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Neil Young embraces hi-res streaming
Whether Neil Young's Pono high-res downloading service and music player are dead or merely dormant remains to be seen, but Young announced on April 20 his plans to start a new high-res streaming service for music called Xstream.
Young officially launched Pono in 2015 with the goal of creating an audio player and storefront specifically for high-fidelity recordings to capture music the way an artist intended for it to be heard. The service was only online for more than a year before it became clear the platform wasn't accomplishing its mission. Part of the problem was the high cost of music on the service, which was expensive to run and did not cultivate a large enough following.
Pono's replacement, Xstream, will be designed to provide an all-encompassing file format that can support 15,000 different sizes of streams, responding to the user's available bandwidth. Initially, only Young's catalog will be available on the service and a release date has not yet been determined. Young, who was honored by The Recording Academy's Producers & Engineers Wing in 2014, aims to make the service more affordable for users.
"All songs should cost the same, regardless of digital resolution," wrote Young via a Pono post. "Let the people decide what they want to listen to without charging them more for true quality. That way quality is not an elitist thing."
The Recording Academy introduced its Stream The Studio initiative at CES 2017 in January, with demonstrations led by the P&E Wing at an onsite recording studio. Music labels and services at the event agreed high-res streaming now matches new benefits with growing consumer demand for excellent sound like engineers hear in the recording studio.
For the next generation of golden ears able to hear the finest details, a new audio adventure is just beginning.