It's no secret, I'm a big fan of listening bars or so-called "audiophile places" in general. Having visited places like Brilliant Corners in London or JBS in Tokyo I just love being in a place where the quality of the music is at the core of the venue. And I wish I can visit many more places which I'll list in this article.
Audiophile is a term often thrown around in connection to rotary mixers and record collecting. Searching for the perfect sound from the cartridge into the mixer and going to the speakers. As with everything everyone has a slightly different opinion on what makes you an audiophile or what makes a place an audiophile listening bar. For me, if you're interested in quality of sound and geek out over DACs (digital to analogue converter), preamps and amplifiers you're surely growing into the topic. And as always, money is a big factor in how fast you reach your goal soundwise.
The feeling of walking into an audiophile place is always special for me and I suggest to everyone that you should try it at least once in your life. When I stood in the middle of the room at Giant Steps in London the sound just got me going. Another point I really want to mention, if the speakers are properly placed and with the right setup the music does not have to be loud if the quality is right. Or maybe it just doesn't seem loud. Anyway, you just automatically want to dance and be there forever.
Of course, there are many more places around the world that I could have listed here but these are the ones I wanna check off my bucket list next. If you're interested in which ones I already visited you can find my articles on the site for Brilliant Corners as well as some places in my recap from my Japan trip. I'm working on translating these into English as well.
But for now, let's pretend we are planning a trip around the globe so we can visit all the places in one go. And let's start at a place which I'll probably visit very soon as it's not that far away and I'm going to the We Out Here Festival in August...
Let's start in London. Right next to the platforms of the Kings Cross train station is a place called Spiritland. Spiritland actually has 3 places for music lovers: a café, bar and radio studio in King’s Cross, a shop in Mayfair and a restaurant and bar at the foot of the Royal Festival Hall, all built around a deep love of music and the culture that surrounds it.
Potato Head (Hong Kong)
On we go to Hong Kong to a place called Potato Head. The music room at Potato Head provides its guests with an incredible sound system and over 6'000 records carefully curated by the owner Johnny Hiller.
When I was in Japan a few years ago I visited many places as Japan is the best for audiophile geeks. Unfortunately, I could not make it to Shelter as it's located a bit outside of the inner city of Tokyo. Shelter calls itself a DJ bar focusing on both quality of music and tasty alcohol since 1989.
Public Records (New York)
Over to the other side of the pacific in New York is a place called Public Records. They have a restaurant, a cafe and a sound room with an incredible soundsystem. As you can see in the picture below.
Eavesdrop (New York)
In Brooklyn NYC you can also find the recently opened venue called Eavesdrop. They have custom-built speakers and a big room space where they invite local curators, labels, record stores and artists to play music. And guests to drink cocktails.
In Sheeps Clothing (Los Angeles)
Next to having a great many articles on their website about all things audiophile, interviews and playlists, In Sheeps Clothing also has a venue in Los Angeles for events and listening sessions.
A place a lot closer to where I live is Rhincoéros in Berlin. The concept for this bar is straight copied from the Japanese Jazz Kissa and bar culture, which means small venues serving coffee and whiskey while the hosts play jazz records on a vintage hi-fi sound system. Located in Prenzlauer Berg with Bowers&Wilkins Speakers from 1976, one round Micro-Seiki Turntable and a Quad Amp & Preamp, the owners Martina and Bénédict welcome you into a place dedicated to music.
Words by Steve Marvin. He writes about audiophile nerd stuff and sometimes drops the dad jokes when they are actually funny.