Sony has been actively promoting the idea of hi-res audio since the re-release of the Walkman as a high-end audiophile product last year. Sony’s concept of hi-res audio includes high bitrate playback of uncompressed music files, along with more powerful amplifiers and digital-to-analog converters. They’ve made a couple players with that have earned the hi-res name, but it’s only been a hit with audiophiles — it’s a lot harder for the untrained ear to pick up on the subtle differences, for one, but there’s a more basic reason than that. For hi-res audio to work, it’s not enough to just get a fancy player — high-end headphones or speaker systems and uncompressed audio are both necessary, because the benefit of hi-res audio only comes when there are no weak links in the chain.
So, Sony is taking to Best Buy to try to show the rest of us what we’re missing. Starting this week, Hi-Res Listening Stations in about 80 Best Buy stores with Magnolia Design centers across the United States will start popping up, equipped with everything in the Sony hi-res audio chain. There will be hi-res players, amplifiers, and high-end headphones, along with clips of uncompressed audio supplied by Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group. There will also be tablets for track switching that will have more info about the artists and their discographies, along with testimonials about how well the system works, in case the music hasn’t convinced you.
Need a carrot? Well, unless you’re a Carrie Underwood fan, I don’t know that you’re going to see any convincing ones. If you are in that camp, HDtracks will supply a free download of Underwood’s new album, Storyteller, to anyone who buys a Sony NWZ-A17 or NW-ZX2 Hi-Res Walkman player between December 1 and January 16.