I can’t quite believe it, yet it appears it’s really happening. 24-bit music is about to hit the mainstream, backed by Neil Young, the major record labels and an army of world-renowned artists.
By driving his Pono-enabled Buick around the USA, demonstrating the difference between mp3, CD and studio master, Neil Young has galvanised an impressive array of A-list musicians to rescue the future of their own digital music. I strongly recommend you watch his 11-minute film compiling artists’ emotional responses to hearing 24-bit music for the first time.
Never mind PonoPlayer, the triangular high-end iPod that confused audiences on Letterman last year, the real story here is PonoMusic.com, promising “the highest quality digital music available from all the major labels” as well as from independents.
Most importantly of all, “PonoMusic.com uses FLAC”, meaning we may finally have what we’ve been dreaming about; a huge library of studio master-quality music that can be played on Linn or any other hi-fi system. Contrary to all my fears, Pono will not feature a proprietary audio format.
Nor will it restrict PonoMusic’s use to the PonoPlayer; although it promises to be the best sounding portable music player so far, the PonoPlayer is a flag-bearer for the Pono initiative, not a mandatory purchase. In saying that, I have signed up for my own limited edition, Beck signature PonoPlayer on the Kickstarter page, such is my enthusiasm for the project.
Could this be “the launch of the real music experience in the 21st Century,” as Neil Young claims? I believe so.