Pono store goes live, but audiophile-quality albums ain’t cheap

Audiophile grade digital music is set to become one of the top tech trends of 2015, but judging by the launch of the Pono Music Store today, the revolution isn’t going to be that affordable.

Those who snapped up Neil Young’s Kickstarter-backed Pono Player can now start purchasing high resolution audio from a dedicated store (via Stereogum), but they won’t be getting all that much for their money.

For example the top notch 192kHz/24-bit FLAC version of Simon & Garfunkel’s classic album Bridge Over Troubled Water a costs $24.99 (around £16) to download and own.

To put that into context, the same album on iTunes costs $9.99 (around £6) and can be listened to for free on Spotify or Amazon Prime. Of course, users will purportedly be getting vastly superior audio quality for the extra cash outlay.

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The $400 (around £264) Pono Player is one of the most successful crowd-funded tech projects yet, raising over $6 million from audiophiles fed up with sacrificing sound quality for the convenience of digital downloads and streaming services.

Those who care enough will likely splash out for albums they probably own in multiple formats anyway, but the price points do not do much for the curious enthusiast looking to enter the world of hi-res audio.

The store is only available in the United States right now, but Pono says it’ll be launching in the UK and Canada in the first quarter of 2015, with additional countries arriving later in the year.

The launch of the store comes as Pono faces competition in the market from Sony, which revamped its Walkman line at CES this week. The Japanese firm launched the Walkman NW-ZX2, which promises the 192/24 same audio quality as the Pono Player.

One saving grace for Pono is Sony’s extravagant $1,199 price point, which works out at about £788.

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