imageYesterday at the Columbus Circle Best Buy in New York City, Sony and Best Buy announced that they will be taking their partnership to the next level by installing almost 80 listening stations nationwide in their Magnolia Design Centers. What’s a listening station? It’s going to be a kiosk on the sales floor dedicated to showcasing the best of the best when it comes to consumer audio.

Sony has been at the forefront of the hi-res audio movement with new Walkmans that are fully compatible with lossless playback. However, the perfect portable audio setup doesn’t stop with the player. To really get the full experience you’ll also need a really good pair of headphones and uncompressed music files. At the end of it all, you’re looking at a couple of fairly expensive pieces of equipment, which brings us back to the listening stations.

Not too many people are going to go out and buy these expensive products on a whim, but after hearing a few songs at one of these listening stations you might be moved to do so. Sony truly believes that the future of the audio industry is in hi-res and they’re willing to take the first step into making it more mainstream via this new partnership. Along with Sony Music Entertainment, they also partnered with Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group to have these stations packed with hi-res music files that will be updated multiple times a year.

If you think you’re ready for the next stage in audio, or you just want to listen to some really great sounding music keep an eye on your local Best Buy for these kiosks that will be popping up over the next year. If you’re already sold on hi-res and get either a Sony NWZ-A17 or an NW-ZX2 Walkman hi-res player between December 1st and January 16th you’ll get a free download of the new Carrie Underwood album.