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Sony Brings High-Res Listening Stations To Best Buy

Sony Electronics and Best Buy have launched new high-res audio listening stations, available now in nearly 80 Best Buy Magnolia Design Center stores nationwide.

An event last month at the retailer’s Columbus Circle store in Manhattan introduced the kiosks, which will enable consumers to experience a wide variety of high-res music recordings, in virtually every genre, on a number of Sony products, including Walkman portable players, headphone amplifiers and music servers.

The stations, supported by Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group, feature music clips from more than three dozen classic catalog and new titles, and will be updated with new music quarterly, Sony said.

Mike Fasulo, president/COO of Sony Electronics, told TWICE that while the rollout will initially go to 80 stores, “I’d like to get to 200 listening stations [nationwide]. It doesn’t have to be this specific one. We have experience with this [type of program] with the Sony Retail Experience,” and other technologies.

Fasulo noted that the expectation he has for the program is to “get as many people a demonstration as possible. Like we have done with other paradigm shifts and other new market opportunities, we demonstrate our leadership position and leadership in creating markets.”

He added, “This is not a market share play. We are working with all three major music labels. And, yes, we have Sony devices on the display, but we want to give consumers an idea of what high-res audio is. We learned from 4K demonstrations, and we learned beyond that. Seeing is believing, and hearing is believing.”

Fasulo said while the consumer “knows [high-res audio] is better, they don’t understand what better means.” He noted, “If we can get a whole lot of folks back into premium listening, there is a whole lot of things we can introduce them to.”

Fasulo said in prepared remarks: “High-res audio has received an overwhelmingly positive response from audiophiles everywhere, and our partnership with Magnolia at Best Buy will enable the industry to deliver the high-res message to a much broader audience. Sony is always striving to provide consumers with entertainment devices that meet virtually every lifestyle need and our unique collaboration with Magnolia at Best Buy is no exception.”

Michael Crane, merchant director of Magnolia at Best Buy, commented, “For nearly 50 years, Best Buy has been the destination for electronics and entertainment and as the nation’s largest A/V specialty retailer, our Magnolia Design Center stores deliver the ultimate experiences. We’re pleased to join with Sony and the major music companies in bringing this experience to all of our locations nationwide. Simply stated, MDC is proud to serve as the destination for high-res audio.”

Each listening station also comes with an integrated tablet that contains information about high-res audio in general, along with music discographies, video testimonials. To promote consumer activation, the program also includes additional incentive offers from Magnolia at Best Buy and HDtracks.

HDtracks, a source for high-res music downloads in the U.S., is working with Magnolia Design Centers and Sony to bring the high-res programing to Magnolia’s customers.

Sony and HDtracks will provide a free high-res download of Carrie Underwood’s latest album, “Storyteller,” to any purchaser of a Sony NWZ-A17 or NWZX2 high-res Walkman player until Jan. 16, 2016.