The “Pono” Player Will Change Nothing

When I first heard that Neil Young was trying to develop his own format for higher quality audio, I was pretty skeptical that anything noteworthy would come of it, simply because it’s not “needed” by consumers. Several variations of high quality digital music already exist, and they’re already not used, so why would yet another different format change anything? The only chance of changing anything would have to be consumer education while also somehow “educating” them without overeducating them to the point where they just invest in FLAC.

Now that the folks at evolver.fm got more details on the player, you can safely write this off as nothing to pay any attention to. The biggest problem is that the highest quality will only be playable on a proprietary device (pictured above via an appearance on Letterman). As a standalone audio format, it will somehow play downsampled versions of the same tracks on other devices using the same files.

The evolver.fm article also points out the very limited niche the device/format will have… the majority of people either don’t care that much about audio quality, or if they do they already have high quality formats available to them. They only have the in-betweens or converts from the “don’t care” category, but those people can discover the open source FLAC format, the free desktop players, and the open source firmware replacement for many portable media players to enable playing the HQ files.