10 venues that self-respecting audiophiles should visit ASAP
Proper sound spots
Entering a club and having the music instantly hit you with a physical impact is a spectacular experience. Sitting at home and listening to dance music in headphones or through speakers can be plenty of fun, but unless you’re a member of a travelling soundsystem or happen to have speakers pumping out triple figure dB levels installed in your lounge, there’s nowhere quite like a club to experience the mind-blowing sounds we all love.
A venue with a system that’s tuned right and well engineered can elevate records to entirely new heights. You can notice new elements in tracks you’ve heard a thousand times, to the extent to which they sound brand new. We picked out some of the finest spots to listen and dance to music there is.
Lux Frágil is the jewel in the Portuguese clubbing crown. It consistently books line-ups showcasing the freshest talents in dance music and has the setup to allow them to flex the depth of their record collections and USBs. It’s rare that a DJ isn’t desperate to return after playing. Lux’s owners worked closely with Funktion-One in the installation of the system and maintain a close relationship for tweaking, and a significant upgrade in 2015. Their diligence pays dividends - it’s one of the world’s best sounding clubs.
Ministry of Sound
You don’t get to call yourself the Ministry Of Sound without having one of the best systems in the game. Upon unveiling the remarkable 64-speaker, 22-channel Dolby Atmos system in 2015, MoS CEO Lohan Presencer boldly labelled it “the future of dance music”. It marked Dolby’s first foray into club sound and it’s fair to say the transition has been successful. The sound quality is so good that the system has been used to remaster albums.
There’s no cub quite like De School. Enter the multi-purpose venue and you could soon find yourself into a near pitch-black underground rave den soundtracked by raucous techno, or sitting in the fairy lights and foliage covered garden being soothed by warm ambient textures, or stood in a almost bare room transfixed by an enormous glowing ring slowly rotating as it hangs from the ceiling. Whatever your flavour, every nook and cranny in the club sounds amazing.
“Good Room was built by music lovers for music lovers,” asserts the Brooklyn venue’s website emphatically. This passion shines through in a club that has quickly become an East Coast favourite, beloved for its inclusive parties and top-notch D&B Audiotechnik system which has seen the likes of Kim Ann Foxman, Martyn and Octo Octa taking up residencies.
[Photo: Jeremy Boxer]
Thankfully Bassiani survived the recent threat to its existence, following inspiring scenes of protest in its home city Tbilisi. That thousands of people took the streets in support of the club should tell you everything you need to know about how highly regarded it is. Powered by Funktion-One and Void Acoustics are its two rooms, engineered by the expertise of Guri Gotsadze, the club’s political and party-primed potency has made it one of Europe’s most essential dance destinations.
Not strictly a club, but this part-time sushi restuarant, part-time bar and part-time dance spot on London’s Kingsland Road boasts some of the most impressive sound around. Every detail is tailored to a tee for a elite audio experience. The Technics are fitted with Audio Technica cartridges, DJs work the spaceship-like Bozak rotary mixer and the sound emits from beautiful wooden Klipschorn speakers for a double aural and aesthetic treat.
Costa Rican spot Vertigo is a cavernous club located within a nondescript tower block, but it makes fine use of its space. Disco balls and devil-shaped logos hang from the ceiling and twist above dancers tantalisingly, while a state-of-the-art soundsystem from Gary Stewart Audio ensures the sound is full across the sizable main room.
[Photo: Jhans Masco]
No prizes for predicting this inclusion. Berlin’s equally revered and infamous nightspot is well deserving of its legendary status. Powered by stacks upon stacks of Funktion-One, the main room is a formidable techno cavern that pummels dancers into dancing submission (and all kinds of other acitivities). Earlier this year we caught a gabber night there during CTM Festival and never known sound like it. Don’t forget your earplugs.
Despacio is surely the most impressive ‘mobile disco’ in the world. Led by James Murphy and Soulwax’s Dewaele brothers, the travelling club is hauled across international destinations to host perfect sounding parties. No mean feat, considering it weighs a whopping 30,000kg, primarily due to its eight mighty McIntosh speaker stacks which are each 11 feet tall and boast a collective 50,000 watts of power. Worth the effort for an incredibly immersive party experience.
The Martin Audio soundsystem in fabric’s Room 1 is an incredible feat of technology. The sound is ultra crisp and detailed, while still packing significant power and weight. Anywhere you stand in the room feels like wearing a pair of custom-made earphones channeling the frequencies into your ears at a perfect level. Another string to the bow of the room is the “bodysonic” dancefloor, equipped with 450 bass transducers which enable dancers to really feel the low-end bass frequencies powering from the floor into their bodies to enhance the physical sensation of dancing.