Neil Young and Friends Push 'Pono' - Aim to Leave CDs, MP3s in the Dust

Kickstarter campaign for device has raised more than $2 million.

ByABC News
March 13, 2014, 10:37 AM
A view of the First Edition PonoPlayers.
A view of the First Edition PonoPlayers.
Courtesy Kickstarter

March 13, 2014 — -- Legendary musician Neil Young says he has a new device that makes listening to music on MP3s or even CDs seem like listening underwater -- and a surging Kickstarter campaign suggests music fans are all ears.

So far, the campaign has raised more than $2 million for Pono -- a personal music player designed "to revive the magic that has been squeezed out of digital music," according to a Pono's Kickstarter page.

"Pono is about the music," Young says in a promotional video atop the page. "It's about the people who make the music and the way it sounds to us when we're in the studio making it. It's about you hearing what we hear."

As of Wednesday evening, almost 6,500 backers had pledged more than $2.1 million to support the Toblerone-shaped device, according to the page.

Some of those backers are music legends themselves. The promotional video for Pono shows Norah Jones, Eddie Vedder, Tom Petty, Sting, Jack White, Win Butler of The Arcade Fire, and James Taylor waxing ecstatic -- and that's just in the video's first two minutes.

"You listen to a CD," says Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, "and it's like listening to someone twinging [a] ... rubber band."

Pono, he says, delivers "the full scope of what music is."

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Young's original goal on Kickstarter was $800,000. Donors still have 32 more days to contribute.

PonoMusic is not a new audio file format or standard, it's page explains. It is "an end-to-end ecosystem for music lovers to get access to and enjoy their favorite music exactly as the artist created it, at the recording resolution they chose in the studio."

Its technology offers "the highest resolution digital music available ... the feeling, spirit, and emotion that the artists put in their original studio recordings."