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-   -   Neil Young-backed PonoPlayer hits target within 24 hours (http://forums.macnn.com/113/tech-news/508883/neil-young-backed-ponoplayer-hits-target/)

 
NewsPoster Mar 12, 2014 02:59 PM
Neil Young-backed PonoPlayer hits target within 24 hours
The <a href="http://macnn.com/rd/305877==http://www.electronista.com/articles/14/03/09/ponoplayer.to.be.available.for.pre.order.via.kicks tarter.campaign.beginning.next.week/" rel='nofollow'>PonoPlayer</a>, a music playback device backed by musician <a href="http://macnn.com/rd/305878==http://www.macnn.com/articles/12/04/03/neil.young.takes.active.steps.on.quality.audio/" rel='nofollow'>Neil Young</a>, has doubled its target on <a href="http://macnn.com/rd/305879==https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1003614822/ponomusic-where-your-soul-rediscovers-music" rel='nofollow'>Kickstarter</a> shortly after starting its campaign. The high-fidelity player has so far raised over $1.6 million on the crowd-funding site, beating the $800,000 the campaign originally asked for within 24 hours of launching, with the pledging period set to continue for another 33 more days. <br />
<br />
<div align='center'><img class='mobile-img' src='http://photos.macnn.com/article_images/1394650332-md-ponoplayerkickstarter2.png' width='' height='' alt='PonoPlayer' border='0' pagespeed_url_hash="1836071855"/><br/><span class='minor2'>PonoPlayer</span></div><br />
<br />
Designed to work with the PonoMusic music store, the PonoPlayer is said to allow users to play back high-quality audio from major and independent record labels. The store will offer music under the FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec), including master recordings at up to 9,216kbps (192kHz/24-bit). <br />
<br />
<div align='center'><img class='mobile-img' src='http://photos.macnn.com/article_images/1394650332-md-ponoplayerkickstarter1.png' width='' height='' alt='PonoPlayer' border='0' pagespeed_url_hash="1541571934"/><br/><span class='minor2'>PonoPlayer</span></div><br />
<br />
The PonoPlayer itself is a triangular media player said to weigh 4.5 ounces, with its 8-hour Li-Ion battery chargeable over micro USB. Software for Windows and Mac will access the store itself and synchronize music with the device, which will have 64GB of built-in storage and will be supplied with a 64GB microSD card providing more capacity. While it will have three buttons for power and volume controls, the color display is a touchscreen which will provide the main music selection and navigation controls. <br />
<br />
PonoMusic is offering the PonoPlayer for $300 through the Kickstarter campaign, though the first 100 reserved theirs for $200, with its price expected to rise to $400 after the campaign ends.
 
besson3c Mar 12, 2014 04:22 PM
I don't understand why a new player is needed to listen to audio encoded a different way?
 
DiabloConQueso Mar 12, 2014 04:40 PM
Apparently, some people's ears need more than what the iPod or CD players can produce... which is why the PonoPlayer is capable of much, much higher bit/sampling rates (9,216kbps [192kHz/24-bit]).

To some, the difference in quality is apparent, it seems.
 
chas_m Mar 12, 2014 05:06 PM
In particular, this product is aimed at people who prefer to keep their music uncompressed, and have paid big bucks for headphones capable of reproducing the full sound. I'm not an audiophile, but I can certainly hear the difference between MP3s on cheap headphones and uncompressed 24-bit on high-quality headphones, as I think would most people.

While I'm not personally in the market for this device, it absolutely fulfills a niche in the market that Apple only marginally covers (you can use ALAC or WAV with iTunes, and an iPod Classic has a lot of needed capacity) and I think it's great that it is finding its audience.
 
besson3c Mar 12, 2014 05:47 PM
I absolutely think that there could very well be a big enough market for higher quality audio, but what is wrong with the iPod? The iPod will play 192Khz/24-bit audio files, won't it? And, you can certainly use whatever headphones you want with it.
 
bjojade Mar 12, 2014 06:54 PM
The DAC in iPods is 16 bit, 44.1khz. While you may be able to have higher resolution audio files play back, they get converted to the lower resolution on the way out of the device. Direct digital out through the dock connector to external DAC can allow higher bit rates. Not sure what the max supported is.

This new device promises higher quality audio, which is great. The DAC in the iPod isn't of the best quality to start with. However, the sample rate isn't the limiting factor. 24/192 is not automatically better than 16/44.1 In some cases, it can actually be worse! Do some research as to why. It's pretty fascinating. So, unless they are using a higher quality DAC, they are going backwards instead of forward.

Also, the issue of storage space comes into play. Even with FLAC compression, a 5 minute song is over 150mb. On 64GB, that's just over 400 songs. Not a huge collection, by any means.

And what's up with the shape? Triangle doesn't seem to 'pocket friendly' to me.
 
besson3c Mar 12, 2014 07:15 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by bjojade (Post 4270013)
The DAC in iPods is 16 bit, 44.1khz. While you may be able to have higher resolution audio files play back, they get converted to the lower resolution on the way out of the device. Direct digital out through the dock connector to external DAC can allow higher bit rates. Not sure what the max supported is.

This new device promises higher quality audio, which is great. The DAC in the iPod isn't of the best quality to start with. However, the sample rate isn't the limiting factor. 24/192 is not automatically better than 16/44.1 In some cases, it can actually be worse! Do some research as to why. It's pretty fascinating. So, unless they are using a higher quality DAC, they are going backwards instead of forward.

