Audiophiles have long bemoaned the inferior sound quality of digital files, as compared to the more rich sound of analog recordings. In fact, legendary musician Neil Young compares the experience of listening to MP3s to listening to music underwater with a big glass bowl over your head.
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However, with the launch of his new music service and player, PonoMusic, Young seeks to rescue sound from its watery grave by offering digital music files with superior sound quality.
Most compressed MP3 files we listen to today have a kilobit per second rate between 192 and 256, which conceals much of the dynamic detail of the original recording. PonoMusic, on the other hand, uses Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) as its standard audio format, producing sound files at 1,411 kbps, on up to uber high-quality recordings at 9,216 kbps. According to PonoMusic, this creates between six and 30 times more information for song reconstruction.
The PonoPlayer, a portable, triangular device links with the PonoMusic App - available for Mac and Windows - which connects to an online store where music can be bought and downloaded, similar to iTunes. The device includes two output jacks, one for headphones and one designed for home audio systems or car stereos.
"Pono," which is Hawaiian for righteous, "is more than just a high-resolution music store and player; it is a grassroots movement to keep the heart of music beating," explains the venture's Kickstarter page. "PonoMusic aims to preserve the feeling, spirit, and emotion that the artists put in their original studio recordings."
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PonoMusic has already met it's goal of $800,000, tallying well over $1.4 million and counting with 34 days still left to go. No doubt, the influential testimonials of some of the biggest names in the music industry has done well to raise PonoMusic's stake. Bruce Springsteen, Arcade Fire, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Patti Smith and more can all be seen singing Pono's praises in the Kickstarter video.
"Hearing Pono for the first time is like that first blast of daylight when you leave a movie theatre on a sun-filled day," Young wrote. Amen to that. Neil, if you're reading, feel free to drive through D.C., as I'm jonesin' to hear the Pono-fied version of "Walk On."