With the advent of the smartphone, the world was introduced to another way to degrade the quality of music by attempting to stuff all media into one, singular device with extremely limited storage and processing capabilities. Unfortunately, this trend of ultra-music compression has only increased as listeners seek to cram more and more music into smaller and smaller devices responsible for a seemingly infinite amount of purposes. Luckily, the music world has a new savior - Neil Young.
For quite some time now, Neil Young has been bemoaning the inherent loss of music quality that is derived whenever one compresses music files into MP3 and other ultra-small formats: "It's not that digital is bad or inferior, it's that the way it's being used isn't doing justice to the art . . . The convenience of the digital age has forced people to choose between quality and convenience, but they shouldn't have to make that choice."
Young was so vehement about his feelings about the loss of music quality in today's day and age that he went one step beyond bitching and moaning; Tomorrow at South by Southwest, Young will officially unveil his solution to this music crisis, the PonoPlayer.
"It's about the music, real music. We want to move digital music into the 21st century and PonoMusic does that. We couldn't be more excited about bringing PonoMusic to the market," stated Young.
So what does the PonoMusic do that is so revolutionary to the music industry? Well, for Young it all starts with less compression and a more full-bodied sound: "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. So it has primal power."
In other words, PonoMusic has created its own digital file format different from mp3 or flac or wma. These new music files will be compressed at 192 kHz and have a 24-bit sound (A format that some people believe will still not solve the music quality crisis.) Perhaps most important of all, however, is that these files attempt to capture the pure essence of the music as it is recorded, mainly by preserving the natural echoes that occur in studio.
Young has been as bold as to state that “Hearing Pono for the first time is like that first blast of daylight when you leave a movie theater on a sun-filled day.”
While the before-mentioned statement may be true, there are already a few drawbacks to the PonoPlayer. All reports indicate that the PonoPlayer will be priced at $399 at its launch, an extremely steep price when one compares it to other devices which also play music exclusively. Unfortunately, that $399 price tag also comes with less overall music storage; while the PonoPlayer comes with a 128 GB hard drive, its file compression is much larger, resulting in being able to store less music. And last, but definitely not least, is the design of the PonoPlayer. Its triangular, Toblerone-esque appearance is sure to deter people from purchasing the product. (How would one fit it in a pocket?)
Ultimate judgment will have to be reserved until the product hits the shelves. Until then, keep on rockin' to your poorly-compressed and digitally-compromised music files.
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