One Sunday evening in September, the main hall of a community center here was decked out with ribbons, balloons, and a gyrating disco ball that marked a sonic sweet spot — the optimal position for partygoers to enjoy the clean, punchy (and not too loud) sound of five towering speakers arranged strategically around the room, piping a playlist of pop, funk, rock and dance floor gems for all generations.
The Lucky Cloud sound system was in town. Following the lead of a cult party series created by the D.J. and impresario David Mancuso in 1970s New York, the organizers prioritize audio quality above all else. With Mr. Mancuso’s blessing, they began running events in London in 2003, starting a slow-burn trend that has spread around this city: Numerous listening clubs now invite people to experience recorded music played through hi-fi rigs that most humble audiophiles can only dream about.
The newest is Spiritland, a cafe-bar in central London that claims to offer “the best sound system in the world” — an imposing array that dominates the room like a shrine in a temple. Two sets of bulky yet elegant speakers finished in vintage wood sit on either side of an Italian amplifier with colorful valves and tubes that glow orange when the lights are low.
“I always wanted to go somewhere which could be all about musical appreciation, to hear someone dig really deeply into their record collection and explore their private passions,” said Paul Noble, Spiritland’s creative director.
Sounds just like us! Read more about Frederick Bernas’ London listening clubs report in The New York Times.