Neil Young’s Pono MP3 player exceeds Kickstarter goal in a day, breaks $1 million

neil youngs pono hits kickstarter 200 audiophiles clamor get board first edition ponoplayer

Updated by Caleb Denison on 3-14-2014: In a single day, the Pono Kickstarter exceeded its goal of $800,000 and is currently tracking at $3.2 million with 31 days left. The celebrity-signed versions of the Pono are sold out.

Audiophiles have been murmuring about Neil Young’s PonoPlayer for over two years, and now they’re climbing over each other to secure one, possibly saving a few bucks in the process. Today, a Kickstarter campaign was launched for the much-anticipated high-resolution music player, offering a limited number of the $400 players for just $200. That early bird deal is no longer available, but at the time of this writing, a black PonoPlayer can still be had for $300. 

Pono (which is Hawaiian for “righteous”) was one of the first proposed high-resolution music players/projects back when Neil Young announced his intentions to bring it about. Since then, others have jumped into the high-resolution audio game, though few have produced anything portable – iRiver’s Astell & Kern series is a notable exception. 

The player is intended to feel familiar to users. A touch-screen with swipe navigation allows browsing of music by song, artist, or genre, and shuffled playback is available if desired. Two outputs are provided, one for headphones, the other a line-level output jack intended for use with a larger audio system. 

According to the PonoMusic Kickstarter page, the PonoPlayer can handle any kind of music file, including high-resolution music available from already well-established services like HDtracks. But Young and the Pono team hope you’ll want to buyPonoPlayer insides music it has secured in as high-resolution as 96 kHz/24 bit and 192 kHz/24 bit FLAC (free lossless audio codec) format from its PonoMusic app and online store. 

Detractors have loudly questioned whether the higher-resolution, somewhat space-hogging music files are of any real benefit to the casual listener. In our experience, the files do provide better dynamics, higher clarity, less noise, and more sonic texture than lower-quality files. But the PonoPlayer aptitude isn’t tied solely to the music file-types it can handle. Much has to do with the quality of the components inside the player, most notably the DAC (digital to analog converter) and amplifier circuit. For this, the PonoMusic team consulted with Ayre Acoustics, a vaunted player in the audiophile electronics area. It is likely that the components that make the Pono go are top-notch, indeed. 

If the initial reaction to the Pono Kickstarter page is any indication, Neil Young and PonoMusic will easily meet their goals, and production will begin soon. When we first visited the Kickstarter page, total pledges were at $142,000. After watching one of the page’s videos, that sum bumped up to $227,000. As of this article’s initial publishing, the number stood at $397,740.

Neil Young Signature Pono Player
Product Review

Dolby makes the most comfortable headphones ever, and that's only the start

Dolby has taken its first step into product design with the new Dolby Dimension wireless headphones. Offering tons of features, supreme comfort, and a shocking price tag, the Dimension are a unique new take on audio in the home, and out.
Home Theater

If you've got questions about Ultra HD Blu-ray, we've got answers

Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and players are a killer way to beef up your home theater. Here's everything you need to know about one of the most significant advances to hit home entertainment in years.
Product Review

Glas may be gorgeous, but this spendy thermostat is no smarter than the rest

A stunning OLED screen tops the prettiest thermostat we’ve reviewed in years. But GLAS lacks the brains required to justify its premium price. Read more about it in our full review.
Computing

The Mac mini's price has crept into iMac territory. So how do they compare?

Apple announced a long-awaited update to the Mac mini. Thanks to the updated specs and increase in price, it's begun to creep up to the base model iMac. In this guide, we now put up the specs on the newest refreshed Mac mini against the…
Smart Home

How’s your Spanish, Alexa? Some Amazon Echo devices pick up a new language

Amazon's Alexa voice assistant and Echo devices are now available for customers in Mexico. Alexa has been customized for the Mexican market with local knowledge, a new voice, and support for the Spanish dialect spoken in Mexico.
Mobile

New Tidal app will bring a wave of music to your Samsung smartwatch

Tidal fans now have another way to enjoy their music collection. The Tidal app is coming to Samsung wearables, including the Samsung Galaxy Watch, Gear Sport, and more. Tidal will also be bringing its wearable app to other devices.
Music

Music to our ears: Spotify at long last arrives on the Apple Watch

Spotify subscribers are now able to jam out to their favorite tunes on their favorite workout accessory, as the Swedish streaming service has finally released its official Apple Watch app.
Digital Trends Live

Hip-hop artist Rakeem Miles talks musical upbringing, ‘Dante’s Toys’

Rakeem Miles may be best known for his musical endeavors, but he's looking to change that with his forthcoming animated show. On Monday's DT Daily, we discuss Miles' origins, what drives his passions, his favorite superhero, and more.
Home Theater

Looking for a podcast? Pandora’s Podcast Genome Project is just the ticket

Pandora has created a brand new service for podcast listeners. Powered by calls the Podcast Genome Project, the new podcast offering uses an advanced combination of algorithms and human curation to deliver the perfect podcasts for you.
Home Theater

Get the most boom for your buck with the best headphones under $100

Everybody wants a bargain, and this list has a bunch. For those looking for a solid set of headphones without spending a big stack of cash, this list is is your starting point. Check out our picks for the best headphones under $100.
Home Theater

5 gorgeous turntables that spin stacks of wax in style for less than $500

Vinyl records are awesome, but they're also finicky. To get the best out of your stacks of wax, it's best to play them on a quality turntable. Here are the best turntables to be had for under $500.
Music

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.
Digital Trends Live

DT Daily: Waymo’s driverless cars, ‘Fallout 76’ tips, and Racella

In today's episode of DT Daily, we discuss Waymo's foray into the ridesharing sector, along with various tips for making the most of the recently launched Fallout 76. We also sit down with singer Racella to chat about her new EP, Waves.
Home Theater

A recent Twitter leak may show the upcoming AirPods 2 model

Apple plans to release new AirPods much the same as it does new iPhones, and a wireless charging case, water resistance, and better Siri integration are among the improvements we can expect in future models.