Vinyl Bars/Audiophile Bars/Japanese Jazz Cafe's

ddk

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May 19, 2013
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Three emails, volunteered the use of myself, my records and my £75,000 system, but no response.
I believe two very different products are discussed here. One is a drinking/eating trough with music playing, when I was growing up these locales played vinyl and tape including cassettes and later switched over to digital now they're sticking a turntable or R2R in a visible location mostly as a gimmick. This is the anthesis of the true Japanese Kissaten or Music Bar where it's all about an intimate and unique experience created by the owners. As @Solypsa mentioned it's a labor of love and passion for a hobby and not solely a commercial enterprise. Everything from the music to the sound down to the soap in the bathroom and everything in between is curated by the owner and part of the experience. You're there to share someone's life and passion. The owners are usually always there behind the bar serving their favorite beverages and foods and are happy to talk about and share their love of this music. The drinks aren't just served in any old glass, they're individual and what he puts in your hand is what he will enjoy looking at and drinking from. It's an exceptionally intimate personal experience in a semi public venue, very much like visiting a dear friend with an interesting system with very good music who's also a great host, you share his home, his music, his company and part of his soul for a moment. The true Japanese Music Bar is about the Owner, it's very Japanese in nature and extends to other forms of hospitality rarely if ever seen outside of Japan. The only times I've come across it in the West was in form of a small full pension bed & breakfast in parts of Germany or South of France where the owners have a passion for cooking and are really sharing their home and culture with you. Mystery booze dispensing machines and a random person playing music, vinyl or otherwise is not the same as sharing a soul with kindred spirits, no pun intended.

I'm not trying to offend just being honest here, your system is dear to you but it's not suited for a commercial venue and frankly not unique in a way to attract hardcore audiophiles to the space, a very similar system can be put together for a lot less than 75k by most people. In your scenario are you really prepared to put your 75k system in the hands of random employees in a hectic messy environment? I know nothing about the value of your LPs but they're at high risk too. If this is really what you'd like to do maybe you should look into doing it by yourself and starting small and intimate and see where it leads.

david
 

wbass

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That's interesting to know, David, and makes me want to check out some proper kissaten in Japan all the more. I'm also curious to check out Gearbox's HQ now.

I agree that the experience must be well curated or come from a place where curation (such a bland word in this context) is simply an expression of the proprietor's passions. Outside catering and drinks dispensing machines don't really fit that model, to my eyes anyway, as they seem to make venues feel rather anonymous.

One other, perhaps related model I've seen is the cafe/bar/retail shop that does a little of everything and can be open and earning for a broader swath of the day and evening. Serves coffee and sandwiches in the AM and afternoon, drinks and maybe fuller meals in the PM, and also has a small to medium rack of records for customers to peruse. At a certain point, there might be someone actively DJing, but the staff is otherwise spinning records during the day.

In LA there's, believe it or not, a combination barbershop and record store. In Brooklyn, there's a coffee shop and record store, Black Gold. In Beacon, NY, there's a bar called, wait for it, Vinyl, that has an okay selection of same. I've no clue how these businesses are licensed or whatever, and maybe there are different hurdles/restrictions in the UK.

Having lived in Norwich (for only five months, however), I do know it's very much a university town, where you'd have a fair number of people who'd like a cafe during the day and a bar at night. Vinyl is cool and probably will be for a while to come (though who knows?), and I definitely would go to hear a better than average system, but I think both have got to be part of a place that's welcoming on other levels.
 

Rensselaer

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Mar 23, 2021
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I believe two very different products are discussed here. One is a drinking/eating trough with music playing, when I was growing up these locales played vinyl and tape including cassettes and later switched over to digital now they're sticking a turntable or R2R in a visible location mostly as a gimmick. This is the anthesis of the true Japanese Kissaten or Music Bar where it's all about an intimate and unique experience created by the owners. As @Solypsa mentioned it's a labor of love and passion for a hobby and not solely a commercial enterprise. Everything from the music to the sound down to the soap in the bathroom and everything in between is curated by the owner and part of the experience. You're there to share someone's life and passion. The owners are usually always there behind the bar serving their favorite beverages and foods and are happy to talk about and share their love of this music. The drinks aren't just served in any old glass, they're individual and what he puts in your hand is what he will enjoy looking at and drinking from. It's an exceptionally intimate personal experience in a semi public venue, very much like visiting a dear friend with an interesting system with very good music who's also a great host, you share his home, his music, his company and part of his soul for a moment. The true Japanese Music Bar is about the Owner, it's very Japanese in nature and extends to other forms of hospitality rarely if ever seen outside of Japan. The only times I've come across it in the West was in form of a small full pension bed & breakfast in parts of Germany or South of France where the owners have a passion for cooking and are really sharing their home and culture with you. Mystery booze dispensing machines and a random person playing music, vinyl or otherwise is not the same as sharing a soul with kindred spirits, no pun intended.

