The Pono Website indicates Pono is there to "let you feel music in ways you've only felt seeing it live" which does rather suggest that sodding great big speakers are required. But the link to information about the Ponoplayer comes up with: "The output impedance is very low so that the Pono Player will deliver perfectly flat frequency response to any headphone made."
So I think it's safe to say that the Pono Website is talking nonsense. This is a portable music player intended for headphone use while on the move, not for serious sit-down listening. The idea that headphones can reproduce the sensations of being present in person to experience the gut-shaking thunder of a symphony orchestra or rock band at full tilt is nonsense.
So many of the claims are nonsense or misleading.
e.g., the claim that low output impedance (standard on almost all modern audio kit) ensures perfectly flat frequency response. Yes it helps, but you need more than low output impedance to get flat frequency response over the audio range and nothing provides perfection.
What's this about no (negative) feedback? Well, it does correct for errors, so the circuitry being designed is going to produce worse results than if they'd designed it sensibly.
I've no idea what this "minimum phase [shift]" digital filter might be for. An analogue filter after the DAC is essential - but a digital filter? The analogue filters used are often Chebyshev filters, which are anything but linear phase shift, although there are DAC techniques which permit the use of different types of filter.
And of course you'd expect a high quality DAC. Any decent audio kit intended to turn digital into analogue needs a high quality DAC.
Mind you, Richard Chirgwin's article isn't beyond a bit of needling. Neil Young's against LOSSY compression - lossless compression of the source is no trouble, surely? And if this Ponoplayer can carry 1000-2000 albums, that's around 10,000-20,000 songs - well, yes less than "many" tens of thousands, but not as much as implied and in any case so what? How many people actually (legally) own even 1000 albums? Or are going to be out long enough with their portable music player to get through even 20 albums before having a chance to re-stock at home?
Regarding derogatory comments about "audiophiles": yes "audiophiles" think all the stupid things that those who diss them claim, provided you define "audiophile" as someone with stupid ignorant ideas about audio reproduction who doesn't care about what the music sounds like, only what the equipment spec is.
I've read convincing articles showing that actually, class B amplifiers (when properly implemented) provide the best practical audio output quality, and that analogue to digital (for processing, storage, and distribution) and back again to analogue (for playback) is the best way to record and reproduce music - provided that you perform all steps thoroughly competently.
Lack of competence will result in poor output quality no matter how buzzword compliant your reproduction chain might be.
This is how come Decca managed to make some really rather excellent audio recordings back in the 1950s, while plenty of modern recordings made with nominally far superior kit are rubbish by comparison.
I recall reading a Web article by Roy Harper in which he says that as far as he's concerned, 24 bit/44.1kHz in the studio is indistinguishable from analogue tape for mixing and mastering. There's little evidence that higher sampling rates than CD standard produce audible benefits, at least not when properly competent A/D and D/A conversion is involved.
One of my favourite recordings was made in the 1950s (yeah, Decca). I play it from CD or sometimes from PC via an outboard DAC, through 1990s speakers set into 1960s cabinets, and via a mid-range late 2000s amp of unremarkable origin. I enjoy it. Isn't that all we should worry about?