Frequently Asked Questions
It’s simple yet profound. The Pono promise is to offer you the highest quality digital music albums or songs in the world - at PonoMusic.com. This is the start, the source, of a listening experience unlike any other – powerful, emotional, satisfying. And, we’ve built a portable music player unlike any other in the world to enjoy this music wherever it takes you. But PonoMusic is more than just a high-resolution music store and music player. Pono is a grassroots movement whose mission is to bring back the soul of music, which has been left behind in the evolution of convenience. PonoMusic digital albums capture all the feeling, spirit, and emotion that the artists put in their original studio recordings – nothing more, and certainly nothing less.
To make this possible we’ve created an entirely new end-to-end experience, and an “ecosystem” to allow you to effortlessly manage this new world of music quality. We’ve sourced the studio master quality (digital) recordings - and we have also designed the portable PonoPlayer with a “no compromises” approach to bring that original recording back to life, untouched by the heavy hand of compression. Close your eyes and it feels like the music is being performed live. Right in front of you. You hear the nuances, the soft touches, the ends on the echo, the air in the ambiance, and the full texture. Everything the artist meant for you to hear.
Listen to what some of the world’s most loved artists have to say about PonoMusic at http://www.ponomusic.com. Their own words, unscripted, are as powerful and emotional as their own music. They describe how we take them back to the same feeling they had in the studio. This is a feeling that they’ve lost – that we’ve all lost - with the proliferation of lossy compressed digital formats such as mp3 - where everything became loud and flat and heartless. Yes, mp3s are really convenient, and sometimes, that’s OK. But, if you want to hear all the music, if you want it to be really special, you have to start with all the music.
As Neil Young says, “it’s about the music, it’s the real music experience for the 21st century. It feels good because it is good.”Last updated:
Do you think Leonardo da Vinci would be happy if we could only see photocopies of the Mona Lisa? The community of musicians cares deeply about their art. They want their music heard and experienced the way they brought it to life with great care and commitment, in the studio. Many people feel that the best vinyl records did a great job of capturing the soul of their music, but that lossy and compressed digital formats such as mp3 just can't deliver the full emotional music experience they intended. Please see http://www.ponomusic.com.
Many musicians you know and love have told us that they want their fans to have a choice – an opportunity to buy their music conveniently, and listen to it on portable devices, at the highest quality. This lets music lovers hear and feel the full impact of their work. We created PonoMusic to ensure the highest quality version is both available, and easy to buy and enjoy.Last updated:
PonoMusic is a complete digital music ecosystem: the PonoMusic Store and the PonoPlayer together deliver stunningly clear music, the next best thing to hearing it in the recording studio. The PonoPlayer is a purpose-built device, designed by world-renowned audio engineers, to do one thing, and one thing exceedingly well - to let you hear high quality PonoMusic in its original quality for the original experience.
The PonoPlayer meaningfully improves the listening experience with any quality of headphones, speakers, or playback system. However, when using higher quality headphones and/or speakers, the PonoMusic difference is profound. The PonoPlayer will show you, via its user interface and a special “light” (to indicate a certified PonoMusic song) exactly what quality level you are hearing - when you are hearing Pono quality, and when you are not. If the light is lit, then the music you are listening to is Pono-certified as the best available quality.
Should you invest in a PonoPlayer? If you want to experience your music, feel its soul, and have it run through your veins, then PonoMusic is for you. We want you to know that our Kickstarter campaign is being watched carefully by many key people in the music industry to understand the market interest in high-resolution digital music. Your Kickstarter pledge is not just a vote of support for PonoMusic. It is also an important voice for the momentum of the PonoMusic revolution - our movement to bring back the soul of music.
The PonoPlayer was created to bring PonoMusic to a broad audience of music lovers, certainly not just audiophiles. It's a portable player that breathes life back into music, it is easy to use, and it won’t break your budget.Last updated:
Yes. We are confident that you will hear the difference. We're even more confident you will feel it. Everyone who’s ever heard PonoMusic will tell you that the difference is surprising and dramatic. Especially when they listen to music that they know well – their favorite music. They're amazed by how much better the music sounds – and astonished at how much detail they didn’t realize was missing compared to the original. They tell us that not only do they hear the difference; they feel it in their body, in their soul.
