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Best Buy, Sony Ready High-Res Music Demos

MINNEAPOLIS — Best Buy will begin rolling out Sony-featured demo areas for portable high-res audio in over 70 stores this fall.

The “music stations” will be located within the chain’s Magnolia Design Centers — fully featured in-store mini-showrooms and vignettes that showcase home-theater products and custom- install services.

The displays will feature Sony’s Walkman portable players, headphone amplifiers, music servers and other home-component high-res audio devices, as well as equipment from other as-yet unnamed manufacturers, said Aaron Levine, Sony senior product manager for home audio.

Customers will be able to demo a selection of high-res audio clips, and the stations will promote a variety of high-res recordings from Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group that are available through participating digital music download providers.

Select locations will also host high-res promotional events, including launch parties, receptions and displays of album artwork, the partners said. Smaller A/V specialty stores have promoted high-res audio, but Best Buy is the “first national retailer to respond like this,” Levine said.

In a statement, Magnolia audio director Mike Crane said, “The addition of high-res music stations offers fans of high-resolution music the chance to experience the next wave of audio technology.”

Added Sony Electronics president Mike Fasulo: “We’re delighted to assist Magnolia Design Center in its efforts to provide a higher-quality listening experience for their customers. Thanks to this program, music enthusiasts will finally get the opportunity to hear their favorite recordings digitally, just like the artist intended.”

The high-res music stations are the latest example of Best Buy’s strategy under chairman, president and CEO Hubert Joly of parceling out floor space to vendors for dedicated branded displays.
— Additional reporting by Joseph Palenchar