A Special Message from Neil
Happy 2015. As 2014 comes to an end, Pono is on the threshold of success. I would like to thank everyone, our supporters, Kickstarter and new, our financial backers dedicated and few, and our Ponopeople. I am very proud of our small Pono team and what we have accomplished. The dedication and skill they have shown in getting us to where we now are is awesome. We have almost 20,000 Pono players in users hands and thousands of new orders to fulfill in the first months of 2015. We have an online music store emerging from beta and a desktop app ready to begin serving our first generation of PonoMusic lovers.
This effort has been at the hands of the people. From our amazing beginning at Kickstarter, Pono has been supported and lifted up by music lovers worldwide, with orders from dozens of countries. Our music lovers want their music to sound great and they are saying Pono delivers the best sound they have ever heard.
We are young. Make no mistake about that. We are small. We know we have a big job ahead. We have heard the naysayers but none of them have heard us. We deliver what we promise. Our listeners testify online, day in and day out, about the amazing Pono experience, the genuine Pono smile. That is because we know what we want to do and we are doing it; delivering music to music lovers as it was intended to be heard, getting the best available from the record companies while constantly pushing them to give us more; more quality and quantity.
We are asking the artists to step up and deliver what they have made. Give it to the people the way it was intended. Give us your masters. The time is here. The people want the best it can be. Pono is the mother of all formats. Pono can play it all from the lowly MP3 to the highest resolution masters created in the studio. We are not tied to any one way of playing back the music. We play it exactly as the artist created it, with no compromise to fit a format or proprietary box developed by a corporation to grab a share of the revenue, and all music lovers can feel the difference Pono makes.
If you are an artist, Pono your music now. We are the place to be, the place where you can be sure your creation will be heard correctly and perfectly, as you recorded it, with all of its magic intact. Get us your masters and let us bring them to the world of PonoMusic. Your creations are safe here, respected for what they are and preserved for history in the highest possible quality. Talk to your record company and Pono your masters. Let the people hear you. Be Pono!
Pono people come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life.
The biggest joys for me are the genuine Pono smiles; the looks that come across new listener’s faces as they hear more than they have ever heard from their favorite songs, songs they have enjoyed hundreds of times before and are now discovering anew. Music is magic. It is the universal language. Pono is here.
When someone tells Pono that no one needs to have better sounding music, we listen to them. We feel for them. There is nothing more that they need and they are not burdened by curiosity. But we are. We are here to stretch the limits, unleash the sounds of great recordings to be experienced by our Pono music lovers. That is why we search the world for the best files and make them available through PonoMusic World, our online store of great sounding music. PonoMusic World, with more than 2,000,000 songs and growing every day, is constantly adding tracks, upgrading songs to higher resolutions with more depth and quality so you can “feel” the music as the artist intended it to be felt.
Our portable player is part of the secret, but it is no secret. It is just pure quality sound. We deliver. We invite other companies to make our player and add their features, but with sound only to our specs, so it can be Pono. You can trust Pono. If it says Pono, it is.
We envision new Pono players and speakers, headphones and buds, we see giant Pono home player systems with terabytes of memory, connected to full robust Pono speaker systems by many manufacturers. We want to help the artists reconnect with their art and audience in a music revolution that presents not just the sound, but delivers the magic of greatness in music, just as it was meant to be. Pono.
With all that said, we at Pono know it isn’t going to be easy. It is a monumental and historic change. We will struggle alongside the record companies to bring the music industry back to its original quality, while preserving the convenience that has now become standard fare at the expense of our artist’s beloved sound.
Our Pono users even say we are better than vinyl. We do not say that. They do. That’s Pono.
Get on board with Pono. Come with the artists on Pono’s happy journey to the rebirth of music. Enjoy what we are doing. Raise your experience. Feed your soul. Pono lives.
Happy New Year to us all!
Make it Pono!
PonoMusic Store Official Launch at CES 2015
The PonoMusic US store will be opening its doors to the public the week of January 5th during the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Pono will be showcased in multiple locations including in Pono’s own booth at the convention center, the Pono listening room at the Harman exhibit in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, at the Millenial Woman posh apartment in the Wynn Hotel, at SanDisk’s suite at the Venetian Hotel, and at numerous partner locations including Ayre Acoustics, PCH International, Sennheiser, Audeze, and others.
If you happen to be in town, please drop by and check us out. We’d love to see you.
PonoMusic Store Update
In 2014, we successfully ingested nearly all of the US content from the big three music labels - Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, and Sony Music Entertainment. There are still a few straggling hi-res albums that will show up in our store in the next few weeks, including some of Neil’s own catalog. Aside from that, our US store content is complete with over 2M tracks, with resolutions ranging from 44.1/16 to 192/24.
