Posts Tagged ‘Neil Young’

Neil Young’s Pono

March 12, 2014

A couple of years ago I wrote about Neil Young’s ideas for a new kind of ipod-style music player that would accurately reproduce the very high level of music quality found in the original studio masters. Over the years he has expressed increasing discontent with the way that ipods and other devices reduce the quality of the artist’s original material and he talks at length about this in his autobiography.

It now looks as if this was far more than Neil day dreaming about what might be possible in an ideal world. He’s announced that the project to build such a device is up and running and seeking funding via the crowd-funding service KickStarter.

The device will be called a Pono – Hawaiian for righteous. As the blurb says:

“What righteous means to our founder Neil Young is honoring the artist’s intention, and the soul of music.”

Sounds pure Neil Young to me – you can read a lot more technical stuff at PonoMusic.com.

Saddle Up the Pono

June 7, 2012

“I feel like more than just a number.”

Neil Young, Computer Age, (track from the album Trans)

For many years, rock musician Neil Young has been highly critical over the move to digital formats. His beef is simple enough – the digital formats in use today lose too much of the music; MP3 for example only retains about 5% of the data from the original mix. Many people claim this is irrelevant as they can’t hear the difference, but to a musical purist like Young, they are missing something important from what he has created.

Recently he told Walt Mossberg, in an interview for the Dive Into Media conference, that his solution is an ‘iPod for the 21st century’: a new player and a new format that “some rich guy” would produce. He then revealed that he had been talking to Steve Jobs, just before he died, about such a device.

It was later revealed by his publisher, perhaps inadvertently, that the device would be known as a ‘Pono’ and Rolling Stone magazine have found that various trademarks, such as SQS (Studio Quality Sound), have been registered.

In an interesting development, when I pre-ordered the latest Neil Young album (on vinyl of course) I was sent a free, digital download track. It came in the Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) format, which is open source and can handle 24-bit audio: the same resolution at which most bands record their albums these days.

My impression from the interview with Neil Young is that he’s not convinced that FLAC is quite there as the ultimate digital format. But no doubt the quest goes on and once again, Apple are the one to watch.