Neil Young has long-thought that the sound quality of most modern music devices and services are garbage. So, he is launching a new digital format called Pono, a Hawaiian word that means “righteous.”

According to, Pono will launch in 2013. It involves a bespoke Pono player that Young briefly showed on David Letterman in 2012.

According to, Pono files will play on any digital audio device, just at a lower sound quality (i.e. something like what most of us listen to today). In other words, you should be able to load the songs up on your iPhone or similar — they will just lack the amped-up sound that made you go with Pono in the first place.

Young’s idea for Pono is HD Audio whenever possible, and enhanced lossless music for everything else. You could say he’s trying to put the warmth of vinyl recordings into a pocket device. Three-to-five thousand albums are apparently ready to go on Pono. has a good audiophile debate on all this. Are you interested in Young’s attempts to make digital sound like analog?

Here’s Young talking about the prototype Pono.