to make your mark in the world, figure out a solution and start your own Kickstarter.

I don't know why you would offer up that audiophiles have moved on from Hi Rez. Almost by definition, as a group Audiophiles seek high quality listening experiences and the enjoy the products and gear that produce these experiences.

At 3/12/2014 08:27:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...The scientific evidence against hi-res having any benefits is overwhelming. It's strange to see Neil speak so well, so eloquently and passionately, about something that has no basis in reality.

I predict that anyone who gets upset about this and writes me a page-long rant in reply has never tried the blind scientific test that I keep banging on about (I have a certain psychic ability).

Within a very few years the redundancy of hi-res will be accepted as common knowledge, and the people saying otherwise are in hindsight going to look very foolish.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

The Flying Scotsman.

At 3/12/2014 08:49:00 AM, Blogger Dan1 said...

Admittedly I'm a tech neophyte, not much of an audiophile, and was also somewhat skeptical about Pono ... after watching the video and seeing the rollout of the past days my perspective is evolving ... at its core this is Neil leading a movement dedicated to establishing a high quality digital music standard ... since the advent of CDs until today's MP3s it has literally been a race to the bottom in terms of digital music quality and both consumers and artists have lost out big time ... probably, the average listener (like me) is 'tone deaf' to realize how watered down the music quality has gotten but nevertheless they're (we're) getting robbed ... for the artists its much worse, their art gets ransacked for the sake of mass distribution ... Neil to his credit is an audiophile extraordinaire / savant and is dogged enough to try to be a change agent in this respect ... I have huge admiration for his vision and skill to take on this initiative and the video shows how necessary and revered this initiative is among his peers ... while the PONO device and the music ecosystem Neil envisions are both extremely ambitious initiatives, the heart of Neil's thrust is for an upgraded digital music standard ... if Neil is successful in an upgraded standard and helping it to become commercial / available / mainstream then he'll have given society a huge gift and help the trajectory of recorded music in our culture take a very significant step forward ... Hats off to Neil for spread heading this, and I hope he'll be successful ... the naysayers will line up and complain about everything from A to Z, accuse him of being greedy, naive, ect .... all of those miss the point (Neil's not getting rich off this), we should all seek to evangelize this movement and help in what ever way we can ... maybe we don't have the $5,000 we wish we could spend to join the private dinner ... or even $400 to pre-buy the player but we can at least want it to succeed ... in my view if 5 years from now iTunes is offering these higher quality digital files Neil will have been the one to ride in on a white horse to save the industry, changing its trajectory from a race to the bottom to a standard that honors the art of so many at the level it deserves to be presented at ...

At 3/12/2014 08:54:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said... there a URL for replay?



At 3/12/2014 08:57:00 AM, Anonymous Tony said...

I wish Pono the very best, but it's not for me.
As with everything in life, there are tradeoff's. When I'm sitting in my living room listing to music, I'll have my vinyls playing on my Linn. When I'm "in transit", either on the train, bike, or car, mp3's are "good enough" (and if I want better sound, I can still play "lossy" on my iPod/iPhone)

Hopefully the Pono tracks will bring back "dynamic range" to recordings. The biggest issue I have with CD's (mostly older ones) is the dynamic range compression used to increase the max volume on CD's (aka the "Loudness Wars": see:

At 3/12/2014 09:09:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said Dan1. You're spot on. Neil brought awareness to something obvious because he did something about it! That's what makes Neil so great, even if you don't agree with him. He's a world in motion. Everyone else talks. Neil acts.

As far as the demos go, I'm sure they'll sound awesome and open even more peoples eyes. But at the end of the day, this thing would sound like shit plugged into my $79 car stereo deck. I imagine they'll be pumping it through something a little bit nicer at the conference. The albums for $17.99 on a few of the glimpses they showed of the store front seemed a little high too. And people are buying this thing on blind faith. They don't even know what's going to be available yet. The power of Neil!

I suppose I could hang this Pono on my massive 2.1 Harmon Kardon stereo system that I run my computer through. But how would I keep it charged?

Anyway, you go Neil Young! Awesome presentation and I think you've already gotten people re-thinking their audio standards so well done indeed!

Neg Man

At 3/12/2014 09:20:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do agree that it is great that Neil is highlighting the need for better quality audio. I wish him all the best. I just think that 24/192 is the wrong way to go about it.

Higher quality speakers or headphones, better mastering, careful speaker placement, a change in volume, even higher quality wires in some cases...these things will all make a notable difference to the sound.

Upgrading to 24/192 won't make any difference at all in comparison to those other improvements. But like I said, this will become painfully obvious in good time.

The Flying Scotsman.

At 3/12/2014 11:04:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So how does this example fit Pono? Daniel Lanois always uses his IZ RADAR system for recording, and this includes Le Noise. So the best producer in the world almost NEVER records to analog. Furthmore, his IZ system uses classic 96KZ converters, so the recording never even starts in 192. So the best that PONO can do here is to play the master recording at 96KZ.

