High Fidelity Cocktail Bars: Where Music Comes First

Available in : Vietnamese

December 30, 2020


From Bali to Los Angeles to London, a new style of after-hours hangout is slowly cropping up across continents: hi-fi listening bars. 




The concept, which has its origins in Japan and dates back to the 1950’s, follows a unique formula. Start with an ultra-high quality sound system and a stack—or, more often than not, a lifetime’s collection—of records behind the bar. Add a few stools and tables (smokers welcome), and finish things off with a menu of simple cocktails or coffee. Then, sit back and simply listen in.




Side streets of Tokyo, home to the original music bars | image via Aleksandar Pakaris,


While the world’s most famous and refined venues are still found in Tokyo, more and more cities are adopting the model. Though you won’t often find any dancing here, music is undoubtedly the main attraction. Inside these clubs, someone behind the decks—half DJ, half bartender/barista—will usually select a record and place it up front for listeners to see, a refreshingly old-school tool of music discovery in the age of algorithmic curation. Don’t forget a pen and paper to note down favorites and preserve the analog mood.




A soundtrack might range from John Coltrane to 70’s disco deep cuts all the way to power ballads and the odd Kendrick Lamar track. And even if the record spinning at a given moment isn’t necessarily your cup of tea, you’ll find that anything sounds pretty good on a quarter-of-a-million-dollar system.

Take a look at some of Tokyo’s best listening bars here, and keep on the lookout to see if your city will be the next to boast a high fidelity escape from the daily hustle.

Available in : Vietnamese

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Bliss Saigon is an online magazine dedicated to the Art of living in Ho Chi Minh City and Asia. The magazine present a unique editorial approach based on experts and influencers contributions, written with optimism, humor and accessibility, offering an interactive and ludic reading on lifestyle topics with sharp selections for unique insights.