Public Records- The New York Times “No Noise Complaints Here”
The venerable nightclubs Cielo and Output were shuttered, and their Funktion-One speakers, considered among the best in their class, were silenced. In addition, the custom sound system at Analog Brooklyn, an industrial club in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn, was carted away. (Analog remains open and has since installed a new sound system.)
Although the clubs went quiet, it did not mean an end to spaces with excellent sound. If you want to hear music on a superior system these days, skip the deafening nightclubs and go instead to one of the newfangled audiophile bars that have popped up in New York City, offering cocktails, craft beer, food and state-of-the-art sound.
The newest spot is Public Records (233 Butler Street, Brooklyn), a bar, vegan cafe, magazine shop and performance space in a distinguished brick building at the end of the Gowanus Canal. The front room features 20-foot-high ceilings with a glass atrium over the bar, and a wall of windows that bathes the space in light.
Just as impressive is the four-point sound system made with of vintage speakers and horns and mounted in a chest-high Douglas fir box. It was built by Global Audio Systems, a sound and lighting company in SoHo. A brochure describes each speaker as having a “slot tweeter, vintage Altec horn, compression driver, 15-inch front horn drivers and Void Acoustics Nexus XL subwoofers.”
“A sound system made up of high-quality components can reproduce things that your Apple earbuds can’t translate, or your Beats by Dre has to overcompensate with,” Ms. Bertisch said. “Good sound is honest sound.”
For Craig Bernabeu, the president of Systems by Shorty Designs in East Brunswick, N.J., honest sound means “a sound that envelops you and hugs you with a very full low end, a relaxed mid-high and sweet top end.”
“You can have a conversation over the music pumping without raising your voice or leaving with ringing ears,” he added.
Mr. Bernabeu installed the audio system at Nowadays (56-06 Cooper Avenue, Queens), an indoor party space that grew out of the popular Mister Sunday dance gatherings. Housed in a former kitchen cabinet factory, Nowadays feels more like a homey lounge than a modern club, with lots of houseplants, Mexican blankets for those who prefer lounging, and dining booths that invite conversation.
Eamon Harkin, one of the Nowadays owners, said its hi-fi system aligns with current music tastes: “Why are people obsessed with vinyl? Why are producers obsessed with old mixing boards, and musicians obsessed with vintage gear? Because it gives you character and warmth.”
That warmth can also be found at Bierwax (556 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn), a craft beer bar near the Barclays Center in Prospect Heights that boasts a wall of 5,000 vinyl albums. On the weekends, you may find well-known D.J.s like Bobbito Garcia or Large Professor pulling from its deep record collection.
These audiophile bars take their cues from Tokyo, where places like JBS and Bonobo cater to patrons with discerning ears.
Those bars, in turn, have their roots in New York night life in the 1970s, including the powerful system built by Richard Long at the Paradise Garage and crystalline sounds that Alex Rosner made for the Loft, the roving dance party started by David Mancuso.
A more intimate vibe can be found at Mezcaleria La Milagrosa (149 Havemeyer Street, Brooklyn), a 15-person speakeasy hidden in the back of a Mexican grocery store, behind a freezer door. Along with small-batch mezcal and a disco ball, La Milagrosa has floor-standing speakers by Klipschorn powered by McIntosh amplifiers.
Those seeking more space make their way to Magick City (37 Box Street, Brooklyn), a community art space in Greenpoint with 1,000 square feet of what it calls “acoustically luscious performance space” for live music, yoga and art happenings.
And, thanks to an oak dance floor salvaged from the Roseland Ballroom, it’s also a good spot for late night dance parties.