Will the $400 Pono Music Player sound like a $27,500 stereo preamplifier? The Ayre KX-R Twenty costs as much as a car, but its designer claims the Pono Player will sound almost as good as the preamp!
No doubt about it, the Ayre Acoustics KX-R Twenty preamplifier's sound quality is truly revelatory. And, we ought to hope so, since it sells for $27,500, but here's the truly shocking part: Ayre's owner -- and the preamp's designer -- Charles Hansen, thinks the upcoming Pono Music Player will deliver "80 or 90 percent" of the KX-R Twenty's sound, for just $400!
Hansen should know; he had a hand in designing the Pono's electronics that were in part funded by Neil Young's hugely successful Kickstarter project. The KX-R Twenty and Pono share similar audio circuitry, though the parts used are entirely different. On the Pono media circuit, Hansen's enthusiasm for the Pono player took many by surprise.
Hansen's a high-end engineer, and has always designed gear without budgetary compromises. "That's what the KX-R Twenty is all about, and as for the Pono, I eagerly await production players, they're due in October." Hansen claims that once you start listening to the Pono you may find it hard to stop, it's that good.
The audio circuitry is fully discrete, meaning there are no integrated circuit chips of the sort used in every other portable music player. It's a bona fide high-end component. Every Ayre component is designed and built in the company's factory in Boulder, Colo. However, Ayre will not be manufacturing the production Pono players.