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File Format
Name Pono
Released 2014

Pono was said to be a proprietary audio file format being launched at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas in 2014, backed by musician Neil Young, with files available only from a single music store, and only playable at full quality on a specialized music player (though apparently they could be exported in lower-quality form into formats supported by other music players). Thus, Young was reportedly attempting to create a walled-garden digital music ecosystem. Supposedly the sound quality would be better than other digital music, though critics questioned whether there's sufficient market for something like this which is too expensive for casual listeners but probably still not high enough in quality for the high-end audiophiles, who are fanatical about only using their preferred audio components at all stages of the process (including exorbitantly-priced cables and connectors), and aren't likely to be satisfied with the non-interoperable proprietary hardware of this system.

However, the service is actually using FLAC format, which is nonproprietary and has no DRM (digital rights management), so much of the press commentary is in fact off-base.


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