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PONO - Neil Youngs portable hi-res music player

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by currawong, Sep 28, 2012.
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  1. silverfishla
    It’s okay, I’m still upset about New Coke.
    barondla likes this.
  2. QuadraKev
    It's a miracle that the multi-billion dollar smartphone market hasn't read this book and figured out that thick triangular prisms is optimal for handheld use, isn't it? Those thin edges digging into one's hand are simply wonderful for holding something for an extended period of time.

    Different isn't necessarily good.

    I'm going to have to disagree with you about the triangular prism being a good design for handheld use. And sitting on tabletops? Why would you need to stand the player up? That just introduces the risk of it falling over. A rectangular prism can sit flat on a desk with its screen facing up. The Pono player cannot.

    I'm sure many of the portable DAP users put their DAPs in pockets, and I'd be willing to bet that only a small number of portable electronics users have pants tight enough to make bending a well-build device a concern.

    I like the idea of getting more than 6-8 hours out of a portable device, personally.
  3. LuckyNat
    Me too: Mojo, AK DAPs I've all had are borderline acceptable. The comment about the 18650 was saying that perhaps the only reason it's a toblerone shape, is because a 18650 battery is easy to source, reliable and cheap - i.e. it was just a quick prototyping work-around that stuck. I was deliberately contradicting the rest of my post because who knows how it was designed? None of us were part of the design team..

    You've obviously not used a pono, especially apparent when you suggest the way it would work on a desktop is to stand on its end! I personally find it more comfortable to hold than flat DAPs or phones - they're kind of non-designs in that a flat shape just starts with the largest component - the screen - and tries to hide everything else behind it. I put my Pono in pockets too, but larger pockets that I can get my hand in also and use the controls at the same time. Any pocket I can get my hand in easily can also hold the Pono. Any pocket that can only fit a slim, flat DAP inside means it's going to be a pain to get in and out to change music - why is this a good way to judge a DAP, whether it can fit in a small pocket? Many many people stack up amps and DAPs so are we also going to complain that their stacks are stupid because they can't fit in small pockets either?

    Good industrial designs that are celebrated - what the other guy was talking about - is normally about thinking and designing something differently, thinking about how something is used. Often those great designs are not popular either! So its very wrong to say something isn't a great design just because it's not a common design. The guy has obviously never taken an interest in design. I think you may have missed the context of his original post that I was replying to.
  4. silverfishla
    I agree with you and your musings that the Pono was probably designed around the battery (and probably the two capacitors that stand up on the ends). The original Pono board had even slightly larger caps there.
  5. LuckyNat
    I guess it gives it more flexibility in circuit design to achieve what they wanted sonically for the price - more space for a single board without more complex production techniques like you'd find with phone manufacture or other DAP manufacture.

    Maybe people forget it was a relatively cheap DAP with low production projections - just a kickstarter funded project!

    To be honest, they probably started out with practical design considerations and then decided to keep the triangle shape after the prototype felt good to use and had a stand-out design. I think it works well as a physical design.

    My only real gripe with the design is that the screen comes on when you touch a button, including adjusting volume. Then it stays on until it times out. Big drain of battery right there from just changing volume (or just knocking the buttons). Should be able to turn the screen off manually and keep it off.
    barondla likes this.
  6. rickhawk22
    The Pono Player was designed by a group that included the late Charles Hansen of Ayre Acoustics. https://www.ayre.com/
    A highly regarded and award winning designer of high end audio equipment. So we aren't talking about some fly by night outfit that created the Pono Player.
    "Founded by Charles (Charlie) Hansen (chief engineer and product designer), Ayre has been designing and building high-performance, award-winning home audio electronics for more than 20 years. With their feet firmly planted in both the digital and analog domains, we felt they were the perfect choice for a partner that could design an audio circuit capable of championing the difficult and delicate challenges of high-resolution audio playback.

    Everything Ayre has ever made has had fully balanced, all-discrete, zero-feedback analog circuitry. Even Ayre’s digital products employ custom digital filters. The reasoning behind the use and implementation of every one of these technologies is to fortify the presence of the signal and defeat noise in the path of that same signal. Without this, the rendering of high-resolution music would be a futile task, as the listener wouldn’t be able to hear the actual benefits of high-resolution audio.

