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Neil Young to rival Apple with Pono Music player

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Music legend Neil Young has unveiled a new high-quality digital music player called Pono that will rival Apple's iPod line.

Rolling Stone reports that Young created the high-resolution Pono to "confront the compressed audio inferiority that MP3s offer".

Neil Young reveals Pono music player

© The Verge



The musician appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman last night to promote the device, which is a bright yellow prism with a screen and simple controls.

According to Young, Pono will play back master files with "the best sound anyone can get".

Rolling Stone says that Pono will launch next year as a line of portable music players, backed by an iTunes-style music-download service.

There will also be digital-to-analog conversion technology that will "present songs as they first sound during studio recording sessions".

In his new book Waging Heavy Peace, Young claims that Pono will bring together record companies and cloud storage "to save the sound of music".

The singer has been very vocal about what he feels is the poor quality of audio on digital music devices.

Red Hot Chili Peppers stars Flea and Anthony Kiedis were first to get a demonstration of Pono, along with music producer Rick Rubin.

Speaking to Rolling Stone, Flea said of the Pono sound quality: "It's not like some vague thing that you need dogs' ears to hear. It's a drastic difference."

Neil Young reveals Pono music player

© The Verge



Pono has received backing from what are now the big three record labels - Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group (soon to include EMI) and Sony Music.

Warner, home to artists such as Muse and the Black Keys, has already started converting its library of almost 8,000 to high-resolution.

Craig Kallman, the chairman and chief executive of Atlantic Records, invested with Young in Pono last year and helped build a team for the project.

They then agreed partnerships with the major labels, although Universal and Sony have not made their association public.

Young said that the Waging Heavy Peace title of his book refers to his response to a question from a friend over whether he was declaring war on Apple's iTunes.

"I have consistently reached out to try to assist Apple with true audio quality, and I have even shared my high-resolution masters with them," Young writes.



He said that he had traded emails and phone calls with the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Apple declined to comment on whether it has partnered with Pono.

Young said in his book that existing digital tracks will play on Pono devices, but he also hopes that the service "will force iTunes to be better and to improve quality at a faster pace".

Flea said that Young is not launching Pono for reasons of "commerce", but rather based on "the desire for people to really feel the uplifting spirit of music". He added: "MP3s suck. It's just a shadow of the music."

Pricing and exact availability for Pono players is not yet known. It is also unclear whether they will come to the UK.

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