Posted in music | technology on March 12, 2014

Neil Young talking Pono @ SXSW (via @allisonleighwalter)
Neil Young

Neil Young talked about his new Pono high-resolution music system yesterday (3/11) at SXSW and cleared up a few things. It uses FLAC files but the sample rate is 192 kHz. (CDs uses 44.1 kHz). (The Toblerone-shaped Pono player will play other formats too.) Said Young:

When all the artists and engineers, all the arrangers and musicians that played on giant tracks by people like Phil Spector, with 12 tambourines and two pianos -- those people were still in the studios in Los Angeles, playing. But all of [that] started to die -- it was the most amazing thing, this vibrant creative culture started to go away. And it was because of the MP3 and the cheapening of the quality to the point where it was practically unrecognizable.
Then things got real awkward. Billboard reports that after Young's speech, Pono CEO John Hamm (not Jon Hamm) opened the floor to questions:
...the last question from the audience shifted the tone of the entire presentation. A young man asked: "What's your cut?" Referring, of course, to Apple's now-famous 30% cut of sales on the iTunes Store.

Hamm, after a flustered moment, responded: "It surprises most people that everyone who buys music from the record labels pays exactly the same amount." To which several audience members shouted, "What?!"

"That's a delicate question, isn't it?" Young asked. After which Hamm turned to the moderator, slightly flushed at this point, and said, "We can end it." "You can answer the question if you like," Snider said. Hamm shook his head slightly before Snider closed the discussion.

Perhaps his cut will be addressed by the time the Pono goes on presale this Saturday (3/15) via via Kickstarter. Watch a demo video below.

Speaking of SXSW, most of us at BV are here as we speak. You can follow our exploits via @BVSXSW and @BVAustin and on our @BrooklynVegan Instagram and @BV Austin Instagram.

Pono Kickstarter video below...

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Pono Kickstarter video

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Tags: Neil Young, SXSW

Comments (79)

Old man should stick to playing the banjo.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 11:34 AM

Rich people want more money... shocker

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 11:36 AM

Neil Young could poop into a bowl and all those 'famous' musicians would be saying it smelt like roses.

What a crock of shit.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 11:39 AM

"What's your cut?"

Great question. Fair question. We need more people with the balls to ask these kinds of questions. Even Neil Young makes mistakes, and this is a big, fat, hairy one.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 11:43 AM

^you're forgetting about the target demographic: people in their late 40's-60's. All the older folks in my office have asked me if I've heard about Pono.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 11:44 AM

how is this different than any other portable flac player?

circuity? circuitry ?

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 11:45 AM

Ackward!

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 11:45 AM

Amazing how you ask a simple question of 'what's your cut' and all validity goes out the window.

Sorry Neil, Tech is a young man's game, stick to playing your acoustic guitar and sweating profusely.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 11:46 AM

Now this is what SXSW is all about!

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 11:57 AM

This guy could get any boy he could possibly want, I have no idea why he would be talking about porno

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 12:00 PM

11:52, it's spelled gobbledygook, for crying out loud.

Posted by Anonymoose | March 12, 2014 12:08 PM

this ponote's for you

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 12:12 PM

Click on the Kickstarter link, some people still care.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 12:19 PM

People still care and shitting on Neil's interest or whoever's because they have a "cut" in it is ridiculous. The question, asked that way, is a smart-ass one. Guess what people care the least about: anonymous comments

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 12:25 PM

Why not just create a new and improved file format and not a shitty device? Couldn't any other portable player capable of playing FLAC files play a PONO Music file?

Posted by SouthernDirt | March 12, 2014 12:27 PM

It plays FLAC. So do my phones and computer.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 12:32 PM

11:52 is correct. It is 100% the Beats By Dre business model. Right down to the pseudo-science behind it.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 12:42 PM

Except Beats by Dre has been wildly successful. This will not be.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 12:55 PM

I love Neil, but this thing isn't going to work

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 1:09 PM

^ lol I love Crosby Stills Nash and Young but even I know that any commercial music venture hyping them as among ANYONE'S "favorite artists" is hopelessly out of touch and doomed to fail

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 1:26 PM

While i agree that this may not be successful and only appeal to high end music lovers, the idea that this is built on the same model as Beats By Dre is completely off the mark.

If you have any clue as to technology and how the Dre stuff is built and outputs music as opposed to this player you would see that.

But that would take some intelligence and understanding which obviously the BV troll community has none of.