Now lets generalize. Most new music is recorded in digital (pro tools etc). Do you really think that Rick Rubin, CLA etc... are recording at 192KZ? Not to my knowledge. So my basic Q is, if something starts at less than 192 (including lots of new stuff that starts at 48KZ), how does PONO help.

Just trying to fully understand.

PS. Beck Morning Phase is simply amazing and deserves Pono.

At 3/12/2014 11:14:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding Dan Lanois, I know that Le Noise was mixed down to CD quality.

Everybody (including Neil) thought the 24/192 and the vinyl sounded great until they realised it was exactly the same sound as the CD version.

At 3/12/2014 11:47:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most music today is recorded at CD quality 48KZ. There is no analog master. Pono is simply another device to play a CD quality file for almost everything recorded in the past 20 years. But maybe the industry might start recording at a higher resolution - garbage in, garbage out. Sorry.

At 3/12/2014 11:53:00 AM, Anonymous J Criswell said...

Nope, there are many artists today that still record in analog tape (which can be transferred to the highest digital level of 192khz 24 bit) or even record directly to digital 192khz 24 bit although the analog tape method is better for restoration and more warm life like sound.

At 3/12/2014 11:58:00 AM, Anonymous J Criswell said...

If you can't hear a difference between 192khz 24 bit and cd quality 44.1khz 16 bit sound then you probably need better equipment or your equipment set up right or new internal ear parts!

The very first time I heard 192khz 24 bit was the DVD A release of Harvest in 2002, hands down the best sounding version of Harvest including the remastered vinyl version.

At 3/12/2014 11:58:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed, there are many artists recording to analog or digitially at 192, but I would bet its less than 10% of all music being recorded in 2014.

I just think that a lot of consumers are being duped to think that Pono is going to sound much better, when much of their CD collection has no analog master and is a 48KZ file forever.

That said, there is no reason why the industry standard cannot move to 192. it will take time however. for example, a lot of professional plug ins I use in pro tools cannot work beyond 96. a lot of digital effects (eventide etc..) are really capped at 96k. I think it will take 10 years for the industry to move there, but no better time than now, and nobody better to kick some ass than Neil. cheers.

At 3/12/2014 12:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure, if you record analog, put it on vinyl, it can sound great. Vinyl has a very warm, colored sound.

But then transfer the vinyl to CD and it will still sound just as good. The warmth doesn't come from the hi-res part.

At 3/12/2014 12:02:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My psychic ability is telling me that J Criswell hasn't done the blind test. Am I right?

And of course the Harvest Dvd-A sounded good, it was remastered! Nothing to do with 24/192.

At 3/12/2014 12:02:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's right and besides that there's also something as music history. Millions of songs were recorded analog in the past.
And I think Morning Phase by Beck sounds great and the album will definitely be available on Pono.
If Pono sounds half as good as Beck's vinyl MFSL version that will be great ... ; )

At 3/12/2014 12:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I love Beck. What's wrong with Morning Phase???

At 3/12/2014 01:53:00 PM, Blogger Archives Guy said...

Quite a thread and conversation you have going here, Mr. Thrasher.

People talking about music, being passionate about their feelings, what they can/can't hear, speculating about the future of listening and enjoying recorded sound.

So great to see a conversation that elevates music beyond being wallpaper and background sound.

As you might expect the entire Pono team is thrilled with the response on Kickstarter within the first 24 hours.

Here in the tranches of the archives we are eager to get more music out to you, with the best digital sound ever.

At 3/12/2014 02:13:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forgot my beloved vinyl Archives Guy!
You don't want Thrasher to start a "Save Gary
Burden Petition" either. BSM

At 3/12/2014 02:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I love Beck too. And I love Morning Phase. Don't misunderstand me, the only thing I wanted to say is how much I love Sea Change on vinyl as released by MFSL. That release is so cool and I only hope that Pono does match that sound and feeling. PEACE

At 3/12/2014 02:44:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A question for Archives Guy:
Are we going to get a physical release of Archives 2 (Blu-ray preferably) or is it only going to be available on the Pono music store?

At 3/12/2014 02:58:00 PM, Blogger Dan1 said...

Twitter saying Neil is going to be on CNBC today at about 4pm ET.

At 3/12/2014 03:22:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

Thanks Archives Guy and everyone else for your thoughts and comments.

Yes, it's great to hear this discussion on music quality. Best of luck.

New thread on PONO just posted.

At 3/12/2014 04:28:00 PM, Blogger Dan1 said...

seeing a snr cnbc person on twitter saying Neil on at 4:40pm ET on CNBC (not 4pm)


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(Between the lines of age)

And in the end, the love you take
Is equal to the love you make

~~ John & Paul