Dr. AIX's POSTS NEWS — 07 October 2014


As we drift further into October, I’m sure the team at Pono is very busy trying to make the deadlines that they established during their April Kickstarter campaign. They promised to begin delivery of their Pono players and launch the Ponomusic website by October. And it looks like they are going to meet those goals. The company issued “Project Update #46: Pono Music – Where Your Soul Rediscovers Music by the PonoMusic Team” the other day to provide additional information to their backers.

I’ve been out of the loop on the Crowdfunder equity raise that Pono initiated back in August. I check this morning to see if they met their goals and were unable to find out anything about the final amount of the raise. The plea from Rick Cohen to 520 individuals to complete their investment of at least $5000 may or may not have spurred them on but I doubt it. His email included a promise to get back to anyone with a question via phone or email…I wrote to him and heard nothing back. Not surprising but I was quietly hoping that he (or someone from his team) would have gotten back to me about the provenance issue and the fact that they are going to be providing CD quality rips of a couple of million tunes from the major labels.

So here’s the gist of the new update:

PonoPlayer Production and Shipments

“We are excited to announce that we have officially begun PonoPlayer mass production. Over the coming weeks we will be scaling production and expect to have all Kickstarter commitments manufactured within the next couple of months.

We plan to ship the October Kickstarter PonoPlayer rewards beginning the last week of October and expect to complete them by mid-November. Each of you will be notified via email when your player is shipped. Generally, the earlier Kickstarter pledges and Signature Series players will get priority for shipment.

We have some more good news for those who pledged for PonoPlayers with an expected delivery of December 31. At this point, we anticipate shipping all these rewards in time for Christmas!”

Supporters of the KS campaign will get their players on or near the deadline date of October 31…kudos to Pono for meeting this deadline. It sounds like the unit will be a great sounding portable music player. I can’t wait to get my hands on one.

PonoMusic Store

Things are a little different on the PonoMusic download store. According to the update, it will be announced and demoed at the Salesforce Dreamforce conference on the 16th of October in San Francisco. Neil will be delivering the keynote address followed by headphone listening lounges and group listening booths to experience the new player and tunes.

However, it may be a while until customers can actually purchase and download tracks from the site:

“The new site will have a new user experience, incorporating music search, artist and album community discussions, and more. The PonoPlayer Preorder Store will also be there; however, music purchases and the PonoMusic desktop app will not be publicly available until we’ve successfully completed our beta testing of the music purchase ecosystem. In the meantime, we expect the complete catalogs of the big three labels (Warner, Sony, and Universal) to be fully ingested and available on the PonoMusic Store. We anticipate that we will have over 2 million tracks when we make music purchases publicly available.”

It doesn’t say when the beta testing of the site will be completed. It seems that the Pono KS backers will be able to access the site when they received their players (October through November and into December), but the general public will have to wait.

They also mentioned that they plan to launch in Canada and the UK in early 2015 and “expand internationally” throughout 2015.

The PonoPromise

Here’s the part of the update that was most interesting to me:

“Yet another privilege of being a Kickstarter backer is that the Pono team stands by our free-upgrade promise to backers who pledged for a PonoPlayer reward. You will be eligible indefinitely for a free audio upgrade at the PonoMusic Store.

This means any PonoMusic purchases by Kickstarter player backers will be upgraded for free should a higher resolution version of that music become available at any time in the future. We hope you enjoy being a part of the exclusive group with this privilege.

An additional cornerstone of the PonoPromise is that the music you purchase on the PonoMusic Store is guaranteed to be the highest resolution available anywhere.”

Free audio upgrades? I’m not sure what this means. Virtually all of the 2 million tracks (down from 2.5 million that were originally promised) that will be available on the PonoMusic site will be CD spec tracks. It is highly unlikely that a significant number of those tracks will ever be transferred from the analog originals to “high-resolution” PCM files. There are between 15,000 and 20,000 of those from the major labels with more coming every week…usually 10-20.

So promising to upgrade KS backers with upgrades rings a little hallow. The CD rips is the “highest resolution available anywhere”…one that Neil Young railed against since their arrival in 1982.

The update also included this piece of news. Each player will have a free Neil Young track.

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About Author


Mark Waldrep, aka Dr. AIX, has been producing and engineering music for over 40 years. He learned electronics as a teenager from his HAM radio father while learning to play the guitar. Mark received the first doctorate in music composition from UCLA in 1986 for a "binaural" electronic music composition. Other advanced degrees include an MS in computer science, an MFA/MA in music, BM in music and a BA in art. As an engineer and producer, Mark has worked on projects for the Rolling Stones, 311, Tool, KISS, Blink 182, Blues Traveler, Britney Spears, the San Francisco Symphony, The Dover Quartet, Willie Nelson, Paul Williams, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company and many more. Dr. Waldrep has been an innovator when it comes to multimedia and music. He created the first enhanced CDs in the 90s, the first DVD-Videos released in the U.S., the first web-connected DVD, the first DVD-Audio title, the first music Blu-ray disc and the first 3D Music Album. Additionally, he launched the first High Definition Music Download site in 2007 called iTrax.com. A frequency speaker at audio events, author of numerous articles, Dr. Waldrep is currently writing a book on the production and reproduction of high-end music called, "High-End Audio: A Practical Guide to Production and Playback". The book should be completed in the fall of 2013.

(4) Readers Comments

  1. The ongoing , basically negative Pono reports that just keep on coming here are the opposite of “digging up the corpse.” Pono is being buried before it has even been born, let alone given time to evolve mature, and improve.

    The only neutral stance possible is “let’s wait and see,” and if it takes even a couple of years for Pono Music to get it’s act together both on organization and provenance of recording, so, what else is new, every high-tech endeavor has a teething period. And yes, there will be other good offerings in the hi-res player category, but that can only be read as a good thing. Instead of hammering one coffin nail in each column, why don’t we find something else to talk about ?

    • Reporting what’s happening with Pono is important to my readers and the high-resolution music community. If you don’t want to know what’s going on inside their campaign, I know others do. If you read the post you’d see that I applauded the fact that they’re going to make their projections for hardware. Sorry Craig, but when an update from Pono comes along it’s newsworthy.

  2. As a person who loves the idea of Pono and what they’re trying to achieve I bought a Pono player on the second day of the Pono Kickstarter campaign. I purchased a signature series player, of which only five hundred were made, for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
    Besides the free Neil Young hi-res track the signature series players all come with two free albums from the signature artists, which helps cut down on the cost by about 8-15 percent.
    Theoretically this player should have arrived or is close to being delivered, it is November 14th, 2014, and I’m still waiting. I’ll update once the player actually arrives.

    • I’d love to hear about your experience with the sound quality and the files. Are they saying that they are high-resolution audio or just CD rips. I know a number of people that have received their devices…but obviously they are coming out quite slowly. I look forward to hearing from you.

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