The company that built the player is an impressive one. The circuitry built into the player is impressive. The fact that it is flac 192khz files is not where the innovation really is.

I am curious to know how this will affect places like HDTracks who already sell high resolution files.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 1:37 PM

Dave Mathews Band ...

enough for me, moving on

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 1:38 PM

I'm all for improving the quality of digital audio formats.

But there are soooo many download/streaming services now. I can't imagine this being successful.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 1:43 PM

yeah 1:37 sucks hard

do you even understand the technology that has taken the ghetto by storm?

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 2:02 PM

the problem with this is that the hard drive in the pono is too small. 128 gb won't hold a full music collection worth of mp3's. you would need 10 ponos to carry your collection around. its ridiculous.

also, so many albums have been made at 44 bit that not every single album will sound better.

If a recording is done at 44.1 and than converted up to 192 khz it wont make it sound any better. 24 bit/96 k files would be ideal . 192 is overkill. but you know what is pretty cheap these days? buying used vinyl. i will stick to that for my audio enjoyment and use mp3 players for the quick functionality.

Posted by bones howell | March 12, 2014 2:15 PM

Not as cool as my Zune.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 2:16 PM

1:16- How can one be an "old yup"? Isn't that contradictory?

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 2:22 PM

Bring back 8 tracks, Neil!

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 2:23 PM

not as cool as my discman

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 2:25 PM

not as cool as my walkman

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 2:27 PM

Neil Young is a fucking hypocrite and has only made a handful of good albums anyway. Sure he's better than your average rock star, but that's like saying Pol Pot is better than Hitler cuz he killed less people.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 2:31 PM

Not as cool as my master's phonograph.

Posted by Nipper | March 12, 2014 2:36 PM

not as warm as you mother's vagina niether

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 2:42 PM

Hate on Neil Young for this all you want but to claim he's "only made a handful of good albums" is absurd. He's made at least 15 "good" albums, half of which are stone cold classics.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 2:51 PM

2:31-Trying WAY too hard.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 3:01 PM

2:51 likes the way frogs sing and single-note solos that last 20 minutes.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 3:12 PM

Neil Young - so American he's Canadian.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 3:12 PM

2:31 made the funniest comment on this thread re: HITLER aka NEIL YOUNG

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 3:12 PM

3:01 isn't trying hard enough but he managed to find the shift key so kudos, bro.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 3:14 PM

Call me crazy but I prefer the the pops, clicks, static grounding, uneven grooves and skips of good used vintage vinyl to the perfect fidelity of digital any day

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 3:15 PM

^when you listen to shitty music like you do, what does it matter? perfect fidelity doesn't make the Drive-By Truckers (or Swearin' or your chillwave comp) sound any better. keep on buying this crap, you gullible jackasses.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 3:17 PM

hey 3:15, you're crazy. so crazy. like Carcosa crazy. damn, son, shouldn't you be in a rubber room somewhere? my boy is nuts, yo!!!!

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 3:20 PM

Finally a device to optimize the sound of old fucks farting dust!

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 3:21 PM

Neil Young? More like "Neil Almost As Old As Lee Ranaldo" if you ask me!

Posted by Axelrod | March 12, 2014 3:29 PM

LOL @ 3:17 is it quality of the medium or is it quality of the content? Of course, since Chubby Checker and Dion & The Belmonts was mastered for vinyl I can see why your "epic" music sounds just right to your pirfekt hearing grandpa

ZING!

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 3:35 PM

These old farts are basically deaf anyway what do they care about fidelity?

It's like when I talk to my granny on the phone and I have to shout so she can hear me. Should I get here a Pono? Do they have Robert Goulet and Dean Martin on there yet?

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 3:38 PM

These old farts are basically deaf anyway, so what do they care about fidelity?

It's like when I talk to my granny on the phone and I have to shout so she can hear me. Should I get her a Pono? Do they have Robert Goulet and Dean Martin on there yet?

