Demos for hi-fi shops

Some demos were ‘demonstration’ in the sense of being designed to sell hardware in stores. They appear with new formats … vinyl 45s, vinyl LPs, stereo, quadraphonic, CD, SACD, DVD, blu-ray and so on (and on).


See also the stereo page. (linked)

The UK was much later in adopting stereo. This 1968 EP from EMI was 5/- when EPs generally cost 12/6d. It was designed to promote stereo and sell LPs. The aim would have been consumers.


Link to the Quadaphonic page

The Quadraphonic sampler for Quadra Disc, the JVC format is an example. It’s not for sale. While it takes its tracks from WEA (Warner, Elektra, Atlantic) the little sticker JVC hi fi demonstrates why it wasn’t for sale … it was for shops to demonstrate the hardware of quad systems.


There are recordings that hardware shops choose to use to show off equipment.

Dire Straits Brothers In Arms sold so many CD players for Philips. Shops selling Philips CD players didn’t have to buy their copies either. The album was the first CD ever to sell a million copies. A friend who worked in a hi fi shop said they demonstrated with it. People instantly bought a copy.

When CD was in its infancy, hifi manufacturers like Meridian, Denon and Linn produced CD samplers, often given with hifi magazines. These were aimed at consumers, but stores often had copies provided with the equipment. There were additional ones which only went to stores too.

Linn and Denon had their own labels too, which muddied the waters. A vinyl purist friend was horrified to see Linn (known for turntables) promoting CDs.

The lettering around the centre hole (too small for most to notice) gives the intent away:


With the SACD format, Rolling Stone took the unusual step of a free SACD covermount disc to demonstrate the format (though how you played it at its best unless you had an SACD player, or a DVD player which supported SACD is another question.) Though like Quadraphonic, it was compatible with an ordinary CD player. The ploy was ‘Buy the SACD version now, then you won’t have to upgrade later.’ It was mainly sourced from Sony, though EMI and MCA chipped in with tracks as it was a common interest. It is also a great sampler … look at the track list.


A favourite for promoting video sound systems was Hell Freezes Over by The Eagles. It was a perfect demo because on Hotel California, they come in one by one and build up. A familiar tune helps. Oddly it’s only stereo, but I heard it when I complained that my first 5.1 system was great for car crashes and explosions, but terrible for music. They played Hotel California through the MK system they were promoting to show that the sub-woofer could do bass guitar tightly as well as booming thunderstorms.

Then they played Joshua Judges Ruth by Lyle Lovett to show 5.1 sound. That has the gospel choir in the balcony of the church (on Church) above and behind you,

I bought the system – and they gave me a shrink-wrapped Hell Freezes Over DVD as a starter from a box full. Then offered to sell me Joshua Judges Ruth. I bought one from the small stack.