Neil Young’s PonoPlayer is gearing up for its retail debut. The high-end audio player will touch down in 80 retail locations across the country including a number of Fry’s stores on January 12.
The retail launch comes shortly after the opening of the Pono music store which took place yesterday. It’s there that users can purchase the high-quality audio files for use on the device, albeit at a bit of a premium compared to traditional MP3s.
Whether or not the majority of music fans will be willing to pay extra for a high-end audio experience remains to be seen. The player itself retails for $399.99 but even if it’s a flop, Young won't be too upset about it.
Speaking on stage at CES, the legendary musician said he hasn’t listened to music for the last 15 years because he hated the way it sounded and pissed him off that he couldn’t enjoy it more. He added that all he could hear was what was missing.
As a musician, Young wants people to hear his art and based on the feedback from the Kickstarter community, a lot of people feel the same way as the campaign ultimately raised more than $6.2 million. In his mind, Young said, it’s already a success because it lives.
It’s worth pointing out that the PonoPlayer isn’t the only high-end media player at CES as Sony announced a new $1,200 Walkman just days ago. Early reports, however, suggest that people are having a tough time differentiating audio from the new Walkman versus that coming from an iPhone.