Listening Bar Culture

In partnership with Resident Advisor, we explore 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.


Yoshio Nojima has been refining the soundsystem at SHeLTeR, an audiophile venue on the quiet outskirts of Tokyo. For 30 years, Yoshio has been on a quest for perfect sound. It's this pursuit of quality and endless fine-tuning of the audio set-up that defines a listening bar experience. All with one humble goal- to share special music experiences with friends. Discover more via the full film.

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Located high above Shibuya's world-famous pedestrian crossing and equipped with a high-quality Rey Audio speakers, Bridge offers a refuge from Tokyo's bustling streets. It's what the venue's manager, Masaaki Ariizumi, calls a "third place"—somewhere to unwind between home and work. Discover more via the full film.

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Step inside Brilliant Corners and you might think it's a regular bar and sushi restaurant. But look closely—at the wooden Klipsch speakers, the one-of-a-kind DJ mixer and the glowing McIntosh amps—and you'll discover that this East London spot is in fact a pioneering music venue. Discover more via the full film.

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"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.

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