Also, the issue of storage space comes into play. Even with FLAC compression, a 5 minute song is over 150mb. On 64GB, that's just over 400 songs. Not a huge collection, by any means.

And what's up with the shape? Triangle doesn't seem to 'pocket friendly' to me.

Interesting, I didn't know this about the iPod's DAC (digital audio connector?!)

If this product is somewhat successful, isn't it just squashed overnight by Apple upgrading their DAC? Why don't they?
 
chas_m Mar 12, 2014 07:43 PM
besson3c: DAC stands for Digital-Analog Converter.

As for whether Apple could crush it, I suppose they could perhaps by upgrading the DAC (and offering larger capacities -- as pointed out, even 128GB isn't much if you're dealing with lossless files), but Pono offers support for FLAC, which iTunes will never offer. A lot of pirated HQ music files are encoded in FLAC, OGG and so forth.
 
DiabloConQueso Mar 13, 2014 01:02 AM
Apple upgrading the DAC would do a few things:

1) Increase component costs. Higher-quality DACs cost more.

2) Increase unit cost. Higher component costs mean a more expensive device at retail. Apple hovers midway-to-higher-up this curve as it stands -- they don't want to alienate a good portion of their potential users by raising costs anymore (and believe me, Apple's price points are carefully crafted and the result of lots of brains working very hard... not just some number that they pull out of the sky).

3) Sacrifice things that are dependent on or antecedent to the DAC. I'd be surprised if a higher-quality DAC used less battery life than a lower-quality one. iPods would be far less useful if they had a higher-quality DAC at the expense of crappy battery life, for example.

It isn't always about shoehorning the best of the best into a device, or going balls-to-the-wall with any one component unless it makes sense. While most people would probably agree that the Pono sounds better than the iPod with a carefully crafted set of audio files, most people don't care. The quality of Apple's portables is very good already -- is putting in the highest-quality DAC available just to say they have the highest quality DAC available going to have a measurable and significant positive impact?
 
OreoCookie Mar 13, 2014 05:41 PM
Why did they give the Pono player a triangular shape? That doesn't look very pocketable to me.
 
besson3c Mar 14, 2014 11:59 AM
It would also help differentiate the iPod Classic from the Touch/Nano/Shuffle, particularly as component costs (i.e. Flash/SSD storage, touch screen stuff, etc.) continue to drop.

Isn't the iPod Classic already marketed towards audiophiles?


Quote, Originally Posted by DiabloConQueso (Post 4270033)
Apple upgrading the DAC would do a few things:

1) Increase component costs. Higher-quality DACs cost more.

2) Increase unit cost. Higher component costs mean a more expensive device at retail. Apple hovers midway-to-higher-up this curve as it stands -- they don't want to alienate a good portion of their potential users by raising costs anymore (and believe me, Apple's price points are carefully crafted and the result of lots of brains working very hard... not just some number that they pull out of the sky).

3) Sacrifice things that are dependent on or antecedent to the DAC. I'd be surprised if a higher-quality DAC used less battery life than a lower-quality one. iPods would be far less useful if they had a higher-quality DAC at the expense of crappy battery life, for example.

It isn't always about shoehorning the best of the best into a device, or going balls-to-the-wall with any one component unless it makes sense. While most people would probably agree that the Pono sounds better than the iPod with a carefully crafted set of audio files, most people don't care. The quality of Apple's portables is very good already -- is putting in the highest-quality DAC available just to say they have the highest quality DAC available going to have a measurable and significant positive impact?
 
ccrider Mar 14, 2014 12:44 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by bjojade (Post 4270013)
The DAC in iPods is 16 bit, 44.1khz. While you may be able to have higher resolution audio files play back, they get converted to the lower resolution on the way out of the device. Direct digital out through the dock connector to external DAC can allow higher bit rates. Not sure what the max supported is.

This new device promises higher quality audio, which is great. The DAC in the iPod isn't of the best quality to start with. However, the sample rate isn't the limiting factor. 24/192 is not automatically better than 16/44.1 In some cases, it can actually be worse! Do some research as to why. It's pretty fascinating. So, unless they are using a higher quality DAC, they are going backwards instead of forward.

Also, the issue of storage space comes into play. Even with FLAC compression, a 5 minute song is over 150mb. On 64GB, that's just over 400 songs. Not a huge collection, by any means.

And what's up with the shape? Triangle doesn't seem to 'pocket friendly' to me.
The iPod will do 24/48 through the dock connector which is pretty good but not near the quality of a 24/192. Btw there’s already a few 24/192 portable players on the market competing with ol’ Neil’s player. The one issue I have with the Pono is I don’t think you can’t use it as a stand-alone DAC (hooked up to computer) like many of the competitors . I guess that’s helps keep the price down.

They also don’t have quite the marketing power though, I’m sure ;)

Here’s a rundown of the current technology and a couple of other portable players:

Intro to Portable Hi-Fi
 
Tom53092 Mar 21, 2014 02:09 PM
An issue will be the quality of the source material. Just because the sample rate is superb doesn't guaranty that the sound is great.

We've all bought CDs that were nowhere near optimal CD quality for various reasons (not sourced from the master tapes, for example). I've certainly bought CDs knowing they might not be as good as they could be, because it was that or nothing. But now that I've got all the music that matters to me, if I'm going to rebuy a song for better sound, it had better be really good.

And I do think the keyword is "rebuy," because the market for people who appreciate quality enough to buy flac files has already bought their music. The target market is not the 15yo buying Miley Cyrus.
 
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