Neil Young expands Pono digital music service

on September 28, 2012, 5:15pm

tech neil young pono 1 Neil Young expands Pono digital music service

Prepare for war, Apple: Neil Young has announced plans to expand Pono, his high-resolution music service created to enhance the quality and compression of mp3s. As Rolling Stone reports, Pono will release a line of portable players, a music-download service, and a digital-to-analog conversion technology sometime next year. In his new book, Waging Heavy Peace, Young wrote that the service will offer record companies cloud service as a means “to save the sound of music.”

Launching last year with Red Hot Chili Peppers’ I’m With You, Apple’s Mastered for iTunes program features individualized engineering for various settings, including listening at-home, in a car, and on-board a plane. The approach has earned the conglomerate critiques that the AAC format is still only a fraction of the potential sound quality. “I have consistently reached out to try to assist Apple with true audio quality, and I have even shared my high-resolution masters with them,” Young writes, adding he communicated with CEO Steve Jobs before his death last October. “(Pono) will force iTunes to be better and to improve quality at a faster pace.” Apple has declined to comment on its relationship with Pono.

Pono has already signed an agreement with Warner Music Group to remaster its catalogs for Pono distribution. Last year, Young and Craig Kallman, chairman and chief executive of Atlantic Records, approached the remaining heads of the Big Three, UMG CEO Lucian Grainge and Sony Music CEO Doug Morris, but either label acknowledges those conversations. At some point in the last couple years, the Big Three had converted its library of 8,000 album titles to high-resolution, 192kHz/24-bit sound.

“This has to be an industry-wide solution. This is not about competing – this is about us being proactive,” Kallman told Rolling Stone. “This is all about purely the opportunity to bring the technology to the table.”

At last year’s Bonnaroo, Young gave several performers, including members of Mumford & Sons and My Morning Jacket, demos of Pono and videotaped it for a possible marketing campaign. Despite the quality, some rockers expressed doubts about the emergence of another potentially costly music service.

“Neil’s premise is cool, and I think it’s exciting as a traveling musician,” My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James told Rolling Stone. “I think that’s somewhere that he has to be careful: I’ve already bought Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’ a lot of times. Do I have to buy it again?”


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Jay Levesque
October 8, 2012 at 11:57 pm

It won’t fail. It is a highly superior product. Just wait until you actually listen to it, you won’t be so skeptical. This is the future of music. I want great sound, not the crap mp3s and no there is not a porn site at The record companies are signing on for this. Do you actually think they would if they didn’t see a profit there? It’s about time we as consumers get a superior once and for all audio product. I want to hear the master tapes on my headphones as it sounded in the studio when it was recorded. That’s the way it should be.

October 14, 2012 at 3:35 am

Prepare to be disappointed… I cannot believe this will succeed unless the music itself is being remastered by the big labels in a dynamically uncompressed way especially for the pono service. Otherwise consumers will quickly realize there’s not much to be gained. 16/44 is not an issue nor is high bitrate MP3…

Even if they do it right, I don’t think it will succeed if the price ain’t right.

Jay Levesque
January 28, 2013 at 2:30 pm

If they can reproduce the great sound that I have heard out of vintage stereo systems, which were based on old tube technology, rather than the junk sound that we are getting today, it will succeed. At least it will hit with the audiophiles…old stereo systems could make you feel the music. Today’s systems have taken all feeling out of the equation.

February 1, 2013 at 3:54 am

Like I said – “dynamically uncompressed” is the key here for audiophile acceptance. Lets see what they come out with. If they do it right with the remastering I will be shocked but impressed!

Jay Levesque
January 28, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Oh and they are being remastered by the studios expressly for this service.

Wesley Hetrick
October 1, 2012 at 5:18 pm

The first clue that this will fail, go to Yep, its a porn site.

September 29, 2012 at 9:41 am

I think they could have come up with a better name than PONO. That’s what my mother calls an adult film.


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