Neil Young's "high resolution" PonoPlayer goes on sale for $400 today. You shouldn't buy it. The recalcitrant rocker isn't wrong for wanting to reclaim audio quality in the digital age, but in the service of that goal he's peddling junk science, and supporting expensive gear and music files you don't need.
Today, Sony is expanding its high-resolution audio push with a no-frills Walkman. The slight little music player weighs just 2.3 ounces, making Neil Young's chunky Pono player look like a brick. High-resolution audio might be a little suspect, but there's no doubt this petite music player is a beauty.
Neil Young is a lover of music, and so he has embarked on a well-intentioned quest to improve the quality of digital music. His Pono player is based on a good understanding of the problems with digital music—but its prescription for a solution only half-way makes sense.
This week, Sony unleashed a battery of expensive audio gear that claims to support "high-resolution audio" which, like "ultra high-definition" in the video world, sounds pretty snazzy. But what does high-resolution audio mean? And will HRA really make the music sound better?