Neil Young's Pono Music Player Is Ready to Take on the iPod

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Neil Young's Pono audio player and music download service is finally rockin' in the free world. At 68 years old, Young has been busy lately, promoting a new book, an environmental protest song and now the PonoPlayer — a digital audio device that promises higher-quality sound than CDs, MP3s or streaming music services. It's not exactly cheap: the PonoPlayer can be pre-ordered now for $400. But enough people dug the idea to fund its Kickstarter project to the tune of $6.2 million. Young officially launched the audio player on Thursday at the Dreamforce conference in San Francisco alongside Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. Of course, with a new music player comes a new music service. PonoMusic has 600,000 songs available for download, including (naturally) all of Neil Young's hits as well as albums from newer acts like Spoon and Arcade Fire. Pono might not connect to Wi-Fi or look particularly cool, but its Kickstarter love shows that there are a lot of people with very nice headphones who want to listen to "Heart of Gold" in all of its FLAC format glory.



— Keith Wagstaff