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 3:39 PM

All the audio-scientists in this thread are giving me a hard-on. I'm gonna use it to fuck Neil Young in the ass.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 3:42 PM

Why would anyone pay fo Pono anymo? You Pon is free - you can even see it pretty clearly and quickly on your phone. I was planning on spankin it to You Pon tonight. Neil Young is way off base when it comes to Pon.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 3:44 PM

Steve Jobs effectively shut down about 70% of the proper label industry out there by effectively selling the label owners a crock disguised as "consumer convenience // more people will hear your artists aka we all win!". Admirable from a corporate vs the artist standpoint, but by doing so he screwed artists out of millions of dollars in royalties (the commission rate on streams/downloads is well, nonexistent in relative terms),cut out the label-structure completely, and its not at all surprising that most musical artists were too short-sighted to see the damage Apple would end up doing to the industry. Young is an admiral guy, but he's jumping into the game about 15 years too late here. Guys like Todd Rundgren have been pitching more impressive gadgets to the industry for the past decade. The technology is amazing in itself, but from a royalty standpoint end of day artists have been reduced to pulp.

Posted by bill | March 12, 2014 3:50 PM

1:51-It is not even built on the same business model as Beats By Dre. You are an idiotic simpleton

2:02-Join your buddy at 1:51 in the stupid awards. Apparently you neither understand this technology or the one that has taken the ghetto by storm.

2:15-Yes I agree a bit too small but nothing is perfect. Your comment though about most albums being made at 44.1 is not true

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 3:50 PM

Bill says that "Young is an admiral guy". All my prays, Bill. All my prays.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 3:53 PM

Bill is right on the fucking money.

And he did it without a Kickstarter! Well done, sir.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 4:00 PM

3:50 You're a fucking dolt. Do you remember ANYTHING about what was happening in the music industry before iTunes came out?

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 4:04 PM

3:50 is 41 years old, 275 pounds, lives with his mother, and manages the Radio Shack in Flushing.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 4:08 PM

^his hobbies are making homemade preserves, Dr. Who fan fiction, and high fidelity digital audio.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 4:20 PM

^and the last 4 people making comments show everyone just how stupid and unimaginative they truly are.

Well done again BV trolls

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 4:32 PM

how tall is he? He could be a monster of a man

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 4:35 PM

Last comments were made by folks who don't what it was like before Apple and Google ruled the world.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 5:06 PM

These are bad ass. All the guys in the firm are going to want one. Wish they made a Stevie Ray Vaughn signature series in snakeskin.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 6:31 PM

its failed

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 8:26 PM

Classic rock fucking sucks and Neil Young has always been a gigantic asshole who makes terrible noise. Cannot wait until this entire generation fucking dies already.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 8:38 PM

the Ponos

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 8:42 PM

its only pono's burning...

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 9:44 PM

I hate what the Pono is doing to all of you! Stop fighting!! I pine for the days of sausage, D, and hummus. Can't you see Neil Young is tearing us apart!?

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 9:51 PM

I want to hollow out a Pono, fill it with ground lamb, and put my penis in it.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 9:52 PM

what does Neil Young know about good music?

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 9:55 PM

I want a sp1ns d0ct0rs version, stat.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 10:10 PM

lol'd at 842 & 848, kind of embarrassed

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 10:16 PM

9:51 is spot on. In fact, I seriously question if the world is ready for the Pono yet. Mankind has not demonstrated that it can handle that level of technology responsibly. The Unabomber was a nut, but he was right about one thing: "Technology repeatedly forces freedom to take a step back, but technology can never take a step back short of the overthrow of the whole technological system."

Fear the Pono.

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 10:25 PM

"Last comments were made by folks who don't what it was like before Apple and Google ruled the world"

You mean when people were far more intelligent and could write fully formed sentences.

Yeah I KNOW what you mean, dunce

Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2014 10:48 PM

Chill out boys.ya cant play the music if the musics playing you. It's all good for the soul. Find your muse and shut up.bunch of cackling hens.xoxo

Posted by tdavis | March 12, 2014 11:48 PM

neil, put down the toilet seat.

Posted by pegi young | March 13, 2014 1:38 AM

amazing how so many people have an opinion about something they have never heard (literally)!
whats up with that?

Posted by infidel | March 13, 2014 2:41 AM

Faggots give rainbows a bad name.

Posted by bootyfascistVivian | March 13, 2014 2:43 AM

will there be illegal pono blogs?

Posted by Anonymous | March 13, 2014 6:45 AM

As of me typing this it has raised 2.4 million of its 800k goal with another 33 days to go. So far it's far from failing and you keyboard warriors before me look a little foolish.

Posted by Anonymous | March 13, 2014 10:22 AM

^no we just think it's for faggots. We already were aware that there are plenty of faggots out there.

Posted by Anonymous | March 13, 2014 10:31 AM

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