MP3, iPod replacement is here

Canadian rock icon Neil Young took the stage Wednesday at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and told consumers how he felt about some of their most popular electronics: digital music players.

Of the iPod, he said, “you can recognize the movie you’re looking at, you can recognize the song you’re hearing, you can zoom in, zoom out. It’s great – but it’s not music.”

Young showed up at CES to launch his solution: PonoMusic, a new high-fidelity digital music player he said would end music’s “downward spiral” by providing a way to listen to high-resolution audio masters without the digital leveling required to turn them into relatively small mp3s or other popular digital audio files.

“We just eliminated all the progress that was made for the last 20 years,” Young said. “It felt good, too.”

Young funded the project with a crowd-funding Kickstarter campaign that raised 6.2 million dollars, nearly eight times its original goal and the third-most successful Kickstarter campaign ever. He said he plans to make the player’s technology publicly available.

Critics say that average listeners can’t hear the difference between widely available mp3s and the high-resolution recordings PonoMusic is designed for, and lament the player’s reliance on album purchases instead of an online streaming platform.

The oblong triangular player, priced at about 400 dollars, goes on sale Monday at 80 stores in the United States.

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MP3, iPod replacement is here