PonoPlayerby Pono

  • PonoPlayer
  • PonoPlayer
  • PonoPlayer
TECHWALLA
VERDICT
Clearly above average. Only a couple of issues keep this from being best in class.
85%
TECHWALLA SCORE
based on the following sites

PROS

  • The PonoPlayer offers excellent better-than-CD quality sound, and it comes in a cool wooden box.
  • The player supports a wide range of file types including audiophile-friendly FLAC format.
  • Audio support of up to 192/24 sampling is available.

CONS

  • Mediocre battery life and lack of a workable lock can lead to battery drain.
  • There is no Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity so streaming isn't possible, and the player is pricier than other offerings.
  • The triangle shape makes it hard to put in a pocket or case.
The value of the PonoPlayer lies somewhere between snake oil and the Holy Grail. Starting life as a Kickstarter campaign conceived by rock star Neil Young, the $400 PonoPlayer has an unusual triangular form factor, an easy-to-use 2.5-inch screen interface, and up to eight hours of play per charge. Storage is provided by 64GB of internal memory, and a supplied external 64GB microSD card. The PonoPlayer supports formats including AIFF, AAC, MP3, WAV, and FLAC from any source, though the pricier PonoMusic store promises the best music experience. There is no Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity.
NamePonoPlayeriPod touch 2015iPod nano (2015)Walkman NW-ZX2iPod shuffle (2015)
ManufacturerPonoAppleAppleSonyApple
Techwalla Score
85%
85%
83%
80%
67%
List Price$400$200$150$1200$49
100%

The differences are NOT subtle as many self made critics and Pseudo audio experts claim. They are actually HUGE! Of course this needs a good…

The differences are NOT subtle as many self made critics and Pseudo audio experts claim. They are actually HUGE! Of course this needs a good pair of headphones just like a good stereo needs a pair of great speakers.

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70%

In a nutshell, Pono's benefits have been oversold, and the almost-fever pitch of expectation dragged out over many years has lead to the dis…

In a nutshell, Pono's benefits have been oversold, and the almost-fever pitch of expectation dragged out over many years has lead to the disappointment some people

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it's true that many people probably won't appreciate the difference between the atmospheric, rich Pono pumps out and what they're used to he…

it's true that many people probably won't appreciate the difference between the atmospheric, rich Pono pumps out and what they're used to hearing from Spotify or YouTube. But some will.

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Neil Young's Pono: 192kHz 24-bit music player produces sound quality that is wasted on human hearing. So why pay the extra for it?

Neil Young's Pono: 192kHz 24-bit music player produces sound quality that is wasted on human hearing. So why pay the extra for it?

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The Pono Player, like the Sony NWZ-ZX2, is for a niche market that's usually willing to spend big for the best-sounding music.

The Pono Player, like the Sony NWZ-ZX2, is for a niche market that's usually willing to spend big for the best-sounding music.

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I heard guitar parts and stringed instruments I thought I had never heard before. The whole album, if I could put a single word on it, shine…

I heard guitar parts and stringed instruments I thought I had never heard before. The whole album, if I could put a single word on it, shined.

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Young's disdain for CD sound is well known, but it still came as a surprise in 2013 to learn that he was backing high-resolution digital—in …

Young's disdain for CD sound is well known, but it still came as a surprise in 2013 to learn that he was backing high-resolution digital—in the forms of a portable device, the PonoPlayer, and a download site,

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Neil Young wants us to believe that higher-res audio files played through his banana-colored Toblerone will improve our music-loving lives. …

Neil Young wants us to believe that higher-res audio files played through his banana-colored Toblerone will improve our music-loving lives. I'm here to say that he and his team are kinda full of crap.

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The argument for the Pono Player sure is appealing — that we don’t know what we’ve been missing in our music.Unfortunately, it isn’t true.

The argument for the Pono Player sure is appealing — that we don’t know what we’ve been missing in our music.Unfortunately, it isn’t true.

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The PonoMusic Store promises to have the biggest library of high-res music for download, while the PonoPlayer aims to be the best portable m…

The PonoMusic Store promises to have the biggest library of high-res music for download, while the PonoPlayer aims to be the best portable machine to play it.

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The display isn't the best - but it is touch sensitive, and responsive enough to tap, drag, and move through menus and the rest of the UI as…

The display isn't the best - but it is touch sensitive, and responsive enough to tap, drag, and move through menus and the rest of the UI as well as you'll need to.

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The PonoPlayer's touchscreen is terrible. I've seen no-name MP3 players with sharper screens and better viewing angles. It's tough to make o…

The PonoPlayer's touchscreen is terrible. I've seen no-name MP3 players with sharper screens and better viewing angles. It's tough to make out the screen clearly unless you're looking at it straight-on and viewing it outside under the sun is all but impossible.

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The Pono is a success, or on its way to possibly being a success (the competition is not sleeping). This player sounds great, no question ab…

The Pono is a success, or on its way to possibly being a success (the competition is not sleeping). This player sounds great, no question about it. It might not be the last word in portable players, but it has to be mentioned in any such discussion.

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My ears were slaked by the PonoPlayer, but my mind was not blown. Never did I feel I was experiencing a brave new aural world.

My ears were slaked by the PonoPlayer, but my mind was not blown. Never did I feel I was experiencing a brave new aural world.

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