Contrary to original reports, Neil Young's Pono Kickstarter campaign is open and taking donations now, as opposed to on its stated March 15 launch. How does this affect you? Well, if you'd hoped to get that $200 "Early Bird special" discount on an otherwise $399 triangular digital music player, you're out of luck. But fret not — there are still plenty of $300 options left to go around. Whew.
Pono is the rock legend's long-in-the-works high-resolution player and service — sort of like an iPod and iTunes for audiophiles who want to hear music as it sounded in the studio without all the MP3/CD compression. The devices come with 64 GB of built-in memory, and 64 GB cards that can be swapped in and out as they fill up. At "ultra-high resolution (192 kHz/24 bit)," that's space for about 800 tracks to start.
The other Kickstarter rewards are pretty cool, especially given the price. For $400, a buck more than the normal retail cost, you can get a chrome Pono player engraved with an artist's signature and pre-loaded with their two favorite albums. Participants include Young, Arcade Fire, Beck, Pearl Jam, Herbie Hancock, and Foo Fighters. For $5,000, you can have a private dinner and Pono listening session with Neil himself.
Up top, take a look at a video featuring various rock legends — from David Crosby and James Taylor to Jack White and, erm, Kid Rock — endorsing Pono with a level of sincerety that could very well make you a believer. As of now, the Kickstarter is nearly at $500,000 with a $1 million goal.