Pono: only a man pays for music quality that he can’t hear – says Charles Arthur

Pono music player

Originally published in 2014

Neil Young is a great musician. Well, I've enjoyed a few of his songs, and plenty of people have enjoyed lots more of them – enough to give him a decades-spanning career in the music business.

I'm not sure, though, that this quite qualifies him to tangle with mathematicians waving Nyquist-Shannon's theorem, who are lining up to tell him his Pono music player – which crashed through its $800,000 Kickstarter finance-raising target within a day of being announced – won't actually give people (14,600 backers pledging nearly $5m so far) the benefits they hope for.

Pono is the latest in a long line of attempts to give people "high-quality" recorded audio. It will be able to play music that has been digitised in 24-bit audio sampled at 192 kilohertz (kHz), rather than the 16-bit 44.1kHz audio that CDs use. If you remember the ill-fated DVD-audio and SACD discs of a decade ago, you'll know this song already. Barely anyone pays for such high-quality digital audio, because they can't hear the difference from the medium-quality variety.

Pono's team says otherwise: "In the process of .....

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