I'm not trying to offend just being honest here, your system is dear to you but it's not suited for a commercial venue and frankly not unique in a way to attract hardcore audiophiles to the space, a very similar system can be put together for a lot less than 75k by most people. In your scenario are you really prepared to put your 75k system in the hands of random employees in a hectic messy environment? I know nothing about the value of your LPs but they're at high risk too. If this is really what you'd like to do maybe you should look into doing it by yourself and starting small and intimate and see where it leads.

david
Thank you so much for pointing out that I was ripped off by those dealers, like yourself, who prey on unsuspecting customers. I will hang my head in shame ever after.
 

ddk

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Thank you so much for pointing out that I was ripped off by those dealers, like yourself, who prey on unsuspecting customers. I will hang my head in shame ever after.
That's not at all what I said!

david
 

wbass

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I should add that I've never, of course, run such a business and hope that my comments come across as sympathetic brainstorming, as I do think it'd be cool to have more venues where records can be found and appreciated.
 
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ddk

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May 19, 2013
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That's interesting to know, David, and makes me want to check out some proper kissaten in Japan all the more. I'm also curious to check out Gearbox's HQ now.

I agree that the experience must be well curated or come from a place where curation (such a bland word in this context) is simply an expression of the proprietor's passions. Outside catering and drinks dispensing machines don't really fit that model, to my eyes anyway, as they seem to make venues feel rather anonymous.

One other, perhaps related model I've seen is the cafe/bar/retail shop that does a little of everything and can be open and earning for a broader swath of the day and evening. Serves coffee and sandwiches in the AM and afternoon, drinks and maybe fuller meals in the PM, and also has a small to medium rack of records for customers to peruse. At a certain point, there might be someone actively DJing, but the staff is otherwise spinning records during the day.

In LA there's, believe it or not, a combination barbershop and record store. In Brooklyn, there's a coffee shop and record store, Black Gold. In Beacon, NY, there's a bar called, wait for it, Vinyl, that has an okay selection of same. I've no clue how these businesses are licensed or whatever, and maybe there are different hurdles/restrictions in the UK.

Having lived in Norwich (for only five months, however), I do know it's very much a university town, where you'd have a fair number of people who'd like a cafe during the day and a bar at night. Vinyl is cool and probably will be for a while to come (though who knows?), and I definitely would go to hear a better than average system, but I think both have got to be part of a place that's welcoming on other levels.
Probably some of these different models can work if properly executed in the right market. I hope some of those true Kissatens survive the pandemic regulations, Japanese government hasn't been kind to it's small businesses :(.

david
 
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Rensselaer

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That's not at all what I said!

david
I'm not trying to offend just being honest here, your system is dear to you but it's not suited for a commercial venue and frankly not unique in a way to attract hardcore audiophiles to the space, a very similar system can be put together for a lot less than 75k by most people
 

ddk

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May 19, 2013
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820
Utah
I'm not trying to offend just being honest here, your system is dear to you but it's not suited for a commercial venue and frankly not unique in a way to attract hardcore audiophiles to the space, a very similar system can be put together for a lot less than 75k by most people
Where did I say that you got ripped off? I also wrote a lot more about the subject than this one sentence.

david
 
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jeffrey_t

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I have a volume of Jazz Kissa book shipping to me this week. DDK is very much correct, the jazz vinyl bars are places where you go to drink with and listen to the record collection/stereo system of the owner. It would be cool to visit one of these bars, but I could never own one. Too much work!


1634498040300.png
 
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PeterA

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I have a volume of Jazz Kissa book shipping to me this week. DDK is very much correct, the jazz vinyl bars are places where you go to drink with and listen to the record collection/stereo system of the owner. It would be cool to visit one of these bars, but I could never own one. Too much work!


View attachment 82847

Next time I come to visit your awesome system Jeff, give me some good wine or scotch and I will be in heaven listening to that jazz collection. Invite a few more chaps, and it will be a pretty good underground jazz LP venue in the outskirts of LA. You could expand your art collection, but the passion is definitely there already. Ron and Tinka could even produce a video monograph with interview, and system videos.
 

jeffrey_t

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Next time I come to visit your awesome system Jeff, give me some good wine or scotch and I will be in heaven listening to that jazz collection. Invite a few more chaps, and it will be a pretty good underground jazz LP venue in the outskirts of LA. You could expand your art collection, but the passion is definitely there already. Ron and Tinka could even produce a video monograph with interview, and system videos.
It’s my passion to pour good scotch, spin jazz records for my friends and enjoy an occasional Cuban cigar. But…I like to be asleep by 10PM, I wouldn’t make much of a bar proprietor.
 

PeterA

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Rensselaer, You started an interesting thread.

Here are my 2 cents: These jazz bars seem to be tight on space, so I suggest a pair of nice vintage corner horns to free up the floor and lesson speaker set up issues. They could also then be removed from the patrons a bit. They will also turn the room into the low frequency horn throat for that natural live jazz sound regardless of where you sit. Plus horns are good for that "vibe" you are trying to create. Good luck with your endeavor.
 

cal3713

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I appreciate the idea, but it seems that it's mostly just proposing to people that they spend a bunch of capital, time, and effort creating a new high-risk business venture that you'll tangentially help out with (without taking on any risk yourself). It's not surprising that they don't find that attractive enough to engage with.

Usually it works the other way around, no?

