PonoMusic Selects Omnifone As Their Content Delivery Partner

Photo Credit: Omniphone

From the Pono Kickstarter page:

Omnifone was selected to power the PonoMusic store because of its award-winning cloud music platform and its industry-leading audio expertise and commitment to audio quality. Standing at 35 million tracks, MusicStation - Omnifone’s cloud music platform - hosts the industry’s largest catalogue of high resolution content, obtained from rights holders in all corners of the world. This rich collection of premium quality audio - and its distributed delivery from the cloud - will enable PonoMusic to achieve global scale quickly.
Delivering a portable player, a control app, and an online music store is a lot to bite off so I'm happy to see Pono partnering with some world-class players. Ayre's involvement in their Pono Player DAC design was better than good news, JRiver's hand in the desktop app likewise, and now Omniphone brings a big helping of high res music delivery skills to the table.
Omnifone has the highest possible quality pulse-code modulation (PCM) audio recordings for delivery in free lossless audio codec (FLAC) and wave form audio (WAV) formats and is now adding new formats such as Direct-Stream Digital (DSD). As a result Omnifone has the largest licensed high-resolution audio catalogue in the world.
Did he say DSD? One of Ominphone's clients, rara, is a streaming service so I just have to wonder if high res streaming isn't in the cards for Pono somewhere down the line...In the mean time there's this, "Omnifone expects high-resolution digital albums to cost between $15 and $25."

audiostream_login_id's picture

Will it be reported? Would distinguish from other 'hi-res' providers.

All I could find from the website: "...we are also working on some funky stuff such a technique to verify the provenance of the audio and its end-to-end signal path from the studio to the listener..."

If they are 'verifying' an MP3 master but not reporting that it is an MP3 master, then this effort is pretty useless.

BrooklynNick's picture

>> Omnifone has the highest possible quality ... audio recordings for delivery

I thought the whole point of Pono was that they were going to identify quality masters or get them made and then sell them. Instead they appear to be partnering with a site that already has the digital music files. Is there any reason to think that Omniphone's (not a name that inspires confidence in music lovers) masters will be the better masters that Pono promised? It is not mentioned in the press release, so I think it is safe to assume they will have exactly what HD Tracks has i.e. lots of high res files of questionable provenance. Perhaps this was why Pono's CEO quit?

Maury's picture

Who would have thought that there were 35 million tracks of cross our hearts hi rez even before Pono gets off the ground? I promise not to ask embarrassing questions but wish Mr Young well on his tours, recordings and parties.

Chrisg2229's picture

yeah, have to call BS on this one...

Matthew White's picture

Omnifone is developing a series of techniques that will help ensure the integrity of high resolution audio, beginning with a method to detect where audio has been artificially up-sampled. We flag content that is believed to be disingenuous in terms of its stated resolution and make this available in our API. This detection includes where a digital audio file has been digitally up-sampled from a format such as MP3 into a PCM high resolution file like 24/192.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
Thanks for sharing! Cheers.
bernardperu's picture

Any chance omnifone could provide several master versions of the same album? Good listening skills usually leads to the search of higher dynamics.

Will you offer vinyl rips? They have the best masters!

A good master is far more important than format quality.

BrooklynNick's picture

How accurate is this up sampling detection technique? What is its failure rate for false positives/negatives? Will it detect 16/44 up sampled to 24/44? How 16/44 to 24/88?

Will Omnifone be providing detail info on the source of each master, where known?

jim tavegia's picture

The past is the past, so what I am most interested in is if the "labels" are going to look at this as an opportunity and starting tracking, mixing, and mastering everything at either 30ips or a min of 2496? I think we all agree that the music must start at "more" before it is deemed ready for delivery as highrez? I hate to think that time and money must be wasted in funding the "audio bit rate police" to uncover the charlatans.

I have been wearing out my free downloads courtesy of Alan Sides of OceanWay Audio. Those 4 2496 tracks are so wonderful. So then in my Sony SoundForge I lowered the bit rate to 16 and resampled to 44.1 and burned a couple of CDs. The cd does sound very good, but the air, separation between instruments and the smoothness are lessened. It probably would not even be noticed by my friends who are not audiophiles. Even doing that the CD is one of the nicest that I own and that is due to the native rate.

Maury's picture

It is possible, if not likely in the next 5 years, that pop recording will become native hirez by default. However I see little possibility that overall compression will be reduced even if Apple iTunes forces them to move a bit further away from digital overload. Loudness sells. This is a fact of human auditory perception almost as basic as octave equivalence. Even with golden ears comparisons, two different signal chains have to be level matched for comparisons as the louder one is preferred. Also the degree of signal processing in the studio is likely to increase which tends to reduce air, depth, transient accuracy etc. Considering that most people will be listening on portable devices it is hard to see how they would perceive any of the hirez benefits anyway. People listening on optimized computer set ups or conventional audio systems would be more likely to hear it but they are a minority.

The problem is the sheer size of the online music catalog. Given the many millions of tracks Omnifone asserts, trying to assess and monitor standards requires supercomputers. Also streaming will be at less than CD rates for the foreseeable future and that is what is gaining market share. So hirez files will be streamed at MP3 rates that terrestrial radio now uses. Bottom line I think some loose standard will be maintained on the Top 100 and everything else will slide under the radar.

2_channel_ears's picture

"Yeah I love vinyl, and I love the highest reproduction of digital. Like say Neil Young's Pono thing. If you hear that next to say an MP3 it's laughable, you just slap your knees laughing at how bad the MP3 sounds and how much can actually be heard."
Que Q at 2:54: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIJc3HQBUEI

Chrisg2229's picture

It is interesting reading some of the comments about the Omnifone decision on the Kickstarter page as there does seem to be some skepticism about the decision. One person seems pretty naive, though, openly wondering if "Pono has our (backers) best interests at heart"...while I assume Pono doesn't want unhappy customers, I can safely say that Neil Young and his partners interests come first.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
On the internet? No way ;-)