The Neil Young-backed PonoPlayer portable media player is now available for pre-order through Kickstarter. While the list price for a PonoPlayer will eventually be $399, backers of the campaign can reserve one for $300… it just won’t ship until October.


Neil Young and the folks at PonoMusic are targeting audiophiles who aren’t happy with the sound quality available from smartphones and cheaper music players including iPods and SanDisk Sansa devices.

The PonoPlayer has a digital filter with minimal phase, zero-feedback circuitry, and a high quality DAC chip, among other things. It supports 24-bit, 192 kHz audio, and the device has two outputs: a headphone jack and a separate line output for use with a car or home stereo system.

While you can listen to MP3, AAC, WAV, AIFF, or ALAC files on the PonoPlayer, one of the key things that sets it apart is support for FLAC audio files. The Free Lossless Audio Codec is designed to offer high quality audio without the data compression involved in creating MP3 files.

That means FLAC files are much larger than MP3 files — but PonoPlayer has a lot of storage space. It comes with 64GB of built-in storage and a 64GB microSD card slot (which you can swap out.

128GB is enough to hold about 400 albums worth of CD-quality audio, or around 60 albums of high-resolution 24-bit, 192 kHz music. Those are just the extremes… if your music collection consists of files encoded in different formats and at different quality levels you may be able to fit much more (or less).

When the PonoPlayer ships in October, customers will be able to purchase DRM-free music from the PonoMusic web store. Albums are expected to sell for around $15 to $25. But since the device supports a range of DRM-free formats, you can also use it to play your existing music.

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10 replies on “Neil Young’s PonoPlayer hits Kickstarter, ships in October”

  1. Is there a way for me to take a short position in this venture? Just saying.

  2. That triangular shape isn’t exactly pocket friendly :p
    And for $400, Tascam, Olympus, Sony and others offer professional little pocket players that offer high quality playback as well as high quality recording for musicians and other creative people.

  3. Battery life – 8 hours. Ha! Better give a chance to cheap Sansa Clip mp3-player.

    1. Agreed there. “high quality audio” and “on the move” don’t really go together, you can have a great sound to noise ratio but when that gets cut in half by the sound of that passing bus you might as well be using a cheap player that sounds good enough, or a phone.

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