Unfortunately, the way music is often listened to now, it allows us to recognize it as a song we might know, or a new song we might like, but not to hear or feel the music the way the artist created it. When we see a low quality photograph, we can almost always figure out what we are looking at - but when we study a truly stunning photograph, with the glorious detail and color and light and focus that a talented photographer can create with a great camera, we feel that picture differently – we are almost taken to the place it was shot, and to the same degree as listening to wonderfully recorded music, we can feel like we were “there”.
The difference between “OK”, “good” and “great” is a personal assessment. We all know in our heart and soul what music is supposed to sound like – we have all heard it, in its perfect form – live. At Pono, we work every day to bring you more music to listen to, as you know it’s supposed to sound.Last updated:
The PonoPlayer was designed with a “no compromises” approach to sound quality. We partnered with the engineering team at Ayre (www.ayre.com) to include some of their world-class audio technology in our PonoPlayer. The Ayre team describes their contribution to the PonoPlayer design as follows:
• The digital filter used in the PonoPlayer has minimal phase, and no unnatural (digital sounding) pre-ringing. All sounds made (including music) always have reflections and/or echoes after the initial sound. There is no sound in nature that has any echo or reflection before the sound, which is what conventional linear-phase digital filters do. This is one reason that digital sound has a reputation for sounding "unnatural" and harsh.
• All circuitry is zero-feedback. Feedback can only correct an error after it has occurred, which means that it can never correct for all errors. By using proprietary ultra-linear circuitry with wide bandwidth and low output impedance, there is no need for unnatural sounding feedback.
• The DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter) chip being used is widely recognized in the audio and engineering community as one of the best sounding DAC chips available today.
• The output buffer used to drive the headphones is fully discrete so that all individual parameters and circuit values and parts quality can be fully optimized for the absolute finest sound quality. The output impedance is very low so that the PonoPlayer delivers perfectly flat frequency response and wide volume range using virtually any set of headphones.Last updated:
No. We want to be very clear that PonoMusic is not a new audio file format or standard. It is an end-to-end ecosystem for music lovers to get access to and enjoy their favorite music in the highest resolution possible for that song or album. The music in the PonoMusic.com Store is sold and downloaded in industry standard audio file formats.
The PonoMusic.com Store uses FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) audio format as its standard, for compatibility, although the PonoPlayer can play most popular high-resolution music formats from other sources. PonoMusic has a quality spectrum, ranging from really good to really great, depending on the quality of the available master recordings:
• CD lossless quality recordings: 1411 kbps (44.1 kHz/16 bit) FLAC files
• High-resolution recordings: 2304 kbps (48 kHz/24 bit) FLAC files
• Higher-resolution recordings: 4608 kbps (96 kHz/24 bit) FLAC files
• Ultra-high resolution recordings: 9216 kbps (192 kHz/24 bit) FLAC filesLast updated:
Generally speaking, mp3 files have a bit rate of 192kbps or 256kbps. These are highly compressed files, and are smaller in size than higher resolution music files. The good news is that you can keep a lot of them in a small amount of storage on a portable player or mobile device. The bad news is that they’ve lost a lot of the musical information that often reveals the most pleasant and satisfying aspects of the music – mostly it is the sense of realism, and dynamics, and detail that higher resolution recordings typically capture.
On the “low end” of higher resolution music (CD lossless, 16 bit/44.1kHz), PonoMusic files have about 6 times more musical information than a typical mp3. With ultra-high quality resolution recordings (24 bit/192kHz), the difference between a PonoMusic digital file and an mp3 is about 30 times more data from which your player reconstructs the “song”.Last updated:
PonoMusic is supported by all major labels and their growing catalogues of high quality digital music. We are also working with independent labels across all genres to bring a diverse selection of music to the PonoMusic.com Store. The music industry is excited about making the amazing music they’ve curated conveniently available to music lovers everywhere in its highest available quality.Last updated:
The record companies set their own digital music prices, label by label. High-resolution digital albums at PonoMusic.com are expected to cost between $14.99 -$24.99, and there may be exceptions. For this price you get the best quality digital music available anywhere, you own these albums forever - they don’t live only in the cloud, but also on your computer and backup disc, and you can play them anytime you wish on your PonoPlayer or other compatible devices.
