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Neil Young founds digital music service, gets help from Bruce

By Todd Leopold, CNN
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 1554 GMT (2354 HKT)
Neil Young's Pono online store and PonoPlayer device feature high-resolution digital music.
Neil Young's Pono online store and PonoPlayer device feature high-resolution digital music.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Neil Young is introducing Pono, his high-resolution digital music service
  • Video to promote service features all-star lineup, including Bruce Springsteen
  • Young dislikes quality of CDs, MP3s; Pono gets music out from "underwater," he says
  • Kickstarter campaign already hit goal, will run through April 15

(CNN) -- Neil Young has long complained about the quality of digital music formats. Now he's doing something about it -- and he's getting help from some friends.

Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Tom Petty and Sting were among the artists who joined Young in a video to promote a Kickstarter campaign for Pono, a digital music service and device designed to "bring the highest-quality digital music" to consumers, according to its press announcement.

Young himself was at Austin's SXSW event to demonstrate the service.

"Every part of my body is getting hit with this," Young said of his experience with Pono, according to the San Jose Mercury News. "My soul is feeling it. I am doing what I use to do: I'm listening. I'm feeling. And I'm experiencing. I am living music."

The idea behind Pono is to boost digital music from the compressed and lossy formats to high-quality resolution. Pono will stream music in 24-bit, 192 kHz sound -- brighter and more present than the "underwater listening," as Young describes it, provided by MP3s and even CDs.

The death of the home stereo system

Young has made no bones about his disgust with MP3 and similar file formats.

"The simplest way to describe what we've accomplished is that we've liberated the music of the artist from the digital file and restored it to its original artistic quality -- as it was in the studio," Young wrote last year on Pono's Facebook page.

His musical friends were all for it.

"I got my drug of choice," said Vedder, who was part of an all-star lineup raving about Pono in the video. "It's now potent again."

"He's developed something that creates a very warm analog sound that takes even your digital records that gives them ... a closeness, an intimacy that digital recording can lose very easily," said Springsteen on the video.

The Kickstarter campaign was intended to raise $800,000. It blew past that goal in less than 24 hours. As of midday (ET) Wednesday, it's closing in on $1.5 million in pledges.

Though the site takes donations in any amount, people who pledge $400 or more will receive a PonoPlayer Artist Signature Series from their choice of musicians including Patti Smith, Beck and the Dave Matthews Band, among many.

The PonoPlayer devices have 128 GB of memory, capable of storing 1,000 to 2,000 high-resolution digital albums, according to the press release. They will be sold at PonoMusic.com for $399 each. Albums will likely sell for between $14.99 and $24.99.

The campaign runs through April 15.

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