You wouldn’t expect someone famous for protest songs like “Ohio” to name his new book, Waging Heavy Peace, not for a political statement of some kind but for a high-tech gadget called Pono. But, there you have it. Neil Young is releasing a portable music player to rival the iPod, promising out-of-control sound quality to make up for its clunky appearance.
Young has been working on his Pono digital-to-analog music player for years in order to "confront the compressed audio inferiority” of MP3s, and now Rolling Stone is reporting that he will launch a line of portable Pono players next year. Shaped like triangular prisms and sporting a slightly garish yellow-and-black color scheme, the players will support music files from a music downloading service similar to the Apple Music Store.
Waging Heavy Peace, Neil Young says, was his response to a question of whether he was waging war on iTunes by releasing the Pono technology. Young says he repeatedly contacted the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in an effort to share the high-resolution music technology with the company, but Apple has not yet commented on the exchange. Young says he hopes releasing Pono on his own "will force iTunes to be better” and improve its MP3 music quality.
Neil Young has high expectations for Pono. As well as encouraging iTunes to improves its music quality, the rocker claims that the new technology will help “save the sound of music” by unifying the quality of content that record companies release. The Pono music files will reportedly sound exactly the way they do during the recording process.
Flea, of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, has tried out the system and said that the difference in sound quality is far from subtle. Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and Sony Music have all backed Pono, and Warner has already started converting files to high resolution.
Neil Young has stressed that his motivation isn’t commercial, and that he is so gung-ho about Pono because, quite simply, “MP3s suck.”