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Pono Music Player – for people who take the music super seriously

pono music size

I love music. You love music. It’s a safe bet that pretty much everyone you know loves music. That’s how the iPod saved Apple. Music is great. According to Neil Young though, your current digital music player is junk and you should really upgrade to the Pono Music Player, for people who take their music seriously.

Everything about this is pretty pretentious so bear with me. Pono means righteous in Hawaiian. The reason why this digital music player is the one to rule them all is because it doesn’t just play MP3 files. Oh no, this triangle baby plays FLAC files. If you’ve ever run into a FLAC file then you know that your music player of choice won’t play them. Media Player on Windows won’t even touch them (VLC player will though if you’re curious). FLAC files are however as close to the original recording as you can get. Everything else is just a copy.

Pono Music player

Which sounds awesome! For about 30 seconds until you realize that unless you’re a music major, the small loss of quality will likely be completely unnoticeable to you. Also, when was the last time you personally came across a FLAC file? On purpose? But if you are a music super fan and/or a fan of oddly shaped tech, you can preorder the Pono Music Player for $399.

Donyae’s love for technology is based on a need to survive our future robotic overlords. Know thy enemy as you know yourself. But since even odds are on the zombie future, she has also learned how to prepare squirrel. You can find her on Facebook until the robots – or zombies – rise up.

Donyae Coles – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.


  • Just a couple of points of clarification. CDs can be “ripped” into FLAC files, which are lossless versions of the tracks, as opposed to MP3, which is very lossy. The trade off is that they are much larger files.

    Mediamonkey is a great tool to play and create FLAC files on a PC, and this is what I use.

    Sure, if you use the included earbuds with a typical phone or iPod, the difference may not seem significant to you.

    If however one listens to a CD (or a FLAC source for that matter) on high quality headphones, or a good sound system, and still cannot tell the difference, I feel sad for you.

    • Thanks for the comment. I think the sentiment of the post was that most people won’t listen to their music on anything other than a) a low grade stereo system or headset of some sort via car, phone or home and/or b) the reproduction quality will be too sub-optimal to make any difference with higher quality files. It’s probably like the situation where most people I believe watch high definition television on sets which are specifically tuned badly in terms of audio and picture settings. It’s a shame, but it’s the times, I guess.

  • mig

    i had a cowan player from years ago and it played flac for helva lot less$$$ than this toblerone.

    • Haha, hilarious. What goes round, comes around eh? :)

  • Steve Lane

    I love great sounding music. The problem is not so much with mp3 or AAC . it is with the recording and mixing technique. All too often dynamics are destroyed and the space between the notes is filled with junk. There is often no sense of spacial perspective. Commonly “stereo” is used for effect. Guitars panned here, vocals there drums here and there. Music that sounds good to me seems to be coming from a place in a space. A good example is The Cowboy Junkies “Trinity Session”. This was recorded in a church with vocals guitars drums all played together and recorded in stereo with a single Soundfield Microphone. Played from a CD on a good system it is stunning. You are there with the players. But the thing is, even played as a 320 MP3 on an Android phone via good buds it still sounds engaging. It is not just the medium it is also the quality of the message. I suspect that sins hidden by MP3 will be exposed by a player like the Pono. Besides My Sony Z has a player that handles FLAC just fine. The converters are not bad. All said and done the most important thing to me is the quality of the composition then the quality of production and then the quality of the player system. All need to be good to satisfy me. A great player will never make a bad composition or recording sound good in fact it can even make it sound worse! An averagely bad player can still make listening to well recorded music a pleasure. I can remember listening on my cheap transistor radio to stations that had to worm their way through hundreds of miles of fading aether and marvelling at the quality of the Beach Boys. That said I like the idea of the Pono. I will certainly give one a go. Naturally the first thing I will listen to will be a Neil Young track. Probably not “A Letter Home”. Maybe something else acoustic.. there is just so much :-)

    • Excellent points Steve. I’m not an audiophile, but isn’t the other problem that modern stuff is recorded at max gain with no headroom at all for subtlety? I heard that complaint or something similar a while back.

      • Steve Lane

        That is right. All to often the A&R expect loud . They rarely get subtle and dynamic. Often a band has to have clout to be able to present their music the way want it to sound. Some call it “The compressor wars”

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