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Neil Young’s Pono Music Player Is Finally Available

Angela Weiss, Getty Images

More than two years after Neil Young unveiled his hi-def Pono music player on ‘The Late Show With David Letterman,’ deep-pocketed music fans can finally buy the thing.

Young announced the Pono back in October 2012 during an appearance on Letterman’s late-night show. A year came and went, and Young once again said his tiny yellow music player — which can play high-quality music files that the puny iPod can’t handle — would be on the way soon.

In March of last year, the product reached its Kickstarter goal in one day, and a pre-order date was all set.

Now, finally, the Pono is available. Or at least it will be on Monday. And as the Verge notes, it won’t be available everywhere — just 80 stores. And it’s not cheap. The price of owning a Pono is $399.

But wait, that’s not the end of it. What are you going to play on that expensive new music player? Probably not the MP3s you already own, since the player is equipped for hi-def files like FLAC (tech specs, if you’re interested: 24-bit 192kHz). You can still play your old MP3s, but chances are, you’ll want something a little better sounding than that.

You can convert what you already own, or as Young and Pono’s backers are hoping, you’ll go straight to their just-opened store to download high-quality audio files to fill your new tiny yellow player.

Seeing that albums are way pricier than their iTunes versions, stuffing the Pono can drain your budget in no time. Young’s ‘After the Gold Rush’ goes for $21.79. The Who‘s super-deluxe version of ‘Quadrophenia’ sells for $43.29. And AC/DC‘s new ‘Rock or Bust’ is a relative steal at $17.99, but still almost twice its iTunes’ cost. (Some individual songs are available for download, too.)

So why upgrade to an expensive portable music player as the rest of the world seems to be happy with just streaming their music? As Young explained to an audience at the CES electronics and technology show yesterday, “I didn’t listen to music for the last 15 years because I hated the way it sounded, and it made me pissed off and I couldn’t enjoy it any more. I could only hear what was missing.”

He’s hoping there are music fans out there who feel the same way and, more importantly, are willing to pay for the privilege of hearing what they’ve been missing.

See the Yearbook Photos of Neil Young and Other Rock Stars

Next: Top 10 Neil Young Songs

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