We will also be offering many of your favorite individual songs. We'll let you know the pricing soon.Last updated:
Your PonoPlayer works in much the same way as your other portable music devices. The PonoMusic App (for Mac or Windows PC) provides you access to the PonoMusic Store, where you can browse, search, purchase and download high-resolution music to your computer. You then just connect your PonoPlayer micro-USB cable to your computer's USB port in order to sync your favorite music and playlists and then you can enjoy your PonoMusic at the same quality level as the original recording from your PonoPlayer.
The PonoPlayer has two output jacks: one is a normal mini-stereo headphone plug, and the output is specially designed for headphones or earbuds and is meant for personal listening; the second is a stereo mini-plug analog output and is specifically designed for listening on your home audio system, in your car, or as an input to your Sonos Connect, so you can share the PonoMusic experience with your friends and family. Keep in mind that your audio experience may vary depending on the capability of the audio system you use.Last updated:
The PonoPlayer was designed to meet or exceed the audio quality of portable devices and many home audio components:
• It is available in yellow or black with a soft touch finish. It weighs 4.5 ounces (128 grams) and comes in a box with:
- A 120/240VAC adapter/charger
- A micro USB cable for charging and syncing files from a Mac or Windows PC
- 64GB of internal memory and a removable 64GB microSD card included (128GB total)
- Free downloadable desktop software (for Mac and Windows PC) with a built-in music store to browse, purchase, manage and sync Pono certified tracks as well as others
- A user guide
• The dimensions of the PonoPlayer are 5” (H) x 2” (W) x 1” (D)
• It is powered by a built-in Li-Ion rechargeable battery for all-day listening (about 8 hours).
• It has very easy-to-use controls:
- The O button turns the player on and off.
- The + and - buttons adjust the volume.
- The illuminated color touch display lets you scroll through your music by album, song, artist, ..., and play, stop, fast forward, ...
It has a 1-year warranty and will retail for $399 at www.PonoMusic.com (Available through Kickstarter.com within the PonoMusic campaign, for a limited time, for $300)Last updated:
The PonoPlayer ships with a total of 128GB. 64GB of memory is built into the player and another 64GB of memory on a removable microSD card. The expansion slot can accept microSD cards of up to 64GB or SDXC microSD cards of 128GB or higher. Unlike many other portable music players, the microSD cards are designed to be easily swappable. For example, you can build a library of various playlists or genres on different cards and simply swap them in and out, much like you'd swap game cards on a portable gaming console. So in reality you have infinite capacity on the PonoPlayer.
How many songs can it hold? That depends on the quality of your music files:
• CD lossless quality recordings (44.1 kHz/16 bit): About 5000 tracks.
• High-resolution recordings (48 kHz/24 bit): About 3200 tracks.
• Higher-resolution recordings (96 kHz/24 bit): About 1600 tracks.
• Ultra-high resolution recordings (192 kHz/24 bit): About 800 tracks.
This is a LOT of high-resolution music, and we say, “the more the better”. You’ll get hooked on how good this music sounds.Last updated:
Yes, you can and it will probably sound better on the PonoPlayer than you've ever heard it.
The PonoPlayer is designed to play PonoMusic with stunning clarity. However, the player can play almost any kind of music track including FLAC, ALAC, mp3, WAV, AIFF, AAC (unprotected).
What this really means is the PonoPlayer can play all your digital music, and all of it will sound great.Last updated:
Not today, but hopefully some day.
Streaming music typically requires highly compressed music files and at this time high-resolution digital music is not well suited for streaming - it can’t yet, based on a lot of technical variables in the “network playback” chain, reliably deliver the sound quality that you deserve from your favorite artists’ finest recordings.Last updated:
It's only possible to pledge once on a single Kickstarter account. If you pledge again on the same account, it's effectively overriding your previous pledge and reward selection. For example, if you've pledged for the sold-out Neil Young Artist Signature Series Pono, but then adjust your reward selection to the poster tier afterward, your reward will be changed to the poster. If this happens, you may not be able to change back to the limited Neil Young Edition Pono reward if there are no more availabilities. Please keep this in mind!
If you really need to pledge for a second reward (say a second PonoPlayer), it is necessary to create a second Kickstarter account, which can be linked to the same Amazon account. You can use the second Kickstarter account to make a second pledge and choose any reward you like. This does not impact your pledge/reward from the first account.Last updated:
We are finalizing a design that provides the highest utility of the Player while minimizing unintentional changes to playback when it is in a pocket. The software on the touchscreen will work much like a Smartphone that requires a gestural motion on the screen to turn it on after a button press.Last updated:
Although it may not available at launch, we do plan to have a full social collaboration capability around music (tracks and albums), artists, genres, etc.Last updated:
We are investigating this option and functionality for future models of the PonoPlayer, but our primary engineering priority for calendar 2014 is to build and ship our Kickstarter backers their units this fall.Last updated:
Will the PonoPlayer have the "revealer" function, to compare the different audio qualities and bitrates?
