Gadgets for humans

The PonoPlayer lives up to audiophile hype


Musician Neil Young set out to create a portable digital music player that actually sounds awesome. He succeeded with the PonoPlayer, if you’re fine with some limitations.

Miles Davis sounded amazing. You could almost hear the pending divorces while listening to a track off Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors album. That said, its design and display aren’t exactly triumphs.

The weird triangle case might fit well in your hand, but good luck putting it in any pocket. The display isn’t also isn’t as crisp as you would expect from something that’s going to set you back $400.

Navigating through artists and songs was fine, but when it came time to check out the settings page, the player choked a little.


Of course, audiophiles probably won’t care about small performance hiccups. The player has two audio ports, so you can share your high quality music with your friends. It also hits the audio lover check points with analog circuitry, a separate low-noise power supply and a low phase-noise clock oscillator. It also has 64GB of internal storage, and you can add an additional 64GB via a micro-SD card.

The people that will buy it are the same folks that are happy to drop $1000 on a pair of headphones and will spend hours telling you about the warm sounds of a tube amp. Is the PonoPlayer right for you? Check your vinyl collection. If you have the first pressing of Dark Side of the Moon, then yes.

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Published January 7, 2015 — 03:39 UTC