Neil Young's Pono. What is it?
The book, like today’s drive, is a ride through Young’s many obsessions, including model trains, cars like the one we were touring in and Pono, a proprietary digital musical system that can play full master recordings and will, he hopes, restore some of the denuded sonic quality to modern music.There's only one other mention of "Pono" in the article:
Young gets most worked up when he talks about Pono, the music system he has developed. It is beyond the hobby stage: Warner Brothers has agreed to make its catalog available on Pono, and Young and Roberts are negotiating with other record companies and investors.We do know more from a Press Release for his forthcoming book:
We walked out of the train barn past a Hummer that runs on biodiesel and hopped in yet another car, a ’78 El Dorado, to listen to the Pono system. Right now, it needs a trunk full of gear, but Young and Roberts are working with a British manufacturer to come up with a portable version. He gave a demonstration that replicated MP3s, CDs, Blu-ray and then the full Pono sound.
“You are getting less than 5 percent of the original recording,” he said at first. He put on Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” and then switched to Pono. The horns jumped and the car was filled with lush, liquid sound. He madly toggled between different outputs to make sure I was getting it.
Young is also personally spearheading the development of Pono, a revolutionary new audio music system presenting the highest digital resolution possible, the studio quality sound that artists and producers heard when they created their original recordings. Young wants consumers to be able to take full advantage of Pono's cloud-based libraries of recordings by their favorite artists and, with Pono, enjoy a convenient music listening experience that is superior in sound quality to anything ever presented.So Pono is obviously more than a file format and it sounds like yet another proprietary delivery system that may require, argh, its own hardware platform for playback. Neil Young knew Steve Jobs and they talked about delivering better quality music and it appears as if Mr. Young has taken a big bite out of the Jobs/Apple business model.
From an article in Rolling Stone:
"We were working on it," said Young. "Steve Jobs was a pioneer of digital music. But when he went home, he listened to vinyl. And you've gotta believe that if he'd lived long enough, he would eventually have done what I'm trying to do."