As you know today the majority of the catalog is still CD Lossless masters as that is the highest resolution available. Yet many of our customers have commented on how amazing all this 44.1/16 content sounds. You can purchase and download the original CD masters from Pono without having to purchase and rip the physical CDs. This also helps you avoid the errors inherent in the burning and subsequent ripping processes. So the 44.1/16 content you purchase from us is clean and untainted, providing you the best possible sound at that resolution.
On the higher resolution front, we already have the rights to the largest 24-bit music catalog available anywhere and our store continues to grow by the day thanks to our outreach to artists and their phenomenal support of Pono. A special thanks goes out to all the artists who have provided us (or are planning to provide us) access to their studio masters. We cherish you all and your music. Our profound gratitude goes to those artists who have trusted us and provided us exclusive access to their music. You are the key to our success and you are Pono!
Our top priorities for Q1 of 2015 are to, a) open the music store in Canada and United Kingdom, and b) ingest content from indie aggregators and labels (prioritizing 24-bit content). For the remainder of 2015 we anticipate expanding the store internationally.
PonoPromise for Kickstarter Backers with PonoPlayers
As you may have noticed, up until a few days ago many albums showed up in our store in multiple different resolutions. As you know, our intention has always been to only offer the highest available resolution of each album and we recently rolled out a filtering mechanism that achieves just that.
This was harder said than done since there is no reliable metadata from the labels that tells us which releases are indeed different resolutions of the same album. So we had to invent our own algorithm for this, one which is now pretty accurate and will continue to be optimized over time. Here are the general guidelines we use to do our filtering: two releases must be from the same artist, with the same release title (ignoring the parenthesized extensions), with the same exact number of tracks, but at different resolutions. We consider explicit releases as different than clean versions and deluxe releases as different than standard versions. Our algorithm ignores release dates and remastered status when matching albums. So a higher resolution remastered version of an album released say in 2014 would supersede the original version released say in 1999.
All this is important because those of you who are Kickstarter backers (with a PonoPlayer) are eligible for the PonoPromise – free resolution upgrades of previously purchased albums when a higher resolution version becomes available on our store and supersedes the lower resolution versions. We are still working on enabling our store to deliver you your free upgrades and will keep you posted when this becomes available. The PonoPromise upgrade will be retroactive and apply to any albums that you may have purchased already since we launched our beta store back in October.
We have heard from many Kickstarter backers who didn’t pledge for a PonoPlayer about wanting to participate in the PonoPromise free upgrade program. Unfortunately, these “free” upgrades actually do cost Pono fees that we must pay to the rights-holders. But to honor all our backers, we’ve decided to allow any Kickstarter backer who purchases a PonoPlayer on our store to participate in the PonoPromise free upgrade program. To qualify you must place a PonoPlayer preorder on our store on or before January 31, 2015. Remember that the preorders are expected to start shipping in February.
We have successfully shipped about 98% of our PonoPlayer rewards and all of the other Kickstarter rewards were previously fulfilled. Unfortunately, there are currently a couple of hundred PonoPlayers with incomplete addresses or missing phone numbers that cannot be shipped until the recipient provides their correct shipping information by emailing email@example.com.
For those player rewards that remain unclaimed, we need to hear from you now. Unfortunately, we cannot sit on inventory for long as it will start costing us additional storage fees. As a result, if we don’t hear from you by January 15th 2015, we will be forced to release the Limited Edition Artist series inventory for sale on our store. If you miss this deadline, we will still provide you a Yellow or Black player so long as we hear from you by the end of 2015. If you are already a Yellow or Black player backer, your deadline for claiming your player is year-end 2015.
Lastly, there were a small number of PonoPlayers (about 0.1%) that did not ship before Christmas. We determined that the delay was the result of a software glitch that failed to properly transmit the orders correctly. Our manufacturing team worked through the Christmas holiday to ensure that those units are shipped as quickly as possible. You should have already been contacted directly by our support team if you are one of those affected. We truly apologize for the inconvenience.
For those of you new to PonoMusic World and the PonoMusic store, we are working with our moderators to roll out a Frequently Asked Questions document that should cover all of the initial questions a new Pono owner may have about the Pono ecosystem. We will inform you of their availability on the Pono Community.
Our Last Kickstarter Communication!
As this is our very last Kickstarter update, it marks the final time that we check our Kickstarter project page. Going forward, please contact us on the Pono Community or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org regarding any Kickstarter related matters.
Lastly, thank you for your continued support. Pono is here today because of you and because of this campaign. We look forward to working together to keep the Pono movement steamrolling in 2015.
Mahalo from the PonoMusic team