Wondering whether Pono will ever officially launch in the UK? We are too. A typically frank statement from Neil Young has confirmed that a worldwide rollout is still a priority – but the company needs more money before it can happen.

We first got our hands on the PonoPlayer at CES back in January, and although it has since been on sale in the US, it is still not officially available anywhere else.

Furthermore, the company's PonoMusic download store, which promised to provide a hi-res music alternative to the likes of HDtracks, is still very much aimed at the US market.

Now Neil Young has released a statement that admits the company is struggling due to a lack of funds and a lack of a "business leader".

"We have no proven business leader at the head of our company, but the search continues for one who could do it to our liking and understand what our goal is and how big it is. We are still looking. We have a big goal," read the statement on Neil Young's Facebook page

Young did confirm that launching in the UK was the next priority, however. "Today we are trying to set up stores in multiple countries and are restricted by a lack off [sic] resources. This is our highest priority. As soon as we have the funds, those stores will open. We wish it could be faster than that.

More after the break

"Canada, Great Britain and Germany are among our first targets. Our highest priority is to bring Ponomusic.com to those countries and operate within their business rules."

The statement claims that thousands of PonoPlayers are now in the wild, pointing to a lack of advertising budget, though also going to great lengths to thank some of Pono's backers: "With no advertising we have put tens of thousands of players and hundreds of thousands of tracks in the ears of music lovers."

Young is adamant that "this mission is worth it" - but clearly the company needs extra funding to make it happen. Pono launched on the back of a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $6.2 million.

"We strive to find or help create the highest quality level, either by searching through analog vaults with record companies and artists, or by tracking the historical provenance of existing digital releases, ensuring the highest quality available gets to the Pono Master library and further to the musical libraries spread around the world.

"This means that the music will always be heard at its highest level. Preserved for all time. Music is history and deserves nothing less. This is truly worth it."

MORE: Young: 'Pono is the same as the iPod but it sounds like God'


Sadly for Young, his somewhat self-righteous posturing on the importance of the Pono mission seemed to fall on deaf ears, with the most popular comments under his post proving to be somewhat off-message.

One comment said, 'Give your music back to #Spotify', while another added, 'Wow Neil Young . . . You want me to buy "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere" and "Harvest" for the fourth freakin' time!!! I already have the LP, the CD and the MP3 . . . and now you want me to buy it again!'

The most-liked comment on the page says, 'Good music is good music on whatever player it's played on. Concentrate on writing and producing new material of the same quality as the great songs you used to sing and which we loved and listened to on crappy 33rpm record players and which sold in their millions. You cannot replace talent with technology.'

Of course if you want to know who to blame, then you need apparently need look no further than Apple...

MORE: Pono PonoPlayer hands-on review

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Jota180's picture

Daft shaped posrtable anyway.

Daft shaped portable anyway.  How is that going to fit in your pocket?  It'd be like carrying a bar of Toblerone around.  Also, when you're out and about (as you do with portable players) what's the point of high rez when there's noise all around you?  Are you really going to be able to appreciate the minute difference (if any) between high rez and CD quality as busses and lorries zoom past?

Graham Luke's picture

'High Rez'...?

Should that maybe read, 'what's the point of high rez when people simply cannot tell the difference from 16/44.1 given the same master as source'...?

magicrabbit's picture

Hi Rez files

Hi Rez files absolutely make sense, but when you are at home, in a calm place. So, it means that your player must have USB / WiFi or AptX bluetooth connection to connect to your HiFi system (also bypassing the internal Dac when possible).

So the Pono would not be the player I need.

Even a good smartphone reading Hi Rez files would be better since you can bypass the internal Dac.

And mainly, it is ugly and unconvenient with its Toblerone form.

hifiman2008's picture

If he is so confident in his

If he is so confident in his product why not put his own money in. He will get it back with the huge sales he promised his other backers.

Alantiggger's picture

'Pono music plans' ?

Just HOW Expensive IS this 'Pono-Player' anyway ?     ...  Wacko

MiddlemanJ's picture

PonoPlayer is fantastic!

I was one of the few people who backed Neil Young's Kickstarter campaign and have to say after 10 months living with the unit, there's nothing else that I really want! Despite the odd shape, it does really sound impressive for what it is. Being an audiophile, I have listened to music on the best equipment throughout my life (Luxman turntables, Nakamichi decks, Klipsch speakers etc). In my experience I have to say the PonoPlayer is the best DAP out on the market out right now, because it combines the best of both that I love - the warmth of vinyl but also the punch, clarity and resolution of digital (which MP3 does sadly lack). Songs and vocals are so much clearer at 24-bit and amazing 1-bit, and bass is so much more real, tight and dynamic. Imagery is absolutely stunning on the PonoPlayer...to the point I can actually pinpoint each instrument's placement and direction in say Oldfield's Tubular Bells, or feel the actual presence of a player strumming the guitar from a classic Eagles song in my room. More than that is the amount of details you get from their top-notch recordings when combined with playing through on the Pono. There are so many songs I've have played throughout my life (and know at heart) where I have found new details emerge soon after playing it on the Pono, that I have to replay it again just to soak it all in. It's more of an 'experience' more than just listening a DAP. By comparison, some of Sony's new HiRes offerings which I've tried sound terrible and incredibly 'metallic' compared to the warm and inviting sound of the PonoPlayer, no doubt due to the Pono's clever circuitry design done by Ayre Acoustics.

As for pricing, the PonoPlayer beats all others hands down and is pretty reasonable for what you are getting. At the price you are paying (US$400) you are getting something which is equal in quality and features to a US$2500 Astelle & Kern. Basically a quality DAP for 1/5 the cost of an AK player. For anyone investing into musical gear as a future investment I can't recommend it highly enough.