Maybe you could contact existing wine bars and check to see if they'd be interested in adding an audiophile experience to their current product. Perhaps then you'd have more luck convincing people that your system could add enough value to be worth the trouble?
 
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wbass

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I would agree with this and would that add that offering to DJ a particular evening at a pre-existing place might be a way to start. See how the stuff you want to play and to have people experience goes over and go from there.

Btw @Rensselaer is the OP here, and I have just commented, as I think it's interesting.
 
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cal3713

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I would agree with this and would that add that offering to DJ a particular evening at a pre-existing place might be a way to start. See how the stuff you want to play and to have people experience goes over and go from there.

Btw @Rensselaer is the OP here, and I have just commented, as I think it's interesting.
Sorry about that! I edited to stop any confusion...
 
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Rensselaer

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I appreciate the idea, but it seems that it's mostly just proposing to people that they spend a bunch of capital, time, and effort creating a new high-risk business venture that you'll tangentially help out with (without taking on any risk yourself). It's not surprising that they don't find that attractive enough to engage with.

Usually it works the other way around, no?

Maybe you could contact existing wine bars and check to see if they'd be interested in adding an audiophile experience to their current product. Perhaps then you'd have more luck convincing people that your system could add enough value to be worth the trouble?
There are several factors at play here, the first my age. I am too old to start a business on my own (I will not live long enough to recover my investment) and we are childless. Second, what will happen to my records and equipment when I go (my nephews and niece here do not know these musicians and wouldn’t really appreciate them). Then there is the ubiquitous audiophile fear that when I go my wife will sell my stuff for only what I claimed I spent on it.

Next; the wine merchant I approached are already providing tastings for free in a warehouse setting, which I personally do not feel is conducive to selling wine, and hopefully would consider doing so in a less pressured more relaxed setting where customers can sit on comfortable sofas or chairs, trying different wines without the salesperson hovering over them, telling them what they should be tasting with every sip. Sure, a salesperson would be there to answer any questions and to provide a listing with the wines being offered that day so that customers can keep their own tasting notes for reference.

A subcontracted food provider would help defray costs too. They are getting a venue to start their business in exchange for a rent paid to the wine merchant, and cleaning the glasses and facility. The customer gets some cheese and fruit, pate‘ and bread, olives or whatever to enhance the wine tasting experience.

Finally there is me. I provide the ambiance for wine tasting. I will play whatever over my system in the background twice a day, afternoon session and evening session. No money for me, but instead I will need help moving my equipment and records, the construction of a counter and shelves to set it up on, some corner horns or Altec Lansings, and insurance on my stuff. It would be for a trial period. If it works, they buy my equipment for a fair price, I teach my replacement how to use the equipment (using that time to indoctrinate them in the paradigm that as soon as he or she puts themselves as DJ above the music, it is all over. I would start by sitting them down comfortably on one of the sofas with a small glass of wine, playing them one of my best sounding analogue recordings without comment, then I would put on a typical digital to vinyl recording that have flooded the market in recent years. Unless tone deaf, my replacement should “get it”, and not allow management or others to pressure them into playing background musak all the time like all the others.

Once I have sold my equipment and set up the perfect venue for listening to my music, I spend the remaining years of my life as their number one customer.
 

Rensselaer

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Rensselaer, You started an interesting thread.

Here are my 2 cents: These jazz bars seem to be tight on space, so I suggest a pair of nice vintage corner horns to free up the floor and lesson speaker set up issues. They could also then be removed from the patrons a bit. They will also turn the room into the low frequency horn throat for that natural live jazz sound regardless of where you sit. Plus horns are good for that "vibe" you are trying to create. Good luck with your endeavor.
So what do you think of your Vitavox CN-191 corner horns? I suspect they would be perfect.
 
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PeterA

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So what do you think of your Vitavox CN-191 corner horns? I suspect they would be perfect.

Yes I would think so, but you will have difficulty finding a pair. I was just thinking that you don’t want a pair of Wilson’s out in the floor for people to bump into. And of course the speaker wires would be a problem. Look at the type of gear and systems in the Japanese bars
 

Bobvin

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It’s my passion to pour good scotch, spin jazz records for my friends and enjoy an occasional Cuban cigar. But…I like to be asleep by 10PM, I wouldn’t make much of a bar proprietor.
I feel you Jeffrey, I love to pour good wine and have a few snacks (cheeses, crackers, etc.) before heading down into the music room to spin vinyl. The friends I’ve made in Portland tease me how much they hate that I’ve done this — now they all set out some form of snacks when we visit each other to share our systems. My wife thinks this is hilarious.

I can appreciate David’s comments… it would seem a most intimate and personal sharing something perhaps culturally suited.

My wife and I have a favorite little tasting room we like to visit, but it is only for a single label. The wine maker is a real music and jazz lover we’ve discussed putting a system in their space, including a turntable. The cost is usually measured against having local musicians play live, which they do on weekends. For many patrons just having some background music is plenty… but a space needs to be treated a wee bit because after you get a dozen people into a space, chit-chatting and laughing the sound levels get high very quickly. Then the comments from the person pouring wine become difficult to hear. (Ever notice just how loud a restaurant is?)
 

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