The past few years have seen a wave of listening bars opening across Europe. Taking inspiration from Japan’s culture of audiophile venues, these spots put a unique twist on a long-standing tradition, creating an environment for discovering music that appeals to hi-fi obsessives and casual listeners alike.
The Rise of Listening Bars: Barcelona
“We are in a Mediterranean city—at some point people want to chat.” Guille De Juan, owner of Barcelona venue Curtis, knows it’s impossible to replicate a Japanese-style, no-talking-allowed listening bar in his home city. Instead, he’s built a space inspired by Japan’s audiophile venues but adapted to Barcelona’s buzzy atmosphere.
Curtis, which opened in 2018, also takes inspiration from a source closer to home: Nica, a Barcelona audiophile venue with an impressive programme of DJs and live acts.
Barcelona isn’t the only city where listening bar culture is taking root. You will find them in Stockholm, Amsterdam, Istanbul and London. (The previous film in this series told the story of London’s influential Brilliant Corners.) These spots put a unique twist on a long-standing tradition, creating an environment for discovering music that appeals to hi-fi obsessives and casual listeners alike.
Produced by Resident Advisor in partnership with Asahi Super Dry Beer.
Visit the series home on RA: ra.co/listeningbars
[Series] Japan’s hidden listening bars
We are exploring Japan’s rich culture of listening bars and audiophile venues. It’s a culture rooted in the joy of discovering music, and listening to that music in the best possible environment—that means precision-made speakers, amps, turntables and mixers. Tucked away in basements, back-alleys and high-rise buildings, these bars come in different shapes and sizes, but they are united by their pursuit of quality, with owners endlessly fine-tuning their audio setups to create an enriching experience for anyone who visits. These are wonderful settings for people to share their love of music, serving as a “third place”—somewhere to unwind in between their time at work and home. Though they’re the result of long-standing traditions, listening bars offer a glimpse into progressive Japan, one of the world’s most vibrant places for music discovery.
Music in order of appearance /
Nov25Studio – After club [Nov25 Studio]
Nov25Studio – Instrumental [Nov25 Studio]
Velmondo – Cova Foradada [Hivern Discs] 2019
Grand River – Live Performance
Halufious – No Ice [Unreleased]
Nov25Studio – Scape room [Nov25 Studio]
Samo DJ – Waterfall INDIAN [Hivern Discs] 2019
Production credits /
Director & Editor – Sophie Mishari
Colourist – Adam Clarke
Sound Mixer: Guy Clarke
Executive Producers – Laura Akam, Kate Mullins
Special thanks to:
Casa Bonay: Pedro, Raquel and Natasha and Grand River.