Any actual use of Pono Player through balanced connection into home stereo?

Hey all.
I've been searching here on Audiogon and can't seem to find the answers I'm looking for regarding the "Pono Player."
Has anyone actually used this item with their home audio system? My desire would be to connect via a balanced cable into my pre-amp. I'm not sure how you get a true balanced connection via a 3.5 jack into an XLR, but I'll take their word for it if they say it's so.
Anyway, can anyone out there who has actual experience with this give me first hand advice? Is the output really any better than a Hi-Res FLAC or DSD file played through a typical player for such files say via a thumb drive or SACD? Obviously the Pono Player does not have a huge storage capacity even with a SD card and no remote is a big draw back. But these could be over looked if the sound the Pono produces is dramatically improved over a typical consumer level Hi-Res player.
I appreciate all responses in advance!
If anyone cares to comment, I'm interested in how this Pono Player produces various aspects of sound such as tone, bass, sound stage, etc. through a home audio system. I do not use head phones or would I intend to use it as a portable unit.
I have a Pono (love it) and use it in balanced mode (surf cables) into my headphones.  I want to hook the pono up to my Cayin intergrated at work, which only has rca inputs (not balanced).  Cardas has a cable for the pono that has XLR out, which doesn't work for me.  There is a Chinese company that makes them into single ended.  Only $29 bucks so I may go for it. Why would you think hires from the pono would sound different than hires from one of your other devices?  I love my pono as a portable but I doubt its DAC compares to my Esoteric K03.  Pono uses Ayer and it is excellent but you need to compare it to your dac.  If, on the other hand, you are looking for a very affordable music server with built in dac, which sounds awesome, you may have found it
Yes, I think my idea is an affordable music server that sounds better than your average consumer grade FLAC/DSD player via thumb drive or SACD. As I stated, I do not intend to use as a portable or with head phones. I curious if the Pono produces a better sound than the aforementioned player(s). I'm interested in the Ayer DAC as an alternative. At $399.00 I would be greatly surprised if the Pono would compare to the $13,000.00 Esoteric. Just a guess.
I have not used the balanced outputs, except briefly at a demo.

To my ears the Pono sounds a lot like the Ayre preamp and CD player, if that helps.  If you like that sound, you'll like the Pono.


Thanks Eric. I'm still mulling it over. For the $399.00 price of admission what's really to loose? Guess I could always send it back if it didn't work out. I don't own a SACD player and even though that medium is quite limited I've been contemplating such a player. Of course I'd be looking at over $1,000.00 to spend on a SACD player. I do have other digital transports in my system. But always looking to improve what I hear!

Without a doubt, as a portable player, the Pono is the very best sounding unit I've heard. Not just the quality of the sound but the consistency with different headphones.


It doesn't stream, at all.  The only way to get music into it is to copy it from a computer to the two micro SD cards. It does not support more than 128 GB total.

If you are looking for a streaming solution, the Fiio X7 will stream anything there's an Android player for.

My idea of heaven right now is to have Ayre/Pono make an amplifier unit for the Fiio. Or for Pono to make their own version of the X7.


Thanks Eric. No doubt Pono will be producing more "players" in the future that offer different music opportunities. I hope it is soon!
Well, the Fiio X7 + K5 desktop amp is a close second to the Pono, and adds Wifi streaming.  The K5 also supports balanced outputs via mini jacks.