    In the PonoPlayer, Ayre began their work by designing the circuitry after the main processor retrieves the audio data from the memory and presents it in "3-wire" form - audio data, bit clock, and word clock. They chose the just-released version of ESS's top-of-the-line ES9018. It has two channels, comes in a very small package (5 mm square), and is extremely customizable, able to tackle the rigors of sensitive, low-level signal path design.

    The filter generally favored by Ayre is a minimum-phase digital filter (to eliminate pre-ringing), with a "slow" roll-off, to minimize the overall amount of ringing (ringing can be thought of as an oscillation in the digital signal, causing all sorts of errors if misconstrued as actual signal to be converted to analog, which is engineer-speak for music). For the Pono Player’s D/A (digital-to-analog) converter Charlie went a step further and used a moving average filter for both the double and quad sampling rates because it has no pre-ringing, no post-ringing, no overshoot, and no undershoot (these create inaccuracies in the rendering of digital signal and sacrifice fidelity). In other words, it has none of the digital artifacts (digital artifacts also add to distortion and occlude signal) at all.

    The DAC chip’s output comes in the form of current, so Ayre designed a proprietary, fully discrete, fully- balanced, zero-feedback current-to-voltage stage. This then goes to a fully discrete, zero-feedback buffer stage to drive both the headphone output and the line stage output. The output impedance is roughly 5 ohms, allowing the PonoPlayer to drive any headphone on the market with minimal frequency response errors."

    That said, the focus of the design was on audio quality first and portability 2nd. This is my favorite piece of audio equipment I own, and the best sounding. Especially driving my Flare IEM Pro's balanced. Pure high res audio heaven. I created a usable case using the leather carrying case it came with, and I can change the volume, and the tracks through my jeans using the buttons. I'm not sure you can do that with a flat player. For me, it fits fine in a back pocket to use on the go. I use it every day since I received my clear Pono from the Kickstarter page. I do wish the battery held a longer charge, but I'd gladly take the audio nirvana coming from it, over having to charge it every 8 hours of use.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
    LuckyNat, silverfishla and barondla like this.
  7. musicday
    If you want to talk about changing tracks, or artists ,with one single push of a button, inside your pocket, even with the gloves on then the Only player able to do that is the Tera-Player.
    It has the simplest operating system and is there nothing like it, since 2011 and is only 80 gr, 58 mm X 58 mm X 20 mm.
    rickhawk22 likes this.
  8. rickhawk22
    My Special Edition Pono I bought off of Ebay with the Flare Pro's balanced.

    My Clear Pono from the Kickstarter
    The leather case has seen its better days, but it protects my player well.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
    LuckyNat, silverfishla and barondla like this.
  9. maira
    Thats true, but you can set lock off to 10 seconds.
  10. LuckyNat
    Not the only player - plenty of cheap MP3 players can do that, some ipod shuffles and nanos. You might instead mean one that is aimed at "audiophiles" ? It's certainly the only home-made €3000 player (made with €50 parts and which has had a 600% price increase for those same parts over its life..) designed like that.

    A Pono can be picked up for ~ €80 on ebay for a plastic one, €200 a metal, limited edition one. If one wants to pay an extra €2800 just to change tracks from your pocket, that's a personal choice.. You could probably pay a tech much less to add in buttons for the Pono with a software tweek..
  11. maira
    Is there any known Sound difference plastic vs. metal?
  12. Dana Reed
    The metal one has a more realistic sound with bands like sabbath and maiden
    rickhawk22 and Left Channel like this.
  13. musicday
    If you are after saving money, then buy the Shanling M0. Plenty of features and better then the Pono ,I will say.
  14. L8MDL
    The "metal" is plastic. Sorry to bust your bubble.

    From the original Kickstarter campaign:
    "The Artist Limited Edition PonoPlayers have a non-metal casing with a chrome finish. They will have laser-engraved artist signatures, including all band members in the case of groups."
    maira likes this.
  15. maira
    LOL Not even Shanling M5s sounds better than the Pono.
    DannyBai and silverfishla like this.
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