Pono Music Player Software is long dead

Greetings everyone!

Did anyone else get into the Pono Music / Pono Music Player kickstarter?

I did. … Regrets. BUT, the music I bought in FLAC format plays on anything.

I do miss the Pono Music Player software. Perhaps this thread will serve as a place for you to recommend your fav. app/software that plays FLAC files.

Somehow, the Pono player software added a warmth and depth to FLAC files (and even MP3s) that I can’t replicate with anything else (Yet).

I’ve fiddled with a lot of software that can play FLAC and their EQs. Anyone have any insight into the Pono system’s settings?

Their software for playing music files had an annoying “feature,” it would expire quarterly, and one needed to download the newest version to use it (free, even if one did not buy the player or their music; so I do not know why they did this!). They are out of business and there does not look to be a way to re-activate the software.

Research tells me the device is basically a mini-Ayre player. Is there software that can replicate the output (EQ) settings on one of those? The device sounds nice. I just want to play the files on my Mac!

I played the files from my MBP on its internal speakers and through external speakers with the Pono software and with a lot of other FLAC playing software (VLC, Clementine, etc.) the untouched settings on the Pono player (software) sounded better than other software on both internal speakers and better speakers plugged in.



P.S. … If anyone wants to look at their dead site (vs. searching for the name {type carefully!!}), go to: https://www.ponomusic.com/

P.P.S. The kickstarter is still up; so you can read all the hype:

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Tim, seems like the Pono Player is a hardware device, right? I suspect much of the sound characteristics you hear and enjoy might be due to the DAC used in this device. The DAC (digital-to-analog converter) is one of the most important components for good sound quality IMHO.

Of course, you need a good source (which you have in the FLAC files). These will be CD quality audio or better. (Of course, productions by well funded studios, staffed by seasoned audio engineers and mixers will be preferable to budget productions.) The bitrate of standard CD quality audio is just over 1400 kpbs - more than four times that of the high end MP3’s at 320 kpbs. This means your DAC will have a lot more information to work with when rendering the audio signal. Much more of the original signal is retained in this audio stream. Notable places you easily can hear clear improvement is in the drums, the long fall-off (decay) in cymbals and the clarity of the toms and how the accoustic bass notes have a much longer sustain that you’d normally not hear outside a live performance.

There is an entire industry that supplies great DACs for different use cases. For connecting to my Mac and iOS devices, I currently love the AudioQuest Dragonfly Red. It is a dead simple device, USB on one end, 3.5mm audio jack on the other and it has a LED that changes color depending on what quality bit-stream it is currently processing. I find it produces a nicely warm and balanced sound. Also, it is very powerful when driving headphones - it will drive pretty demanding high-end cans with no problems, even from iOS devices via the Lightning to USB adapter, which is a bit of a feat given the votalge limitations on this port. However, there is a jungle out there, so I’m sure there will be hundreds of options that are equally good.

Which brings us to the last component - the headphones. Your choice of headphones will also put it’s own signature on what you hear. Depending on how they are tuned and optimized, they will give different results. I am partial to the AKG sound signatures, which tends to be on the brighter side, with clear mids and a precise bass that isn’t boomy or overly prominent. I listen a lot to jazz, fusion, funk and latin music with mainly acoustic instruments, and I find AKG is serving me well in these genres.

However, what defines a great audio experience is highly individual, so start by finding a DAC and headphones YOU like that fits your musical tastes. The difference between compressed music on a cheap set of headphones and a nicer one can be almost as significant as the visual difference between an episode of “I love Lucy” and a recent Marvel movie in 4k :slight_smile:

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The audio output of an MBP or iDevices is not really good. And if you want to drive better (=high impedance) headphones, forget it.

I tried not to go too deep into the audio rabbit hole but good sound is a must for me, so I settled on:
For stationary (=desk) use: a combination of Shiit Audio (no joke) Modi 2 DAC and Magni 2 headphone amp. This gives me improved conversion (D->A) and I can drive the most demanding headphones (500Ω no problem).
If I am on the road with my MBP: nuForce uDAC 3. USB-powered, serious sound improvemend, but not near the Modi/Magni.
Software: iTunes is not really good (and can’t play FLAC, or did that change?). I use Amarra, an alternative is Audirvana. Even VOX has better sound than iTunes.
Home: still not decided what DAC I should get, so I am using the optical output from the Mac mini and that goes into my amplifier (2.0, not 5.1, 7.1 or whatever).