Will today's digital music fans invest in high quality audio the way movie fans shell out for flat screens and home theater systems?

Hewlett-Packard, Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine believe fans will indeed pay for sound quality. On Wednesday, HP introduced a new series of laptops and desktops with Beats Audio technology that aim to give computer buyers a level of sound quality that has been missing from digital music.

The premium audio technology, in development for more than one year, was created with the help of Beats By Dr. Dre, the collaboration between producer/artist Dr. Dre and Interscope Geffen A&M chairman Iovine. With so much music being experienced on computers, sound quality is often an afterthought. The goal behind Beats, explains Iovine, is to bring sound quality to a music format that has encouraged portability and convenience over sound quality.

"An entire generation has been brought up on bad sound," Iovine tells Billboard via e-mail. "Dre and I are working to repair the transmission of sound, to restore the sound and emotion to what was recorded in the studio and bring that experience to consumers. When consumers hear and appreciate the difference we're all going to benefit."

In a sense, better sound quality brings fans closer to the artist by allowing a person to experience music as it was meant to be heard. "Artists pour themselves into their records," Iovine explains, "spending hundreds of hours in the studio to get the sound, the emotion of the music just right." But compressed music files and the audio quality of most personal computers don't deliver the emotion the artist and producer is trying to convey, he explains.

The new HP Envy 14 Beats Edition is a laptop designed specifically by HP and Beats By Dr. Dre for playing music. Beats Audio technology will also be included on all HP Envy laptops in addition to the HP Pavilion dv7, HP TouchSmart 600 and HP Mini 210 Vivienne Tam Edition.

The first fruits of the HP-Dre partnership arrived last October in HP computers stocked with Beats Audio technology. In addition to its involvement with HP, Beats By Dre also has a partnership with Monster to create high-end headphones. Diddy and Lady Gaga have also released their own lines of headphones under the Beats by Dr. Dre brand. Monster and Beats By Dr. Dre have partnered with Best Buy for the retailers' "Club Beats" in-store section dedicated to audio technology, DJ equipment and mixing software.

The Envy 14 Beats Edition starts at $1,249.99. It features an attractive and edgy soft-aluminum design and Beats By Dre's red-and-black color scheme (including a red backlit keyboard that is actually quite stunning). Each laptop comes with Beats Solo headphones ($199.95 retail) and Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 and Adobe Premiere Elements 8 software for photo and video editing.

Carlos Montalvo, VP of Program Innovation Office in HP's Personal Systems Group, is the executive sponsor and program manager overseeing HP's partnership with Beats by Dre. With the news that HP is now adding Beats Audio as an option to its entire line of premium computers, Montavlo gives Billboard an update on the partnership.

What's behind the partnership with Beats by Dre?
The byproduct of the digital revolution is that consumers have given up fidelity for mobility. The average listener was leaving music, particularly music the way the artist intended you to hear it, behind. There are multiple generations of consumers that have grown up listening to bad music. MP3 players, phones and, to a certain degree baseline PCs, have not optimized their platforms for great fidelity. So we saw a unique opportunity to deliver the industry's best-sounding audio on a PC. We collaborated in studio side-by-side with Dre and some of Jimmy (Iovine's) top producers to jointly craft the audio for each PC.

What's been the result of the partnership so far?
Last year, the Beats edition was our first entry to the market. We introduced it right before Christmas and we like what we saw. It sold out in three weeks. This year we're taking it not only across our premium line, but worldwide into Europe and into Japan.

What kind of feedback or response are you getting from consumers?
I can't share specific sales numbers. But I think our strategy speaks for itself. We hit a very resonant chord with consumers. When they hear Beats audio, they realize what they've been missing and what part of the sound they've been leaving behind by listening to music through an MP3 player. We have data that suggests PC users spend anywhere from 3-4 hours a day listening to music on their PC. The PC has become the media dashboard for the home.

Does your data show that people with better audio systems, like Beats, listen to music more than those that don't?
We're just launching these products, so it's too early to dissect the data. But I can share anecdotal data. Consumers, if given the choice, will invest in great audio, which is why we're putting them in our premium computers.

What other ways is HP trying to reach the music-fan demographic?
We've structured a joint marketing arrangement with Universal Music Group where consumers that buy Beats-branded devices get a number of free downloads every month. That program is worldwide. We are going to places that consumers go to appreciate music -- whether it be a DJ festival or various summer music festivals -- and giving them a chance to listen to Beats. We've been sponsoring listening stations at a broad range of festivals and concerts. We also work with retailers to offer listening stations where you can compare side-by-side Beats audio to other PCs.

HP has bought mobile device maker Palm and mobile music service Melodeo. Do you expect to expand your Beats and music initiatives to mobile devices?
I can't really speculate on unannounced products. But we think there's a great opportunity to leverage everything we've learned on the PC for other consumer electronic devices. Palm is not only a great consumer electronics company in terms of phones, but also a Web OS that's been optimized for cloud services. So we have a lot of unique assets to go forward with. There will be more announcements in the future of where we go with that, but obviously music is an integral part of any music experience. Today, mobile fidelity is not being met by the current range of products.