Music Listening Clubs


DR RICHARD VAREY has been thinking about deep music listening on good equipment with other human beings in the same room!

I’ve been reading about the worldwide Classic Album Sundays and listening club audiophile movement, and wondering what it would take to bring this social listening experience to New Zealand.

These events are hosted in cafes, pubs, clubs, and hi-fi retail spaces, exclude distractions, emphasise audio quality, and play seminal albums, usually on vinyl records, for deep and shared listening to music.

They are in marked contrast to loner hi-fi use, and are not focused on equipment, but do ensure a sensory experience that is a reaction to MP3-skipping and streaming. DJ and Classic Album Sunday founder Colleen Murphy’s ethos is simple: “I wanted to share the experience … on a world-class audiophile hi-fi so fans could experience the music as close as possible to the artist’s original intention.”

Colleen Murphy

The aim of these clubs is to make enjoying recorded music into a social activity, altogether different from using low-quality digital files, iPods, and earbuds. “I think our emotional connection to music has been lost through the degradation of quality and equipment,” says Paul Noble of London’s Spiritland. “The way that we consume music has become like a utility – just another one of your bills at the end of the month,” he continued, referring to subscription streaming services.

The ‘Hi-fi Corner’ section of the Classic Album Sundays website lists the audio equipment used at the various events. There is some serious investment in top performing gear, and participants get to listen to equipment they might otherwise only ever dream about using.

I’m reminded that partly how I got into hi-fi in my late teens was through spending a lot of time playing records and reel-to-reel tapes with a friend who built a mobile disco system using Linn, SME, Shure, Quad, Akai, and Bose components. It sounded fabulous as a hi-fi system, and for discos it was sensational.

Paul Quilter’s listening session room near Hamilton

I’ve attended a few music evenings with Paul Quilter in Hamilton, which usually attract about a dozen regulars, who takes turns in playing single tracks from their own selections from their record and CD collections. There’s a lot of variety and some interesting new finds as the music selections are shared. I also went to a couple of events at The Listening Post some years ago, although they seemed focused on product introductions.

So, do Kiwi audiophiles whose listening sense is somewhat starved savour the possibility of shared album listening enough to get a small network of hosts and venues working together? This seems like a retailer or manufacturer sponsorship opportunity.


Editor’s note: Witchdoctor would love to know if people are interested in this, or indeed, if there’s already something similar going on here. We would certainly be happy to do our part to solder connections! [People connections, that is!]




For five decades, Richard has assembled music systems that enrich his music listening experience. He writes about the electro-mechanics and social psychology of this technology-facilitated art we call high-fidelity music reproduction, and about his experiences with interesting hi-fi ideas, equipment, and the people who make it.


  1. I do this fairly often with friends, though a larger group effort would obviously require bigger space, more gear and organisation etc. Seems like a great idea though.

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