High-resolution audio may be the hot thing among audiophiles, audio professionals, and Neil Young, but it has yet to catch on with the average consumer. That could be about to change, though, as Sony and Best Buy are working together to roll out more than 250 hi-res listening stations in stores across the country.
This partnership began last year, when Sony and Best Buy brought the experimental listening stations to 82 Magnolia Design Centers at Best Buy stores. The new players will see a similar deployment, coming to Magnolia Home Theater locations.
The displays feature music samples from a wide variety of genres and artists supplied by Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. Both old and new releases are featured, all with the intent of showing the improved clarity and dynamic range that high-resolution audio brings.
The stations aren’t only meant to show off how good hi-res can sound. Both Best Buy and Sony are banking on the idea that once the average Jane or Joe hears how good their music can sound, they’ll go all-in on the idea. In addition to the listening stations, the displays will feature Sony products like its latest hi-res Walkman and MDR-1A headphones, as well as products from other companies like the Sennheiser Momentum M2, Polk Hinge, and the V-MODA Crossfade.
Whether or not these listening stations will have the intended effect remains to be seen, but Sony and Best Buy aren’t the only companies leaning hard into high-resolution audio. Most of the mid and high-end receivers released this year feature support for hi-res audio, and even lower-end models are starting to support it.
With the likely removal of the headphone jack from the next iPhone and a major focus on audio quality from LG’s upcoming V20, even phones — not so long ago notorious for low-quality audio — will be able to deliver better sound. And with these new listening stations, Best Buy is making it possible for music fans to hear what the future will sound like.
The rollout is beginning this week, so if you have a Best Buy with a Magnolia Design Center near you, you might want to keep an ear out.