The player will include actual sample songs that let you compare hi-res to MP3, but there will not be a function that artificially degrades a high-res song to MP3. The comparison that is most interesting and most dramatic is when an authentic MP3 file on a non-Pono device (most listening occurring today) is compared to a CD-quality or higher-res file on a the player. This is a comparison we've done in a very controlled fashion, and we know how fantastic it is, but obviously not something we can simulate with just our Player.Last updated:
The artists’ feedback was their reactions after listening to high resolution music files like we will have at PonoMusic.com. Neil's cars (several of them) are not high engineered with ultra high-end audio components. Neil's cars have a custom control and switching demonstration system such that the artists who listened to this music could experience a real time comparison of MP3 and high-res.Last updated:
It is only possible to pledge ONCE on a single Kickstarter account. If you pledge again on the same account, it will OVERRIDE your previous pledge and reward selection. We recommend creating a a second Kickstarter account, which can be linked to the same Amazon account (and therefore the same credit card).Last updated:
We are looking for talented superstars in San Francisco who believe in our cause and want to pour their heart and souls into PonoMusic.
If you are interested please e-mail your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
These are some of the positions we’re currently trying to fill:
• Android app developers
• Quality Assurance engineers – both software and hardware
• QA automation engineers – especially for web servicesLast updated:
As you probably know, Kickstarter is NOT an online storefront. It's a donation-based crowdfunding platform, which only allows a single reward per donation per account. Many Kickstarter campaigns have their higher-level rewards include items from lower-level pledges. Therefore, there is no confusion regarding backers being limited to one reward. Due to the unique nature of our campaign, our desire to keep PonoPlayer costs down, and the fact that we offer numerous PonoPlayer rewards of different colors and editions, our higher level rewards do not include the lower level pledge items such as T-shirts or posters. We will, as noted, offer all of this great PonoMusic “merchandise” on our own website,PonoMusic.com, shortly after the Kickstarter campaign ends.Last updated:
While we’ve accomplished a lot in the last couple years with a very small team and an amazing group of partners, we chose the Kickstarter platform to reach out to a broad group of like-minded music lovers for the support we need to finish the final details of the PonoPlayer design and take it to volume manufacturing. We will launch a revolutionary company that we all can be proud of and keep improving for years to come. We have a tall order ahead, and the more funds pledged, the more resources we can deploy in the engineering and production of the PonoPlayer and the design and construction of the PonoMusic website and Store – both pretty big jobs. Our goals are ambitious, and we can assure you that every dollar pledged in this campaign will be carefully invested to make the PonoMusic experience the best it can be. This is an effort that can consume a healthy chunk of money, done properly.
For more info on this topic, please see "Risks and Challenges" at the bottom of our Kickstarter page:https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1003614822/ponomusic-where-your-soul-rediscovers-music.Last updated:
The PonoMusic.com store will be active in US, UK, and Canada at launch. We will be working with the music labels to gain the legal rights to expand internationally as quickly as we can thereafter. The PonoPlayer plays a wide variety of audio formats and makes them all sound great, so if you have your own CD quality (or better) digital music, you can enjoy the PonoPlayer immediately. We will have instructions and videos on our website that will explain how to transfer your existing music into the PonoMusic desktop App and synch it with your PonoPlayer.Last updated:
Some donors have had questions about international shipping—specifically, that the shipping fee does not appear properly in their donation. You are free to adjust your pledge to include international shipping as long as our project is still not finalized. To do so, visit the project page and click the blue "Manage your Pledge" button right above the Rewards on the right side of the page. Enter the amount of your pledge (generally the amount of the preferred reward tier) and the cost of shipping in the "Pledge amount" field. We ask for international donors to add on $15 to their donation. As an example, if your desired reward tier is set at $300, you should donate $315 and then click continue. You'll be asked to confirm the new pledge amount, and the credit card you wish to pledge with. Thanks for your patience with this long update to our community today… I felt there were some really important posts about these topics on the site and I wanted to address them directly.Last updated:
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