Neil Young wants to save you from the mediocre sound of most digital music, but salvation won't come until next year. On Tuesday, Young announced on Facebook that Pono, his high-end music hardware and software combo, is lined up for an early 2014 launch. "The simplest way to describe what we've accomplished is that we've liberated the music of the artist from the digital file and restored it to its original artistic quality — as it was in the studio," Young writes. "It has primal power."
When Pono does arrive, it will do so in the form of an online music store that offers a tool that will convert digital audio files into analog-quality recordings. Despite the fact that a growing number of people listen to music store on smartphones nowadays — the Pono-sourced songs will playback on a triangularly shaped, proprietary music player that Young showed a prototype of on the Late Show with David Letterman nearly a year ago. On the show, the legendary singer and songwriter said the goal with Pono was to deliver master-level songs to the masses who are used to buying what he has criticized as poorly-compressed MP3s.
"It takes you a second to adjust."
On Facebook, Young noted that Britain's Meridian Audio — a company known for high-performance speakers and home entertainment systems — will be manufacturing the Pono music player. And once again, as he did on Letterman, Young is promising that his music service will change listener expectations of downloaded music. "Hearing Pono for the first time is like that first blast of daylight when you leave a movie theatre on a sun-filled day," he says. "It takes you a second to adjust. Then you enter a bright reality, of wonderfully rendered detail." Whether or not consumers are actually willing to pay money for that kind of daylight may be another story — we'll find out next year.