Pono is dead. Probably. Long live Xstream.

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After 5 years it seems that Neil Young’s Pono initiative, which resulted in a hardware player and digital music retailer, could also be lastly over. In its place: Xstream.

A submit on Pono’s forums this week (membership required) confirmed that eight months after its music obtain retailer went down the corporate was now channeling its efforts into a brand new streaming service referred to as Xstream as a substitute.

Xstream will present hi-res music at a “normal price” Young says, and in a direct dig at Tidal (and Spotify) he says that corporations should not cost a premium for hi-res streams.

Pono’s music obtain webstore went down in July of 2016 after music associate Omnifone was offered, and Pono introduced on the time it was shifting to to 7digital.

“The more we worked on (the webstore), the more we realized how difficult it would be to recreate what we had and how costly it was to run it”, Young stated.

“As you might imagine, I found it difficult to raise more money for this model: delivering quality music at a premium price to a limited audience that felt they were being taken advantage of with the high costs” he stated.

Neil Young says he’ll launch all of his personal titles on the brand new Xstream service


Screenshot by CNET

“All songs should cost the same, regardless of digital resolution”, Young wrote. “Let the people decide what they want to listen to without charging them more for true quality. That way quality is not an elitist thing. If high resolution costs more, listeners will just choose the cheaper option and never hear the quality”, he wrote.

Services corresponding to Bandcamp and Drip at the moment promote 24bit music for a similar value as 16bit (when accessible) with costs sometimes half that of hi-res music shops.

Xstream will likely be designed to be adaptive, and stream within the highest high quality a consumer’s connection will enable. “Xstream is one file, streaming for all with 15,000 seamlessly changing levels of playback quality”, Young stated.

However, the prevailing Ponoplayer is not going to be suitable with Xstream as a result of it lacks a Wi-Fi adaptor and is solely capable of play music downloaded onto its strong state drive.

It’s ironic that Neil Young made the information in the identical week as Record Store Day which is devoted to celebrating bodily media gross sales within the face of competitors from streaming companies.

Up till January 2017 it appeared the transfer to a brand new supplier for Pono was nonetheless underway with the discharge of a free pc music participant Pono Music Vault. However, the corporate’s Twitter and Facebook accounts haven’t posted since its announcement on January 23.

Young stated he is speaking with file corporations in regards to the new streaming service and has up to now solely introduced that his personal music will likely be accessible on Xstream. A date has not but been detailed.

Young’s service could battle amongst competing music companies such because the top-performing Spotify and Apple, whereas on the different finish Xstream’s most important competitor Tidal was partly sold to Sprint earlier this yr . Tidal at the moment presents lossless music for $20 (or twice that of most companies) and provides in hi-res music by means of the proprietary MQA format at no additional price. MQA requires a decoder for optimum sound high quality and it is unknown if Young’s Xstream will even use MQA.

Young introduced the Pono system on the Late Show with David Letterman in September 2012 and after years of delays the participant went on sale in early 2015. The Pono digital music retailer was on-line for 18 months earlier than it went down.

What does the long run maintain for customers of the Ponoplayer? It is nonetheless accessible on the market on-line and Young’s solely remark in regards to the participant was that “we sold tens of thousands of players, every unit that we made”. Future assist is unknown at this stage.

Representatives for Pono didn’t reply instantly to CNET’s request for a remark.



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